Greece envisioned as gas supply solution in Europe, Balkans

Greece is seen as a natural gas supply solution by Balkan and European countries, a Regional Task Force meeting in Sofia, staged within the framework of the EU Energy Platform –  formed to help establish common natural gas and hydrogen markets – has made apparent.

The Sofia meetings agenda focused on the search of natural gas supply solutions given an anticipated demand increase in Europe, including the continent’s southeast, Mihalis Thomadakis, Director of Strategy and Management at gas grid operator DESFA, who participated in the Sofia meeting, has told an ensuing industry event, Athens Energy Dialogues.

He was a member of the Greek delegation in Sofia led by Nektaria Karakatsani, an energy ministry expert on energy policy matters.

Delegations representing Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Moldova also took part at the Regional Task Force meeting in Sofia.

Thomadakis, the DESFA official, underlined that gas network upgrades need to be developed as quickly as possible in order to meet new needs emerging.

Besides the EU Energy Platform, established in April as part of Europe’s plan for a swift end to its reliance on Russian natural gas, the European Commission, in collaboration with the International Energy Agency, has also formed the Technical Support Instrument, a project already involving seventeen EU member states, for the same purpose.

The TSI project is promoting energy source diversification and transmission, biomethane production, international hydrogen trade, roof-mounted solar energy installations, energy efficiency measures, swifter RES licensing procedures, innovative hydrogen solutions, as well as RES projects for the industrial sector.

 

Energy companies must now reshape commercial policies

Energy companies will need to reshape their commercial policies as a result of yesterday’s ratification of legislation for extraordinary contributions including a mechanism, effective as of July 1, for collection of windfall profits earned by energy producers.

Though the extraordinary contributions energy companies will need to hand over to the state will be far lower than originally planned, the sum, estimated at between 300 and 400 million euros over a nine-month period, will, nevertheless, result in an outflow of earnings to be used by the government for support of its subsidies offered to consumers.

This sum to result from the tax concerns windfall profits earned from October, 2021.

Vertically integrated energy groups will now need to reassess their commercial policies, including discounts, fixed tariffs, installment-based payment arrangements for overdue energy bills, and punctual-customer bonuses, as the new measures will narrow their profit margins.

The windfall profit tax will be set at 90 percent while a price cap is planned to be imposed in the wholesale electricity market. The level at which this price cap is to be set remains unclear.

 

Government to introduce energy-saving rules, advice

The government is preparing a package of energy-saving measures, in the form of compulsory restrictions at public buildings and advice for households and businesses, plus subsidies and incentives contributing to energy efficiency.

Air conditioning systems at public buildings and ministries will need to be set at a minimum level of 26 degrees Celsius in summer and not above 19 degrees in winter, according to the measures. Also, lighting restrictions will also be imposed for idle rooms at public buildings.

Similar measures had also been introduced for the 2004 Athens Olympics, to overcome serious grid instability and sufficiency concerns.

Households and businesses will be given a series of recommendations, all aimed at preventing energy wastage.

These recommendations will include lower driving speeds, more walking, bicycle usage, self-imposed establishment of car-free days, lower heating-system temperatures in winter, avoidance of electricity consumption during peak-demand hours, as well as no heating and lights in unused rooms.

The government is also preparing new energy-savings programs in the form of subsidies and incentives.

 

 

Solar energy investors focusing on large-scale projects

Increased emphasis is nowadays being placed on large-scale solar energy parks around Europe, as well as energy storage, through hybrid projects combining photovoltaics with batteries, participants at Intersolar Europe 2022, a major international conference and trade fair, held annually in Munich, have agreed.

The solar energy sector has enormous potential, especially in Europe, as a result of the EU’s decision to greatly reduce its reliance on Russian energy sources, participants noted, without overlooking concerns troubling the market, regarded as unstable by many.

Highlighting the growing level of interest in the solar energy sector, Intersolar Energy 2022 involved the participation of 1,356 exhibitors from 46 countries, attracting 65,000 visitors from 149 countries, a 33 percent increase compared to 2019.

A host of Greek companies took part, these being: Sunlight Group Energy Storage Systems, Elvan S.A., ILVIEF SA, Inaccess ltd, Nanotechnology Lab LTFN, Organic Electronic Technologies PC (O.E.T.), Profilodomi, Protasis SA, Raycap GmbH, Recom Technologies, S.K.EVANGELOPOULOS AND CO, SOLBOTIX S.A.

Local representatives of major international players also participated, representing companies such as Huawei, Jinko, Goodwe, Krannich-Solar, Kostal and Raycap, all active in the Greek market.

 

Household, business electricity demand down 6.7% in April

Higher energy prices prompted a 6.7 percent decrease in electricity demand among households and enterprises in April, compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, according to a monthly report released by power grid operator IPTO.

Overall electricity demand fell at a smaller rate of 3.79 percent as demand for high-voltage electricity supplied to the industrial sector rose by 3.3 percent, the IPTO data showed.

Higher electricity demand in the industrial sector has been linked to export activity as well as pre-determined electricity tariff agreements, protecting producers from the steep energy price rises of late.

High-priced electricity and, by extension, more expensive products, has impacted the purchasing power of consumers, forcing many shops to restrict their business hours.

Output at natural gas-fueled power stations fell 48.8 percent in April, compared to the same month a year earlier, while lignite-fired power stations increased their production by 57.2 percent, the IPTO report showed. Overall, electricity production fell 19.9 percent in April compared to a year earlier, the data showed.

RES production rose, favorable weather conditions being a key factor, to take green energy’s share of the country’s energy mix to 57.34 percent, the IPTO figures showed.

Producers want discount, fixed tariffs cost deducted from tax

Electricity producers have called for their total cost of discounts and fixed electricity tariffs offered in the market to be deducted from an extraordinary 90 percent tax to be imposed on energy-crisis windfall profits, rather than a deduction of just a percentage of this total cost, as is currently planned.

If the total cost of discounts and fixed electricity tariffs is not deducted from the extraordinary tax, introduced to help fund energy-crisis support measures, then it makes no sense for producers to keep offering discounts, company officials argue.

Heavy taxation after having offered discounts and low fixed tariffs is pointless, especially amid a period of energy crisis, they added.

In other parts of Europe, producers are being offered incentives to maintain tariffs at fixed levels as this approach offers protection at a turbulent time for electricity prices.

The extraordinary measure is planned to tax windfall profits earned by electricity producers between October, 2021 and March, 2022.

 

 

Electricity producer tax for windfall profits in parliament

A draft bill proposing an extraordinary 90 percent tax on windfall profits earned by electricity producers – primarily operators of natural gas-fueled power stations – as a result of sharply higher natural gas prices over the past nine-month period, has been submitted to parliament for discussion and ratification following talks on the matter between the finance and energy ministries.

The draft bill is planned to legislate this extraordinary tax as well as a formula to be used for calculating respective company amounts to be taxed.

Discounts offered by companies to customers will be reduced from sums to be taxed, along with any returns resulting from bilateral contracts.

Once the draft bill is legislated, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, will calculate amounts for each company to be subject to the extraordinary tax.

According to a related report prepared by RAE and delivered to the government and parliament, power utility PPC represents 729.91 million euros of the market’s total of 927.44 million euros in windfall profits amassed over a six-month period between October, 2021 and March, 2022.

The country’s independent producers, Mytilineos, Elpedison and Heron, along with RES producers participating in the market, represent the remaining 197.53 million euros in windfall profits, the RAE report determined.

Overdue electricity bill sums double over 6-month period

The prolonged energy crisis has led to a sharp rise in overdue electricity bills as consumers struggle to meet exorbitant energy costs, amounts owed now double the level compared to six months ago.

According to sector officials, electricity bills overdue for periods of between 45 and 75 days represent the majority of cases. In this category, the rise in overdue electricity bills is close to 400 percent, clearly indicating that an increasing number of households and businesses are finding it extremely difficult to cover energy costs and meet deadlines.

The category of electricity bills overdue for up to 100 days has also experienced an increase, but it is far milder, suggesting that consumers are making every effort to not exceed this period, driven by the fear of electricity supply cuts.

Also highlighting the increased pressure experienced in the market, the number of electricity consumers resorting to a universal supply service covering the power needs of black-listed customers with poor track records exceeded 167,000 in April, increasing by 19,000 since the start of the year.

DEPA Commercial sale over, DEPA Infrastructure completion June

Privatization fund TAIPED’s attempted sale of gas company DEPA Commercial is officially over, the European Commission admitting that the procedure cannot proceed as a result of an ongoing legal battle between the company and fertilizer producer ELFE, which, Brussels noted, in a report on the Greek economy, is expected to take two to three years to be resolved.

ELFE is seeking compensation from DEPA, claiming overpriced gas supply between 2010 and 2015, while DEPA has filed a legal case seeking overdue amounts from the fertilizer producer, based in Kavala, northern Greece.

TAIPED is now examining alternative sale solutions, according to the Brussels report.

As for the yet-to-be-finalized sale of gas company DEPA Infrastructure, acquired by Italgas, Europe’s second largest gas distributor, it is expected to be finalized in mid-June, the European Commission’s report noted.

The Brussels report made no mention of recent certification issues raised by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, which has changed its stance on the certification conditions for DEPA Infrastructure’s three subsidiaries, the gas distributors EDA Attiki, EDA THESS and DEDA.

Kavala UGS binding offers in July, pricing rules unchanged

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has left unchanged, following consultation, a pricing framework for a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north, a step enabling the project’s binding-bids stage to go ahead, energypress sources have informed.

According to the tender’s latest schedule, included in a European Commission report published yesterday, binding bids will be submitted towards the end of July, while, in the lead-up, the two bidding teams, a consortium comprising gas grid operator DESFA and GEK TERNA, and rival bidder Energean, will be updated on the license’s details.

The tender is expected to be completed towards the end of October.

According to the project’s pricing framework, 50 percent of the UGS facility’s development cost, budgeted at 314 million euros, will be guaranteed through regulated earnings.

The project’s operator will need to retrieve the remainder either from the Greek State, on the grounds of strategic reserve maintenance, or from other users of the facility.

 

Subsidies remain key tool to counter steep energy prices

Electricity bill subsidies will remain the basic tool in the government’s policy seeking to offer households and businesses protection against the energy crisis’ exorbitant electricity prices, it has been decided at a Brussels meeting.

DG Energy and DG Comp authorities, in talks with Greek government officials, did not permit wholesale market measures for electricity purchases by suppliers at levels below the System Marginal Price, a lower cost that would then have been passed on to consumers.

Brussels officials had expressed hesitation from earlier on for a two-pronged solution entailing wholesale and retail market intervention as the European Commission wanted to avoid, at all costs, any impact on the target model, Europe’s unified electricity market.

As a result, energy minister Kostas Skrekas and the ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou arrived in Brussels yesterday with a simpler alternative plan that was shaped to be more compatible with the European Commission’s sensitivities.

 

Shell, Inaccess to deploy Unity platform in hybrid PV+Wind 100MW Dutch project

As renewable energy penetration increases, many grid operators and consequently developers are facing challenges due to reduced grid capacity. The Netherlands is one of the countries dealing with such challenges stemming from the fast growth of its renewable energy sector during the last couple of years.

One of the solutions to circumvent grid congestion is to co-locate Solar and Wind plants. These types of generation assets complement each other very well since there is an abundance of solar energy during the day and in the summer months while there is plenty of wind during the winter months.

This complementary nature of solar and wind can stabilize the intermittent nature of the energy production and maximize grid connection utilization, leading to significant benefits in terms of dispatchability, flexibility, and reliability.

Shell, as part of its global push in the renewable energy space, developed a hybrid asset in the Netherlands. The power plant consists of a 50MW photovoltaic power plant and a 50MW wind farm.

In order to control and monitor this complex project, Shell worked with Inaccess, a global leader in control and monitoring solutions for renewable energy projects. Building on their successful cooperation for utility-scale projects in Australia and the EMEA region, Shell and Inaccess will continue collaborating on a project pipeline in various countries.

The Unity system of Inaccess optimizes the operation of modern renewable power plants and portfolios encompassing PV, Batteries, Wind and Microgrids by offering:

  • Fine-tuned control: low-level distributed control architecture and grid interaction
  • Crystallizing and Centralizing by providing accurate data acquisition and scalability
  • Maximizing energy production by identifying and evaluating cases of underperformance
  • Optimizing market revenues by minimizing imbalance costs and maximizing Energy Capture Price

The integrated nature of the Unity system ensures “no-excuses” accurate monitoring, control and optimization and acts as the single version of truth among the EPC, O&M, Asset Management, and Market Management ecosystem, thus eliminating inefficiencies.

Co-locating wind farms with solar assets provides more grid-friendly power that is necessary in today’s congested grids. This pairing has the potential to disrupt and transform many renewable energy markets globally that are facing similar challenges.

About Shell

Shell companies have operations in more than 70 countries and territories with businesses including oil and gas exploration and production; production and marketing of liquefied natural gas and gas to liquids; manufacturing, marketing and shipping of oil products and chemicals and renewable energy projects. For further information, visit www.shell.com.

Globally, Shell is building an integrated power business that will provide customers with low-carbon and renewable energy solutions. Shell Renewables and Energy Solutions spans trading, generation and supply. We offer integrated energy solutions including hydrogen, solar, wind and electric-vehicle charging at scale, while buying nature-based carbon credits and using technology to capture emissions from hard-to-abate sectors of the energy system. Today Shell has deployed or is developing more than 6 gigawatts of wind power generation capacity across North America, Europe, the UK and Asia, and in January 2022 Shell secured the seabed leases to develop up to 5 gigawatts of floating offshore wind in the ScotWind leasing round.

Shell’s target is to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050. For more information on our net-zero emissions customer-first strategy visit here.

About Inaccess

With a global presence, Inaccess is an innovative company providing centralized management solutions for Renewable Energy and Telecom infrastructure, mostly offered on a turn-key basis.

Inaccess is one of the largest independent solar SCADA leaders in the world with a cumulative portfolio of more than 30 GWp across more than 2500 sites and 57 countries. Our singular focus is to provide high-quality solutions to our clients (EPCs, O&Ms, Developers, and Funds) for better and effective management of their renewable assets.

Inaccess has the team capacity to implement the Plant SCADA system in many plants in parallel, allowing us to deliver several GWs in solar and storage projects annually around the world.

The Inaccess group is acknowledged as one of the leading independent monitoring providers for the utility-scale PV and Battery Storage segment globally. Inaccess has significant activity in wind, hybrid, mini-grid, and off-grid RES projects as well.

RAE proposes €67m return from power producers to suppliers

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has proposed a legislative revision that would facilitate a return of 67 million euros, by electricity producers – expect RES producers – to suppliers, an amount representing unpaid balancing-market earnings between November, 2020 and February, 2021, during the launch of the target model.

The amounts that would be returned to suppliers concern two categories, companies that had passed on excessive costs to customers, as well as companies that had not passed on excessive costs to their customers.

According to information obtained by energypress, two retailers, power utility PPC and Volterra, had not passed on excessive costs to their customers. In this case, money to be returned will go straight into the company coffers of these two firms.

Returns for companies that had passed on excessive costs to customers will be injected into the Energy Transition Fund as support for subsidies offered to consumers.

 

 

Swift Brussels approval sought for energy market measures

The energy ministry’s leadership will seek swift approval of a national plan for two-pronged intervention in the wholesale and retail electricity markets, intended to subdue energy prices, at a meeting with European Commission officials in Brussels today.

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas and the ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou will discuss the country’s plan with DG Energy technocrats. The government has announced the measures will be implemented July 1.

The measures include a suspension of wholesale electricity price adjustment clauses included in retail electricity bills as well as a wholesale price-cap mechanism.

These measures, however, will not necessarily keep tariffs steady. On the contrary, suppliers will, after informing customers, be able to adjust kilowatt hour prices based on their wholesale electricity purchase costs.

According to sources, Greece’s plan stands a strong chance of being approved by the European Commission as it essentially does not affect the target model and also includes a taxation measure for windfall profits earned by electricity producers, a measure repeatedly proposed by the European Commission.

Key energy infrastructure included in new recovery fund

The government, intending to make the most of its favourable geographic location for diversified natural gas supply in the wider region, plans to seek EU funding support, through the REPowerEU package, for a series of natural gas and electricity grid projects awaiting development.

These projects are planned to be included in the country’s revised EU Recovery and Resilience Facility, to be submitted to by the government to the European Commission by early July.

The investments will aim to end Greece’s reliance on Russian energy sources by 2027, as planned by the REPowerEU package.

Besides the addition of natural gas infrastructure, absent from Greece’s existing recovery plan as a result of the European Commission’s unfavorable view on funding support for projects concerning natural gas, seen as a transitional energy source towards zero emissions, the country’s revised plan will also seek to incorporate electricity transmission projects that will contribute to the reinforcement of renewable energy sources in Europe’s energy mix.

The government is believed to have already prepared its catalogue of electricity and natural gas infrastructure project proposals to seek funding through the REPowerEU initiative.

An electricity grid interconnection project to link the Greek and Egyptian systems and transmit green energy, exclusively, to Greece and the EU has been included in the Greek catalogue, sources informed.

An additional central gas pipeline, to run 650 km from Komotini, northeastern Greece, to Elefsina’s Patima area, west of Athens, has also been included in the Greek catalogue, following a request by DESFA, the gas grid operator.

RES investors pressured by increased project development cost

Investors behind solar energy projects still in development are facing budget pressure as a result of a steep rise in equipment costs, prompting talks of increased tariffs for non-auction projects.

Price increases, compared to early 2021, have reached 35 percent for solar panels, 75 percent for AC electricity cables, 35 percent for DC cables, 20 percent for low and medium-voltage sub-stations, while the cost of metal bases has also risen.

Data presented recently by SPEF, the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Energy Producers, at a recent energy conference showed that the construction cost of a standard solar farm has increased by 15 to 20 percent, in line with figures presented by IEA, the International Energy Agency.

Wind energy projects face similar rises in cost, which has prompted the energy ministry to increase non-auction tariffs for new projects of up to 6 MW to 89 euros per MW/h from 72 euros per MW/h.

 

 

DEPA Infrastructure sale facing hurdle on final stretch

The yet-to-be-finalized sale of gas company DEPA Infrastructure, acquired by Italgas, Europe’s second largest gas distributor, has encountered a hurdle on the final stretch as a result of certification issues raised by RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The unexpected issues faced by this privatization, promising to provide 733 million euros to TAIPED, the country’s privatization fund, are serious and threaten to derail a sale and purchase agreement signed last December by the two sellers, the Greek State and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), and the Italian buyer.

The sale’s procedure had progressed swiftly, leading to competition committee approval, but events over the past few days, instigated by RAE’s change of stance on the certification conditions of DEPA Infrastructure’s three subsidiaries, the gas distributors EDA Attiki, EDA THESS and DEDA, have suddenly led to confusion, bringing the sale to a standstill.

RAE has offered conditional certification for the three subsidiaries, setting terms that did not exist in the lead-up to the sale and its conditions, according to sources.

Consequently, certification offered to the subsidiaries will not be considered valid if the buyer proceeds with an equity capital increase within three years of the DEPA Infrastructure sale’s finalization. Also, the agendas of all three subsidiaries will need to remain unchanged for their certification to remain valid, according to the sources.

TAIPED officials are believed to have been angered by these initiatives, considering them to be beyond RAE’s authority. Officials at Greece’s finance and energy ministries, as well as Italgas, have also been annoyed by RAE’s decision.

TAIPED and Italgas officials are believed to be engaged in talks in search of a compromise solution.

 

Offshore wind farm framework imminent, consultation in June

A framework for the development of offshore wind farms in Greek sea territory is nearing completion at the energy ministry and, according to sources, is expected to undergo consultation within the next month.

Sea plots will be offered through one auction, offering investors the opportunity to secure both plots and tariffs for prospective offshore wind farms. A previous plan had entailed two auction stages.

Interested parties will need to submit related applications to EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, coordinator of the overall procedure. Investors, if deemed by EDEY to meet financial criteria, will be given the green light to study the generation potential of specific sea plots.

Investors will be given a period of between one to two years to study the prospects of sea plots to be offered through the auction.

Offshore plots, primarily northeast of Evia, off Skyros, Limnos, as well as port city Alexandroupouli, in the northeast, will be offered to investors. These plots are expected to offer wind energy potential of up to 10 GW.

It remains unclear how a number of investment plans that have already been granted licenses will be handled.

 

Roof-mounted solar panels to be made compulsory throughout the EU

The EU’s new solar energy strategy, just unveiled, envisions solar panels on all residential roofs throughout Europe as of 2029, according to the REPowerEU plan.

The initiative for compulsory roof-mounted solar panel installations will begin with public and commercial buildings in 2026, followed by private homes in 2029.

As part of the plan, the EU has called for roof-mounted PV licensing procedures to be restricted to no more than three months, as well as for new buildings with specifications enabling solar-panel hosting.

EU member states will need to remove any obstacles preventing further RES expansion, while municipalities with populations of more than 10,000 will need to establish at least one energy community as of 2025. Also, low-income households and persons with special needs will need to be given access to energy communities.

The EU plan for roof-mounted solar panels is expected to add 19 TWh from the first year of development and 58 TWh by 2025.

 

 

 

New REPowerEU plan may boost recovery fund by €2bn

The EU’s revised energy sector targets for 2030 – 740 GW in solar energy output by 2030, a RES sector energy-mix share of 45 percent, up from the previous target of 40 percent, and energy savings of 13 percent, up from a 9 percent increase – raise the standards for member states.

The EU is pouring an additional 210 billion euros into the effort. The share of this total to be made available to Greece remains to be seen.

According to initial calculations by government officials possessing knowledge on this subject, Greece should be entitled to an additional 2 billion euros for the country’s recovery and resilience plan.

If so, this amount will increase the value of Greece’s recovery and resilience plan to 34 billion euros, from 32 billion euros at present.

Of this additional two billion-euro amount, for RES and energy savings projects, over one billion euros could be offered to investors in the form of low-interest loans, while approximately 700 million euros, or possibly less, may be offered as subsidies.

 

 

REPowerEU details unveiled, RES acceleration a key aspect

The European Commission has unveiled details of its REPowerEU plan, a road map intended to eliminate Europe’s reliance on Russian energy sources.

Brussels’ road map will aim to eliminate Russian gas, oil and coal imports into the EU by 2027. The renewable energy sector is planned to play a key role in this effort. The European Commission has increased the RES sector’s energy-mix target to 45 percent, up from 40 percent, by 2030 and will seek to accelerate RES investments.

Solar energy utilization will be a pivotal factor of this strategy, to be promoted through the European Solar Rooftop Initiative, part of the REPowerEU plan.

The wider plan will push for an energy savings increase of 13 percent by 2030, up from the present objective aiming for a 9 percent increase in savings.

The European Commission estimates investments totaling 210 billion euros will need to be made by 2027, as an addition to the previous Fit for 55 plan, which set a target for a 55 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

Brussels promoting energy savings, consumer support extension

The European Commission is expected to present a plan tomorrow including proposals for energy savings, an end to Europe’s reliance on Russian energy sources, as well as support measures for consumers.

The consumer support measures could need to be extended for a longer period, stretching beyond June 30, 2022, according to the proposals.

A draft of the plan, obtained by the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, notes that a reduction in energy demand as a result of a voluntary change in consumer habits, as well as through energy-efficiency fast-track measures, promises to lessen the shortage of Russian oil and gas should Moscow decide to disrupt supply to Europe.

For the short term, the Brussels proposals focus on cooling options concerning households as well as transportation choices, all voluntary. Reduced reliance on private vehicles, lower driving speeds, as well as avoidance of air-conditioning system usage in rooms not in use are among the proposals.

Emphasis is also placed on the use of solar energy at buildings, now more critical than ever before, the Brussels proposals note.

The European Commission’s proposals will be discussed at an EU summit on May 30 and 31 in an effort by leaders to reach common decisions.

 

 

Gov’t confident Brussels will approve wholesale market plan

Government officials are confident the administration’s two-pronged intervention plan for the wholesale and retail electricity markets will soon be approved by the European Commission, enabling implementation as of July 1, despite some reservations expressed over the past few days, government sources involved in the process have told energypress.

Athens’ plan was forwarded to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy and Directorate-General for Competition last Friday, following consultation on technical details between Greek government officials and Brussels.

Details of the Greek proposal are expected to be discussed over the next few days through a teleconference meeting involving technocrats , sourced noted.

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas could also hold talks this week with the head officials of the Directorate-General for Energy and Directorate-General for Competition, to elevate the effort to a political level. A written response to the Greek plan from these Brussels bodies is believed to be imminent.

The Greek government is confident its energy-crisis plan will be approved by Brussels for two reasons. Firstly, Athens’ decision to eliminate, through a related tax, windfall profits earned by electricity producers during the energy crisis is one of the tools proposed by Brussels. Secondly, the Greek plan is not expected to affect transboundary trade as import-export prices will continue to be shaped by wholesale market forces.

 

Ministry to suspend wholesale adjustment clauses in bills

The government appears determined to push through with an energy ministry decision suspending wholesale electricity price adjustment clauses included in retail electricity bills as of July 1 and for as long as measures – in both markets – are deemed necessary.

Even so, details of the plan remain unclear. The government aims to implement a new electricity price-adjusting mechanism on July 1. Its fundamentals involve setting a remuneration cap for electricity producers and reducing wholesale electricity price levels for suppliers.

There has been confusion as to whether the government will suspend or cancel existing wholesale electricity price adjustment clauses.

In comments to energypress, leading energy ministry officials supported that energy minister Kostas Skrekas plans to deliver a draft bill suspending wholesale electricity price adjustment clauses, while also introducing a wholesale price-cap mechanism.

These measures, however, will not necessarily keep tariffs steady. On the contrary, suppliers will, after informing customers, be able to adjust kilowatt hour prices based on their wholesale electricity purchase costs, it is understood.

 

PM discusses Greek regional gas supply prospects in talks with US president

The crucial role to be played by northeastern Greece’s prospective Alexandroupoli FSRU as a project that promises to help reduce and eliminate the reliance of the Balkans and, by extension, east Europe on Russian gas was stressed during talks between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and US president Joe Biden in Washington yesterday.

The Greek leader, who stressed that the Alexandroupoli FSRU will be installed at a port just 500 km from the Ukraine border, added the facility, discussed extensively between the two leaders, will play a pivotal role in Europe’s decision to end its reliance on Russian gas.

Mitsotakis also discussed Greece’s ambitious yet not unattainable objective of becoming an energy hub in the Balkans, as a first step, as well as a key player in eastern Europe.

Three prospective LNG terminals – Alexandroupoli FSRU I and II, as well as Dioryga Gas, close to Korinthos, west of Athens – combined with the existing LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, that will soon acquire a fourth storage unit, could elevate Greece’s regional role as a main gas supplier in the Balkans and eastern Europe.

 

 

 

Russian gas payments by Greek companies due next few days

Greek companies that have imported Russian natural gas supplied by Gazprom and face installment payment deadlines expiring between May 20 and 25 are expected to accept Moscow’s ruble-currency demands as part of a wider EU approach that still remains unclear.

Even so, the European Commission, appearing set to revise EU directives concerning payment procedures by member states for Russian gas, is believed to be adjusting to Moscow’s ruble-currency demands.

Greek companies that have imported Russian gas believe the dispute will soon be resolved and are awaiting EU directives and related signals from the Greek government before proceeding with installment payments, sources informed.

The Greek government and the country’s energy players are continuing to observe emergency plans as energy supply security remains a threat as long as Russia’s war on Ukraine continues.

 

 

RAE finalized windfall profit figures soon, producers react

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is examining objections and observations made by electricity producers in response to the authority’s report on sector windfall profits, headed for taxation.

The electricity producers, including vertically integrated energy groups with retail representation, have objected to details of a formula applied by the authority to determine excess profits during the ongoing energy crisis’ period between October, 2021 and March, 2022.

The producers, claiming the report’s findings are erroneous, want a series of additional factors to also be taken into account, including discounts offered to customers, losses incurred through fixed tariffs, as well as financial costs resulting from initiatives taken to boost cashflow.

Energy ministry Kostas Skrekas has asked RAE to take into account the factors raised by electricity producers before delivering a finalized windfall profit figure, expected imminently.

The government is preparing a legislative bill for a 90 percent tax on windfall profits once RAE has delivered its finalized figures, sources informed.

The RAE report has valued the total sum of windfall profits earned during the aforementioned six-month period at 927.44 million euros.

Power utility PPC holds the lion’s share of this amount, 729.91 million euros, while the independent players Mytilineos, Elpedison, Heron and RES producers active in the market are linked to the remaining amount.

 

 

 

Electricity bill complaints made to RAE abound

Consumer complaints about electricity bills submitted to a customer services platform set up by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, have abounded, reaching 5,457 between last September, when the platform, MyRAE, was established, and May 8, according to figures presented to parliament by the authority’s president Athanasios Dagoumas.

Roughly nine in ten consumer complaints submitted to the RAE platform have concerned electricity bills, while, more specifically, over half of these concern electricity-bill problems.

A total of 1,234 consumers, roughly one-fifth of the number that submitted complaints, disputed their electricity bill charges, the most common complaint. A total of 560 consumers complained about adjustment clauses included in their energy bills, while 327 consumers protested about insufficient information on energy tariffs and surcharges.

The RAE chief, speaking in parliament, noted that electricity suppliers found to have violated electricity market regulations will, besides penalties, also be forced to reimburse affected consumers.

 

RAE to cut extra WACC for electricity interconnections

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, will eliminate any extra weighted average cost of capital (WACC) concerning electricity interconnection projects, the authority’s president, Athanasios Dagoumas, has informed a parliamentary committee.

RAE is basing its decision on a cost-benefit analysis study conducted by the authority, while latest European approaches have also been taken into account, the aim being to converge with European WACC standards, the chief executive noted.

The president of RAE stressed that the role of the authority is to control operator expenditures, which, he added, is public money. “We’re cutting expenses – what is not substantiated as an expense will be cut,” he underlined.

The RAE president also protested that market operators are presenting financial data to RAE for approval with great delay, forcing the authority’s staff to work overtime to meet schedules.

RAE has moved swiftly to offer its approval of a series of projects, such as the IGB, the Alexandroupoli FSRU, and a pipeline link with North Macedonia, the chief official noted, adding that the authority’s role is to protect public interest. “We ask you to recognize and support this,” Dagoumas told the parliamentary committee.

 

Brussels crisis plan presented to EU leaders next week

The European Commission will present a short-term intervention plan for the electricity and natural gas markets at a council meeting of EU leaders next week, the validity of the measures to run through next winter, until May 1, 2023, according to sources.

It remains unclear if this set of measures, intended to subdue exorbitant energy prices, has been finalized or will undergo revisions.

The package is believed to contain new measures as well as older ones that have already been discussed at national and European level.

The plan includes an initiative for the establishment of an EU Energy Platform, whose aim will be to ensure energy supply at fair prices as well as greatly reduced, even eliminated, reliance on Russian natural gas.

EU member states will be given a specific period of time to regulate prices in the retail gas market. Emergency cash-flow measures offering relief to traders will also be made available.

Electricity market measures are expected to include taxation or regulation of excess earnings, energy price regulation in the retail market, as well as price regulation for small and medium-sized enterprises.