ATHENS – With temperatures expected to hit as high as 116 degrees Fahrenheit in some parts of the country in Greece’s worst heatwave in 34 years, people are being advised not to crank up the air conditioning, a saving grace for many.
It was the lack of air conditioning for widespread use in 1987 when the country last baked as hot that led to as many as 1,000 deaths and this time the COVID-19 pandemic is limiting how many people could be packed into cooled public buildings and auditoriums.
Mitsotakis said the unrelenting heat, that could last as long as 10 days before breaking, is testing the infrastructure and electrical grid in a country which in the 21st Century still relies on coal to produce power.
After meeting with officials from the electricity distribution operator ADMIE he said the heatwave is putting a burden on the system, reported Euronews and Agence France-Presse.
Mitsotakis added the authorities “were doing everything possible to deal with the situation” and urged users to “limit their consumption especially at the beginning of the afternoon and during the night” when it remains tropical.
It wasn’t said if he would direct that air conditioners in public buildings and ministries not be used at the highest powers so as to conserve energy.
The power grid was expected to reach a decade-high 10,700 megawatts(MW) said Kathimerini, adding that the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator (DEDDIE) and Public Power Corporation (PPC) have revoked employees’ leave, with some working shifts of more than 12 hours in adverse weather conditions at mines and lignite plants.
On minimal reserves, the system has been in force since July 31, when demand started to exceed 9,000 megawatts and gradually rose to 9,600 the night of Aug. 2, with the temperatures expected to rise more over the days.
Gas units are working at full capacity, as are all of PPC’s available units, with the exception of Unit V at Agios Dimitrios, where upgrade works are being carried out and another unit that had been closed permanently reopening.
He said the peak hours for usage are 1-3 p.m. during the highest heat of the day but also in the evening from 6-7 and 10-11 p.m. as people retreat from the heat and try to sleep without sweltering.
“If we had to explain it in simple words, those are the times when, unfortunately, because the sun has set, we do not have at our disposal the significant energy produced by the photovoltaics that we have installed in the country,” he noted, without explaining what the storage or backup capacity is.
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