CO2 emissions reduction and avoidance in refineries due to increase of energy efficiency and self-production of energy by Combined Heat & Power (CHP)

Refineries are installations of continuous operation, thus their electricity and thermal energy needs amount to millions GJ annually, resulting respectively to millions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to the atmosphere both directly and indirectly. In accordance with HELPE policy for sustainable development and energy use optimization in the production processes, combined heat and power plants (CHP) were installed to cover part of the total energy demand, while contributing to CO2 emissions avoidance and to tackling climate change.

In addition, Hellenic Petroleum Group strongly promotes energy saving actions. Thus, the Group is planning and implementing investments to optimize production process and reduce fuel consumption, reducing consequently carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) and other air pollutants such as SOx, NOx, particulates.  HELPE’s actions are Best Practices and contribute significantly to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically Goal 7 for economic, reliable, sustainable and modern energy, and Goal 13 for climate change.

The target audience for these best practices is primarily the industrial sector, the employees, the engineers and/or the technicians who are responsible for such energy projects. Nevertheless, climate change as a global issue, it affects the economy, the natural environment and the whole planet and requires joint actions. Therefore, these best practices  are eventually addressed, in a broader context of course, to the society and the environment in general.


Combined Heat and Power units of the HELLENIC PETROLEUM GROUP, have started operation since 1988 in the Aspropyrgos refinery, since 2006 at the Thessaloniki refinery and since 2012 in the Elefsina refinery. That investment has significant energy and environmental benefits, meeting up to 40% of the electricity energy needs of the three refineries of the Group.

As per energy-saving actions, the last three years there have been actions such as steam and fuel-saving projects in order to improve heat efficiency in furnaces and boilers, projects to reduce electricity consumption, projects to promote the rational use of fuel and projects related to cogeneration of heat and power.

Apart from the above mentioned actions, efforts are being made to optimize the use of the excess energy content of intermediate product streams. Thus, energy saving is achieved by heat exchangers, contributing not only to the reduction of the consumption of non-renewable fossil fuels, but also to the reduction of CO2 emissions.

Moreover, all process furnaces and heaters are installed with high efficiency burners and Advanced Process Control systems (APC). In addition, the role of maintenance is of great importance, especially the implementation of preventive maintenance programs (“shut down”) in order to prevent failures and improve the performance of several production components, such as insulation or steam traps.

Finally, there is a continuous effort to maximize the recovery of gas streams from various production processes in order to be used and consumed as air fuels. These gas streams would have otherwise ended up in the refinery flare for thermal treatment due to safety issues.

Cooperation with energy efficiency experts and consultant companies, whenever was required.

All Hellenic Petroleum employees, engineers, technicians, operators and everyone who worked for these energy projects.

The Refineries of Hellenic Petroleum Group

The results are associated on the one hand with the energy saving actions and the efficient use of fossil fuels and on the other hand with the significant amount of electrical power produced in Combined Heat and Power plants, resulting in reduced CO2 emissions. Thus, the benefits are addressed to the society indirectly, by saving non-renewable fossil fuels, that if consumed would have affected, in a negative way, climate change. The last decade, over 2.5 million tons of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere have been avoided.

In 2015, the total electricity consumption in the refineries was equal to 4,044 TJ, while the amount produced in CHP plants was 1,380 TJ, which is 34.1% of the total, while the relevant figure for 2014 was approximately 37%. Additionally, because of electricity produced in CHP plants, approximately 290 thousand and 312 thousand tons of CO2 emissions have been avoided in 2015 and 2014 respectively. Over the last ten years, 2.5 million tonnes CO2 have been avoided.

Furthermore, due to energy saving actions, significant improvements have been achieved in the energy balance of the refineries.

  • The last two years (2014-2015), the Aspropyrgos refinery managed to reduce its energy demand by 1,184 (491+693) ΤJ which represents reduced CO2 emissions by 91.5 (38.5+ 53) thousand tons. The economic benefit of these actions in the last two years is estimated over 11.4 m €.
  • Similarly, during the last two years the Elefsina refinery has reduced its energy demand by 2,431 (1,735 + 696) ΤJ which represents reduced CO2 emissions by 189.3 (136 + 53.3) thousand tons. The economic benefit of these actions in the last two years is estimated over 20.8 m €.
  • Finally, during the last two years, the Thessaloniki refinery has reduced its energy demand by 711 ΤJ which represents reduced CO2 emissions by 54.5 thousand tons. The economic benefit of these actions in the last two years is estimated over 3.7m €.