How a solution without gas for district heating in Western Macedonia can be both cheap and sustainable

The plan to use fossil gas for district heating in Kozani, Ptolemaida and Amyntaio is a mistake that will cost both the residents of these regions and all Greek citizens.

Nikos Mantzaris stressed this argument in a podcast on the future of district heating in Kozani, hosted and published by newspaper “Chronos Kozanis”.

In the beginning of the discussion, journalist Socrates Moutidis said that for decades the citizens of these regions have been using lignite-based district heating systems. After the decision to phase out lignite, district heating will rely entirely on gas, according to the questionable plan that has been drawn up.

Commenting on this development, Nikos Mantzaris explained that this solution – designed in 2020 under different circumstances – no longer seems to be in anyone’s interest.

As an immediate repercussion of adopting this plan, the residents of Kozani, Ptolemaida and Amyntaio will likely see higher heating bills. Another important aspect is that heating costs are not likely to be stable, since they can be affected by two parameters: a) the volatile price of gas and b) the cost of carbon emission allowances in the EU ETS.

Moreover, operating a new heating facility in Western Macedonia will be costly not only for the residents of the region, but also for all consumers paying the Special Emission Reduction Tax (ETMEAR) through their electricity bills.

Nikos Mantzaris underlined the importance of finding a permanent, long-term and viable solution, based on a proper mix of available renewable energy technologies. Such solutions have much lower and more predictable operating costs and their installation can be financed by the Just Transition Fund, unlike  thw planned gas infrastructure which is not eligible for funding.

Once the major issue has been decided, i.e. what will happen in the long term, a transitional interim solution should also be designed. In this context, the example of the city of Ptolemaida, which is heated by electric boilers, is a realistic example.

In conclusion, there should be a radical redesign of district heating in Kozani, Ptolemaida and Amyntaio based on sustainable and more inexpensive solutions. It was made clear during the conversation that the region should not be “trapped” in an expensive and risky project with a 15-year horizon.

The podcast also includes statements by the mayor of Kozani, Yannis Kokkaliaris, and the vice president of the Photovoltaic Microinvestors’ Association, Konstantinos Siabanopoulos.

Τhe podcast was published on March 14, 2024. You can listen to it here or on Spotify. The podcast is in Greek.