The transition to a new national energy model and the need to transform the model of development of Western Macedonia have been acknowledged and anticipated for years. However, the reluctance of the state, local authorities, local stakeholders and PPC has prevented the Western Macedonia Region from planning and adapting to a new era in a timely and smooth manner. The present study aims to contribute to the public debate, present the issue to a Greek and international audience and designate different alternatives that can ensure social and economic prosperity in the region.
This report follows on from two older studies by WWF Greece that highlighted the dead-end situation brought on at a national level through the prolongation of the lignite-based model for electricity production, as well as the existence of economically competitive alternatives to lignite. The first of those, "Ptolemaida 5 and Meliti 2, Economic viability report of the new lignite units" (2013), examined the operation of Ptolemaida V and Meliti II over a 30-year time frame, and their operating hours and economic efficiency in particular. Based on the results of the analysis, these two new PPC units were found to be disadvantageous and, under certain circumstances, even harmful investments. The second study, "Clean Alternatives to Ptolemaida V" (2015), demonstrated that there are hybrid combinations of RES units and pumped hydro energy storage stations that can sufficiently cover the same base load for which Ptolemaida V has been designed. These solutions are proven to be advantageous, not only from an environmental and social standpoint, but in purely economic terms, too.
However, while the investment in new lignite power generation units will lead to a dead-end, at a national level, the reduced lignite activity will have dramatic economic and social impacts on the Western Macedonia Region. The rest of the report describes alternative growth scenarios that are compatible with an environmentally and economically sustainable production model and, at the same time, can meet the needs of the local community and local economy.
There is no doubt that the transition will be painful and long. Nevertheless, the prompt mobilisation of competent bodies, the timely development of an integrated, long-term transition plan for Western Macedonia and the raising of sufficient funds can help the local economy and community make a radical turn towards sustainability.
The report is structured as follows:
Chapter 2 offers a historical overview of the role of lignite, the exploitation of which has been the cornerstone of Greece's electricity generation and industrial development, followed by a description of the main reasons why lignite-based power production is approaching an end.
Chapter 3 outlines the region's current economic and development profile, in order to assess the losses expected to be brought about by the end of the lignite era. The next part presents guidance documents prepared by international bodies on planning this transition, case studies of regions that managed to successfully respond to the needs of such a transition (Chap. 4), as well as recommendations made by various local stakeholders in particular (Chap. 5). Chapter 6 describes the main economic activities that can be developed in order to
offset the decline in PPC's activities. In addition, there are 6 scenarios developed, based on assumptions regarding the development of distinct sectors of the economy and the multifold impacts they would have on the job sector and the GDP of the region under study. Finally, chapter 7 sets out the prerequisites for a transition to a post-lignite era, along with the economic tools, both at national and international level, that can and need to be used in order to successfully implement the growth scenarios proposed.