The carbon footprint of electricity production – January 2024

The monthly emissions from each power plant in Greece are estimated based on the latest available electricity production data (January 2024 for the interconnected network and December 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

In total, an estimated 1.28 million tonnes of CO2 were emitted for electricity production in the first month of the year. Emissions from fossil gas plants (0.56 million tonnes or 43.7%) slightly exceeded those from lignite plants (0.55 million tonnes or 42.8%), reversing the trend seen in the last two months of 2023 (November-December). The share from oil plants was much smaller (0.17 million tonnes or 13.5%).

Emissions from the electricity production sector increased by 0.08 million tonnes or +6.2% in January 2024 compared to the same month in 2023, due to an increase in emissions from fossil gas (+0.18 million tonnes or +46.6%), which in turn was the result of a 57.8% increase in electricity production from fossil gas plants. The other two fuels saw a decrease in emissions: the largest from lignite plants (-0.09 million tonnes or -13.6%), followed by oil plants (-0.01 million tonnes or -7.3%).

In contrast to the increase in emissions over the last year for the month of January, there was a decrease of 0.88 million tonnes compared to the five-year average (-40.6%). The decrease came from all three fuels, with the largest from lignite (-0.71 million tonnes or 56.4%). It is noteworthy that at the beginning of the five-year period (2018), emissions from lignite plants (2.44 million tonnes) were more than four times higher than in January 2024.The decrease from fossil gas was the second highest (-0.09 million tonnes or -13.8%) and the one from oil was third (-0.08 million tonnes or -25.1%).

Emissions per thermal power plant

In terms of the distribution of emissions among power plants, the lignite power plant of Agios Dimitrios retained the 1st place in January 2024 with emissions of 0.4 million tonnes (74% of the total lignite emissions), operating 3 out of its 5 units (III-V).

Ptolemaida 5 came in second place with 0.12 million tonnes, which is equal to 31.2% of electricity production coming from lignite plants in January 2024, with a utilization rate of 26.6%. Of the remaining lignite plants, only Meliti I operated, producing 0.02 million tonnes (14th place), after three consecutive months of zero production.

The 3rd largest polluter this January in electricity production was Agios Nikolaos II with 0.11 million tonnes, while Megalopoli V dropped to 4th place with 0.1 million tonnes. Six fossil gas plants followed, while overall emissions from all fossil plants exceeded 50% (50.6%) of the total emissions from thermal plants in the country’s interconnected network (lignite and fossil gas together).

In the non-interconnected islands, the three oil stations located in Crete (Aterinolakkos, Linoperamata and Chania) were the top emitters with total emissions of 0.08 million tonnes in January 2024, ranking 11th, 13th and 15th respectively. The Soroni plant in Rhodes followed with 0.02 million tonnes. Cumulatively, the top four polluting oil stations represent 59% of the total emissions in the non-interconnected islands.

Emissions of PPC ‘s thermal power plants

PPC has made great progress in the last two years in terms of reducing CO2 emissions from its thermal plants. Ιn 2022 it succeeded in reducing emissions to 14.93 million tonnes, 35% less than the corresponding levels of 2019 (23.09 million tonnes), while in 2023 the reduction compared to the same base year exceeded 50% (-51.1%), as all of PPC’s thermal plants are estimated[1] to have emitted 11.29 million tonnes.

Despite the fact that it slightly missed the targets reflected in the three bond loans introduced in 2021 to reduce the emissions of its thermal units by 40% in 2022 and 57% in 2023 compared to 2019 levels, PPC seems to remain committed to drastically reducing its carbon footprint. Specifically, in its new strategic business plan for the 2024 – 2026 period , presented in January 2024 at the Capital Markets Day in London, it committed to reducing emissions from its thermal plants to 5.9 million tonnes in 2026, a reduction of more than 74% compared to 2019 levels.

Assuming that the reduction in emissions from 11.29 million tonnes in 2023 to 5.9 million tonnes in 2026 is linear, an estimate of PPC’s annual carbon budgets for each year of the three-year period 2024-2026 can be made. For 2024 the available budget is estimated at 9.49 million tonnes. Therefore, based on the above, PPC’s carbon budget for the remaining 11 months of 2024 is 8.57 million tonnes.

In the first month of the year, PPC’s thermal plants emitted 0.92 million tonnes, a 5.4% decrease compared to January 2023, despite the fact that emissions from all thermal plants in the country increased by 6.2% in the same period.

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

[1] EU ETS data for 2023 have yet to be published.