Producer certificate rule soon, financing OK for RES license one-stop shop

A new regulation facilitating the issuance of electricity producer certificates for RES and CCHP (Combined Cool Heat and Power) projects, in place of production licenses, as part of a wider RES licensing simplification effort, will be implemented within the next few days, the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou noted during a presentation of a new online platform developed by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for the producer certificate procedure.

The new regulation will come into effect on time to enable a new round of RES license applications staged by RAE to proceed as planned between December 1 and 10, the ministry official reiterated.

In addition, various RES sector criteria, including ones concerning project spatial coverage matters, have been fine-tuned, the intention being to promote, not reject, project plans, Sdoukou noted.

Rule revisions have also been made to further protect RES project ownership, she added.

The new RAE platform, the result of a sustained effort, promises to serve as an investor-friendly tool, Sdoukou said.

The energy ministry official also informed that green-fund financing has been approved for an integrated information system to be co-developed by the ministry as a one-stop shop covering all RES project licensing procedures.

New round for RES producer certificates to open December 1

The energy ministry is expected to introduce, within the next few days, a new regulation enabling the issuance of electricity producer certificates for RES and CCHP (Combined Cool Heat and Power) projects, in accordance with recent legislation that has eliminated production licenses as part of an effort to simplify the RES licensing procedure.

The new rule will come into effect on time to enable a new round of RES license applications staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to proceed as planned between December 1 and 10, energy ministry officials have informed.

The upcoming round for new RES license applications, via an online platform developed by RAE, will be the first in over a year following a freeze imposed by the authority so that it can process a backlog of older applications.

RAE has now worked through the older applications and issued production certificates to eligible applicants.

Processing of the new applications will be based on the new rules, designed to improve and simplify licensing procedures and help the country attain its renewable energy objectives.

RAE will present its new online application system today through a virtual event. The system, described as user-friendly, is expected to boost transparency and drastically reduce previous bureaucracy.

Gas, renewables cover 76% of electricity demand in June

Natural gas and renewable energy sources covered 76 percent of electricity demand in June, limiting lignite’s contribution to a mere 5 percent, latest figures provided by power grid operator IPTO have shown.

The development highlights the fast-approaching end of the lignite era in Greece, currently in transition towards green energy.

Natural gas-fueled generation in June covered 37 percent of electricity demand, plus 2 percent contributed by cooling, heating and power (CCHP) generation, while renewables contributed 37 percent, including hydropower input of 9 percent.

Highlighting lignite’s severely diminished role in generation, PPC restricted its lignite-fired generation last month by 75 percent compared to the equivalent month a year earlier.

During this same one-year period, renewable energy source generation increased by 7.6 percent, while natural gas-based electricity production was up by a milder 1.2 percent, the IPTO data showed.

In another noteworthy statistic, all of the country’s lignite units were switched off for 40 hours, continuously, for the first time in June.

Telethermal plan for the north enables faster lignite unit exits

Power utility PPC’s prospective combined cooling, heat and power plant in Kardia, northern Greece, will be designed to operate both independently and in connection with Ptolemaida V and provide telethermal needs to the regional provincial cities Ptolemaida and Kozani, seen as vital coverage that will enable the power utility to withdraw lignite-fired units, cost-incurring facilities, sooner than planned.

Ptolemaida V, a new facility nearing its launch and planned to remain as the power utility’s last lignite-fired power station, will spare PPC’s other lignite-fired units in the region from telethermal responsibilities.

This overall plan was agreed to yesterday by the government, municipal authorities, PPC and gas grid operator DESFA.

Ptolemaida V, when operating, will provide necessary telethermal energy through pipelines to the Kardia CCHP unit, which, in turn, will offer heating.

Even when Ptolemaida V is not generating electricity, the prospective Kardia CCHP unit, to run on natural gas, will be able to function independently and offer telethermal needs to residents in the region.

Authorities are pushing for the Kardia unit’s completion and launch by 2022, admitting that it could take until 2023.

Grid entry adjustment for PPC telethermal-linked lignite units

The energy ministry is set to satisfy a power utility PPC request prioritizing the grid entry of its lignite-based production for telethermal support without factoring in this input to calculations determining the system marginal price, or wholesale price.

This requested procedure already applies for PPC’s compulsory hydropower input and RES units.

Under the current system, state-controlled PPC is incurring losses when entering into the grid lignite-fired units for telethermal needs in the west Macedonia and Megalopoli regions. More specifically, the utility is being forced to not operate its gas-fueled power stations, despite their lower operating costs, prompted by the large reduction in gas prices.

PPC’s LNG purchases, as a result, are not being utilized.

The ministry is now preparing a legislative act for the adjustment. It could apply for a limited amount of time to cover remaining telethermal needs in the post-winter season.

Independent producers have reacted against the plan. Some producers appear determined to take the issue to the EU competition authority, noting priority rule exemptions can only be made for RES, Combined Cooling, Heat and Power (CCHP) and hydropower units.

 

RES investors committing unauthorized land for projects

Electricity generation licensing regulations from 2010 and 2011 for RES and combined cooling, heat and power (CCHP) projects permitting prospective investors to submit license applications to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, without providing property titles or land lease agreements has led to major confusion.

Caught completely unaware, hundreds of land owners have seen property of theirs committed to such projects, especially solar energy farms, by investors. Worse still, in some cases, two investors are contesting the rights to property that belongs to neither.

Complaints made by property owners have brought this absurd situation to the surface. The most recent round of applications submitted to RAE was held last December. Hundreds of cases have been reported and confirmed by RAE.

However, RAE does not have the right to react as, according to the rules, the authority cannot accept complaints by property owners if a 15-day period has elapsed since the publication of licenses by the authority.

Unsuspecting land owners who cannot imagine their property being committed to RES and CCHP projects by investors typically do not monitor RAE announcements, while many are even unaware of the authority’s existence.

Proof of property rights is not needed by investors until they reach the stage of applying for project installation permits. Property owners can file legal cases against investors at this stage or reach compromise deals with project investors.

Some property owners who belatedly realize their land is being committed to projects claim investors cite the rules from 2010 and 2011 when ordered to abandon their plans.

The threat of expropriation is a major concern for property owners as RES projects are classified as projects of public interest. Though expropriation initiatives have yet to be taken, investors know this is an option at their disposal.