The carbon footprint of electricity production – March 2023

The monthly emissions from each power plant in Greece are estimated based on the latest available electricity production data (March 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 3.81 million tonnes of CO2 were emitted in the first two months of 2023 for electricity production, 54.8% of which was emitted from lignite plants (2.09 million tonnes), 30.8% from fossil gas plants (1.18 million tonnes) and 14.4% from oil-fired power plants (0.55 million tonnes).

The total emissions were reduced by 27.5% compared to the same period in 2022, as there was a reduction in emissions from all three fuels, with the largest being from fossil gas (-0.94 million tonnes or -44.4%), which emitted more in the first quarter of 2022 than any other corresponding period in the last five years. There was a smaller reduction in emissions from lignite compared to 2022 (-0.34 million tonnes or -14.1%). It is important to mention that in the first three months of 2023 emissions were lower compared to any other year. Emissions from oil plants are estimated to have decreased by 0.17 Mt (-23.3%) compared to the same period of 2022.

A higher decrease is observed compared to the five-year average (-32.3 %), where total electricity production emissions from the three fuels were 5.63 million tonnes. In particular, emissions from lignite plants show the largest decrease (-36.1%), while the reduction levels from fossil gas and oil were 29.8% and 20.2% 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 three months of 2023 of 1.37 million tonnes, mainly from units V (50.4%), III-IV (46.%), and much less from units I and II (1.7% and 1.8%), which operated only in February. In the 2nd place is PPC’s new lignite unit “Ptolemaida 5” with 0.31 million tonnes, whose total share to the electricity production from lignite (from the start of its trial operation in December until March) is 21.1%.

Megalopolis IV follows in emissions with 0.26 million tonnes, while in total only these 3 lignite plants emitted a cumulative 1.94 million tonnes in the first two months of 2023, representing 59.5% of the total emissions from the 17 thermal power plants of the country’s interconnected network.

In the 4th and 5th places in the ranking are the fossil gas plants “Megalopolis V” and the high-efficiency combined heat and power (CHP) plant of Aluminium with 0.19 and 0.17 million tonnes respectively.

In the non-interconnected islands, the highest emitting oil-fired power plants are in Crete (Atherinolakkos, Linoperamata and Chania) which cumulatively emitted 0.292 million tonnes in the first two months of 2023, representing 52% 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 three months of 2023 are estimated at 3.1 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 March 2023 the PPC has spent 31.2% of the total carbon budget for the year. If it continues to emit at the same rate, it seems that will violate the sustainability clause for 2023 as well, as the carbon budget of its thermal plants will be exhausted by mid-September 2023, more 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.