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The Decarbonization Plan | The Road to a Just Transition
The online discussion of HAEE focused on the decarbonization program of the domestic electricity production and the ambitious goal of complete disengagement of lignite from the domestic system under the National Plan for Energy and Climate (ESEK). Representatives of the state, the market, and experts in the field of energy participated in the discussion.
The Chairman of the Coordinating Committee of the Plan for Fair Development Transition presented the steps and the central axes, on which the transition to decarbonization will be based. He also stated that the multidimensional and complex task of this transition will give emphasis to the areas’ energy identity, job creation and mitigation of social impacts.
Mr. Mousouroulis pointed out that this project is extremely ambitious and it comprises of a great opportunity for the shift to clean energy. He also stated that the available funds in Kozani, Florina and Megalopolis have increased to 2.6 billion euros, to which additional funds will be levied by the Invest EU program, along with loans from the European Investment Bank. This is a project that demands the cooperation of many actors, but with the help of the European Union, it will be possible to be implemented.
The Deputy CEO of PPC, Mr. Kopanakis, pointed out that the company started the decarbonization process back in 2011 and that it will continue to do so, aiming at the withdrawal of 12 lignite power plants by 2021. For the period 2022-2023, the PPC targets at full disconnection from lignite, and therefore, savings of € 400 million from 2023 onwards.
Mr. Kopanakis also stated that the cost of lignite power generation has skyrocketed due to CO2 emissions at 90€/MWh with the company suffering a loss of 300 million euros per year from the operation of lignite plants. When he was asked why they do not close, he immediately noted that we must take into account the city's district heating in the lignite areas, the voluntary exit of workers and the need to give the required time so that there is no problem in the electrical system.
Finally, Mr. Kopanakis pointed that the company does not leave these areas but changes the way it operates. PPC will rehabilitate the production stations. This activity will provide many jobs in a short period of time, while the large photovoltaic parks announced by the company will be installed in these areas, namely in Western Macedonia and Megalopolis.
The Regional Governor of Western Macedonia described the decarbonization process as the strongest challenge for the Region since World War II, as 50% of the region's economy is linked to electricity generation. Regarding the social impacts, Mr. Kasapidis stated that the fair transition plan must be implemented before the loss of jobs from the PPC’s activity. He estimated that 5,000 direct and 15,000 indirect jobs depending on lignite would be lost, in an area where lignite currently generates 1 billion euros in revenue.
The professor of Energy Economics and Vice President of DEPA, Mr. Kostas Andriosopoulos noted that the whole region of Northern Greece is critical, as there are many projects to de developed and support the strategic gas network, such as the floating liquified natural gas station at Alexandroupoli (FSR) and the TAP pipeline. At the same time, he pointed out that the issue of heating will be covered by the contribution of natural gas, while the incentives for investments which are described in the new Ecomobility bill will attract industrial units with export orientation.
Mr. Haris Doukas, Associate Professor at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the NTUA and General Secretary of the Board of Directors of the EEEE, pointed out that energy efficiency and energy production are top priorities. This proposal leads to a clear result: less energy needs in each house, which are largely covered by clean energy self-production. Citizens in these areas produce, store, and consume clean energy and if they have more, they sell and share the profits. This proposal can be combined with the creation of local businesses that will undertake this great wave of radical energy reconstruction. Mr. Doukas noted that the energy brand name of the region of Macedonia can be modernized.