The country’s return to full-scale, lignite-fired electricity generation, an initiative taken to limit the use of natural gas, whose cost has surged amid the energy crisis, increased lignite’s share of the Greek energy mix to 34 percent in June, up from 19.9 percent in May.
Prior to the energy crisis, Greece’s existing lignite-fired power stations, environmentally unfriendly, were headed for withdrawal by 2023 as part of the country’s decarbonization effort.
The duration of their return will now depend on the length of the energy crisis. Ptolemaida V, a new lignite-fired power station planned to be converted to natural gas in the near future, will soon bolster the country’s lignite initiative. This facility’s launch is planned for October or November.
Many questions remain unanswered. The amount of lignite deposits available for extraction at mines is unclear. Also, Greece’s lignite mines and lignite-fired power stations could be short of personnel following the execution of voluntary retirement programs in recent years, as part of the decarbonization drive. In addition, the ability of these lignite units to operate continuously and fully cover a total disruption of Russian gas supply, including during winter, is questionable.
Continual use of the lignite-fired power stations could lead to technical problems. This, at present, is the biggest fear concerning their return.
Government officials contend current lignite deposits can cover the country’s needs until 2030, while new lignite mines could be created, if needed. Staff levels are also sufficient, the officials added.