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Movement against imported coal plants, Greece


In July 2007 the Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Public Works published the General Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development Framework. In the “Energy Section” there were no plans for the creation of coal power plants. In contrary, one month later (8/2007) in the "1st report on the long-term energy planning of Greece, 2008-2020", issued by the Ministry of Development, power generation from coal is foreseen to range in a percentage between 5,6 % and 21 %, till 2020 [1,2].

Earlier, investment groups expressed strong interest for the creation of coal power plants, by submitting requests to the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE). The requests concerned five power plants in different areas in Greece (460MW and 800 MW in Evia; 600MW in Viotia; 600MW in Aitoloakarnania; 800MW in Fthiotida; 1600MW in Kavala or in Magnisia or in Evros). The main characteristic of these areas was that they were already environmentally degraded, as other polluting activities were already located there.

In the begging of January 2008, citizens and grassroot groups from Evia, Viotia, Aitoloakarnania, Kavala, Magnisia and Evros met for exploring the possibilities of reaction to the investment plants. A second meeting was held, where the creation of a nationwide collaboration network with the participation of stakeholders and citizens movements was decided. “Citizens against coal” started working collectively, organizing their struggle against the government’s plans [3,1].

At the same time, WWF Hellas created the “Coalition against coal”, with the participation of the municipalities concerned, following the invitation to participate in a workshop organized by the Municipalities of Mantoudi and Kyreos. The NGO noticed the great interest and opposition expressed by stakeholders and citizens and took the initiative. However, citizens expressed different views on the mainstream NGOs positions and actions on the issue [4, 3].

Both initiatives (Citizens against coal and Coalition against coal) organized various events, information workshop and demonstrations and they worked in parallel on the issue, although their organizational structures were different.

Citizens Against Coal organized nationwide assemblies, with the participation of representatives from the stakeholders and grassroots in order to coordinate their actions [5].

One of the most important actions was the encirclement of Korinthiakos gulf in February 2008. Citizens and movements from the wider area of Korinthiakos, as well as from other areas of Greece, formed a symbolic human chain, asking for protection of the environment and human activities (fishing, etc.) against the mega energy projects [6].

They launched press releases and they organized workshops providing information to the general public on the nationwide energy planning and the government and multinational manipulations, the effects of the use of coal on environment and society, the climate change and the international developments on the issue, as well as on the available alternatives (renewable energy sources). Political parties opposed to the governmental energy plans by submitting questions in the parliament and participating in citizens movements’ actions.

[7,8,9,10] .

In the areas where the energy plants were planned by Public Power Corporation and RWE, information were provided on the struggle of the Endsorf citizens (Germany) who managed to stop the construction of a similar power plant in their area [11 ].

Public Power Corporation employees were also involved in the struggle, but they mainly objected to the cooperation of the company with RWE. In April 2008, following the strong reactions, Public Power Corporation announced the change of the plans for the energy coal power plants in Kavala and Mantoudi, but the rest of the plans stayed untouched [12]. Public Power Corporation and RWE announced the transfer of the energy plant in Albania.

A “Week against coal” was organized from 12 to 18 of May 2008, comprising press conferences, information events and demonstrations all over Greece and in big cities (Athens and Thessaloniki). In some areas, schools participated also in the week events, organizing information workshops and presented projects on the issue [13,14]. At the same time, an internet campaign and an online petition were launched asking from the Greek government to change its energy generation plans and exclude coal [15]. Online petitions concerning specific areas were also launched by local groups.

In September 2008, an “energy march” was organized in the framework of the demonstration traditionally organized during the Thessaloniki International Fair. In the “energy march” citizens and movements from the West Macedonia, where coal plants are in operations, participated. Some days before the march, a symbolic occupation of DEI premises in Thessaloniki took place [16,17 ] In November 2008, a three days energy workshop was organized with the participation of civil society representatives form Ensdorf, Germany. In Ensdorf, civil society movement managed to cancel the creation of a RWE energy plant. The conference was very important for the Greek movement, as people from Greece and Germany had the opportunity to exchange views and experiences. In addition to this, presentations on alternative energy sources and plants and climate change issues contributed to the better documentation on the issue [18,19].

In February 2009, the Minister of Development announced the beginning of a nationwide debate on the country’s energy mix with the participation of political parties and environmental NGOs and he assured that the government wouldn’t proceed to the construction of coal units but will work on alternative power generation plans, emphasizing on natural gas and renewable energy sources.

In March 2009, the elaboration of a new energy planning was announced. The new plan gave priority to the development of renewable energy sources, but it didn't strongly reject the potential of coal power plants, if the needs of energy exceeded the production. [20,21] Citizens against coal continued their action, emphasizing in energy issues, energy generation privatization processes and in problems of other areas of Greece where lignite power plants were operating, hydroelectric plants were planned, etc.

In November 2009, following the new government and the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change announcements on the rejection of coal energy power plants, Citizens against coal announced the stopping of the initiative. It was a successful nationwide struggle that helped in the networking of different people and areas with common concerns on energy generation. In January 2010, the creation of an “Energy forum – Citizens movement for the energy” was launched, aiming at the exchange of information and collaboration between citizens’ movement and stakeholders interested in energy issues and facing problems from the operation of energy power plants in their areas. [22,23]

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Movement against imported coal plants, Greece

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Coal extraction and processing
Thermal power plants
Specific commodities:Electricity

Project Details and Actors

Project details

5 requests for coal plants (2007):

460MW, GEK TERNA Group in Mantoudi, Evia

600MW, MYTILINEOS Group in Aspra Spitia, Viotia

600MW, EDISON-HELLENIC PETROLEUM SA in Astakos, Aitoloakarnania

800MW, RWE-DEI in Larymna, Fthiotida

800 MW, DEI in Aliveri, Evia

1600MW, RWE-DEI in Nea Karvali, Kavala or in Almyro, Magnisia, or in Evros

The potentially affected population per area would be as follows:

1,956 (Mantoudi), 215,136 (Evia); 316 (Aspra Spitia), 131,085 (Viotia); 2,563 (Astakos), 224,429 (Aitoloakarnania); 1,495 (Larymna), 178,771 (Fthiotida); 5,621 (Aliveri), 215,136 (Evia); 2,301 (Nea Karvali), 145,054 (Kavala); 7,921 (Almyro), 206,995 (Magnisia); 149,354 Evros

Level of Investment:Estimated Capital investment cost: 1,867,450 $/MW (range 1.8-3.9 million $/MW, depending on the technology used in the plant and carbon dioxide possesses retention) [24]
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:1,465,960 population of the peripheries [25]
Start of the conflict:01/08/2007
End of the conflict:15/11/2009
Company names or state enterprises:GEK TERNA Group from Greece
MYTILINEOS Group from Greece
EDISON International from United States of America
RWE (RWE) from Germany
Public Power Corporation SA Hellas (DEI ) from Greece
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Development (so called in 2008-2009);
Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Public Works (so called in 2008-2009); Regulatory Authority for Energy;
Hellenic Transmission System Operator SA
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Citizens against coal founding movements: "In Action", Almyros’ voluntary environmental group; Evia’s active citizens; "Intervention", Aliveri’s union of citizens Tamynaion; Evros ecological association; Municipality of Kireos association for culture and environment; Panaitoloakarnaniko front for the environment;
Magnesia’s environmental initiative; Aliveri’s association for the protection of the environment; Voiotia’s alignment for the environment; Kavala’s coordination struggle committee.
Collectives that joined the initiative: Thessaloniki’s initiative group; Larissa’s Citizens in Action; Attica’s citizens energy group; Initiative for the protection of Corinthiakos gulf; Thessaloniki citizens' initiative against coal
Greenpeace; Coalition against coal (Municipalities and Communities of Almyros, Antikyra, Astakos, Distomo, Kavala, Larymna, Kyriaki, Mantoudi, WWF Hellas); left political parties; Association of Prefectures of Greece; Association of Greek Chemists; MEPs; municipal parties;

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsRespiratory problems due to ashes
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Project cancelled
Withdrawal of company/investment
Development of alternatives:Civil society groups involved in the struggle promoted the concept of energy saving and energy generation by Renewable Energy Sources by organizing information events on alternatives and on climate change issues.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:It was a successful civil society movements’ struggle, as the withdrawal of the plans for the construction of coal energy generation plans by the government was mainly due to the people’s reaction.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[3] Basdeki Dorothea, 2010, The grassroots movement against coal in Greece

[24] Psomas St, 2008, Coal-What it means for our lifes? Greenpeace Greece

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[2] Ministry of Environment, 2007, 1st report on the long-term energy planning of Greece, 2008-2020

[6] Citizens against coal, 2008, Wind of hope blew in Rio

[8] Citizens against coal, 2008, Government and Public Power Corporation SA Hellas: undaunted for coal

[9] Citizens against coal 2008, Debate: RES and their integration in local communities

[10] Citizens against coal, 2008, The energy planning was solved: ... it was awarded to power generators

[11] Citizens against coal, 2008, An interesting story: how German citizens kicked out RWE

[13] Citizens against coal, 2008, 12-18 May, Week against coal

[14] Citizens against coal, 2008, Events in the framework of the “Week against coal”

[15] Citizens against coal and Coalition against Coal, 2008, Petition: Appeal against coal

[16] Citizens against coal, 2008, Energy wind from Thessaloniki

[18] Citizens against coal, 2008, The final agenda of the three days energy workshop

[19] Citizens against coal, 2008, Greek and German citizens exchange experiences

[20] Citizens against coal, 2009, Brake on coal - citizens can impose solutions

[21] Citizens against coal, 2009, Starting of the new energy planning

[22] Citizens against coal, 2009, The victory against the coal is established, the initiative of "Citizens against coal" stops

[23] Citizens against coal, 2009,Stakeholders and civil movements’ intervention for Renewable Energy Sources

[25] Hellenic Statistical Authority, Census 2001

[1] Citizens against coal, 2008, Citizens against coal declaration

[4] WWF Hellas, 2008, Coalition against coal

[12] Citizens against coal, 2008, Government - PPC - individuals persist in coal

[17] Citizens against coal, 2008, Symbolic occupation of DEI premises in Thessaloniki

[5] Citizens against coal, 2008, Local communities have spoken. Now what?

[7] Citizens against coal, 2008, Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Public Works] .... smothered in emissions (once again)

Meta information

Contributor:Ermioni Frezouli, Geography Department - Harokopio University Athens (HUA).
Last update18/08/2019



DEI – Public Power Corporation Hellas premises blocade in Kavala, February 2008


DEI – Public Power Corporation Hellas premises blocade in Thessaloniki, September 2008


Map with the proposed imported coal plants in Greece


Encirclement of Korinthiakos gulf in February 2008


Demonstration in Mantoudi, March 2008


Encirclement of Korinthiakos gulf - march on Rio-Antirio bridge, February 2008


Nationwide meeting of Citizens against Coal, March 2008


Demonstration in Thessaloniki (energy march), September 2008


Poster Week against Coal, May 2008


Demonstration in Korinthos, May 2008


Demonstration in Leivadia, May 2008