China’s CTG visit linked to likely PPC hydropower unit sales

Officials representing Chinese energy giant China Three Gorges Corporation (CTG), a state-controlled enterprise behind the construction and operation of the world’s biggest hydropower project, the Three Gorges Dam project, were in Athens yesterday to explore investment opportunities, including the prospective sale of main power utility PPC hydropower units, sources noted.

It looks like Greece’s state-controlled PPC utility will eventually need to sell hydropower units, ongoing bailout negotiations between government officials and Greece’s lenders for the second review’s conclusion strongly indicate.

CTG officials were included in a visiting delegation of Chinese entrepreneurs who held a meeting in Athens yesterday with key Greek officials.

Members of the Chinese delegation held talks with deputy economy and development minister Stergios Pitsiorlas as well as officials representing Enterprise Greece, a state-sponsored investment support group, to discuss investment opportunities offered by the Greek market and establish ties with related ministries.

SGCC, the State Grid Corporation of China, which has agreed to acquire a 24 percent stake of power grid operator IPTO, a subsidiary of main power utility PPC, and  CMEC, which has signed an MOU with PPC for the development of a second power station at Meliti in northern Greece’s Florina area, were not represented by the visiting Chinese group.

CTG is responsible for the construction and operation of the world’s biggest hydropower project, the Three Gorges Dam project, possessing a 22,500 MW-capacity, almost double Greece’s total power-generating capacity.

Present in 40 countries, CTG is ranked the world’s biggest hydropower producer. The total capacity of Chinese power hydropower stations under its control measures over 46,300 MW. Adding CTG’s investments beyond China takes the firm’s installed capacity figure to 100 GW.

In 2014, CTG generated 201.2 TWh of electricity, approximately five times the energy produced and used in Greece, for revenues of 10.1 billion dollars and a profit of 3.3 billion dollars.

Late in 2011, CTG participated in the privatization process of Portugal’s power utility Energias de Portugal, acquiring a 21.35 percent stake for 2.69 billion euros.


China Shenhua Group interested in Amynteo upgrade project

China Shenhua Group, one of China’s biggest coal and energy trading corporations, has expressed an interest to participate in the upgrade project of an ageing main power utility PPC lignite-fired power station in Amynteo, close to Florina, in northern Greece.

A team of China Shenhua Group officials visited the 600-MW capacity facility last week, following up on a preceding expression of interest in the upgrade project, according to an article published by Greek daily Kathimerini.

During the visit, the Chinese corporation’s officials also held preliminary talks with the Kopelouzos Group on the possible establishment of a partnership for the upgrade.

The lifespan of PPC’s ageing Amynteo station has been restricted to 17,000 hours by the European Commission as a result of its carbon emissions. PPC has requested an extension to 32,000 hours.

Last December, Ling Wen, President and Vice Chairman of the Board at the Shenhua Group, and a team of associates visited Athens for talks with all of the country’s major energy corporations.

China taking CO2, RES lead as Trump’s US prepares to back coal industry

The Chinese government has decided to cancel plans concerning the construction of 104 new coal-fired power stations in 13 provinces, whose development would have provided an additional capacity of 120 GW. Placed within an international context, the decision is impressive. The total installed capacity of coal-fired units in the USA, preparing for a new administration led by the coal-friendly President-elect Donald Trump, amounts to 305 GW.

China’s objective, as announced by the government, is to spur renewable energy growth as a means of tackling the country’s pollution problem. Beijing intends to invest 365 billion dollars in RES development by 2020, which the Chinese government expects will create 13 million new jobs for the sector and provide an additional capacity of 130 GW through wind and solar farms. China has set itself the objective of generating 50 percent of the country’s electricity production through hydropower, RES and nuclear means, all free of CO2 emissions, within the next decade.

China’s decision to lessen its reliance on CO2-emitting electricity production possibly represents a pivotal point in the country’s energy and climate change history, while also being highly symbolic, as it comes just days ahead of the inauguration of Trump, who has repeatedly expressed strong support for fossil fuels, particularly coal. The Presiedent-elect has declared that he may choose to not honor the international climate change agreement reached in Paris just over a year ago. He also intends to nullify numerous RES-supporting initiatives taken by the outgoing President Barack Obama.

China’s interest in local energy sector, ubiquitous, a strategic choice

The Chinese factor in Greek energy sector developments has gained ground over the past few days. Chinese interests are at play, both directly and indirectly, as part of the country’s strategic energy interest here.

Zhang Chun, president of CMEC (China Machinery Engineering Corporation), who headed a Chinese delegation to Athens, yesterday signed a strategic agreement with main power utilty PPC’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis.

Last Friday, SGCC, the State Grid Corporation of China, was one of two investors to submit a binding bid for a 24 percent stake of IPTO, the power grid operator. Italy’s Terna was the other bidder.

This trend of a growing Chinese presence in Greek energy matters appears likely to continue. Certain pundits believe that SGCC will not only be named the prefered bidder for IPTO’s 24 percent, but will also significantly shape the future development of the operator as well as its parent company PPC.

Interestingly, a closer look at the IPTO tender reveals that SGCC is also a part of the Terna bid. In November, 2014, SGCC acquired a 35 percent stake of Cassa Depositi e Prestiti Reti (CDP Reti), an Italian holding company, from Cassa depositi e prestiti Spa. CDP Reti holds a 29.85 percent stake in Terna. Yupeng He, is a member of CDP Reti’s board as an SGCC representative. Simply put, Terna’s rival bidder for IPTO’s 24 percent holds a stake in Terna.

SGCC is also linked to Greece’s long-running sale effort offering a 66 percent share of DESFA, the natural gas grid operator. Azerbaijani energy firm Socar, which appears set to finalize a deal for the DESFA sale with the Greek government, will need to cut at least 17 percent from a 66 percent DESFA stake it is entitled to, as the winning bidder of a 2013 tender, following intervention from the European Commission. Italy’s Snam is expected to take on Socar’s surrendered amount. It could exceed 30 percent. CDP Reti, in which SGCC holds a 35 percent share, owns 30 percent of Snam.

Fyrom, Kosovo also eyed by China-backed PPC after Albania

Although still a preliminary concept, main power utility PPC’s intended regional expansion into the Balkans with the backing of Chinese capital, which could be provided by CMEC, the Greek utility’s new partner for possible construction of a power station in northern Greece, or another Chinese firm, represents a one-way road towards survival for the utility.

PPC plans to attempt entering the Albanian electricity market and, if successful, then also try and move into the electricity markets of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Fyrom) and Kosovo.

PPC’s leadership, along with the heads at Greece’s energy and economy ministries, have held a series of meetings with Albanian officials in recent months, generating enough interest for the Greek utility to decide, earlier this week, to establish a subsidiary in the neighboring country. Equivalent exploratory steps have yet to be taken in Fyrom and Kosovo.

“Collaborations with a foreign partner for penetration of Balkan markets constitute more than just a strategic choice if PPC wants to compensate for the planned [bailout-required] market share reductions in Greece’s production and retail sectors over the next few years,” a government official who had joined Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on an official visit to China in July told energypress.

In this sense, CMEC as well as other Chinese companies, officials of which have held talks with PPC’s boss Manolis Panagiotakis, will play a crucial role in helping the Greek utility succeed in its Balkans expansion plan.

Previous efforts, beginning in 2003, failed to produce any results. PPC had begun by exploring the market prospects in Romania and followed up with other Balkan countries, all to no avail.

The failure of PPC’s previous Balkan quest has been attributed to politically motivated ties established by respective Balkan governments for collaboration with more powerful western partners, as well as misjudgements made by previous PPC administrations.

It remains to be seen whether PPC will be able to break the Balkan deadlock with a Chinese partner. PPC will definitely need to draw capital for international business activities if the corporation is to remain afloat in the next few years.

While commenting on yesterday’s signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with CMEC for joint development of Meliti II, a second coal-fired power station in Meliti, northern Greece, Panagiotakis, PPC’s chief executive, did not refrain from placing enormous importance on the utility’s successful entry into the Balkan region.

Actualization and success of PPC’s Meliti power station plan will be pivotal to any future Greek-Chinese collaboration beyond the Greek borders.

PPC, China’s CMEC sign MOU for new power station

Main power utility PPC and China’s CMEC (China Machinery Engineering Corporation) signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Athens today for a joint plan to construct a second lignite-fired power station in Florina, northern Greece.

Besides leading officials representing the two companies, the signing ceremony was also attended by Greek energy minister Panos Skourletis and the Chinese ambassador to Greece Zou Xiaoli.

“The signing of the MOU comes as further proof that the Greek economy has overcome the worst and is now progressing from the stabilization to recovery stage,” Skourletis noted. “This partnership represents part of a new strategy for PPC, one of strategic partnerships with reliable partners able to provide new momentum against choices seeking the corporation’s contraction.”

The Chinese ambassador to Greece made reference to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s recent official visit to China, noting it highlighted that cooperation between the two countries stands at a good level, while adding that the country possesses rich lignite, wind and solar energy capacity.

CMEC’s deputy chief Fang Yanshui noted that the level of cooperation between Greece and China rose to a new level following the Greek prime minister’s visit to China, while also taking the opportunity to offer a description of the corporation’s activities around the world.

PPC boss Manolis Panagiotakis expressed hope that Meliti II, the new power station to be developed with CMEC in the Florina area, represents just the beginning of a strategic partnership between the two sides.

Aktor, a Greek corporation whose portfolio includes mining, quarrying, construction, photovoltaics, facility and project management activities, and Italian power grid company Terna may also join the venture.

The plan for Meliti II entails development of a 450-MW power station at a cost of 750 million euros. Necessary work needed at the regional mines to feed the facility will raise the cost to one billion euros. PPC is believed to be open to the prospect of becoming a junior partner in this venture.

The PPC boss and CMEC’s deputy are scheduled to hold a meeting with the Greek prime minister tomorrow.

PPC and China’s CMEC to sign MOU for new power station

Main power utility PPC and China’s CMEC (China Machinery Engineering Corporation) are set to sign a Memorandum of Understanding in Athens tomorrow, making official their joint plan to construct Meliti II, a second power station in Meliti, Florina, northern Greece.

The move will lead to the Greek utility’s second-biggest investment following Ptolemaida V, another lignite-fired power station, also in Greece’s north, whose development, pursued with other partners, is at a preliminary stage.

According to sources, the MOU will be signed at PPC’s headquarters by the Greek utility’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis and CMEC’s deputy chief Fang Yanshui. Greece’s energy minister Panos Skourletis is expected to attend the signing ceremony.

PPC and CMEC intend to form a consortium in which the Chinese company will hold a majority stake, as energypress has previously reported, based on information provided by sources.

According to these sources, PPC’s exisiting Meliti I power station will be included in the joint veture with CMEC, which will fully finance construction of Meliti II at a cost of 700 million euros.

Both power stations will be be fed lignite from the Meliti region’s mines, beginning with a deposit in Ahlada, located in the Florina region, followed by a mine in neighboring Vevi.

The exact extent of CMEC’s majority stake in the consortium for Meliti II will be determined by the evaluation of the Meliti I unit to be contributed to the venture.

Given the 700 million euros required to construct Meliti II, PPC’s stake may end up falling to a level of less than 40 percent. PPC could become a passive partner without a managerial role or veto rights. A company that owns the Ahlada lignite mine and is already supplying Meliti I is expected to join the venture as a third member. The Vevi mine may also be added to the consortium at a latter stage.

By taking this initiative, PPC intends to offer a solution to a European Court decision demanding the local lignite market’s liberalization. PPC also wants to take matters into its own hands for a bailout-linked measure requiring the corporation to reduce its market share to 49 percent by 2019, both in production and retail activity.


PPC boss, on China visit, seeking collaboration with CMEC

Main power utility PPC’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis, who has joined Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on an official visit to China, has held a series of meetings with numerous Chinese company representatives in Beijing and Shanghai.

Panagiotakis has met with representatives of 17 major Chinese companies to discuss matters concerning electricity production, smart grids, possible collaborations, as well as environmental upgrades of units, according to a PPC announcement. The PPC boss also visited Chinese power stations.

Preceding talks had been held in Athens with officials representing a number of these Chinese firms. The latest meetings highlighted the high standards and knowhow possessed by Chinese enterprises, while also confirming their interest for cooperation.

Energypress sources informed that the PPC boss’s most prominent meeting was held with officials of CMEC, one of China’s biggest construction groups with a strong international presence in major electromechanical projects.

PPC officials are believed to be interested in working together with CMEC for the development of a new lignite-fired power station in Meliti, northern Greece, and on ventures in Albania.