To get rid of its dependence on Russian gas, Greece will double its coal production

“Greece’s energy policy must be flexible, and we must take into account the current situation”, a assuré le premier ministre grec, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, lors de l’inauguration, mercredi 6 avril, dans le nord de la Grèce, d’un parc photovoltaïque de 204 mégawatts (MW), une des plus grandes unités de sources d’évelgies in Europe. In addition to deploying solar panels and wind turbines across the country, he announced that power plants from lignite, a depleted form of coal that is highly polluting, would not close by 2023 as his government initially planned, but in 2028.

Over the next two years, production will double. This trend is already underway: lignite now accounts for 19.83% of total electricity production, compared to an average of 7% just a month ago, while renewable energies account for 21%.

The increase in lignite production “a temporary and necessary measure”, Government spokesman Yiannis Economo insists. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Athens, which depends on 40% of Russian gas and 25% of Russian oil, has sought to diversify its supplies and cope with rising energy prices. In one year, in Greece, the price of natural gas rose by 78.5% and electricity by 71.4%, and despite the granting of social assistance totaling 1.1 billion euros to low-income people, the discontent of the population is growing.

“Accepting failure”

As a first step, the government decided to develop a liquefied natural gas terminal off the city of Alexandroupolis, not far from the Turkish land border, to re-launch gas explorations in the Ionian Sea and off Crete, as well as the EastMed pipeline project linking offshore natural gas fields off Israel and Cyprus to Greece .

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But the option to actively restart the production of lignite, after its reduction, aroused numerous criticisms. The government formed for the main left-wing opposition party, Syriza Badly programmed wrong power and climate plan, Making Greece dependent on Russian gas by wanting to reduce lignite production without a viable Plan B. As for the Movement for Change (Kinal, centre-left coalition), it is simply just Admitting failure.

The Conservative government has already pledged to go from about 30% of electricity currently produced using renewable energy to 67% by 2030, and phase out electricity production by 2028 by burning lignite. Of the 31 billion euros allocated to Greece as part of the European recovery plan after the crisis due to Covid-19, about 38% should be allocated to combat global warming according to the government.

Priority for renewable energy

“There had to be a war that increased gas prices tenfold so that lignite became temporarily cheaper,” Prime Minister justified. But “Under any circumstances” He added that these changes do not affect Greece’s stated goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% in 2030 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

Chuck Sandy Familiare, who is responsible for climate change issues at the NGO Greenpeace Greece: “It is a big step backward and it is not understood, although the government is currently trying to put out the fire because gas prices have risen dramatically.” The cost of energy from renewable energies remains the lowest and most stable. The choice of lignite at the time of the climate emergency is not justified and is also not what the Greeks wanted,” Researcher continues. According to a survey conducted by the NGO among 1,241 Greeks, 60% believe that in the face of the current energy crisis, the government should give priority to the development of renewable energies.

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