The carbon footprint of electricity production – February 2023

The monthly emissions from each power plant in Greece are estimated based on the latest available electricity production data (February 2023 for the interconnected network and January 2023 for 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 2.67 million tonnes of CO2 were emitted in the first two months of 2023 for electricity production, 56% of which was emitted from lignite plants (1.5 Mt), 29% from fossil gas plants (0.77 Mt) and 15% from oil-fired power plants. Total emissions were reduced by 14.7% compared to the same period in 2022, as the increase in emissions from lignite plants (+0.1 million tonnes) was outweighed by the much larger decrease in emissions from fossil gas plants (-0.5 million tonnes) and the smaller decrease in emissions from oil plants (-0.07 million tonnes). An even larger reduction was observed compared to the five-year average (-31%), where total electricity production emissions from the three fuels were 3.88 million tonnes.

Emissions from lignite plants in particular exhibit a very large decrease (-33.7%) compared to the five-year average due to the drastic reduction of lignite production in recent years. However, in the first two months of 2023 they appear marginally increased (+7.3%) compared to 2022, due to the corresponding increased contribution of lignite to electricity production during the same period (+10.3%).

Emissions from fossil gas plants decreased significantly compared to both the five-year average (-32%) and the previous year (-38.9%), as the high gas prices combined with the progress of renewables displaced fossil gas from power production (-40.9% compared to the first two months of 2022).

Emissions from oil plants showed a decrease of 14.3% in the first two months of 2023 and 15.6% compared to the same period in 2022 and the five-year average, respectively.

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

Emissions per thermal power plant

In terms of the distribution of emissions among power plants, the top polluter by far is the lignite power plant of Agios Dimitrios, with cumulative emissions in the first two months of 2023 of 0.98 million tonnes. Megalopolis IV and Meliti I lignite plants and the new PPC lignite plant “Ptolemaida 5” follow with 0.224, 0.147 and 0.145 million tonnes respectively. These 4 lignite plants alone emitted a cumulative total of 1.5 million tonnes in the first two months of 2023, representing 66% of the total emissions from the 17 thermal power plants of the country’s interconnected network.

In the 5th and 6th places in the ranking are the fossil gas plants “Megalopolis V” and the high-efficiency combined heat and power (CHP) plant of Aluminium with 0.128 and 0.11 million tonnes respectively. Together, these two fossil gas plants have a 30.9% share in the total emissions of the 12 fossil gas plants in the first two months of the year.

In the non-interconnected islands, the highest emitting oil-fired power plants are in Crete (Atherinolakkos, Linoperamata and Chania) which cumulatively emitted 0.219 million tonnes in the first two months of 2023, representing 54.6% 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 1.07 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 power plants for the first two months of 2023 are estimated at 2.21 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 7.72 million tonnes. Therefore, by February 2023 the PPC has spent 22.2% 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 plants will be exhausted by September 2023, three months before the end of the year.

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