Independent energy players rushing to fill PPC lignite void

The country’s major independent energy groups are forging ahead with well anticipated plans to cover prospective electricity generating voids that will be created by power utility PPC’s withdrawal of lignite-fired units, now expected sooner following a government plan for a swifter withdrawal of all lignite-fired power stations, monopolized by the state-controlled power utility.

Speaking at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York last week, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis declared full decarbonization would be achieved in Greece by 2028.

The Prime Minister’s pledge for a lignite-free Greece in less than a decade has not taken domestic independent energy groups by surprise. As early as three to four years ago, they had foreseen an approaching end of the lignite era in Greece and around Europe.

So, too, had PPC’s leadership. But the corporation’s lignite monopoly, lignite dependence of local economies in lignite-rich areas, especially Greece’s west Macedonia region, as well as perpetual political interests attached to PPC over the years, have all played roles that have prevented the utility from turning to other energy sources such as natural gas and renewables.

Over the past year or so, major energy groups in Greece such as Mytilineos, GEK-TERNA, Copelouzos and Elpedison, as well as enterprises such as Elvalhalkor and Karatzis, have taken decisions to seek licenses for the development of new gas-fired power stations. The foundation stone of a Mytilineos unit in Boetia (Viotia), northwest of Athens, will be placed by the Greek Prime Minister at a ceremony scheduled for tomorrow.

A planned decarbonization process in neighboring Bulgaria, electricity needs in North Macedonia, and Greek power grid operator IPTO’s imminent upgrade of grid interconnections with Balkan neighbors, especially the aforementioned countries, are all creating further electricity export opportunities for Greek market players.