Renewables will continue to displace lignite and gas

As Greece’s green transition develops, Nikos Mantzaris talks with Gas Matters journalist Kontantinos Tsolakis, and addresses the dogma of gas “as a transitional fuel”. Commenting on the deployment of renewables in recent years, he explains how the ambitious target of 80% renewables in Greece’s electricity sector by 2030 can be achieved, moving the country beyond lignite and fossil gas.

First, the high interest from both investors and citizens in the development of renewable energy projects in Greece “are valid reasons to be optimistic that the new ambitious target [of 80%] will be achieved”. Noting that the “very high 2.7 GW target for installing offshore wind energy

projects by 2030 will definitely be a challenge” he underlines the importance of urgent state measures that upgrade the existing grid, and develop new grids and new electricity interconnectors while supporting the development of electricity storage projects.

As renewables are expected to dominate the country’s electricity system, scenarios for a return to lignite are not only outdated, but also incompatible with the EU’s climate policy. Specifically, as he noted, in the midst of the energy crisis, the EU decision makers “raised the climate ambition of EU ETS sectors to -62% in GHG emissions by 2030 compared to 2005 levels”, while they also agreed on “additional reforms which will lead to a further increase in carbon prices”. In Greece this translates into “further cuts in lignite production in the coming years and eventual closure of lignite plants, possibly before 2028” given that “Greek lignite has by far the worst quality in the EU and therefore is the most vulnerable to carbon price increases”.

On a final point, Nikos Mantzaris drawing on recent data on fossil gas consumption and imports in Greece, foresees further decline in domestic gas consumption, challenging assumptions that present gas as a key pillar in the country’s energy system. As the energy sector accounts for approximately 70% of domestic gas consumption, the deployment of cheaper renewables will continue to displace gas. Even in energy intensive sectors such as the industry evidence confirm the ability to reduce gas consumption by switching to other fuels.

The article by Konstantinos Tsolakis titled “Balkan gateway: Greek gas exports save the day as renewables shine at home” for Gas Matters was published at on, on June 22, 2023.