Combination of events pushing electricity costs higher

Higher-priced electricity, globally, may have arrived to stay given the combination of events such as the sudden rebound of the global economy, which is intensifying demand for fuels, metals and electricity, as well as the European Green Deal, new climate change laws and more ambitious carbon neutrality targets, pushing up CO2 emission right prices.

In Greece, wholesale electricity prices have risen sharply in recent days, to levels above 100 euros per MWh, the heatwave conditions exacerbating the situation. CO2 emission right prices have reached 55 euros per ton, from 32 euros per ton at the beginning of the year. The market clearing price for June is estimated to be 79.33 euros per MWh from 59 euros per MWh in December.

Major electricity suppliers in the Greek market expect the wholesale price to settle at 83-84 euros per MWh in the next month before rising to 85 euros per MWh over the next few months, and reaching 92 euros per MWh towards the end of the year.

Wholesale price clauses included by suppliers in their agreements with consumers for protection against higher prices are well below the aforementioned projections, meaning consumers should soon expect considerably higher electricity costs if these forecasts prove to be accurate.

Even if eventual electricity cost hikes turn out to be milder, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, and the energy ministry will be bracing for a bigger wave of consumer complaints.

 

RAE effort for universal supplier cost-clause policy facing delay

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, working on a universal cost-clause policy for all electricity suppliers, to offer consumers greater electricity-bill transparency and price-comparing ability, has extended, until the end of June, a deadline it set for suppliers to deliver related market data details concerning all of 2020 and 2021, until the present.

Independent suppliers, who recently triggered wholesale price-related clauses in electricity bills to protect themselves against elevated wholesale prices, were questioned by the authority and then requested, as early as a month ago, to produce related data but have failed to deliver, instead calling for more time.

Power utility PPC was the first supplier to be summoned for questioning over its decision to trigger a CO2 cost-related clause incorporated into its electricity bills.

RAE had initially planned to stage a public consultation procedure for a universal clause policy within July, after examining the data provided by suppliers, but this plan will now be delayed.

Given the fact that overall business activity slows down severely during the August holiday period, RAE’s proposal is now not expected to be forwarded for consultation any sooner than September.

Taking into account supplier objections expected to surface during the procedure, the new cost-clause policy cannot be expected to be implemented before October.

Consumer complaints over sharp electricity cost increases and lack of transparency in electricity billing have risen considerably in recent times.

Gas, CO2 costs, up over 50%, increasing electricity prices

The pandemic’s gradual remission and tougher climate-change policies have ushered in a period of elevated electricity price levels, both in Greece and internationally, expected to be prolonged, according to many analysts.

Suppliers, one after another, are increasing prices for household and business consumption, passing on to consumers additional costs encountered in the wholesale market through the activation of price-related clauses.

According to Greek energy exchange data, day-ahead market prices currently range between 78 and 80 euros per MWh, nearly double the level of 45 euros per MWh at the beginning of the year.

Similar price increases of about 50 percent have also been recorded in markets abroad during the first half of the year.

Electricity producers operating natural-gas fueled power stations have been impacted by higher gas prices, data provided by the Dutch trading platform TTF has highlighted.

Electricity producers also face considerably higher CO2 emission right prices, currently ranging between 52 and 55 euros per ton from 32 to 34 euros per MWh early this year.

According to many analysts, CO2 emission right prices will continue rising in the years to come and may have doubled by 2030.

Higher natural gas and CO2 emission right prices are impacting electricity producers generating through natural gas-fired power stations. They are required to pay for CO2 emission rights, one-third of levels imposed on lignite-based producers.

Experts agree that toughening EU climate-change measures, to be followed by corresponding US polices, will keep driving energy commodities higher, noting that oil and gas price rises will be subdued as low-cost, cleaner forms of energy further penetrate markets.

 

RAE working on common clause policy for suppliers

Following up on its intervention against power utility PPC’s recent decision to trigger a CO2 emission price-related clause for medium and low-voltage consumers, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has now begun questioning independent suppliers over their adoption of a wholesale price-related clause.

The authority, to concurrently investigate the legality of these initiatives, has asked suppliers to forward related data concerning all of 2020 and 2021, up to the present, by the beginning of next week as part of its effort to establish a common clause policy for all suppliers that can clarify the price-comparing ability of consumers.

RAE aims to announce a new set of rules on electricity bill clauses in September, following public consultation, possibly in July.

Once RAE has examined market data expected from independent suppliers, it intends to hold a series of talks with them as of June 21.

PPC, which, just days ago, was asked by RAE to replace its CO2 price-related clause with one linked to wholesale price levels, is doing so, announcing it will also implement a 30 percent discount as of August 5 to offset, as much as possible, a price rise anticipated as a result of its adoption of the wholesale price clause.

PPC adopting wholesale market clause along with 30% discount

Power utility PPC is preparing to replace its CO2 emission right price-related clause with one linked to wholesale electricity market price levels, which, combined with a 30 percent discount, to be applied as an offsetting tool, is ultimately expected to result in a slight overall reduction in electricity bill costs for consumers.

PPC’s new pricing system, set to be implemented on August 5, was adopted following pressure from RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, in its effort to enhance the price-comparing ability of consumers.

Until now, PPC has been the only supplier using a CO2-related clause in its pricing system. All other suppliers have incorporated a wholesale market-related clause into their supply agreements, as protection against increased wholesale costs.

The power utility triggered its CO2-related clause in May in response to rallying CO2 emission right prices, which resulted in electricity bill increases of between 5 and 6 percent for consumers.

This percentage increase in the cost of PPC’s electricity bills is expected to be lowered as a result of the switch to a wholesale market clause and the accompanying 30 percent discount.

PPC asked to replace CO2 clause with wholesale clause

Power utility PPC is facing pressure by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to replace its CO2 emission rights price clause with a wholesale electricity price clause adopted by all rival suppliers.

PPC’s decision to activate, early in May, its CO2 emission rights clause in response to rallying CO2 emission right prices has prompted regulatory issues, the authority contends.

PPC was asked, late last month, to explain its decision, as part of a series of meetings organized by the authority with all  suppliers.

RAE, demanding detailed data, is examining whether irregularities exist, the legality of these clauses, and if consumers have been misled.

Independent suppliers have also needed to explain their decisions to activate wholesale price clauses included in  supply agreements. Like CO2 emission right prices, wholesale electricity price levels have also risen.

The authority has received numerous complaints by consumers over costlier electricity bills.

PPC’s low-voltage power bills have risen by levels of between two and three euros since its activation of the CO2-related clause.

Though PPC, the dominant retail player, was the last to activate its clause, it was the first to be summoned by RAE.

CO2 emission right prices have persisted at elevated levels of over 52 euros per ton in recent times, peaking with a record high of 56.65 euros per ton on May 14, before easing slightly in recent days. CO2 emission right prices dropped to 50.14 euros per ton yesterday.

 

Lignite-fired power stations still operating despite elevated cost

Despite their increased operational cost, power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations remain essential, on an occasional basis, to ensure electricity supply security by countering various concerns that may arise, including voltage instability at the grid’s northern section.

Power grid operator IPTO needed to bring into the system one or two lignite-fired power stations throughout most of May, despite the high cost entailed, which would normally keep these units sidelined.

No lignite-fired power stations needed to be used for grid sufficiency on May 13 and 16, as is also the case for today.

The northern section of the country’s grid can be susceptible to voltage instability as a result of the international grid interconnections in the wider area, facilitating exports.

Until recently, northern Greece’s west Macedonia region was the country’s energy epicenter, courtesy of PPC’s extensive lignite portfolio in the area.

Regular use of higher-cost lignite-fired generation has increased price levels in the day-ahead and balancing markets, which, by extension, is increasing costs for suppliers.

PPC’s increased CO2 emissions, when the utility’s lignite-fired power stations are brought into operation, is also directly impacting industrial consumers, who are burdened by the resulting additional cost, passed on by the utility.

CO2 costs have risen sharply of late as a result of rallying carbon emission right costs.

PPC aims for EBITDA repeat of €900m, carbon cut ‘on track’

Power utility PPC is aiming for a repeat of last year’s EBITDA performance in 2021, a level of between 800 and 900 million euros, an objective to be supported by the corporation’s declining lignite-based electricity generation, both in terms of volume and energy-mix percentage, the company’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis has told analysts.

As part of its decarbonization effort, PPC plans to withdraw its Megalopoli III lignite-fired power station within the current year.

PPC managed to restrict its lignite-fired generation to 22 percent of total output in the first quarter this year, down from 44 percent a year earlier.

The utility needed to spend 138.5 million euros on CO2 emission rights in the first quarter, up from 119.7 million euros during the equivalent period last year, at an average cost of 31.7 euros per ton.

CO2 emission right prices have since risen further and currently register between 51 and 52 euros per ton.

Assuming CO2 emission right prices average 47 euros per ton in 2Q – this level could end up being be far higher – and PPC’s lignite-based generation remains at the current level, then the corporation’s carbon-cost outlay for this quarter will reach approximately 205 million euros, a 48 percent increase.

PPC, which recently borrowed through sustainability-linked bonds, committing itself to a carbon emission reduction of 40 percent by 2022, is confident this target will be achieved, the corporation’s administration told analysts.

 

Ptolemaida V gas conversion board decision end of June

Power utility PPC is moving swiftly towards a finalized investment decision on a fuel-conversion plan for its prospective Ptolemaida V facility in northern Greece, to begin operating as a lignite-fired power station in 2022 before converting, a few years later, to a natural gas-fired facility equipped with infrastructure also enabling the use of hydrogen.

PPC’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis will present the plan to the company board at a meeting scheduled for the end of June, when it is expected to be approved, sources informed.

The plan will include schedules and financial studies for the conversion of Ptolemaida V, Greece’s last lignite-fired power station in development.

The PPC board is expected to stick to its plan of operating Ptolemaida V as a lignite-fired power station until 2025, instead of 2028, as was initially planned, before making the fuel switch to natural gas.

The country’s ambitious decarbonization targets and rallying CO2 emission right prices, currently at lofty levels ranging between 40 and 44 euros per ton, prompted Stassis, the CEO, to hasten PPC’s withdrawal of lignite units.

Ptolemaida V will be loss-incurring as a lignite-fired facility, the chief executive told analysts, responding to questions, during a recent presentation of the company’s financial results.

PPC also plans to increase the production capacity of Ptolemaida V to 1,000 MW from 660 MW. The facility will be flexible, possessing the ability to swiftly increase output from 300 to 1,000 MW within 30 minutes to an hour.

The facility’s fuel conversion cost is estimated at 250 million euros, sources have informed.

Stassis told analysts Ptolemaida V will be competitive even without support from the Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM), being sought by the government from the European Commission as support for flexibility.

 

Mytilineos considering new gas-fired power units in Balkans

The Mytilineos group is examining the prospect of developing natural gas-fired power stations in Bulgaria and North Macedonia, seeing investment opportunities, like Greece’s other major energy players, in the Balkan region.

EU members Bulgaria and Romania, as well as non-EU members in the Balkan region, such as Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia, are announcing closures of old coal-fired power stations.

This development is creating investment opportunities as older units being withdrawn will, over the next few years, need to be replaced by new facilities, including natural gas-fired power stations.

A month ago, after receiving equipment for a new gas-fired power station unit in Agios Nikolaos, Viotia, northwest of Athens, Mytilineos informed that the company is examining the prospect of developing a similar combined cycle unit in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria, like Greece, is withdrawing its coal-fired power stations and aims to have completed the country’s decarbonization effort by 2025. The neighboring country will need to replace lost capacity through the introduction of natural gas-fired power stations and RES unit investments.

Extremely higher carbon emission right costs have made the withdrawal of coal-fired power stations a priority for Bulgaria and the wider region, one of Europe’s most lignite-dependent areas.

Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, combined, represent nearly ten percent of the EU’s total lignite electricity generation capacity.

Carbon emission right prices relaxed to 49.26 euros per ton yesterday after peaking at 56.65 euros per ton last Friday, following a months-long rally.

Last week, during a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, North Macedonian leader Zoran Zaev disclosed that his government is discussing the prospect of a new gas-fired power station, in the neighboring country, with Mytilineos.

In Romania, projections for 2030 estimate the installation of 5.2 GW in wind energy units and approximately 5 MW in solar energy units.

Serbia, possibly offering even bigger green energy investment opportunities, aims to replace 4.4 GW of coal-fired generation by 2050. The country is now making plans for 8-10 GW in RES investments.

Brussels green taxes, CBAM to prompt energy market changes

Tax incentives for eco-friendly energy technologies and disincentives for polluting energy sources such as carbon and petroleum products, feature in the European Commission’s imminent package of eco-related taxes, while, for trade relations with non-EU countries, a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism will include penalties for a series of imports, including electricity.

The package of tax incentives, to be announced on July 14, will prompt major changes in Europe’s energy market, hastening developments towards a greener economy. Without a doubt, reaction by unhappy players can be expected.

Lignite will become an even more costly energy source as a result of the measures. Gasoline, other auto fuels and heating fuels may be spared of extra levies as existing Greek fuel tax rates are already among Europe’s highest, well over the EU average.

Implementation of the tax measures may take until 2023 as European Parliament and the EU-27’s national parliaments will all need to ratify the package before it can be introduced.

The arrival of these tax measures is expected to immediately lift carbon emission right prices to even higher levels. Already soaring, they exceeded 53 euros per ton yesterday, and, according to analysts, could end up reaching as high as 100 euros per ton, as was noted by power utility PPC’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis, at yesterday’s Delphi Economic Forum.

Beyond the EU borders, the European Commission will introduce a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, to apply for the EU’s relations with non-EU members. This mechanism could spark political tension, even trade wars.

It will aim to protect European industry from unwanted competition in sectors such as the energy, steel, aluminium, cement and fertilizer industries by increasing the cost of imports from non-EU areas and countries without CO2 right markets, such as the west Balkans, Turkey, India and China.

The CBAM is also expected to be introduced in 2023.

Wholesale electricity price ascent a major concern for industry

Wholesale electricity market prices have made further increases in recent times, driven by rising carbon emission right prices, which have exceeded 50 euros per ton.

Over the past few days, not including Sunday, the wholesale market’s day-ahead price rose well above 60 euros per MWh on energy exchange, reaching as high as over 72 euros per MWh last Thursday.

Besides the impact of increased carbon emission right prices, the energy market is also being pressured by higher gas prices, driven by greater usage of natural gas-fueled power stations being anticipated.

Natural gas prices have risen from 16 to 23 euros per MWh over the past few days.

This increase in wholesale electricity prices is directly impacting the retail electricity market, energy-intensive industrial consumers, both in the medium and high-voltage categories, already feeling the effects.

Given the energy market’s current uncertainty, suppliers are limiting the duration of contracts offered to three months.

The industrial sector is voicing concern about ambiguity ahead and rising energy costs that threaten to severely undermine the competitiveness of producers.

The activation, by suppliers, of carbon emission cost clauses included in agreements have increased industrial electricity prices by as much as 20 euros per MWh in recent times.

Though the industrial sector is compensated for this additional cost, compensation calculations are based on the previous year’s price levels, meaning industrial enterprises will end up covering a large percentage of the recent electricity cost increase.

Based on latest calculations, industrial enterprises will be compensated just 9 euros per MWh for the recent 20 euro per MWh hike.

PPC triggering carbon cost clause as CO2 right prices soar

Higher wholesale electricity and carbon emission right prices are applying sustained pressure on the electricity market, forcing suppliers to continue activating related clauses incorporated into customer supply terms.

Over the next 12 months, wholesale electricity price levels are forecast to rise to 89 euros per MWh in the low-voltage category and roughly 79-80 euros per MWh in the medium-voltage category.

In response to an ongoing surge in CO2 emission right prices, power utility PPC recently decided to finally activate a CO2-related clause after holding back for months. The move is seen increasing the cost of PPC’s electricity bills to be issued in May by two to three euros, sources told energypress.

CO2 emission right prices reached a new record level of more than 52 euros per MWh yesterday, rising by nearly 3 percent in a day. They have approximately doubled over the past six months and registered a 23 percent increase in the last month, alone.

In February, PPC had announced it would not trigger a CO2-related clause for low-voltage supply, but has now been forced to do so as a result of this persisting rise in price levels.

The more recent rise in CO2 emission right prices has been attributed to several factors, including a gradual rise in consumption levels as the European economy begins to recover, weather conditions, and a new, more ambitious, EU carbon emission reduction target, set last month, of at last 55 percent by 2030.

Consumers returning to PPC, led by wholesale-linked hikes

Higher wholesale electricity prices, prompting independent suppliers to activate wholesale-cost clauses included in their supply agreements to avoid losses, are tightening up the market by leading disappointed consumers back to the power utility PPC, a clear regression in the effort to establish a broader, more competitive field of players, latest data has indicated.

Consumers opting to leave independent suppliers and return to PPC rose by 56 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the equivalent period a year earlier, market data obtained by energypress has shown.

The number of consumers leaving independent suppliers for any other supplier increased by approximately 40 percent in the first quarter of 2020, the data showed.

This increase in consumer returns to PPC is expected to be reflected in forthcoming market-share data, market officials believe.

Last year, the wholesale market price, represented, at the time, as the system marginal price, ended April last year at 38.02 euros per MWh, whereas this year, in the form of the recently launched target model’s day-ahead market, the wholesale price in April has exceeded 63 euros per MWh.

Increased CO2 emission right costs and elevated TTF and Brent prices are factors that have driven wholesale electricity prices higher. So, too, are higher balancing costs, currently more than double levels of previous years.

Wholesale electricity prices for the next twelve months are seen averaging 89 euros per MWh in the low-voltage category and 79-80 euros per MWh in the medium-voltage category.

PPC, which has never achieved its commitment to lower its market share to less than 50 percent, is offering customers significant discounts at below cost, and, as a result, hampering the market liberalization process and further narrowing the profit margins of independent suppliers, a prominent market official has told energypress.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has the authority and responsibility to take action against suppliers selling electricity at  below cost and protect consumers against misleading offers, the official added.

PPC results for 2020 out today, analyst projections disagree

Power utility PPC’s financial results for 2020, set to be announced later today, are seen confirming the corporation’s ongoing positive course.

The company is expected to report robust 4Q results for 2020, including an EBITDA figure of 238 million euros, according to Pantelakis Securities, given its performance for the nine-month last year.

Operating expenses have been contained, fuel prices plunged, wholesale electricity prices fell, and the utility’s reliance on its loss-incurring lignite units was further diminished during the nine-month period.

For 2020 as a whole, the analyst projects PPC’s EBITDA will reach 938 million euros, a 180 percent increase compared to the 336.6 million euros posted in 2019, as a result of higher tariffs, lower energy purchase costs and reduced CO2 emission right expenses.

The extraordinary market conditions last year were favorable for PPC, the analyst pointed out, as the pandemic-related reduction of electricity demand enabled the utility to stop operating its high-cost lignite-fired power stations for extended periods.

PPC is currently phasing out its lignite facilities, until 2023, as part of the country’s decarbonization effort. CO2 emission right costs have begun rebounding since December.

Pantelakis Securities expects PPC’s sales to fall by 10 percent in 4Q to a level of 1.191 billion euros, while net profit for the fourth quarter is estimated at 39 million euros.

For 2020 as a whole, total turnover is expected to fall by 4 percent, year-on-year, to 4.71 billion euros and net profit is anticipated to be 53 million euros.

PPC’s net debt for 2020 is seen slipping to 3.5 billion euros from 3.68 billion euros at the end of 2019.

Optima Bank sees a less favorable picture for PPC’s 2020 results, projecting losses of 79 million euros, well below losses of 1.68 billion euros in 2019, and a total turnover reduction of 5.5 percent, to 4.655 billion euros.

 

PPC compensation mechanism, market test talks at crucial stage

The European Commission is expected to show its cards next week on Greece’s quest for lignite compensation mechanisms supporting power utility PPC and the results of a market test concerning the utility’s availability of lignite-produced electricity to third parties.

These issues are expected to be discussed in detail by energy ministry and Directorate-General for Competition officials during a virtual meeting next week, following correspondence as well as a virtual meeting, on March 8, between energy minister Kostas Skrekas and the European Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, also Brussel’s Commissioner for Competition.

State-controlled PPC has requested a strategic reserve mechanism for its lignite-fired power stations, still needed but nowadays loss-incurring as a result of higher CO2 emission right costs, as well as compensation for its premature closures of these units, currently being phased out until 2023.

All still appears to be vague on PPC’s market test for third-party access to its lignite-based electricity. The test was completed some time ago, failing to attract any real interest from rival suppliers.

The percentage of lignite-based electricity made available by PPC, initially set at 50 percent of total lignite-fired output and then lowered to 40 percent, is viewed, by third parties, as too small for any real gains.  Brussels has yet to comment on the market test’s result.

 

Emission rights over €42/ton, costing PPC €1.4m per day

Carbon emission rights have risen sharply to record-high levels, reaching 42.28 euros per ton at the end of trading yesterday, an ascent of more than 80 percent compared to last October’s levels of approximately 23 euros per ton.

This relentless upward drive is costing power utility PPC extraordinary amounts. The corporation, maintaining lignite-fired power stations and related mines to ensure grid sufficiency, has spent a total of 152 million euros on carbon emission rights between November, when the target model was launched, and March, according to market data.

Market officials have forecast that carbon emission right prices will rise even further, possibly to levels beyond 100 euros per ton.

PPC’s daily outlay on carbon emission rights, estimated at 1.4 million euros, would increase further if these projections prove to be accurate.

The ascent of carbon emission rights has driven up the cost of lignite-based electricity to levels of approximately 130 euros per MWh.

Despite the participation of lignite units in the Greek market, their elevated operating cost has not been reflected in price levels. Paradoxically, even though the cost of electricity exports exceeds 120 euros per MWh, these exports are being invoiced at a little over 40 euros per MWh, benefitting traders, who are making the most of these low price levels.

 

IPTO study backing PPC lignite compensation bid soon to EC

The energy ministry is preparing to forward to the European Commission a power grid operator IPTO study that underlines the ongoing necessity of the country’s lignite-fired power stations for grid sufficiency.

The IPTO study was requested by energy minister Kostas Skrekas to bolster a compensation request submitted to Brussels by state-controlled power utility PPC as a result of the grid’s ongoing need for lignite units, nowadays loss-incurring facilities due to elevated CO2 emission right costs.

PPC, Greece’s sole operator of lignite units, plans to phase out its lignite units over the next three years as part of the country’s decarbonization strategy.

The energy ministry expects to forward the IPTO study to the European Commission within the next fortnight. Greece is seeking compensation for PPC through a support mechanism for as long as these lignite units remain in use.

Last week, the European Commission began examining whether a similar German compensation request complies with EU rules and should be approved.

European Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager suggested that the German plan theoretically complies with Europe’s green energy agreement and its goals.

“Within this context, our role is to safeguard competition by ensuring that compensation for premature withdrawal [of lignite units] is kept to a minimum,” Vestager commented. “The information available at this point is not sufficient to judge.”

EU hesitation to the German plan concerns a number of aspects, including the duration of the compensation period.

PPC to hold back on CO2 cost clause until at least March 31

Power utility PPC, facing rising CO2 emission costs, will not activate a related clause included in low-voltage supply agreements for protection until at least March 31, energypress sources have informed.

Otherwise, the overwhelming majority of the country’s households would soon be subject to significant electricity cost increases as CO2 emission costs have been on the rise over the past four months or so.

State-controlled PPC’s low-voltage supply agreements have included a CO2 emission clause since November 1, 2019.

Yesterday, carbon emission futures were priced at 32.78 euros per ton, slightly below a level of 35.14 euros per ton in mid-January.

CO2 emission costs have risen consistently since first hitting levels of 29 euros per ton in November, 2020.

According to recent forecasts by ICIS, specializing in commodity pricing, the upward trajectory of carbon emission costs will continue over the next three years, averaging 39.24 euros per ton in 2021, before skyrocketing to levels of 46 euros per ton in 2022 and 50 euros per ton in 2023.

PPC’s CO2-cost clause has already been activated for its medium and high-voltage supply.

The corporation plans to reexamine its CO2 clause freeze for low-voltage consumers beyond March 31.

Contrary to PPC, independent suppliers have incorporated wholesale market price clauses, not CO2 emission cost clauses, into their supply agreements.

Independent suppliers have activated their clauses as a result of higher balancing market costs. Their low-voltage consumers have consequently faced electricity bill increases ranging from 7 to 30 percent.

Athens ending PPC lignite monopoly, rival suppliers to gain

Newly appointed energy minister Kostas Skrekas has reached an agreement with European Commission authorities to gradually end power utility PPC’s monopoly of lignite-based electricity production, but a Greek effort aiming to secure compensation for the state-controlled electricity company as a result of its need to keep operating lignite-fired power stations for grid sufficiency will now be treated as a separate issue, reducing the probability of a successful compensation request.

The ministry, under Skrekas’ predecessor, Costis Hatzidakis, had bundled the compensation request with the lignite antitrust case, insisting Athens would only move ahead with the PPC lignite monopoly case – by staging a market test as a first step towards offering independent players access to PPC’s lignite-based electricity production – if compensation money was awarded to the power utility.

Greece appears to have sought 180, 150 and 200 million euros in compensation for 2021, 2022 and 2023, respectively.

The country’s lignite antitrust case has dragged on for 14 years. During this time, lignite has lost its advantage as a lower-cost energy source as result of high CO2 emission right costs. Even so, Brussels has kept the issue on the negotiating table, often attaching tough proposals to the matter.

Under the lignite monopoly agreement just reached between the energy ministry and Brussels, the power utility, through bilateral contracts, will offer rival suppliers small percentages of its lignite-based electricity production at prices slightly below day-ahead market prices over a three-year period.

These electricity amounts will gradually diminish over the three-year period as PPC plans to phase out virtually all of its lignite-fired power stations by 2023 as part of the country’s decarbonization effort.

The percentage of lignite electricity amounts to be made available to independent suppliers will be based on previous-year production. In 2021, PPC will sell 50 percent of its lignite-based electricity produced in 2020, while in 2022 and 2023, the utility will offer 40 percent of production in the respective previous years.

Given these terms, independent suppliers will be able to purchase a combined total of close to 3 TWh in lignite-based electricity this year and between 2 and 3 TWh in 2022.

Independent suppliers should benefit from the agreement given the wholesale electricity market’s higher price levels of late.

CO2 right prices up 39% in 45 days, adding to wholesale market price ascent

CO2 emission right prices have hit new records, trading at levels of over 30 euros per ton in recent days for a rise of 39 percent over the past month and a half that has contributed to the wholesale market price ascent.

These elevated CO2 right levels peaked on Tuesday, at 32.02 euros per ton, well over a price of 23.05 euros per ton recorded just weeks ago, at the end of October.

The upward trajectory of CO2 emission right costs is also contributing to even higher prices in Greece’s wholesale electricity market.

Last Wednesday, the day-ahead market’s average price exceeded 80 euros per MWh, rising further to 93 euros per MWh hour yesterday.

If CO2 emission right trading prices persist at levels of more than 30 euros per ton, power utility PPC will activate a related wholesale price clause incorporated into its supply agreements.

Besides the increase in CO2 emission right costs, the Greek day-ahead market has followed the upward trajectory of other European markets, where the combination of higher demand and deteriorating weather conditions is pushing price levels higher.

According to Greek energy exchange data for today’s day-ahead market, the price will average 82.31 euros per MWh, peaking at 114.1 euros per MWh and dropping as low as 44.38 euros per MWh.

 

Consumers hit with tariff hikes of over 20% in low, mid-voltage

Sharply higher wholesale electricity prices registered over the past five weeks or so in the energy exchange’s new target model markets have, to a great extent, been quietly passed on by suppliers to consumer tariffs in the household, business and industrial categories, without any related announcements  from suppliers.

Price hikes by electricity suppliers have applied to approximately 35 percent of total electricity consumption, during this period, while tariff hikes have exceeded 20 percent in the low and mid-voltage categories.

In the low-voltage category, suppliers have activated clauses enabling tariff increases when wholesale price levels exceed certain levels.

Very few independent electricity suppliers, both vertically integrated and not, carry fixed-tariff agreements in their portfolios, exposing most consumers to wholesale electricity price fluctuations.

On the contrary, power utility PPC, representing roughly 65 percent of overall consumption, does not include wholesale price-related clauses in its supply agreements, meaning its tariffs have remained unchanged over the past few weeks.

Instead, PPC includes clauses linked to emission right prices in international markets. These have remained relatively steady in recent times.

Even if wholesale electricity prices happen to deescalate in the next few weeks, a likely prospect, some latency should be expected in any downward tariff adjustments by suppliers.

Numerous consumers have lodged complaints with RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, over the tariff hikes by suppliers. Complaints by suppliers against energy producers setting excessively high prices in target model markets have also been made.

PPC energy outlay falls €886m, key to strong 3Q results

A decreasing reliance on lignite-fired power stations, nowadays an extremely costly generation option as a result of high-priced CO2 emission rights; lower wholesale electricity prices; and a drop in diesel and natural gas prices reduced power utility PPC’s energy expenses by 885.6 million euros in the nine-month period, to 1.4 billion euros from approximately 2.1 billion euros in the equivalent period a year earlier, the power utility has reported.

This cost reduction, spearheaded by chief executive Giorgos Stassis and his administration, played an important role in favorable results announced yesterday.

PPC’s liquid fuel expenses fell by 33 percent to 357.5 million euros during this year’s nine-month period as a result of the corporation’s lower liquid fuel-based generation as well as lower mazut and diesel prices.

The nine-month natural gas outlay for PPC also fell significantly, by 41.8 percent, to 206 million euros from 353.7 million euros, as a result of a 42.4 percent drop in natural gas prices.

PPC’s CO2 emission right expenses fell to 263.1 million euros in the nine-month period, from 406.9 million euros in the equivalent period of 2019, as a result of the company’s reduced emission levels, down to 10.9 million tons from 17.9 million tons.

The power utility’s lignite-based generation during the nine-month period dropped by 50.6 percent year-on-year.

PPC appears to have given space to rival electricity producers in the nine-month period, while increasing its operating profit, despite a retail market share contraction to 69.3 percent from 76 percent a year earlier.

Fast action needed for industrial emission cost offsetting tool

Greek authorities need to act fast in the coming months if industrial producers are to keep receiving CO2 emission-right cost offsetting support as of January 1, 2021 through a European Commission mechanism.

The European Commission has just announced new state aid directives concerning greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2021. EU member states will need to soon forward their offsetting mechanism plans to Brussels.

Certain revisions have been made. Copper has been added to the list of industrial sectors eligible for emission cost offsetting mechanisms, while the textile and fertilizer sectors have not been included.

Besides copper, the steel, aluminium and paper production sectors have also been included on the list.

The European Commission aims to counter non-EU competition, including Chinese, and prevent industry shifts to locations outside the EU.

Pending issues crucial for industrial energy cost savings

A series of issues concerning prospective industrial energy cost savings that have surfaced either as industrial-sector requests or government announcements remain unresolved, creating insecurity within industrial circles.

New industrial electricity tariffs, currently being negotiated but with much ground still to cover for convergence, are at the very top of this list for industrialists.

One energy-intensive industrial producer has already abandoned power utility PPC after rejecting the industrial electricity tariff prices the utility had to offer.

Industrialists also want a public service compensation (YKO) surcharge reduction.

On another front, the sector expects a special consumption tax rate for mid-voltage industrial consumers with annual consumption levels of more than 13 GWh to be equated with the special consumption tax rate offered to high-voltage industrial enterprises. This revision, concerning approximately 170 factories, has been announced by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Another matter for the industrial sector concerns exempting major-scale industrial units from a series of additional electricity supply surcharges, in accordance with European Commission directives.

Industrialists also want a special consumption tax exemption on electricity used for mineral processing in cement and glass production, which would align Greek law with an EU directive from 2003.

The industrial sector is also anticipating a new mechanism to offset CO2 emission right costs.

PPC CO2 emissions down 71.1%, lignite-fired output fades

Power utility PPC’s CO2 emissions plunged 71.1 percent in the first half, from 1.97 million tons in January to 568,900 tons in June, reflecting the significantly diminished role of lignite in generation.

Lignite’s dominant energy mix role has been taken over by natural gas, supported by rising RES output and electricity imports.

Lignite-based electricity generation slid for most of the six-month period between January and June, dropping to 1.41 million tons in February, 882,240 tons in March, 730,970 tons in April and 564,900 tons in May before edging up to 568,900 tons in June.

CO2 emission right costs have been on an upward trajectory over the past couple of months, rising well over customary levels of about 20 euros per ton to reach as high as 29.66 euros per ton. Current levels appear to have stabilized at between 26 and 27 euros per ton.

Despite these higher CO2 emission right price levels, PPC’s operating costs are not expected to rise as a result of its big cutback on lignite-fired production.

PPC’s share of overall electricity production is projected to keep falling as independent producers and traders move in to fill the lignite void through natural gas and RES generation, plus electricity imports.