SMP plunges amid need to lower hydropower reservoirs

The oversupply of water at the main power utility PPC’s hydropower facilities, resulting from recent periods of heavy rainfall, is significantly impacting the market as a subsequent need to increase the use of these hydropower facilities, the intention being to lower water reserve levels and avoid any overflow-related threats, is drastically limiting contributions to the system by thermal units (lignite and gas-fired power stations).

Wholesale electricity prices have plunged as a result of these unusual conditions. Water reserves at PPC’s hydropower facilities now exceed the maximum level by 15 percent and offer a capacity of 2,835 GWh. The maximum level permitted, for this time of the year, is 2,460 GWh.

As a result, PPC will need to generate 375 GWh of electricity with its hydropower facilities to bring water levels at reservoirs back down to normal. A further influx of water into the power utility’s reservoirs is soon expected once snow coverage begins to melt.

The duration of PPC’s water reservoir emptying period remains unknown. Future rainfall and snow melting rates will obviously play a role.

This excess water supply, along with renewable energy output, has priority dispatch rights. The current conditions are subsequently limiting contributions to the system by thermal units.

Day-ahead market data released for today by LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, noted that hydropower and RES facilities would cover 55 percent of total electricity demand. Hydropower facilities were planned to provide 33,508 MWh of the 136,596 MWh total, while RES facilities would dispatch 41,674 MWh. A further 10,000 MWh was planned to be imported, bringing the total to just over 85,000 MWh. This left about 51,000 MWh for the thermal units to cover.

The impact on the market is immense. According to the LAGIE data, the System Marginal Price (wholesale price) was set at 2 euros per MWh early in the day and later in the evening, and at 5 euros per MWh for a further three hours during the day. All this resulted in an extremely low SMP average for the day, at 32.18 euros per MWh. The maximum price for the day reached 50.46 euros per MWh.

Four of the five PPC Agios Dimitrios lignite-fired power station units, as well as the power utility’s Kardia IV, Megalopoli III, Amynteo II and Meliti were called into action for the lignite-fired electricity supply to the grid.

As for the natural gas-fueled units, PPC’s Aliveri V and Megalopoli V were called into action along with private-sector units, for limited periods, operated by ENTHES, Elpedison, Protergia and Korinthos Power.