The government in Athens is preparing a bill for a just development transition of its coal regions as the use of the harmful fossil fuel is being phased out. The legislation package envisages the establishment of a company that will manage and upgrade former open pits and slag and ash dumps and facilitate investments in energy, infrastructure and other projects. Greece is counting on EUR 5 billion in European and state funds and private investment.
Greece is continuing with its efforts to enable the makeover of areas currently dominated by lignite production and thermal power plants as it intends to stop using coal by 2025. The cabinet of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is working on legislation that would set the so-called Fair Transition Development Plan in motion.
The bill includes the establishment of a company that will take over 16,400 hectares in the north and the Megalopolis region in the Peloponnese.
The initial idea was for the firm to be called Metavasi (transition), but according to the proposal, it will be named Hellenic Company for a Fair Development Transition or Eledam. It is envisaged to manage the land that state-owned lignite producer and coal plant operator Public Power Co. (PPC) and its subsidiary PPC Renewables won’t use for their green investments.
Public-private partnerships on state-owned coal land
The transfer concerns two thirds of PPC’s land property – mostly open pits, slag and ash dumps and thermal power facilities. Greece is rushing to regulate a just transition for workers in the coal industry and other inhabitants of the regions where the activity is dominant.
The new company, Eledam, will be responsible for preparing spatial plans, upgrading the now unusable land, building infrastructure and arranging private investments
The government earmarked EUR 5 billion for cushioning the blow from the shutdown of mines and thermal power plants. The budget should come from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan Greece 2.0 and other European and domestic sources, including the European Investment Bank and private investments.
Eledam will be tasked with detailing business development prospects for the land and promoting and attracting investments, some of which should be in the form of public-private partnerships. It will need to prepare spatial plans, upgrade the land and execute infrastructure and development projects. It will be supervised by a government agency which would be established after the law is adopted, to manage the investments.
Diversifying local economy with focus on energy, environment
The cabinet revealed it would work on renewable energy and high-efficiency cogeneration projects in the zones that would be left unused with the coal phaseout. The emphasis of the just transition endeavor is on investments in energy and environmental protection. The idea is to revitalize and diversify the local economy by boosting industry and trade, smart agricultural production, sustainable tourism, technology and education.
The cabinet is also working on an action plan to fight energy poverty and on electricity market reforms.
Five projects dominate the just transition plan. A gas pipeline to the coal region of Western Macedonia of 155 kilometers is scheduled to be finished by 2023, at a cost of EUR 110 million. Greece plans to build a section of the E65 highway in the same area.
The third is the White Dragon project in Western Macedonia for the production, storage and transport of green hydrogen. The authorities plan to install new central heating systems for three cities there. A large chunk of the funds is earmarked for PPC Renewables’ solar power plants.