PPC looking for Amynteo upgrade partner – sale or not

The main power utility PPC is looking for a partner to upgrade and extend the life of its ageing Amynteo lignite-fired power station in the country’s north, regardless of whether this facility is included or not in the bailout-required PPC lignite unit sale package, still being negoitiated.

The Amynteo facility’s operating life is set to expire in two and a half years and will need to be withdrawn from the grid unless a major revamp is performed. Most PPC lignite-fired units will soon require upgrades if they are to keep operating. This overall revamp effort is expected to cost hundreds of millions of euros and cannot be shouldered alone by PPC, struggling with cash flow problems.

Just weeks ago, the PPC board approved an international tender for a 145 million-euro revamp project concerning four units – I, II, III and IV – at its Agios Dimitrios power station near Kozani, northern Greece.

PPC is expected to make similar moves for all its facilities, including ageing Amynteo, which, judging by indications emerging from negotiations between the energy ministry and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition, will be removed from the sale package and replaced by the more modern Megalopoli facility in the Peloponnese.

Pundits expect PPC to reach revamp project decisions very soon. If PPC chooses to proceed with an Amynteo upgrade that would stretch the facility’s lifespan by a further 10 to 15 years, then this investment would be expected to cost around 100 million euros.

At this stage, China Shenhua Group, one of China’s biggest coal and energy trading corporations, appears to be the most likely partner for the Amynteo upgrade project.

Last winter, a team of Shenhua officials visited the Amynteo facility, close to Florina. It was followed by a visit from PPC chief Manolis Panagiotakis to the company’s headquarters in Beijng, and, in turn, the Shenhua deputy chief, Li Dong, visited Greece in September to sign a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Greek power utility.

A team of PPC officials plans to soon visit the Shenhua headquarters and also travel to Indonesia to examine emission-countering upgrades carried out at facilities in the country by the Chinese company.

With the exception of Agios Dimitrios V and Meliti I, all other PPC lignite-fired power stations require upgrades.

Amynteo’s two units, offering 600 MW, are run down. Kardia’s I, II, III and IV units, offering a total capacity of 1,212 MW, will need to close in 2020 so that a coal deposit located underneath the facility may be utilized. At the Agios Dimitrios facility, units I, II, III and IV, representing 1,220 MW of the facility’s 1,595-MW total, would need to close down in 2025 if no upgrade is performed. Agios Dimitrios V can operate until 2040 as is. The two units in Megalopoli and Arkadia, whose capacity totals 500 MW, have a lifespan until 2025.