EU’s RES installations in ’22 climb to record level

Wind and solar energy installations reached a record level in the EU last year, adding 57 GW to the continent’s grid, a 16 percent year-on-year rise, according to a European Commission report for the fourth quarter in 2022.

These increased RES installations helped renewable energy capture an increased share of the EU’s energy mix in 2022, rising 39 percent, up from 38 percent in 2021, the Brussels 4Q report showed.

Solar energy output rose by 26 percent in 2022, offering an additional 41 TWh, onshore wind farm generation increased by 10 percent, or 33 TWh, while offshore wind farm production grew by 4 percent, delivering an additional 2 TWh to Europe’s grid.

Solar and wind energy’s combined output in 2022 rose by 14 percent, offering an additional 76 TWh, according to the report.

Hydropower generation fell by 17 percent, or 61 TWh, as a result of dominant drought periods in a number of European countries during 2022.

Nuclear energy generation was also down in the EU last year, falling 17 percent, or 118 TWh, as a result of disruptions and facility maintenance delays in France.

The European Power Benchmark, the continent’s average wholesale baseload electricity price, rose 121 percent in 2022 compared to a year earlier, reaching 230 euros per MWh, the 4Q report showed.

Italy recorded Europe’s highest average wholesale electricity price in 2022, at 304 euros per MWh, followed by Malta, at 294 euros per MWh, Greece, at 279 euros per MWh, and France, at 275 euros per MWh, the European Commission report noted.

Job losses feared at PPC as a result of carbon’s diminishing role

The anticipated withdrawal of main power utility PPC carbon-fired units from the country’s energy mix over the next few years, needed as part of the EU effort to meet CO2 emission reduction targets, is expected to not only diminish the utility’s production capacity and number of clients, but the size of its workforce as well.

The fear of job losses is being widely felt across the corporation, from PPC’s workers at the utility mines to management.

Though the subject of PPC’s looming job losses is being avoided at an official level, it has become commonly known within the utility’s ranks that the withdrawal of a capacity totalling 1,800 MW – 1,200 MW at Kardia and 600 MW at Amynteo, both in northern Greece – will make redundant the staff members associated with these operations.

In two years from now, the total capacity of PPC’s coal-fired facilities will have contracted to 2,200 MW from 4,000 MW at present.

PPC’s workforce will be oversized even if Greece manages to keep the carbon-fired proportion of the country’s energy mix at a level of 25 percent, experts have already pointed out.

However, it should also be noted that mining specific coal amounts these days requires more work than in the past as all high-density carbon deposits have been extracted from the exisiting mines. Workers now need to process greater amounts of earth, measuring between 5 and 7 cubic meters, on average, in order to extract one ton of coal, compared to 3 cubic meters in previous years.

A considerable number of PPC workers are approaching retirement age, which should help the utility’s downsize effort. PPC has already offered 15,000-eupo bonus packages to some 200 staff members who have qualified for retirement but opted to carry on working.

PPC’s prospective downsize could serve as a model for other state-controlled companies and utilities.



Greece, Poland refuse to back Eurelectric’s carbon retreat

Eurelectric, the European electricity industry association, intends to stop supporting investments in carbon-based electricity generation from 2020 onwards as part of its commitment to helping achieve carbon-neutral power supply in Europe by 2050, the association noted in a statement released today.

Greece and Poland, still maintaing carbon-heavy energy mixes and planning to develop new carbon-fired power stations, will not back Eurelectric on this objective.

“EURELECTRIC believes that market-based mechanisms such as carbon markets are the most cost-effective and efficient tool for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and stimulating investments in low carbon technologies and energy efficiency,” Eurelectric noted in a statement.

The association also pointed out: “Only the combination of an effectively reformed EU ETS and improved EU electricity market design can lead to sustainable and credible carbon price signals to drive investments to mature low carbon technologies. The power sector is already widely investing into low-carbon and innovative solutions to achieve carbon-neutral electricity supply by 2050 and does not intend to invest in new-build coal-fired power plants after 2020. In this context, we strongly reiterate our belief in cost-efficiency as an essential to building a resilient and future-proof Energy Union. We therefore urge policy makers to refrain from introducing command and control tools and to support a market-based energy transition.

Antonio Mexia, president of Eurelecric and chief executive of Portugal’s EDP, noted that the electricity sector is “determined to lead the energy transition and support its commitments for a low-carbon economy through specific actions.”

Eurelectric represents 3,500 electricity sector enterprises in Europe with a total capitalization of over 200 billion euros.