The energy ministry, driven by the EU’s decision to end its reliance on Russian natural gas as soon as possible, is striving to hasten procedures aiming for European Commission approval of a strategic reserve mechanism concerning power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations.
The ministry is now completing certain required studies and pending procedures in preparation for Athens’ official application to Brussels.
Even so, government officials remain adamant that Athens’ decision to end all lignite-based electricity generation by the end of 2028 does not need to change, and must not change, even though the EU now appears more tolerant towards the use of coal.
The government officials also believe that no revisions are needed for an even more ambitious lignite phase-out plan set by PPC, according to which all the utility’s lignite facilities will be withdrawn by 2023, except for a new unit, Ptolemaida V, planned to switch from lignite to natural gas in 2025.
Power grid operator IPTO plans to deliver an energy sufficiency study to the energy ministry within the next ten days, while the ministry may be ready to submit its package of prerequisites to Brussels by the end of the month.
This would pave the way for Athens to lodge an official application for a strategic reserve mechanism, as well as a capacity remuneration mechanism.
Energy ministry officials are engaged in ongoing talks with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition and ACER, Europe’s Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, to determine the shape of Greece’s proposals for a Strategic Reserve Mechanism and a Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM) before their plans are officially submitted to Brussels for approval.
Greece still needs to deliver an Adequacy Report before the two mechanism plans can be pushed forward. Three indices – CONE (Cost of New Entry), VOLL (Value of Lost Load) and Reliability Standard – need to be factored into calculations before the Adequacy Report can be completed.
According to energypress sources, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has already completed work on the VOLL calculations and expects to have all required data needed for the Reliability Standard calculations during the week. RAE will then forward a related report to the energy ministry.
The Greek mechanism requests are expected to be submitted soon so as to enable the European Commission to respond by late November or early December.
The Strategic Reserve Mechanism, planned to remunerate power-generating units made available by electricity producers for grid back-up services is expected to be launched early in 2022 for a duration until 2023 before it is succeeded by the CRM.
The European Commission has uploaded, for public consultation, a Market Reform Plan submitted by Greece proposing electricity market revisions.
The public consultation procedure’s feedback will assist Brussels’ assessment of the Greek reform plan. Participants have until September 6 to deliver their responses.
Brussels’ endorsement of the Market Reform Plan is one of two prerequisites needed before Greece can submit an application for a capacity mechanism – either a Strategic Reserve or Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM).
The second prerequisite entails Brussels’ approval of an Adequacy Report, currently being prepared by power grid operator IPTO. The operator initially planned to deliver this report by the end of July but a few more weeks are still needed for its completion.
Greece will be able to apply for a capacity mechanism once the two prerequisites have been satisfied.
The energy ministry and European Commission have agreed on a schedule for the approval of a capacity mechanism by the end of this year and its launch early in 2022.
However, maintenance of this schedule will be difficult given the European Commission’s demands, complex and time-consuming, when examining member-state capacity mechanism plans, officials monitoring the Greek effort have noted.
The energy ministry is striving to offer a swift response to a set of European Commission queries concerning Greece’s updated Market Reform Plan, forwarded for public consultation by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.
The energy ministry is aiming to submit a finalized plan to Brussels by the end of July, so that the European Commission can process and approve the plan before its officials take off for their summer breaks in August.
The queries forwarded by the European Commission primarily seek clarification and do not raise any fundamental issues, which has given Greek officials hope of the plan’s imminent finalization.
Brussels’ approval of the Market Reform Plan is crucial as it is one of two prerequisites faced by Athens before the government can submit an application for a support mechanism, either a Strategic Reserve, which would compensate power utility PPC for maintaining its lignite-fired power stations on emergency stand-by, or a Capacity Remuneration Mechanism.
The second requirement is Brussels’ approval of an Adequacy Report being prepared by IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator. Its finalization was originally planned for the end of July but this aim now seems set to be delayed by a week or two.