December gas energy-mix share up to 43%, RES input falls

Natural gas usage for electricity generation increased in December to represent 43 percent of the energy mix, up from 37 percent in November.

At 43 percent, natural gas-fueled electricity captured the biggest share of the energy mix in December, followed by renewable energy sources – wind, solar and biomass – at 26 percent, lignite, at 17 percent, net electricity imports, at 10 percent, and major-scale hydropower plants, at 4 percent.

Combing the RES and hydropower contributions, the renewable energy sector’s share of the energy mix in December essentially reached 30 percent.

Natural gas-fueled generation and RES generation reached 1,645,055 MWh and 1,012,485 MWh, respectively, in December, while lignite-fired output for the month totaled 656,157 MWh.

In 2022, overall, natural gas’ share of the energy mix increased by one percent, while the RES sector’s share shrunk by 8 percent.

Energy demand increased in December, reaching 4,013,598 MWh, following four successive months of decline.

RES applications for 17 GW in 2022, PV units dominant

A total of 17 GW in RES project applications have been submitted in 2022, adding to the accumulation of older applications, but the October cycle, which expired last Monday, was subdued, resulting in 179 applications for producer certificates representing 2,504 MW.

Solar energy projects represented the majority of applications submitted in the October cycle, numbering 61 in total for 1,559 MW. Wind energy project applications totaled 79, representing 733 MW, in the October cycle.

A recent trend, confirmed, once again, by the October cycle figures, has shown a preference by solar energy project investors for facilities with greater capacity, compared to the past, while, on the contrary, wind energy projects are becoming smaller.

The October cycle also included 33 applications for small-scale hydropower units totaling 19 MW, 5 applications for hybrid projects representing 191 MW, and 1 biomass application representing 1.5 MW.

RES producer certificate applications wave sustained

The increased wave of RES producer certificate applications submitted of late continued with February’s round, attracting 477 applications representing a total of 8.8 GW, energypress sources have informed. This latest round’s deadline expired on February 10.

Applications for solar energy projects were dominant, both numerically and in terms of capacity, totaling 226 applications and 6 GW, respectively.

A total of 167 applications representing 2.65 GW were submitted for wind energy projects.

The remainder of applications concerned a variety of other RES technologies such as small-scale hydropower plants, combined cooling, heat and power (CCHP) facilities, as well as biogas-biomass units.

The supervising body, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is soon expected to begin processing applications submitted for the preceding December round and complete this procedure by late March or early April.

Successful applicants of the December round will then be requested to pay required fees for their producer certificates.

A total of 864 applications representing a capacity of 45.55 GW were lodged by prospective investors for the December round.

PPC holding back on Ptolemaida V fuel decision

Power utility PPC will take ongoing global technological developments and their comparative costs into account to decide, in approximately a year’s time, on the fuel to be used at its prospective Ptolemaida V power station in northern Greece from 2028 onwards, when a switch from lignite has been scheduled.

The facility, expected to be completed in 2022, is initially planned to operate as a lignite-fired power station for a six-year period before switching to another fuel or fuels.

All options are being left open, meaning that, beyond 2028, Ptolemaida V could run on natural gas, biomass, waste-to-energy or a combination of these energy sources.

Biomass represents an advantageous option as it can be produced at the utility’s older lignite-fired units in the area, PPC’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis has pointed out.

If a biomass option is chosen, PPC intends to provide land for farmers and cooperatives to cultivate plants for energy production. Yield potential and the local climate promise to be the two main factors behind PPC’s selection of plant species to be cultivated for biomass purposes.

Japan’s Mitsubishi, providing the new facility’s electromechanical equipment, was commissioned, some time ago, to conduct a study determining the optimal choice of fuel for Ptolemaida V beyond 2028.

Continued use of lignite, after 2028, at Ptolemaida V has also been tabled as a possibility if carbon-capture utilization and storage (CCUS) technology is applied for a zero net carbon footprint.

In such a case, the CCUS technology could be applied on a wider scale to lure industrial units to the region for the establishment of a new industrial zone.

New Peloponnese RES project applications deferred to 2021

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and power grid operator IPTO have written off any possibility of accepting new RES connection applications in 2020 for new solar and wind energy projects, as well as other technologies, but application procedures could recommence in 2021, energypress has been informed.

Authorities face the challenging task of managing an enormous level of RES investment interest, especially for solar energy projects, before procedures for new-project applications can restart.

In the Peloponnese, where RES development has been held back by system saturation for seven years, a new IPTO study is still needed on the capacity to become available once two transmission networks, the west and east corridors, are completed.

Once IPTO has delivered this study, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, should lift its saturation-related ban on new RES projects in the Peloponnese and also set capacities available for each technology – wind, solar, small-scale hydropower, biomass-biogas.

However, IPTO’s delivery of the west and east corridors in the Peloponnese does not promise a complete solution as these lines, limited to 400-KV capacities, are well below capacities represented by the level of investment interest.

A fair and effective competitive procedure serving as a selection process will need to be established.

Reference prices for auction-free RES categories lowered

The energy ministry is set to sign a decision adjusting downwards reference prices for renewable energy stations not obliged to participate in competitive procedures.

This category includes small-scale hydropower stations, biomass, biogas and geothermal stations, wind energy facilities under 3 MW (6 MW for energy communities), as well as yet-to-be-launched wind energy facilities over 3 MW for which agreements were signed in 2016.

The new reference prices will apply for projects scheduled for launch and actual price settings following January 1, 2022.

Existing reference prices are based on legislation passed in 2016 and have not been adjusted since, except for wind energy facilities, which were subject to a price reduction following a related decision last year.

The forthcoming ministerial decision will seek to rationalize RES prices compensating the aforementioned RES categories, which, as a result of unique factors, are not required to participate in competitive procedures, as is the case for bigger wind energy projects as well as solar energy projects.

RES interest high in September, applications total 2.1 GW

Investor interest for the development of new RES units, especially solar energy projects, as well as wind energy farms, remained high in September.

A total of 114 applications representing an overall capacity of 2,093 MW were submitted to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, during the month.

Solar energy project applications represent the bulk of this interest, numbering 82 for a capacity at 1,642 MW, compared to 406 MW for wind energy applications.

A smaller number of applications concerning small-scale hydropower projects totaling 10 MW were also submitted in September. The authority also received one application for a 2-MW biomass unit, three applications for hybrid projects on Lesvos totaling 14 MW, and one bid for a 20-MW telethermal project in Megalopoli.

Cantreva led the way with solar energy project applications totaling 413 MW. Terna Energy submitted solar project applications representing an overall capacity of approximately 372 MW.

Sizeable moves were also made by Portugal’s EDPR, submitting 185 MW in solar energy project applications and 90 MW for wind energy installations, as well as Germany’s ABO, which applied for solar energy projects totaling 107 MW.

Other noteworthy applications were forwarded by Maximus Terra (106 MW, solar), SPDGR (95 MW, solar), Iliothema (70 MW, solar) and Erimia (114 MW, wind).



RES installation licenses end to shorten processing by 6 months

A plan to scrap RES project installation licenses, included in a development-focused multi-bill presented last night for public consultation, promises to reduce the overall processing time for renewable energy investments by six months.

This revision will positively impact thousands of mid-scale RES investments in the wind and solar energy domains as well as geothermal, biofuel, biogas and biomass projects, industry experts explained to energypress.

The move is seen as a first step by the government towards simplifying laws for the renewable energy sector, as it has promised, and shortening the time needed for project maturity from seven years, as is the case in Greece at present, to two years, the European benchmark.

The decision to end the need for installation licenses will accelerate procedures for various RES project categories, including wind energy projects below 60 MW with line connections up to 20km; solar energy projects with capacities of at least 2 MW; geothermal projects under 5 MW; biofuel stations under 10 MW; biogas stations under 3 MW; and biomass power stations under 10 MW.

Surge of RES investments expected in the Peloponnese

A decision by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to make available over 400 MW for wind, solar and other RES installations in the Peloponnese is expected to generate heightened RES investment activity for the region.

The power grid operator IPTO is expected to have completed a 400-KV transmission line linking Megalopoli, Patras and Acheloos by the end of the year.

This stretch, from Megalopoli to Acheloos, along with a submarine grid interconnection linking the mainland with the Peloponnese, from Rio to Antirrio, makes up the western corridor of a grid expansion towards the Peloponnese.

These links will enable the development of new wind, solar, small-scale hydropower, biomass and biomass units following a seven-year period of complete stagnancy.

According to sources, the RAE decision is expected to offer 100 MW for wind energy installations; 100 MW for solar projects, not including roof-mounted PV systems, which are not subject to limits; 100 MW for small-scale hydropower units; 80 MW for biomass, biogas and combined heat and power (CHP) units; and 30 MW for energy community projects.



RES measures needed now to avoid issues, association warns

A series of RES sector measures must urgently be legislated and not held back by any pre-election obstacles, otherwise the sector faces a serious risk of devastation, ESIAPE, the Greek Association of Renewable Energy Source Electricity Producers, has warned.

The revisions required include granting deadline extensions for grid connections concerning new RES stations that have submitted installation license applications, the association noted.

Also, connection agreements need to be signed for RES projects that have been completed but whose agreements have remained pending as a result of procedural delays at power grid operator IPTO, ESIAPE noted.

Legislative revisions are also needed to enable the induction of RES producers into the Day Ahead Schedule; permit biomass and biogas electricity production; and to extend work contracts of scientists employed at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, set to expire on June 30, to ensure the authority’s ability to function properly, crucial for the RES sector, ESIAPE pointed out.

ELPE plans green investments worth €250m over next 5 years

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) plans to make investments worth between 200 and 250 million euros in the renewable energy sector over the next five years for an increase of its installed RES projects portfolio to 300 MW, George Alexopoulos, ELPE’s general manager for strategic planning, has told analysts during a presentation of the company’s results in 2018.

At present, ELPE’s installed RES capacity totals 26 MW amid a 400-MW green portfolio of unfinished projects at various stages of development.

Besides developing unfinished projects, ELPE’s investment strategy also entails project takeovers, chiefly in the wind energy sub-sector, the official noted.

As for new projects, the corporate group aims to focus on the development of solar energy facilities and biomass projects.

ELPE will strive to increase its operating profit from 700 million euros at present to one billion euros by 2020, the ELPE official informed.

Besides boosting investments in the RES sector, ELPE’s strategic plan will also include a reappraisal that is expected to lead to changes in the company’s natural gas and refining interests, the official noted.

RES sector’s 2020 targets out of reach, solar the exception

With the exception of the solar energy sector, Greece’s renewable energy targets for 2020 appear to be unattainable, latest official industry data has shown.

A 2020 target figure of 2,200 MW set for the photovoltaic sector has already been reached with existing installations totaling 2,250 MW.

However, the wind energy sector, including offshore stations, is well behind on its 2020 target of 7,500 MW. Installations currently total 2,770 MW.

It is a similar story for the biomass sector, currently totaling 67 MW and with a long way to go before reaching the 2020 target of 350 MW.

Installed hydropower capacity in August was measured at 3,450 MW, not only well under a 2020 target figure of 4,650 MW but also still below an objective of 3,700 MW that had been set for 2014.

RES sector a vital growth factor, consultant advises PPC

The main power utility PPC needs to invest in the renewable energy domain as a fundamental growth tool, consulting firm McKinsey has advised in a business plan prepared for its client.

PPC should aim for a RES capacity of 2 GW to 2.5 GW between 2030 and 2035; increase its share in this sector from 3 percent to 10 percent by 2022; represent approximately 25 percent of new RES installations for the grid; boost its EBITDA operating profit stemming from renewable energy by a level of between 73 and 84 million euros by 2022; restructure its PPC Renewables subsidiary in terms of ownership and capabilities; and set up a specialized project development team at PPC Renewables.

PPC Renewables must aim for growth not only through PPC-owned projects but also partnership ventures involving the utility’s subsidiary and other firms, the business plan notes.

The plan also calls for 1.5 to 2 billion euros of PV investments for roughly 2.2 GW of additional solar capacity; wind energy investments of 1.8 to 2.4 billion euros for a resulting additional capacity of 1.4 to 1.9 GW, biomass investments worth 1.5 to 2.1 billion euros for 0.6 to 0.8 GW, as well as geothermal investments of 2.4 to 3.2 billion euros for 0.5 to 0.7 GW.

Energy communities draft bill submitted to parliament

An energy ministry draft bill for the establishment of energy communities, promising decentralized, locally generated energy solutions, was submitted to Greek Parliament for ratification last night.

The initiative is intended to encourage enterprises, agencies, local administrations as well as private users to rely on renewable energy sources as it will enable electricity consumers to also become producers. Their output could either be sold to the grid or offset with electricity drawn from the grid.

Energy communities are made possible by the ability of renewable energy sources to provide decentralized electricity production, as well as by tools such as net metering and virtual net metering.

Net metering enables electricity consumers who generate their own power from an eligible on-site facility and deliver it to local distribution facilities to offset the electric energy provided by the utility during an applicable billing period. Virtual net metering links scattered enterprises to just one electricity power meter to offset the cost of electricity supplied by the power utility with electricity produced by these various enterprises for the grid.

Small and medium-sized enterprises will be able to reduce their energy costs while private consumers will also be in a position to cut their energy costs.

The bill for energy communities also promises to enable municipalities and regional governments to establish localized energy policies for independent management of issues such as energy poverty or promotion of electric vehicle usage.

Energy communities will, according to the draft bill, be permitted to operate as both profit-seeking enterprises and non-profit organizations. In the case of the latter category, any resulting profits will not be distributed to energy community members but utilized to fund new projects approved by respective community councils.

Energy communities will be able to produce, sell or self-consume electricity and thermal energy produced by RES facilities such as wind and PV unitsm or biogas and biomass units.

The establishment of energy communities will require at least five members, three members if concerning local government agencies, and just two members if these agencies are located on islands. Collaborations between two local government agencies will require require an additional member.

Locality will also be factored in. At least 51 percent of an energy community’s members will need to be associated with the community’s base. A term limiting the control of each energy community member to 20 percent has also been included in the draft bill to avoid centralization issues. In the case of local government agencies, this upper limit has been set at 40 percent.

Energy communities, also known as energy cooperatives, are already established in countries such as Belgium, Germany, Spain and Denmark.

Ten turbines contributing to Coopenhagen’s Middelgrunden wind park belong to the 8,552-member Middelgrunden energy community.

Greece’s energy ministry has already received positive feedback on the local energy community prospects. Potential participants such as hoteliers have already expressed a strong interest to make the most of the set-up’s benefits. Highlighting the positive outlook, a regional government council in the Peloponnese recently – well ahead of last night’s tabling of the related draft bill – voted overwhelmingly in favor of the establishment of what could become Greece’s first energy community.


PPC Renewables planning 7 subsidiaries to cover RES field

PPC Renewables, a wholly owned subsidiary of main power utility PPC, plans to establish seven new specialized subsidiaries with the aim of developing various types of RES projects. Private investors will be given the opportunity to acquire stakes of as much as 51 percent in these ventures.

The seven new subsidiaries, or Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs), will each focus on specific categories such as projects abroad, wind farm installations, biomass and geothermal electricity production, the board at PPC has decided. The plan is expected to be approved at an upcoming PPC Renewables shareholders’ meeting.

Through these SPVs, PPC Renewables will seek to benefit from the greater capacity enjoyed by private-sector enterprises in financing, construction and exploitation of energy project opportunities.

Depending on the nature of each project, PPC Renewables will – when it deems necessary –  establish joint ventures with private-sector partners to be offered stakes of as much as 51 percent.

Business prospects being considered by PPC Renewables through the prospective subsidiaries include development of RES projects in Kosovo and and Turkey; wind farms with, for example, firms already holding licenses; construction of a major 100-MW wind farm – budgeted at 160 million euros – in the Rodopi area, northeastern Greece; as well as the development of biomass, biogas and geothermal faciilities.


Biomass-biogas development working group assembled

The energy ministry has assembled a working group to prepare the institutional framework for development of biomass and biogas electricity production, it announced today.

The objective will be to maximize social benefits and environmental protection through the domain’s development and also improve licensing procedures in order to swiften investments in the biomass and biogas domain, the ministry noted in a statement.

Development of the biomass and biogas electricity production sector will also contribute to job creation in provincial areas, the ministry noted.

RES framework revisions to boost biomass incentives

The energy ministry is preparing to make revisions to its prospective support framework for the renewable energy (RES) sector, the objective being to improve incentives for biomass unit investments, according to energypress sources.

The ministry had been planning to introduce a RES support framework featuring two capacity-related categories, one classifying projects with respective capacities of up to 5 MW as small investments and those over this level as major-scale investments. However, the planned revision will add a third category and essentially re-establish an older capacity break-up system. As a result, it will divide RES investments into categories of up to one MW, between one and five MW, and over 5 MW.

This set-up will help promote investments for biomass units of up to one MW by offering price-related incentives. Besides bigger investors, this approach also promises to open the RES sector’s door to cooperatives, farmer groups, and small to medium-sized professionals.

The energy ministry also intends to revise reference prices linked to various biomass utilization technologies.

All the aforementioned revisions have been taken into account by the ministry following observations made by various sector agencies and investors.

Besides the environmental benefits, biomass utilization as a renewable energy source is a major employment provider. In the EU, this sub-sector has created the greatest number of RES-sector jobs. At present, biomass utilization represents 40 percent of RES sector employment in the EU, or half a million jobs.