Exporters turn north, Greece-Italy link closed for maintenance

The Greece-Italy electricity interconnection, closed over the past week for maintenance work, has transformed market conditions for local traders as the Italian market, normally offering alluring prices for exports during considerable parts of the day, is currently not accessible.

Over the past year or so, electricity amounts acquired at Greek NOME auctions and left unabsorbed by the local market have been exported to Italy.

As a result of the temporary block towards the Italian market, Greek electricity exports can currently only be channeled through gateways in the country’s north, as has been highlighted by a sharp increase of exports through this region.

Prior to the commencement of maintenance work on the power cable interconnecting Greece and Italy, electricity exports to the north were usually limited to no more than 1,000 MW per day. Over the past week, this figure has risen sharply to levels exceeding 9,000 MW.

Under normal circumstances, Greece’s interconnections in the north are primarily used for electricity imports which are then either absorbed by the local grid or relayed to Italy, Greece serving as a transit zone.

Wholesale electricity prices in neighboring markets north of Greece are generally lower than those available in Greece and Italy.

The increased electricity export activity presently witnessed through the country’s north once again highlights that electricity amounts acquired at local NOME auctions are not being used to intensify domestic market competition, as was intended by authorities, but, instead, greatly exploited by traders for export opportunities.

High hydropower, RES output, exports prompt SMP swings

The Greek electricity wholesale market’s System Marginal Price (SMP) has fluctuated wildly over the past three days, ranging from zero to 75 euros per MWh, key driving factors being the need to lower overfilled water reservoirs at hydropower facilities, increased RES sector output, as well as elevated electricity prices in Italy, which has spurred exports to the neighboring market.

Hydropower facilities have steadily provided 30,000 MWh over the past three days, while, during this period, RES output has risen to as much as 41,000 MWh, meaning the two sources have covered over half the country’s daily electricity needs.

Electricity imports rose to levels ranging from approximately 10,000 to 16,000 MWh over the past three days, while high prices in Italy have prompted electricity exports of roughly 9,000 MWh per day. This export activity has impacted Greece’s SMP during certain hours.

Last Sunday, for nine hours in total, the SMP was down to zero, whch lowered the day’s average SMP to just 29.41 euros per MWh. The increased contributions to the system by the hydropower and RES sectors left no room for imports, leading to the day’s zero-level SMP.

A day later, on Monday, the SMP rose sharply to 53.7 euros per MWh, and, for two hours, climbed even higher to over 75 euros per MWh, a level shaped by high-priced electricity exports to Italy.

A similar picture has prevailed today with the average SMP level positioned at slightly below 51 euros per MWh, as well as high-priced exports to Italy, which took the SMP to 71 euros per MWh for an hour.

The higher average SMP registered yesterday and today led to an increase in thermal production, reaching 52,000 MWh.

Lower international prices prompt decline in electricity exports

Latest market data released by LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, for January has confirmed a reduced interest, observed recently, for electricity exports through the country’s interconnections.

Electricity exports from Greece to neighboring countries fell considerably in January compared to December as well as January last year, both in terms of daily averages and monthly totals.

The subdued electricity export activity can be attributed to the electricity price drop in international markets.

This explains why local traders seeking export opportunities expressed little interest in the year’s first NOME auction, staged earlier this month.