Trends in electricity production – May 2024

Historic low of 50 GWh of monthly lignite production in May, but a surge in gas use with the highest monthly production in 2024. At the same time, May was the second consecutive net export month, while net imports for the five months of 2024 (203 GWh) were the lowest of the decade. If RES curtailments (430 GWh) had been avoided, Greece would have been a net exporter of electricity for the first time in the first five months of 2024.

This analysis covers electricity production across the whole territory of Greece and is based on the latest available monthly data from the Independent Power Transmission Operator (May 2024) for the interconnected grid and from the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator (HEDNO) for the non-interconnected islands (April 2024). In addition, we use the most recent data from HEDNO for low and medium voltage, as well as for the installed capacity of self-production systems (February 2024). The data from DAPEEP’s Renewable Energy Special Account bulletin up to February 2024 are used to calculate more accurately CHP production at low and medium voltage, as well as for the PV utilization factors needed to estimate self-production. You can read in more detail about our methodology here.

Renewables (excluding large hydro) exceeded the production of all three fossil fuels together (fossil gas, lignite and oil) by 498 GWh, with a production of 10,036 GWh in the first five months of 2024. In the same period in 2023, renewables contributed just 45 GWh more than fossil fuels.

Fossil gas was second (7,115 GWh) in the first five months of 2024, marking a 36.9% incrase compared to the first five months of 2023. For the first time, large hydro came in third place with 1,424 GWh, while lignite was fourth (1,308 GWh), dropping to a new low. Oil on the non-interconnected islands followed with 1,194 GWh. The smallest contribution to meeting demand in the first five months of 2024 was made by net imports (203 GWh), which were the lowest in the last decade for this period, well off the previous low of 2021 (1,540 GWh).

The large increase in fossil gas (+1,917 GWh) and the smaller increase in renewables (+1,690 GWh) in the first five months of 2024, compared to the same period in 2023, offset the diminution of net imports (-3,003 GWh), the decrease in lignite-based electricity production (-613 GWh) and the small increase in demand (+207 GWh).

The corresponding percentage changes in the first five months of 2024, compared to 2023, were:

  • Lignite: -32%
  • Fossil gas: +36.9%
  • Renewables: +20.3%
  • Large hydro: +16.8%
  • Net imports: -93.7%
  • Oil: +0.9%
  • Demand: +1%

In the first five months of 2024, with 11,460 GWh clean energy (renewables and large hydro) was the highest of the decade, up 19.8% compared to the same period in 2023 (9,566 GWh). In fact, it surpassed by 1,844 GWh the electricity production from the three fossil fuels combined (9,615 GWh), which grew by a smaller 15.8% over the same period. This difference between clean energy and fossil fuels in the first five months widened in 2024 compared to 2023, when clean energy had exceeded fossil fuels for the first time by 1,265 GWh.

Clean energy met more than half of demand (53.8%) for the first time in the first five months of the year, while its share of net electricity generation was 54.4%. Renewables (mainly wind and solar) had the lion’s share in meeting demand with 47.2%, while large hydro covered 6.7% of demand. Fossil gas led the way among fossil fuels in meeting demand with a share of 33.4%, which is the largest share of the decade for the five-month period. It was followed by lignite at 6.1%, oil at 5.6%. Net imports were at just 1%, the lowest share of the decade.

The share of renewables would be even higher, if there were no curtailments. According to the forecasts of the consolidated planning process published daily by IPTO, a total of 430 GWh of RES were curtailed in the first five months of 2024. 122 GWh were curtailed in May, while the highest amount of clean energy was curtailed in April (259 GWh) compared to the other months of the year and the total of the 2023 curtailments (228 GWh). The remaining 49 GWh were curtailed in March.

According to the same IPTO projections, May 5th was the day of the month with the highest amount of RES curtailments (23.8 GWh), followed by May 1st (20.5 GWh).

If Greece avoided these curtailments during the first five months of 2024, it would be possible to fully eliminate net electricity imports, since during the aforementioned period total net imports (203 GWh) were lower than the curtailments. Therefore, Greece could have become a net exporter of electricity for the first time or even reduce the share of fossil gas, while increasing the share of renewables. Alternatively, the full utilization of all renewables production through storage infrastructure could reduce by the same amount (430 GWh) the use of fossil gas, leading to lower electricity prices in the wholesale electricity market.

In May 2024:

  • Lignite production at 50 GWh reached a historical low, at least since the 1970s. The previous lowest production was recorded in April 2022 (176 GWh). The lignite electricity production in May would have been even lower, if PPC had not been obliged to supply the district heating system of the city of Kozani until May 13th through the Agios Dimitrios TPP (units III, IV and V).
  • At 177 GWh, May was the second net export month of 2024, after April (244 GWh).
  • Fossil gas plants had the highest monthly production for 2024 (1,682 GWh), up 74.1% compared to May 2023 and the highest of the decade for the month of May, well ahead of the second high (1,344 GWh) recorded in May 2020.
  • Demand (4,036 GWh) increased month-on-month, after a continuous month-on-month decline for the first 4 months of 2024. However, it remained at the same level compared to May 2023.

Electricity consumption in Greece in the first five months of 2024 (21,286 GWh) increased by 1% compared to the same period last year, while it was 5.2% lower than the average of the last five years (2019-2023). The growth in demand is progressively slowing down through the year, as demand in the first month of 2024 was up 6.7%, in the first two months of 2024 by 2.6% and in the first quarter by 1.4% compared to the same periods in 2023.