Energy system stretched to its limits by freezing weather

The surge in demand for electricity and natural gas prompted by the freezing weather conditions around the country has been met by the enforcement of emergency measures intended to protect the grid’s sufficiency following a crisis management team meeting convened by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

Both the electricity and natural gas grids have been stretched to their limits and power cuts have not been ruled out.

Over the past few days, natural gas demand peaked at 279,000 MWh, exceeding the previous high of 220,000 MWh. Electricity demand also rose to levels of over 9,000 MW and is expected to exceed 9,400 MW today, a level not reached in years.

Natural gas imports from Bulgaria and Turkey are flowing at the levels agreed to with suppliers. Further increases are not possible as a result of the high demand also being experienced throughout Europe and Turkey.

A 75,000 cubic meter LNG shipment that arrived at the terminal on Revythoussa, an island just off Athens, last Saturday was expected to last until tomorrow but, at the current consumption rate, will run dry sooner. The next LNG shipment, measuring 120,000 cubic meters, is due to arrive tomorrow, its unloading procedure scheduled to start at 1pm. The combination and timing of events will produce a marginal shortage of 34,600 MWh.

As for the electricity grid, four main power utility PC units are out of action. Two of these are undergoing scheduled desulphurization maintenance work while a further two units were knocked out by the high demand on Sunday and yesterday, respectively.

In addition, electricity imports are not possible as a result of the low prices in Greece and high prices in Bulgaria. As anticipated, renewable energy output has diminished. Solar units are not producing while wind energy farms are delivering small amounts.

All gas-fueled power stations have been ordered to operate today, while hydropower station output is expected to increase significantly to a level of about 22,000 MWh.

Emergency measures taken include limiting gas consumption at industrial units and activating the demand response mechanism for industry, today and tomorrow. Cement and steel producers are expected to be the main contributors with savings of roughly 300 MW.

The demand response mechanism enables major industrial enterprises to benefit from electricity cost savings in exchange for shifting energy usage to off-peak hours whenever required by the operator.