ATHENS, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Greece will spend 5 billion euros
($5.9 billion) to offset the impact of ditching coal in power
generation by 2028 and cutting carbon emissions in line with
European Union climate targets by 2050, a government official
said on Wednesday.
Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis told reporters the total
will include state money, funds from the European Union and
loans from the European Investment Bank.
The funds will be spent on infrastructure projects,
subsidies to new businesses, and training, to help western
Macedonia and Megalopoli in Southern Peloponnese switch to green
energy, agriculture and tourism.
Those regions are the main suppliers of the cheap and
abundant lignite resources Greece has relied on for power
generation for more than half a century.
Greece's conservative government, which took over last year,
has pledged to switch off 80% of state utility Public Power
Corp's coal capacity by 2023 to reduce its carbon
Hatzidakis also said that some 16 private investments in
renewables and other activities are in the pipeline and are
expected to help create more than 8,000 jobs in western
Macedonia and Megalopoli.
Greece's 17% unemployment rate is the highest in the euro
"The number of jobs that will be created in Western
Macedonia and Megalopoli will be more than those that will be
lost", Hatzidakis said.
Greece will also consider tax incentives to new businesses
in the affected areas to support local communities, he said.
Investments include a plan by PPC to build solar parks in
Western Macedonia with generating capacity of 2.3 gigawatts, and
a 130 million euro solar power project by Hellenic Petroleum
in the same region..
PPC has already shut two coal units with a total capacity of
550 megawatts in Macedonia and will switch off the remaining 10
Another plant it is building in Ptolemaida, northern Greece,
will operate using coal until 2028, after which it will switch
to a different fuel.
Hatzidakis said the plan will be placed under public
consultation until Oct. 31 and will be submitted for approval to
the Greek parliament and the European Union by the end of the
($1 = 0.8462 euros)
(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Jan Harvey)