The carbon footprint of electricity production – March 2024

The monthly emissions from each power plant in Greece are estimated, based on the latest available electricity production data (March 2024 for the interconnected network and February 2024 for the non-interconnected islands) and those of the annual CO2 emissions from ETS (2023), as well as the methodology and assumptions presented here.

Emissions per fuel

In total, in the first three months of 2024, an estimated 3.54 million tonnes of CO2 were emitted for electricity production. Emissions from fossil gas plants (1.58 million tonnes or 44.5%) exceeded those from lignite (1.49 million tonnes or 42%). The share from oil plants was much smaller (0.48 million tonnes or 13.5%).

Emissions from the electricity production sector decreased by 0.29 million tonnes or -7.7% in the first three months of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023. This is mostly due to the decrease in emissions from lignite ones (-0.62 million tonnes or -29.4%), which in turn was the result of a 27.3% decrease in electricity production from lignite plants. On the contrary, emissions from fossil gas plants increased significantly (+0.37 million tonnes or +30.5%), due to the corresponding 42.6% increase of fossil gas in electricity production. Finally, emissions from oil plants were lower (-0.04 million tonnes or -8.6%).

Compared to the five-year average, total emissions in the first three months of 2024 decreased by 2.09 million tonnes (-37.1%). The decrease came from all three fuels, with the largest from lignite (-1.79 million tonnes or 54.6%). It is noteworthy that at the beginning of the five-year period (2019), emissions from lignite plants (5.92 million tonnes) were more than three times higher than in the first three months of 2024. The decrease from oil was the second highest (-0.2 million tonnes or -23.2%), followed by fossil gas (-0.1 million tonnes or -6.1%).

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 the first two months of 2024 with emissions of 1.14 million tonnes (76.5% of the total lignite emissions), operating 3 out of its 5 units (III-V).

For the first time, the new Agios Nikolaos II fossil gas plant was second with 0.36 million tonnes. The plant had the second highest monthly production (384.5 GWh) in March 2024 since the start of its trial operation, with a minimal difference (~2 GWh) from the overall highest in September 2023. The Agios Nikolaos II plant took the 3rd place from Ptolemaida 5 (0.31 million tonnes), which had the lowest electricity production (54.5 GWh) in March since June 2023. Of the remaining lignite plants, only Meliti I operated, producing 0.04 million tonnes (17th place).

The 4th place biggest polluter in electricity production was Megalopoli V which emitted 0.28 million tonnes. Six other fossil gas plants followed in the top polluter list, while in total fossil gas-fired plants were responsible for more than 50% (51.5%) of emissions by thermal plants in the country’s interconnected network (lignite and fossil gas together).

In the non-interconnected islands, two out of the three oil stations located in Crete (Aterinolakkos and Linoperamata) were the top polluters with emissions of 0.1 and 0.08 million tonnes, respectively, in the first quarter of 2024. The Soroni plant in Rhodes followed with 0.04 million tonnes. Cumulatively, the top three polluting oil stations represent 46.2% of the total emissions in the non-interconnected islands. They are 11th, 12th and 14th respectively in the general ranking of all thermal power plants in the country in terms of emissions.

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 14.94 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% (-50.3%), as all of PPC’s thermal plants are estimated to have emitted 11.47 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 75% compared to 2019 levels.

Assuming that the reduction in emissions from 11.47 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. The available budget for 2024 is estimated at 9.61 million tonnes.

In the first three months of the year, PPC’s thermal plants emitted 2.49 million tonnes, a 19.5% decrease compared to the same period in 2023, much larger than the reduction in emissions from all thermal plants in the country (-7.7%).

Therefore, based on the above, PPC’s carbon budget for the remaining 9 months of 2024 is 7.12 million tonnes, that is 74.1% of the total carbon budget of the year. Based on the climate performance in the first quarter, PPC is marginally behind the target.

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

* This value includes the emissions of all PPC thermal units recorded in the ETS in 2023 (9.73 million tonnes) and an estimate of the emissions of Ptolemaida 5 (1,735 million tonnes) that will be officially recorded in the ETS in the following years.