German RWE’s “green” goals in Greece

RWE’s CEO, Rolf Martin Schmitz, delivered the German power giant’s proposal to prime minister K. Mitsotakis for a collaboration in renewables.

During his meeting with the Greek PM, Mr. Schmitz proposed to focus on renewable projects, but also on the sharing of knowhow to PPC for the process of decommissioning its lignite power plants.

Clean energy investment

It should be noted that the German group operates power plants of 25 GW in Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Turkey, using natural gas, coal, lignite, hydropower and biomass as fuels.

The company has already proceeded in a significant drop of its coal portfolio, reducing its CO2 emissions by 60 million tones (around 30%) in the years between 2012 and 2018.

At the same time, RWE has pledged to further reduce emissions in the future with continuous decommissioning in order to achieve a neutral carbon footprint by 2040. As part of this effort, the company realizes annual investments of 1.5-2 billion Euros in renewables and energy storage. Besides, Germany has announced the full decommissioning of coal plants by 2038.

Old acquaintances

It should be noted that PPC and RWE have a lot in common when it comes to their course, since the two companies were close to cooperating 12 years ago.

Specifically, the two power groups had the knowhow and a wide portfolio in lignite plants, which is the least efficient and hardest to exploit of all kinds of coal.

As to their cooperation, which was not concluded in 2007 during Takis Athanasopoulos’s tenure as CEO of PPC, the two groups had signed a memorandum for the construction of 2 giants hard coal plants of 800 MW each. Said plan was pioneering in its time, but did not progress because of political and union resistance.

Now, the prime minister’s announcement to decommission PPC’s lignite plants by 2028 creates a wide spectrum of cooperation for the two groups, with decarbonization as their common goal.

Green Tank welcomes Mitsotakis’s statement for lignite

“The country’s energy policy turns a page”, noted Green Tank, while welcoming Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s statements about the lignite transition.

During a special climate summit organized by the UN general secretary, Greek PM, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, pledged to decommission all lignite plants by 2028 at the latest.

“The PM’s pledge to shut down lignite plants by 2028 constitutes an historic decision. Our attention must now focus on the just transition of lignite regions”, said the environmental think tank.

“It is an historic decision since lignite has been our main fuel for more than six decades. At the same time, though, between 1990 and 2017, it was responsible for 34% of CO2 emissions, one of the highest percentages in the EU. Therefore, lignite is the main culprit for the fact that Greece is among the countries with the worst climate performance in Europe.

Beyond the indisputable negative effects of burning lignite for public health and the environment, progress in renewables together with European environmental law and European energy policy have made lignite economically unprofitable in recent years”, said Green Tank in its announcement.

In Green Tank’s recent report, it was highlighted that during the last 3.5 years the total damages from lignite plants’ operation reached 683 million Euros, while if PPC’s lignite portfolio remained as it currently is, damages would reach 1.3 billion in the next 3.5 years.

“Congratulations to the Greek government for its historic decision of full independence from lignite by 2028. It is absolutely necessary that this decision is mirrored in the revised National Energy and Climate Plan, while it also forces a change about the new PPC lignite plant “Ptolemaida 5”. Now that the lignite landscape becomes clear, attention must be given to these regions of the country with a high dependence on lignite. Greece’s transition to the post-lignite period must be viable and just for local communities that burned for decades in order for us to have power”, said Nick Mantzaris, policy analyst of Green Tank.

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