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Economy

Skyrocketing Energy Prices Pushing Greece Back to Coal Ages

ATHENS – Hopes of weaning off coal in the 21st century to produce electricity in Greece have been set back because of jumping prices, driving the state’s Public Power Corporation (PPC) to crank up using more of it instead.

Prices had soared because coal was being removed from the mix but Kathimerini said with electricity prices going up 189 percent in a 12-month period and the state pumping in subsidies that it’s needed again.

That was also because of trying to get away from dependence on Russian energy sources which provide Greece up to 20 percent of its supplies, and still coming to the European Union despite other sanctions for the invasion of Ukraine.

The Energy and Environment Ministry is planning to double lignite production and reconsider getting away from coal, an order already given about the mines of Western Macedonia and Megalopoli, the paper said.

Adding to the setback in the fight against Climate Change that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said was a priority is that besides using more coal fie gas units will be converted to pollution-producing oil.

The paper said despite a requirement that all PPC lignite units should be operating on market terms, the participation of coal in the fuel mix was just 4 percent as only Unit 3 of the Agios Dimitrios plant was operating.

A big drop in RES (Renewable Energy Sources wind, solar, aerothermal, geothermal, hydro, ocean energy sources, biomass and the biodegradable fraction of waste) to 8 percent is being replaced by costly natural gas, further raising the price to 334.43 ($367.27) euros per megawatt hour.

The paper said that a meeting was held with Mitsotakis at the Prime Minister’s residence at Maximos Mansion with the participation of Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas and the head of PPC Giorgos Stassis to talk about a proposal to get away from coal in 2025 instead of 2023.

But asked about that timetable, Skrekas stated that even if the government did decide to extend the program beyond 2023, the operation of the units will be judged on market terms – which means coal could be used indefinitely.

That likely means the targets to get away from fossil fuels in the 21st Century, with Greece not taking full advantage of its abundant wind and solar power capabilities, will not be met, the paper said earlier.

A temporary swing back to coal and oil could slash gas imports by 28 billion cubic meters but lead to more emissions and further affect the environment, said European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans.

Greece has been looking for alternatives if Russian supplies are limited or even cut off, energy officials considering reopening coal-fired plants and an oil-fired facility on Crete and transforming five gas-power plants to diesel, limiting the ability to reduce emissions.

And while Mitsotakis has ruled out nuclear power because of Greece’s suscepibility to earthquakes, his government is working to acquire nuclear energy from Bulgara, which uses Russian-built reactors.

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