RES outperform fossil gas in Greece in the first four months of the year

As the lignite phase-out continues in Greece, one of the key questions to be answered is which source will replace lignite in the power mix. According to the latest data from ADMIE, the “battle” between fossil gas and RES (mainly solar and wind energy) continues.

Graph 1

More specifically, although fossil gas (43%) had a larger share than RES (36%) in April, overall for the first 4 months of 2021 RES was the first energy source in Greece’s interconnected electricity network, contributing more than 5,7 TWh. This is observed for the first time in 2021, as fossil gas held the first place the same period in 2020.

Graph 2

In addition, RES and large hydro produced, for the first time in 2021, more power than fossil fuels (lignite and fossil gas) in the first 4 months of the year.

Graph 3

The declining trend of lignite power production continues in 2021. While 2020 was an all-time low for lignite with an annual decrease of 48% compared to the previous low of 2019, the first 4 months of 2020 lignite’s contribution decreased even more compared to 2020 (-17%). Looking back into the evolution of lignite over a longer time period is also interesting. While lignite, just 10 years ago, covered 54% of the electricity production in the first 4 months of the year, it covered only 13% in the corresponding period of 2021. At the same time the share of RES increased from 5% to 35%.

Graph 4

It is notable that the reduced contribution of lignite (only 2,2 TWh in 2021) was not covered by imports (1,1 TWh) as they decreased by 71% compared to the same period in 2020. Thus, the reduced share of lignite and imports was covered mainly by RES (5,7 TWh) which increased by 18% and to a lesser extent by fossil gas (5,4 TWh) which increased its share by 8%. Large hydro (2,1 TWh) also had a significant contribution with a large increase in production that occurred mainly in the first two winter months and meant an increase of 180% the first 4 months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.

In view of the next revision of Greece’s National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), RES appear to be able to handle the lignite phase out as long as they are supported by adequate new energy storage infrastructure.