The carbon footprint of electricity production – January 2023

The monthly emissions from each thermal power plant in Greece are estimated based on the latest available electricity production data (January 2023 for the interconnected network and the non-interconnected islands) and those of the annual CO2 emissions from ETS (2022), as well as the methodology and assumptions presented here.

Emissions per fuel

A total of 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 were emitted in the first month of 2023 for electricity production, 53% of which came from lignite plants, 32% from fossil gas plants and 15% from oil-fired plants. The total emissions were reduced by 28.2% compared to January 2022, as there was a reduction in emissions from power plants using all three fossil fuels. The largest quantitative emissions reduction was observed in fossil gas plants (-0.27 million tonnes), followed by a reduction in emissions from lignite plants (-0.14 million tonnes) and finally emissions from oil-fired plants, which decreased by 0.06 million tonnes. An even larger decrease was observed compared to the five-year average (-44.2%), where total emissions from the three technologies were 2.16 million tonnes.

Emissions from lignite plants in particular exhibit a very large decrease (-49.6%) compared to the five-year average due to the drastic reduction of lignite production in recent years. Emissions also appear reduced compared to 2022 (-17.7%), due to the reduction in the contribution of lignite to the electricity mix during the same period (-20.3%). This downward trend in the first month of each year compared to the previous year appears steadily from 2019 onwards.

Emissions from fossil gas plants decreased significantly compared to both the five-year average (-41.2%) and the previous year (-41.4%), as high gas prices combined with progress in renewables, f displaced fossil gas from power production (-43.5% compared to the first month of 2022).

Emissions from oil-fired plants exhibited a 26.4% decrease in the first month of 2023 compared to the same month in 2022.

You can see the overall trend of CO2 emissions by fuel from 2013 to date here.

Emissions per thermal power plant

Regarding the distribution of emissions among power plants, the top spot is occupied by the lignite power plant of Agios Dimitrios, with total emissions in the first month of 2023 of 0.479 million tonnes. It is followed by the Megalopolis IV lignite plant with 0.107 million tonnes. These 2 lignite plants alone emitted a cumulative total of 0.586 million tonnes, representing 57.7% of the total emissions from the 17 thermal power plants in the interconnected network.

In the 3rd, 4th and 5th place in the ranking are the fossil gas power plants “Megalopolis V”, the high efficiency combined heat and power (CHP) plant of Aluminium and the Elpedison Thisvi plant with 0.07, 0.06 and 0.05 million tonnes, respectively. Cumulatively, these three fossil gas plants have a 48.3% share of the total emissions of the 12 fossil gas plants in the first month of 2023.

In the non-interconnected islands, the highest emitting oil-fired plants are in Crete (Atherinolakos, Linoperamata and Chania) which cumulatively emitted 0.1 million tonnes in the first month of 2023, accounting for 54.8% of the total emissions in the non-interconnected islands.

Emissions of PPC’s thermal power plants

In 2021, PPC signed three bond loans containing sustainability clauses. Under the first two, with a total amount of 775 million €, emissions from PPC’s thermal power plants were to be reduced by 40% in 2022 compared to 2019 levels, while the sustainability clause of the third bond loan of 500 million €, imposed a 57% reduction in 2023 compared to 2019 levels.

Based on the EU ETS data, emissions from PPC’s thermal power plants in 2022 were 14.92 million tonnes, a 35.3% reduction compared to 2019 levels (23.09 million tonnes), about 4.7 percentage points or 1.107 million tonnes of CO2 away from the -40% target (13.85 million tonnes) corresponding to the sustainability clause of the first two bonds.

Regarding the third bond, which relates to PPC’s climate performance in 2023, emissions from the company’s thermal plants for the first month of 2023 are estimated at 0.97 million tonnes. Given that the -57% sustainability clause requires emissions to be limited to 9.93 million tonnes for the year, the carbon budget remaining until the end of the year is 8.95 million tonnes. Therefore already by January 2023, PPC has spent 9.8% of the total carbon budget for the year. If it continues to emit at the same rate, it will violate the sustainability clause for 2023 as well, as the carbon budget of its thermal power plants will be exhausted in November 2023.

You can see the evolution of the electricity sector emissions since 2013 as well as read the analyses from other months here.