PPC and the Greek state express support for CCS: from mere declarations to concrete goals

The report (in PDF form to the right) describes an integrated business plan for the period 2009 – 2014, including investments of €13.5 billion, aimed towards a drastic decrease of greenhouse gas emissions. These investments include the construction of new thermal power plants with a capacity of 3,887 MW to replace old, inefficient and polluting power plants, with an overall capacity of 2,400 MW.

The report states that these new power plants will be constructed on the basis of “Best Available Techniques,” thus adhering to extremely strict requirements of European and national legislation. Moreover, provision is made for “future installation of equipment for CO2 capture and underground storage (CCS) when the related technologies become mature and safe, legal and cost effective.”

The investments are estimated to result in a 25 percent reduction of CO2 emissions per produced kWh compared to 2006 levels by 2015. However, the overall increase in generating capacity will mean that total emissions will not decrease.

Yet questions linger about whether these moderate goals are enough for a company committed to a zero carbon power supply by 2050. With two new lignite plants planned for 2015, serious efforts to mitigate emissions are required.

CCS appears to be the only viable solution to neutralize emissions from thermal power plants. For this reason, PPC needs to be at the forefront of CCS developments rather than a mere observer of international developments in the field. An important first step would be to set now a concrete date for the fitting of future lignite power plants with CCS.

Nevertheless, PPC also needs the state to untie its hands. Greece, as mentioned in a recent article (in Greek) by George Fidikakis in the popular newspaper TA NEA, “abolished the opportunity to take part of the 300 million EU emission allowances put on the table by the EU for the construction of power plants using CCS, a technology that PPC desperately needs.”

Other countries with lower rates of dependency on coal and lignite, such as Spain and Italy made excellent use of that opportunity.

Yet the mood seems to be changing given that up until recently Greece appeared to be the greatest opponent of CCS in the EU. As the new Greek Deputy Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Ioannis Maniatis, stated in his first public speech at the World Energy Regulatory Forum held recently in Athens; “In the energy mix of the country there is no place for hard-coal, nuclear energy is also not an acceptable solution. Our energy planning gives priority to the replacement of old lignite units with new thermal units of clean coal using new technologies of clean combustion and high efficiency (…)”

It remains to be seen if these initial declarations of support for CCS will materialise into action. For now, the bar has been set very high by the new Socialist government as it has promised to work hard on applying solutions to climate change. CCS must be part of the solution for lignite-dependent Greece. The new government and PPC need to act now, or offer alternative solutions to meet the goal of zero-carbon power supply by 2050.