greece_round_icon_640Accounting in 2015 for 23.4% of the country’s primary energy supply of 33.7 Mtce, lignite is Greece’s most important indigenous energy resource, although the country does have modest oil and gas reserves.  At 0.2 Mtce, hard coal imports accounted for 0.6% of total primary energy supply in 2015. Oil accounted for 47.6% of the country’s primary energy supply;  Greece has a large refining industry which exports oil products.  Consumption of imported natural gas increased significantly until the global economic crisis of 2008, but has since declined.  Natural gas had an 11.3% share in primary energy supply in 2015.  Electricity imports have grown strongly in recent years to reach 11.1 TWh in 2015.



General data







€ billion


Security of supply, low extraction costs and stable prices are important reasons why lignite will maintain a strong position in the Greek energy mix.


Greece boasts lignite resources of 4.6 billion tonnes and 2.9 billion tonnes of economically workable reserves.  The most important deposits are located in the north of the country at Ptolemais-Amynteon and Florina (1.5 billion tonnes) which contribute around 80% of production.  Other deposits lie at Drama (900 million tonnes) and at Elassona (170 million tonnes), as well as in the south at Megalopolis (225 million tonnes).  There is also a large peat deposit of about 4 billion cubic metres at Philippi in the northern part of Greece (Eastern Macedonia).  Only 30% of the total lignite reserves have been extracted to date and remaining reserves are good for over forty years at current production rates.

Lignite deposits in Greece lie at an average depth of 150 to 200 metres and typically comprise layers of lignite alternating with layers of mineral.

The quality of Greek lignite can be characterised as follows:  the lowest calorific values are in the areas of Megalopolis and Drama (3 770 to 5 020 kJ/kg) and Ptolemais-Amynteon (5 230 to 6 280 kJ/kg).  In Florina and Elassona the calorific value lies between 7 540 and 9 630 kJ/kg.  The ash content ranges from 15.1% (Ptolemais) to 19.0% (Elassona), and the water content from 41.0% (Elassona) to 57.9% (Megalopolis).  The sulphur content is generally low.

Lignite is mined by the PUBLIC POWER CORPORATION (PPC) exclusively in opencast mines.  This majority state-owned company is the largest lignite producer in Greece.  It operates mines in Western Macedonia at Main Field, South Field, Kardia Field, Amynteon Field and Florina.  PPC also has an opencast site in the Peloponnese region of southern Greece, in the Megalopolis Field.  Bucket-wheel excavators, spreaders, tripper cars and conveyor belts are used to mine and transport lignite at these sites.  PPC currently operates 48 bucket-wheel excavators and 22 spreaders, together with more than 300 kilometres of belt conveyors.  Heavy trucks are used to remove the hard overburden formations found at some mines.

In 2015, lignite production amounted to 46.0 million tonnes, mostly mined by PPC, with 35.7 million tonnes extracted by the company at the West Macedonia Lignite Centre (WMLC) and 8.1 million tonnes at the Megalopolis Lignite Centre (MLC).  The few privately operated mines in the West Macedonia area produced a total of 2.2 million tonnes of lignite.

In 2015, WMLC operations removed a total of 201.6 million cubic metres of overburden and interburden, corresponding to an overburden-interburden-to-lignite ratio of 5.6 cubic metres per tonne.  At MLC, overburden plus interburden removal was 28.4 million cubic metres, corresponding to an overburden-interburden-to-lignite ratio of 3.5:1.  Although the overburden-interburden-to-lignite ratio has significantly increased in recent years, it is expected to remain stable in the future.  The two mining areas, WMLC and MLC, and the head office in Athens, currently employ a total permanent workforce of about 3 439.

Environmental protection is one of the major parameters defining PPC’s overall strategy and its daily mining activities.  In the lignite mining areas around Ptolemais-Amynteon and Megalopolis, PPC has carried out site restoration projects to create farmland, tree plantations, woodland, sanctuaries for small animals and crop-testing areas.

At the end of 2015, PPC’s power generation plants accounted for 49.2% of the country’s total installed capacity of 22.0 GW and include lignite- and gas-fired plants, oil-fired plants on interconnected and autonomous islands, hydro plants, wind farms and solar PV plants.  There are also seven private power plants with a total capacity of 2 626 MW.  PPC owns six lignite-fired power plants comprising fourteen units with a total installed capacity of 4 337 MW.  In 2015, lignite-fired power plants accounted for 46.1% of gross power generation of 48.0 TWh.  The share of gas was 13.6%, oil 10.8%, hydro 11.7%, wind 9.5%, solar 7.8% and biofuels/waste 0.5%.

Lignite’s future role in Greece will depend on changes taking place in the European energy sector, including the cost of CO2 emission allowances.  Nevertheless, low-cost domestic lignite is still competitive compared to imported energy sources such as natural gas.  PPC faces important changes relating to the regulatory framework governing energy market liberalisation.  Strategic priorities now include the replacement of old and inefficient plants and investment in renewable energy sources.  The construction of a new 650 MW lignite-fired power plant at Ptolemaios (unit V) started in 2012 and is planned to be operational in 2018.

The ongoing recession has had a negative impact on other new investments and the government’s “green” policy means that while renewables are displacing generation from lignite and natural gas, the cost of producing electricity has increased with consumers asked to pay €18/MWh in renewable subsidies.


Coal resources and reserves



Resources lignite


4 600

Reserves lignite


2 900

Primary energy production



Total primary energy production



Lignite (saleable output)

Mt / Mtce

45.4 / 8.6

Saleable coal quality



Lignite net calorific value


3 770‑9 630

Lignite ash content

% a.r.


Lignite moisture content

% a.r.


Lignite sulphur content

% a.r.


Coal imports / exports



Hard coal imports



Primary energy consumption



Total primary energy consumption



Hard coal consumption



Lignite consumption



Power supply*



Total gross power generation



Net power imports (exports)



Total power consumption



Power generation from lignite



Lignite power generation capacity


4 337




Direct in lignite mining



Other lignite-related**



* excluding small islands with independent diesel generators
e.g. in power generation, equipment supply, services and R&D