Dendias, Christodoulides discuss Cyprus issue, developments in Eastern Mediterranean

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, who is visiting Cyprus to take part in a meeting of the foreign ministers of Greece, Cyprus, Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) taking place in Paphos, on Friday met with his Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides on the sidelines of the quadrilateral meeting.
They discussed the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Cyprus issue, as well as the next steps in the continuous coordination between Greece and Cyprus, according to a foreign ministry post on Twitter.

Reducing industrial energy costs a key aim of new gov’t committee

High energy costs and a discouraging, for investments, amortization status, are two main factors holding back Greek manufacturing and placing it in a disadvantageous position compared to those of rivals, Michalis Stasinopoulos, president of industrial body Hellenic Production, stressed during yesterday’s inaugural session of a new government committee for the industrial sector.

The assembly of a government committee for industrial matters has been welcomed as a  positive step by the industrial sector, hoping the committee can contribute to needed coordination between various political offices as the fragmentation of responsibilities and absence of an industry ministry has not helped counter issues faced by the manufacturing sector, Stasinopoulos pointed out.

The new government committee’s line-up includes ministers covering industrial matters, namely development and investment minister Adonis Georgiadis, finance minister Christos Staikouras, environment and energy minister Kostas Skrekas, labor and social affairs minister Kostis Hatzidakis, digital governance minister Kyriakos Pierrakakis, and education and religious affairs minister Niki Kerameus, represented at yesterday’s session by her deputy, Zetta Makri.

The industrial sector was represented by SEV, the Hellenic Association of Industrialists, SBE, the Federation of Industries of Greece, Hellenic Production, the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, IOBE (Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research), and the Association of Greek Regions.

Diesel-fueled power facilities on interconnected islands to go

Power utility PPC’s old diesel-fueled power facilities generating electricity on the Cyclades until this group of islands was interconnected with the mainland grid via subsea cable will soon be completely withdrawn, the current status of these facilities, as back-up units, deemed costly and unnecessary by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

No changes will be made this coming summer but the withdrawal of the units, as back-up systems, is expected as of next year, once certain legal and administrative issues are settled.

The interconnecting subsea cables, inflowing and outflowing and offering the Cyclades islands electricity input from two sides, have rendered the back-up units unnecessary as this back-up service is provided by the cables themselves, according to RAE sources.

Islands in the wider region still being supplied electricity through just one subsea cable continue to require back-up, but this service does not need to be provided by the high-cost diesel power units, RAE believes.

RAE has not approved a related proposal submitted by power utility PPC, firstly because of their high cost, and secondly, as compensation of the units, for their strategic back-up services, would need the European Commission’s approval.

Instead, RAE appears to favor a solution entailing the use of portable generators that could be transferred from one island to another, wherever and whenever needed. These generators would be leased by the distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a PPC subsidiary, while their cost would be incorporated into the operator’s operating expenses.

Meanwhile, RAE’s board is soon expected to approve a PPC lease plan for generators offering 58 MW, to be installed on Crete as back-up for the busier summer months of July and August.

Wholesale electricity cost up 8% in 1Q, surcharges double

The cost of wholesale electricity averaged 65.412 euros per MWh in the first quarter of 2021, up 8 percent compared to the equivalent period a year earlier, when the level averaged 60.67 euros per MWh, data provided by power grid operator IPTO has shown.

It should be pointed out that a direct price comparison of all components making up wholesale cost during these two quarters is not possible as, during this time, the structure of the wholesale electricity market changed from a mandatory pool system to the target model.

For example, a minimum RES-supporting surcharge burdening wholesale costs by an average of 3.4 euros per MWh during the first quarter last year has since been abolished. Also, the market-clearing price fell to 0.72 euros per MWh in the first quarter from 2.11 euros per MWh in the equivalent period a year earlier.

Even so, the reduction in these costs was outweighed by the increase in wholesale electricity prices. The total cost in the day-ahead and intraday markets averaged 55.17 euros per MWh in the first quarter this year, compared to last year’s average cost of 50.39 euros per MWh in the mandatory pool.

Surcharge costs also increased, averaging 9.53 euros per MWh in the first quarter this year, double the level of 4.78 euros per MWh a year earlier.

Particularly high prices registered late in 2020, during the early days of the target model launch, have eased so far this year. Last November and December, surcharge costs reached 17 and 16.09 euros, respectively.

Electricity consumption fell by 6 percent in the first quarter this year, compared to a year earlier, to 12.39 TWh from 13.175 TWh, as a result of lockdown measures amid the pandemic.

Low temperatures in Europe pushing gas prices higher, LNG tankers returning

Lower-than-usual temperatures for this time of year have greatly increased the pressure on natural gas prices, driving prices higher.

Gas prices have also increased in other European markets, including Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

In some markets, such as that of the UK, the strong demand for gas has also been attributed to factors other than the low temperatures, such as reduced wind energy production.

The current price for gas at Dutch gas trading platform TTF is 17.66 €/MWh, 17.233 €/MWh at the PEG exchange, 18.17 €/MWh at the NCG, 18.304 €/MWh at Gaspool, 18.529 €/MWh at the VTP,  and 18.575 €/MWh at the PSV, according to ICIS Heren, an established information provider for the gas, power and carbon markets.

The higher gas demand has prompted an increase in LNG tanker deliveries to European destinations. A total of 10.2 billion cubic meters were added to European terminals in March, the highest level recorded since April, 2020, and almost double the 5 bcm figure registered in January, according to latest data.

Low gas prices at European hubs earlier this year resulted in LNG tanker routes to Asian markets, where prices and profit margins were greater. Higher prices in Europe are now bringing back tankers to the continent.

As for the Greek market, two LNG tankers are scheduled to arrive at the Revythoussa terminal, on the islet just off Athens, in April, beginning, early in the month, with a joint order placed by the Heron and Mytilineos companies for 73,855 cubic meters each. It will be followed by a second order, scheduled for late in April, by Elpedison (118,168 cubic meters) and Motor Oil Hellas (33,235 cubic meters).

Two further shipments are expected at the Revythoussa terminal in May, according to the current schedule, one for Mytilineos, the other for Elpedison.

Balancing market entry for RES, demand response by end of ’21

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is planning the balancing market entry of all energy sector players offering flexibility to the grid by the end of this year, a prospect seen as a key factor in lowering balancing market costs.

As a result, RES players, through green aggregators representing them, will participate in the balancing market by the end of 2021, along with the demand response mechanism.

The addition of RES producers promises to intensify competition in the balancing market, which, combined with the demand response mechanism’s participation, will contribute to a further de-escalation of balancing market surcharge costs.

Wind and solar energy farms will have a place in the balancing market. Other RES technologies, such as biogas units, are linked to operating aid contracts with fixed tariffs.

The demand response mechanism’s participation in the balancing market promises to enhance the system’s flexibility, in terms of demand, while the entry of RES producers will make electricity production even more flexible.

Plan for subsidized lower-cost RES power to industry explored

The energy ministry is working on a transitional state-support mechanism that would offer industrial consumers lower-cost electricity stemming from renewable energy sources.

The European Commission offers conditional approval to state aid resulting in green-energy access for energy intensive consumers.

The energy ministry’s effort to establish such a mechanism comes following the exclusion, from a government list of proposals for EU recovery fund support, of a plan envisaging power purchase agreements (PPAs) between industrial enterprises and RES producers.

The ministry’s new effort is expected to be a variation of the plan not included in the government’s list of proposals seeking support through the European Commission’s Recovery and Resilience Facility.

The ministry acknowledges that, under present conditions, direct and mutually beneficial agreements between energy-intensive industrial consumers and RES producers cannot be achieved, unless such deals concern companies belonging to vertically integrated groups.

The plan being explored would ensure RES producers remuneration for a percentage of their output absorbed,  through the state-support mechanism, at fixed tariffs and extended periods.

energy & meteo systems supplies Virtual Power Plant and power forecasts to Protergia

Oldenburg/Athens, 13 April 2021 – In preparation for the nascent Greek intraday and balancing market, MYTILINEOS S.A. has contracted energy & meteo systems. The German energy service provider supplies its Virtual Power Plant combined with accurate power forecasts to MYTILINEOS´ Power & Gas Business Unit Protergia. Equipped with this state-of-the-art digital technology, Protergia offers market access to renewable energy asset owners.

The Greek power market has shifted since November 2019 towards direct marketing of renewable energies, requiring solar, wind and hydro power asset owners to actively trade their energy production. Protergia, the Power & Gas Business Unit of the listed company MYTILINEOS, has taken the decision to participate in this new market and trade energy from its own and third parties’ assets. Being an energy provider, a power trader and the largest independent electricity producer in Greece with more than 1400 Megawatt capacity, Protergia bundles crucial competences for its aggregator unit.

Protergia relies on proven technology from energy & meteo systems for trading of wind and solar energy. With its Virtual Power Plant software and precise power forecasts for renewable energy, the German-based service provider supplies Protergia with two indispensable services. The Virtual Power Plant works as a control room which allows to monitor real-time production and power forecasts, remote-control the connected plants and trade their energy production on the Greek power market. As part of the service, energy & meteo systems delivers a customized application, including the connection of all solar, wind and hydro plants to a single smart power pool. The technology is provided as a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution to Protergia which does not have to invest in any IT infrastructure.

“Our goal is to become a leading aggregator in the Greek power market and to create value for solar, wind, hydro and biogas/biomass power plant owners. We are glad that energy & meteo systems provides us its Virtual Power Plant and power forecasts. It is not only an accredited but also a very promising turnkey solution that will help to efficiently manage our distributed power portfolio” stated Panagiotis Kanellopoulos, Deputy General Manager Power & Gas Business Unit of MYTILINEOS/ Protergia.

“Protergia can count on our extensive experience in supporting leading aggregators in numerous European power markets.”, says Dr. Ulrich Focken, the Managing Director of energy & meteo systems. “With our Virtual Power Plant and power forecasts we offer a market-leading solution for trading renewable energy.”

This project is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as part of the Renewable Energy Solutions Programme of the German Energy Solutions Initiative.

MYTILINEOS S.A. is a leading Greek industrial company active in Metallurgy, Power & Natural Gas, Renewables & Storage Development and Sustainable Engineering Solutions. Established in Greece in 1990, the Company is listed on the Athens Exchange, has a consolidated turnover in excess of €1.9 billion and employs directly and indirectly more than 3,600 people in Greece and abroad.

Protergia is the Power & Gas Business Unit of MYTILINEOS, the largest private energy company in Greece. It manages the power plants and Renewable Energy Units of MYTILINEOS, while active in the trade and supply of electricity and gas, offering modern and reliable services and combined electricity and gas packages to almost 300,000 businesses, and households.

energy & meteo systems was founded in 2004 in Oldenburg, Germany, and offers cutting-edge services and software products which allow a smooth market and grid integration of variable renewable energies. The company is an international provider of accurate wind and solar power forecasts for grid operators, power traders and plant operators. The market-leading Virtual Power Plant software is used by numerous utilities and power traders to pool and manage distributed energy resources for different business purposes. energy & meteo systems employs about 120 experts and provides its services to more than 480 GW of installed wind and solar power in around 60 countries.

dena is the centre of expertise for energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and intelligent energy systems. As Agency for Applied Energy Transition we help achieve energy and climate policy objectives by developing solutions and putting them into practice, both nationally and internationally. In order to do this, we bring partners from politics and business together, across sectors. dena’s shareholders are the Federal Republic of Germany and the KfW Group.

The transfer of energy expertise, the promotion of foreign trade and the facilitation of international development cooperation are part of the German Energy Solutions Initiative, which is coordinated and financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The initiative offers networking and business opportunities in Germany and abroad, it showcases reference projects and facilitates capacity building.

With the RES Programme, the Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena) – the German Energy Agency – helps German renewable energy companies enter new markets. The installation of climate-friendly energy technology projects in attractive target markets is accompanied by comprehensive information dissemination, marketing and training programmes. These flagship projects, supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy within the German Energy Solutions Initiative, aim to show-case high-quality German renewable energy technology and help participating companies gain a foot-hold in new markets.

Tenders for west Greece gas networks expected next month

Gas distributor DEDA is preparing to launch tenders next month for the construction of distribution networks covering the provincial cities of Patras, Pyrgos and Agrinio, all in the country’s west.

Approval of a technical bulletin by regional authorities in western Greece is now all that remains pending before these tenders can be launched.

Development of the distribution networks for all three cities is scheduled to commence in September or October.

Projects in Greece’s western region are co-funded by the EU’s National Strategic Reference Fund (NSRF) for 2014 to 2020, meaning the aforementioned networks will need to be completed by December, 2023, when this funding program expires.

These networks, promising to introduce natural gas to western Greece, are planned to cover a distance of 208 kilometers. The network in the wider Patras area will consist of a 120-km network, 72 km will concern Agrinio, while the Pyrgos system will total 16 km.

Once launched, at least 10,300 households, 560 businesses and 23 industrial consumers are forecast to connect with the three networks within a five-year period.

The majority of these consumers are in Patras, Greece’s third most populous city, expected to number at least 6,670 households, 218 businesses and 20 industrial consumers by 2025.

Households in western Greece are seen reaching gas consumption levels of 73,940 MWh, businesses are forecast to consume 36,307 MWh and industrial consumers 111,757 MWh.

HEDNO bidders to next stage of sale with regulatory ambiguities

Second-round qualifiers of a privatization offering a 49 percent stake of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a subsidiary of power utility PPC, are entering the procedure’s next stage without a clear picture on the company’s regulatory framework, still not established, despite a March 31 deadline.

Though related talks began well in advance, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is still awaiting all the details it requires from the operator on its regulated earnings and network development plan before the authority can reach a decision on the regulatory framework.

The operator’s regulatory framework is crucial for the privatization as it concerns pivotal matters such as extra wacc for certain projects, as well as Opex, Capex settings, amongst other details.

Once established, DEDDIE/HEDNO’s new regulatory framework will be applied retroactively, as of January 1, 2021.

Though its delivery date still remains unclear, it will include two periods, covering 2021 to 2024 and 2025 to 2028, which will give potential buyers a long-term perspective on the returns to be offered by the investment.

RAE has already decided on a formula calculating required earnings from the distribution network as well as the wacc level.

Second-round qualifiers are expected to be given access to DEDDIE/HEDNO’s virtual data room within the next few days for an assessment of the operator’s financial standing as part of due diligence.

PPC to drain 325 million euros from securitization transaction

Public Power Corporation announced the signing of contracts for the securitization of arrears with PPC expecting to drain up to 325 million euros from the market. The program, covered by contract claims has a duration of 5 years, including a two-year revolving period, and a three-year period for the repayment of these claims. The interest rate of the transaction is set at 6.8 pct, while the total value of the arrears is estimated at 1.7 billion euros.
PPC drained 150 million euros from a previous securitization of arrears worth 260 million euros, through a transaction with an interest rate of 3.5 pct. Public Power Corporation drained 775 million euros from a sustainability-linked bond issue with an interest rate of 3.875 pct for a sum of 650 million euros and an interest rate of 3.672 pct for the remaining 125 million euros.

FM Dendias meets with Dep PM of Libya in Benghazi

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias who is visiting Libya on Monday met with Deputy Prime Minister Atiya Abdul Hafeez Al Qatrani in Benghazi. The two top officials’ meeting focused on the strengthening of the long standing bilateral relations and Greece’s readiness to assist the reconstruction efforts aas well as the regional developments, the Greek Foreign Ministry posted on twitter.

“FM @NikosDendias meets w/ #Libya DPM Hussein Atiya Abdul Hafeez Al Qatrani in #Benghazi -strengthening long-standing bilateral relations & #Greece’s readiness to assist reconstruction efforts in focus, regional dvpts also discussed”

Later, Dendias will meet with the mayor of Benghazi Saqr Bujwari, and the Speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh Issa.
The talks will focus on the bilateral and regional relations a Foreign Ministry announcement said. Issues concerning the reopening of the Greece’s General Consulate in Benghazi will also be discussed.

PPC’s Kardia III and IV lignite power stations set for April 17 withdrawal

Power utility PPC’s Kardia III and IV lignite-fired power stations are nearing withdrawal as the two facilities are due to clock up 32,000 hours of operating time, their limit, on April 17.

PPC has scheduled to close down the two power stations this year as part of a decarbonization plan the company had announced in December, 2019. This plan was included in the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP).

The two imminent power-station withdrawals, representing a capacity loss of 540 MW, will follow a first stage of exits carried out last year by PPC, when its withdrawal of Amynteo I and II, totaling 546 MW, launched the country’s decarbonization effort.

Besides producing electricity, the two Kardia units, located in Greece’s north, have also been used to provide district heating. Local authorities have asked the energy ministry to keep the two units on standby for a few more weeks until the early spring’s chilly weather is well and truly over.

PPC’s prospective Ptolemaida V unit will eventually take over district heating services following the adoption of intermediate solutions to cover next winter.

PPC also plans to withdraw Megalopoli III, in the Peloponnese, this year, earlier than the 2022 objective listed in the NECP.

PPC planning telecom entry with fiber optic installations

Power utility PPC is preparing to take its first steps into the telecommunications infrastructure sector by installing fiber optics, as a pilot program in certain parts of the country, with the aim of entering the wholesale telecoms market.

The power utility, as a first stage of a gradual five-year plan, estimated to require investments estimated between 700 and 800 million euros, intends to install fiber optics at certain segments of the 242,000-km network controlled by subsidiary firm DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator.

PPC plans to add these fiber optics as installations to DEDDIE/HEDNO’s existing overhead electricity networks, a swifter and lower-cost option compared to going underground.

The power utility will aim to offer internet connections with speeds of around 1,000 Mbps.

The PPC plan, for its first stage, entails leasing the network to telecom companies.

This project, recently approved by the PPC board, features in the corporation’s new business plan, unveiled last December at an Investor Day event.

 

Extra RES measures to simplify installation, operating permits

The energy ministry is preparing to include simplification measures it appears to have settled on for the second stage of RES licensing procedures, concerning installation and operating permits, into the one draft bill to also incorporate EU energy efficiency directives being adopted.

The draft bill is expected to be forwarded for public consultation within the next few weeks, prior to Greek Orthodox Easter, in early May.

Public consultation on the energy efficiency EU directives being adopted has already been completed.

The imminent draft bill is not expected to bring about any fundamental changes to the second stage of the RES licensing procedure, as had been the case with a major first-stage change abolishing production licenses, sources have informed.

Instead, a series of revisions will be introduced to remove various obstacles encountered by investors in the maturity process of their projects, the objective being to significantly reduce the time needed for project maturity.

The second-stage RES licensing simplification plan promises to lessen both the number of steps and supporting documents needed for RES installation and operating permits.

The energy ministry also intends to revisit the first stage to implement further improvements, needed to counter the flood of producer certificate applications being submitted to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The government has declared its objective is to reduce the overall RES licensing procedure in Greece to two years, the EU average.

Greek enterprises face April 27 date for hydrogen project proposals

Leading Greek energy players are gearing up to participate in a European Commission effort concerning the development of the continent’s first major investments in eco-friendly hydrogen production, a key aspect in Brussels’ decarbonization drive.

Interested parties face an April 27 deadline to submit proposals concerning a number of categories, including PCI-supported sustainable low-emission hydrogen production, the emphasis placed on RES-generated hydrogen.

The White Dragon project, as it has been dubbed, has brought Greece’s biggest industrial corporations closer, as they prepare to jointly bid for project categories Brussels will subsidize in the context of the Hydrogen Europe program.

The White Dragon project provides for investments of 2.5 billion euros in electrolytic hydrogen production by means of solar energy from photovoltaic parks with a capacity of 1.5 GW. They are planned for northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, a lignite-dependent economy.

Gas utility DEPA, gas grid operator DESFA, petroleum group Motor Oil, the Mytilineos group, Terna, Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, Polish company Solaris, as well as the Demokritos National Center for Scientific Research and the Center for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH) are taking part.

The hydrogen to be produced will be used for district heating, fuel to be exported via the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, and as fuel for large vehicles such as lorries and buses.

 

IPTO preparing new formula for grid capacity availability

Power grid operator IPTO is preparing revisions to a framework for incoming RES project applications, including, as the first major change, a new formula calculating available grid capacity, the operator’s deputy director Giannis Margaris (photo) has noted during an online update.

This new formula will factor in all offers made by the operator in the market as well as new RES projects, both in development and at the planning stage, Margaris pointed out.

IPTO expects to have finalized the formula within April, before presenting it to the energy ministry and then the market.

The operator is also preparing a tracking system that will enable investors to be updated, at any given moment, on the progress of their connection term applications, the IPTO deputy informed.

These upcoming changes come in the wake of a flood of group applications for small-scale RES projects, seeking direct links to the grid, as well as complaints by ABO Wind over IPTO’s delay in examining the company’s connection term applications.

Such objections serve as an opportunity for a reexamination of the grid entry framework, Margaris noted.

The problems that need to addressed concern the licensing and grid entry frameworks, not grid capacity, neither now nor until 2030, the IPTO deputy stressed.

Electricity market shares unchanged in March, imports up

The overall market share of independent electricity suppliers remained unchanged at 34.2 percent in March, without any surprise reshuffling between these suppliers, as power utility PPC held on firmly to its previous month’s 65.8 percent share, a latest monthly report issued by the Greek energy exchange has shown.

Like PPC, the market shares of some independent suppliers remained unchanged in March, compared to the previous month, the report showed.

Mytilineos registered a 7.97 percent market share in March, unchanged from February.

Heron’s market share fell marginally to 6.34 percent in March from 6.38 percent in February; Elpedison’s market share rose to 4.85 percent from 4.79 percent; NRG captured 4 percent, up from 3.89 percent; Watt and Volt fell to 2.58 percent from 2.73 percent; Volterra registered 1.93 percent, from 1.96 percent; Fysiko Aerio Attikis rose to 1.81 percent from 1.75 percent; Volton captured 1.41 percent, from 1.39 percent; Zenith reached 1.41 percent, from 1.36 percent; ELTA’s market share remained unchanged at 0.63 percent; and KEN fell slightly to 0.56 percent from 0.58 percent.

Electricity imports exceeded electricity exports, in terms of volume, the energy exchange report showed.

Also, the number of hours of net imports grew against the number of hours of net exports, the data for March showed.

Interview: How EDA THESS achieves growth, reduction of tariffs and returns for shareholders

The main features of EDA THESS’ development program are the increased penetration of natural gas by the network’s expansion and the implementation of reduced tariffs for consumers combined with increased returns for the shareholders, as referred by the General Manager of the Company, Leonidas Bakouras, in his interview on energypress.

(See the full interview with Mr. Bakouras: Interview of the General Manager of EDA THESS, Mr. Leonidas Bakouras, on energypress.gr) 

The reduction of gas distribution tariffs for domestic and industrial consumers is a “result” of the Company’s strategy, with the main pillar being the design for high quality network construction, which is based on techno-economic criteria of efficiency.

It is no coincidence that, in the recent period due to tariff reductions, 20 new energy-intensive industries and large consumers have signed connection contracts to the natural gas network.

At the same time, the investment program of the Company, as approved by the competent Authority for the period 2021-2025, is in progress, in light of the great expectations deriving from the extremely positive results of 2020.

“We have a large Program which was approved at the end of December by the Authority for the period 2021-2025 and implementation of investments has already started in January”, said Mr. Leonidas Bakouras, pointing out that for 2020, 23,000 new connections were acquired, distributed volumes were increased by 10% compared to the previous year of 2019 and natural gas penetration reached 64% in population.

The General Manager of EDA THESS made special reference to CNG technology, which has a dual role, both for the safe and uninterrupted operation of the distribution network in case of any malfunction, and for the natural gas distribution in remote areas. According to him, the Company has supplied new areas with CNG technology, a successful model since it managed to supply even the most remote areas with natural gas.

Referring to the positive financial results of the Company, the distribution of 20 million euros in dividends to the shareholders is expected, and as Leonidas Bakouras characteristically stated: “We achieve return on equity (ROE) of 7.2%, a ratio that showed a four-year high. We are on an upward trajectory, as shareholders are satisfied, consumers are satisfied (since distribution tariffs are reduced), and employees are satisfied. A triptych that contributes to the development of our country, offering a healthy working environment and added value to the place”.

DEPA Commercial pushing to mature RES licenses in time for auction

Gas company DEPA Commercial, currently placing emphasis on its alternative business interests, is making efforts to bring to maturity solar energy licenses in time for an upcoming RES auction. These PV licenses concern solar farm projects representing a total capacity of 499.61 MW.

Late in January, DEPA Commercial announced it had acquired a 49 percent stake in North Polar, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) established on the basis of a portfolio carrying solar energy project certificates and production permits. These licenses concern projects in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region.

DEPA Commercial and its SPV partner have submitted environmental terms for these projects and are now expecting their connection terms.

The partners are striving to participate in the next RES auction to be staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, the first to be held under new terms expected to soon be approved by the European Commission.

On another front, DEPA Commercial is closely monitoring developments regarding the Alexandroupoli FSRU in northeastern Greece, another of its project interests.

DEPA Commercial holds a 20 percent stake in Gastrade, a company established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU.

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition still needs to approve Greek gas grid operator DESFA’s entry into the consortium, also with a 20 percent stake, to be taken from the Copelouzos group’s current 40 percent share in the Alexandroupoli FSRU venture.

The Brussels authority’s endorsement of DESFA’s entry is seen as a formality following its recent approval of the entry of Bulgaria’s Bulgartransgaz as a fourth member of the consortium, also with a 20 percent stake. Gaslog is the other consortium member, also holding 20 percent.

The DESFA entry approval is anticipated within the second quarter. Gastrade’s partners are then expected to swiftly follow with an investment decision on the Alexandroupoli FSRU’s construction.

Authorities gearing up for intraday market entry of traders

Authorities are picking up the pace on moves needed to also enable traders to begin participating in Greece’s intraday electricity market, one of the new wholesale markets emerging with the target model’s recent introduction.

The Greek energy exchange will forward its proposal for necessary market regulation amendments to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, within the next two months, energypress sources informed.

These revisions will take finalized shape through ongoing discussions between the energy exchange, as operator of the intraday market, power grid operator IPTO, managing international grid interconnections, and RAE.

The authorities are seeking to establish an optimal formula for the intraday market entry of electricity traders.

The talks, until now, have indicated that intraday day interconnection rights will not be required for transboundary trade between intraday markets that have not undergone coupling.

Therefore, traders will be able to participate in the intraday market by utilizing the amount of daily interconnection rights they have secured and not used for transboundary transactions in the day-ahead market.

The addition of traders to the intraday market promises to boost its liquidity, currently low. This will help liberate market players by offering them greater flexibility, limiting the pressure on the balancing market.

Consumers owing at least two bills to face switching block

Electricity suppliers will have the right to prevent consumers from switching supplier if owing two or more overdue power bills without having registered for any installment-based payback plan, according to a proposal forwarded by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, following two rounds of public consultation on the matter.

Suppliers will have the right to submit power supply cut requests to the distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO for consumers owing at least two months of overdue and unattended power bills, according to the RAE proposal, which has received the backing of all electricity suppliers.

A debt-flagging system to blacklist customers behind on at least two electricity bills will also be incorporated into the measure as a collective system accessible by all suppliers and the distribution network operator.

In the event that consumers with overdue electricity bills register for installment-based payback plans with their supplier, then move to a new supplier but stop servicing the payback program, the previous supplier will have the right to request power supply stoppages, even for pending amounts as little as 50 euros, sources informed.

RAE will now need to relay its proposal to the energy ministry for a ministerial decision enabling a revision of the country’s electricity supply code.

 

PPC set to sign securitization agreement with Pimco

Power utility PPC is set to sign a large-scale securitization agreement with international investment company Pimco for unpaid receivables of over 90 days.

PPC will receive approximately 200 million euros of 300 million in total, sources said.

This securitization package was preceded by a small-scale agreement with JP Morgan late last year for unpaid receivables of up to 60 days. PPC received 150 million euros in a deal worth a total of 200 million euros.

PPC and Pimco have both approved this latest securitization agreement, a 14,000-page text, with just their signatures pending, the sources informed.

The 350 million-euro sum coming from PPC’s two securitization agreements, along with 775 million euros raised by the corporation through two recent bond issues, represents major cash flow relief worth 1.2 billion euros that promises to facilitate the utility’s upcoming investments and cover operating costs.

In addition, funds to come from the anticipated privatization, in the second half, of a 49 percent stake in PPC subsidiary DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator, promise to further boost the power utility’s investment ability.

Transitional plan for Cretan small-scale link sent to Brussels

Technical and other preparations are now being made to enable Crete’s imminent small-scale power grid interconnection, to the Peloponnese, to cover, for the time being, approximately 30 percent of the island’s electricity needs.

The energy ministry has forwarded to the European Commission its proposal for a transitional model concerning Crete’s participation in the target model’s new wholesale markets.

Also, the energy ministry has prepared a draft bill needed for the transfer, to power grid operator IPTO, of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO’s assets on Crete. This will enable IPTO to assume responsibility for the island’s small-scale interconnection.

Normally, when grid links for non-interconnected islands are carried out, IPTO takes on the responsibility of their electricity networks. However, Crete, Greece’s biggest and most populous island, represents a much bigger interconnection project that is being developed over two stages. The project’s second stage, to reach Athens, is anticipated in 2023.

The transitional plan, shaped with the assistance of consultant Reed Smith, includes the sale, by power utility PPC, DEDDIE/HEDNO’s parent company, to IPTO, of a 150-kV transmission line on Crete, running from Hania to Lasithi, based on decisions reached by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, concerning management of Crete’s grid for the island’s small-scale interconnection.

The transitional model, to expire once the island’s full-scale interconnection has been completed, will allow Crete to purchase electricity transmitted through the small-scale interconnection at the target model’s new wholesale markets.

HEDNO suitors all real-money investors with long-term views

All nine qualifiers through to the second round of a tender offering a 49 percent stake of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO possess extensive experience in infrastructure management around the world and are long-term, real-money investors.

The tender’s shortlist, announced yesterday, includes Blackrock, the world’s biggest investment fund, back in the Greek picture after subscribing to a bond issue staged last month by the operator’s parent company PPC, the power grid operator.

Blackrock has based these investment decisions on Greece’s economic prospects beyond the pandemic as well as common business principles shared with PPC.

The capital managed by the nine qualifiers is worth 10.2 trillion euros. More importantly, the qualifiers are backed by formidable profiles, their portfolios carrying investments in utilities, infrastructure and energy companies.

France’s Ardian, managing assets worth over 100 billion euros, Canadian investment corporation British Columbia Investments (BCI), handling a 100 billion-euro portfolio, the American funds Blackrock, managing assets worth 9 trillion dollars, CVC Capital Partners (120 bn), KKR (250 bn) and Oak Hill (50 bn), Italy’s infrastructure fund F21, as well as Australia’s Macquarie (420 bn) and First Sentier (180 bn) are all long-term investors.

BCI and Macquarie have jointly engaged in a series of takeovers, beginning in 2012 with German networks company Open Grids Europe, and following up, in 2014, with US electricity firm Cleco, and networks company Endeavour Energy in 2017. BCI also controls Chilean power distributor Transelec as well as Canada’s Corix.

Blackrock controls US corporation Hearthstone Utilities and the UK’s Kelas Midtream and Calisen PLC, active in smart meters.

America’s KKR acquired New Jersey water management company Bayonne Water and Wastewater Concession in 2012 and Middletown Water in 2014.

Macquarie’s portfolio includes Spain’s Viesgo, Germany’s Open Grid Europe, and the portfolio of First Sentier (previously First State) includes the UK’s Electricity North West and Anglian Water.

New energy communities framework to aid financing, loans

The energy ministry is working on a draft bill to completely reform the regulatory framework governing energy communities as part of a wider effort promoting RES growth in Greece.

The revisions will seek to align the country’s existing regulatory framework for energy communities with the respective EU framework through the adoption of a series of EU directives and also lift a number of obstacles and resolve problems that have arisen since its implementation in 2018.

These revisions will also aim to resolve the inability of energy communities to participate in financing support programs and help them overcome difficulties encountered when seeking to qualify for bank loans.

Motor Oil ‘Dioryga Gas’ FSRU on DESFA 10-yr plan, set to roll

Approval by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, of gas grid operator DESFA’s ten-year grid development plan, covering 2021 to 2030, with the inclusion of petroleum group Motor Oil’s “Dioryga Gas” FSRU project, 1.5 km southwest of the company’s refinery in Korinthos, west of Athens, paves the way for this unit’s actualization.

Motor Oil anticipates the FSRU, promising to offer yet another natural gas entry point to the domestic system, can be launched by the end of 2023.

To accept LNG via sea routes, the floating storage regasification unit’s capacity is estimated at 2-3 bcm per year.

The “Dioryga Gas” FSRU project was incorporated into DESFA’s ten-year development plan following amendments to a preliminary plan, made once an agreement had been reached between the gas grid operator and Motor Oil.

This agreement ended a dispute between the two sides over the project’s absence from the operator’s ten-year plan. Motor Oil protested against the FSRU’s exclusion, expressing its disapproval to DESFA as well as RAE.

The project’s inclusion on DESFA’s ten-year plan will enable Motor Oil to take investment decisions needed for its development.

The petroleum group is currently also examining the regulatory and commercial frameworks concerning the project with the aim of offering optimal services to users. Motor Oil intends to stage a market test in 2021.

The “Dioryga Gas” FSRU project will ease the saturation pressure on Greece’s other FSRU, on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, reinforce gas supply to the Greek market as the country’s LNG storage capacity will increase by 80 percent, and also facilitate further penetration of natural gas in remote parts of the country.

Skrekas: Interconnections and green contracts for competitive energy prices

Environment Minister Costas Skrekas in an interview with ‘Parapolitika’ newspaper on Saturday said that the importance of strengthening competition in the electricity market through the development of international interconnections, tenders to compensate electricity producers from renewable sources and the signing of bilateral green contracts are among the tools for securing electricity at competitive prices.
He added that “in order to protect the most vulnerable households, we have extended the regulation regarding the reconnection of electricity to citizens, who are proven to be unable to pay their bills.”
Regarding the rational management of waste and water in the context of the circular economy, Skrekas pointed out that the Energy Regulatory Authority has the know-how and could extend its activity to other sectors besides energy, always in the public interest.

PM Mitsotakis visiting Libya, relaunching bilateral relations

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is paying an official visit to Libya on Tuesday, which marks the relaunching of Greek-Libyan relations. Mitsotakis will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, who underlined that “Libya is making the first steps in its return to normality and Greece will do whatever possible to support it. A necessary prerequisite for the return to normality is the withdrawal of all foreign troops and mercenaries”.
Athens believes that the resumed operation of the Greek Embassy in Tripoli and the General Consulate in Benghazi will significantly contribute to strengthening the two countries’ relations in all sectors.
According to the schedule, Mitsotakis will meet with the prime minister of the provisional Government of National Unity (GNU), Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, at 16:25 (Athens time). At the same time, Dendias will meet with his counterpart Najla al-Mangoush. Broad deliberations between the two delegations will follow and afterwards the two country leaders will make statements to the press. At 18:00 (Athens time), Mitsotakis will have a meeting with the president of the Presidential Council of Libya, Mohamed al-Menfi, which will be followed by talks between the delegations.
The Greek prime minister’s visit to Libya will conclude with a visit to the Greek Embassy to Libya.