Of Haris Fludopoulos
Increasing lignite power generation, additional LNG cargoes beyond those planned, along with running as many gas-diesel plants as technically possible, are the government’s main lines of defense to ensure the country’s energy sufficiency in the coming winter.
These are the measures planned against even the worst possible scenario, that of the complete interruption of the flow of Russian natural gas to Greece, which, although it is considered extreme to happen, cannot be ignored.
Alongside planning to ensure energy sufficiency, the government is also studying measures of either a mandatory or voluntary nature with the aim of saving energy from households, businesses, industries, as well as the State.
The biggest burden for meeting the country’s energy needs will fall on lignite, according to the plan drawn up by the government in view of the difficult energy winter. As has already been decided for some time, PPC has proceeded to double lignite production in order to deal with the consequences of the energy crisis and the possible interruption of the flow of Russian gas.
In particular, lignite production from 5 TWh is expected to increase to 10 TWh and will correspond to 20% of domestic energy consumption. In 2021, according to the official figures of ADMIE, lignite production reached 5.3 TWh and represented 10% of the total production mix.
In this context, PPC has already proceeded with a significant increase in investments in the mining sector. Specifically, the company has proceeded with a 50% increase in lignite mining. It is noted that before the crisis, PPC mined around 10.5 million tons of lignite per year, while in the context of the increase it is expected to exceed 15 million tons in the next two years, with the additional cost of mining estimated at around 50 million. euros, bringing the company’s total expenditure on mines to 150 million euros.
With the increased amounts of lignite to be mined, it is estimated that there may be an increase of more than 40% in the lignite energy produced. In fact, information indicates that interventions are being carried out even in the private mines of Achlada and Vevi. According to competent sources, the increase in lignite production at the current time is highly beneficial as it leads to a limitation of imports of expensive natural gas and thus improves the country’s trade balance.
Finally, it is worth noting that, according to information, there is already a significant increase in the use of lignite in the country’s energy balance. It is indicative that in July the participation of lignite was at 17%.
PPC’s goal is to ensure the continuous operation of 4 to 7 lignite units. Decisive in this direction is expected to be the operation of the new Ptolemaida 5 unit which is expected to start production in September.
Regarding natural gas sufficiency, in the event of an interruption of the flow of Russian gas to Europe, according to the scenarios prepared by the system manager DESFA, it is estimated that there will be a deficit of 50 TWh in the period August 2022-July 2023 Of this quantity, 26 TWh concern Greece and 24 TWh Bulgaria (exports). According to the DESFA scenario, LNG cargoes will play a primary role in addressing the deficit.
However, as the period will be difficult and the competition strong, DESFA adopts a more conservative scenario with coverage of 75% of the additional needs that will arise, i.e. to reduce the deficit from 50 to 22 TWh. Then other alternatives concern the storage of natural gas in Italy, the reduction of electricity exports, the change of fuel in 5 natural gas units that have the possibility to use diesel and finally the reduction of exports to Bulgaria. In this case the deficit drops to 6 TWh, of which 1.2 TWh concern Greece and the rest Bulgaria.