Bleak future for Europe’s carbon-fired units, IEEFA study notes

European carbon-fired power stations, including conventional units operated by Greece’s main power utility PPC, face a difficult future as upgrades needed to meet stricter EU environmental standards will increase the cost of electricity generated by these units by as much as 10 euros per MWh and negatively impact their level of market competitiveness, according to a study conducted by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

The study also notes that European carbon-fired power stations also face regulatory obstacles.

Numerous conventional carbon-fired power stations will need to be upgdraded to meet new regulations by 2021, the IEEFA study noted.

The study takes into account solid-fuel units with production capacities of over 50 MW operating around the EU. These units amount to just under 600.

It places particular emphasis on the 108 heaviest polluting units whose emission levels are at least 40 percent over revised EU levels.

Half of these 108 units belong to seven corporations, Greece’s PPC, PGE, Enel/Endesa, EDF, Tauron, CEZ and Drax, while PPC controls five percent of these heaviest-polluting units, the study noted.

The IEEFA study noted that upgrades needed by these carbon-fired units in order to combat NOx emission limits will add between 2 and 4 euros per MWh to the cost of electricity generation. A further 6 to 7 euros per MWh will be added to the cost of electricity by upgrades needed to combat SOx emissions, the study also pointed out. In total, the overall electricity production cost increase at certain units could exceed 10 euros per MWh.

Emission levels at two PPC carbon-fired power stations in the Agios Dimitrios area, northern Greece, were found to be 150 percent over EU limits, the IEEFA study pointed out.

On a wider level, Greek power stations exceeded EU emission limits by 50 to 150 percent in 2014, the IEEFA study found.

A PPC upgrade program to curb conventional power station greenhouse gas emissions has been in progress for some years now.

It has been estimated that a total investment of 31.5 million euros is needed by PPC to reduce its NOx emissions, while unit upgrades worth a further 75 million euros are needed to limit SOx emissions.