Low temperatures in Europe pushing gas prices higher, LNG tankers returning

Lower-than-usual temperatures for this time of year have greatly increased the pressure on natural gas prices, driving prices higher.

Gas prices have also increased in other European markets, including Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

In some markets, such as that of the UK, the strong demand for gas has also been attributed to factors other than the low temperatures, such as reduced wind energy production.

The current price for gas at Dutch gas trading platform TTF is 17.66 €/MWh, 17.233 €/MWh at the PEG exchange, 18.17 €/MWh at the NCG, 18.304 €/MWh at Gaspool, 18.529 €/MWh at the VTP,  and 18.575 €/MWh at the PSV, according to ICIS Heren, an established information provider for the gas, power and carbon markets.

The higher gas demand has prompted an increase in LNG tanker deliveries to European destinations. A total of 10.2 billion cubic meters were added to European terminals in March, the highest level recorded since April, 2020, and almost double the 5 bcm figure registered in January, according to latest data.

Low gas prices at European hubs earlier this year resulted in LNG tanker routes to Asian markets, where prices and profit margins were greater. Higher prices in Europe are now bringing back tankers to the continent.

As for the Greek market, two LNG tankers are scheduled to arrive at the Revythoussa terminal, on the islet just off Athens, in April, beginning, early in the month, with a joint order placed by the Heron and Mytilineos companies for 73,855 cubic meters each. It will be followed by a second order, scheduled for late in April, by Elpedison (118,168 cubic meters) and Motor Oil Hellas (33,235 cubic meters).

Two further shipments are expected at the Revythoussa terminal in May, according to the current schedule, one for Mytilineos, the other for Elpedison.

Electricity market shares unchanged in March, imports up

The overall market share of independent electricity suppliers remained unchanged at 34.2 percent in March, without any surprise reshuffling between these suppliers, as power utility PPC held on firmly to its previous month’s 65.8 percent share, a latest monthly report issued by the Greek energy exchange has shown.

Like PPC, the market shares of some independent suppliers remained unchanged in March, compared to the previous month, the report showed.

Mytilineos registered a 7.97 percent market share in March, unchanged from February.

Heron’s market share fell marginally to 6.34 percent in March from 6.38 percent in February; Elpedison’s market share rose to 4.85 percent from 4.79 percent; NRG captured 4 percent, up from 3.89 percent; Watt and Volt fell to 2.58 percent from 2.73 percent; Volterra registered 1.93 percent, from 1.96 percent; Fysiko Aerio Attikis rose to 1.81 percent from 1.75 percent; Volton captured 1.41 percent, from 1.39 percent; Zenith reached 1.41 percent, from 1.36 percent; ELTA’s market share remained unchanged at 0.63 percent; and KEN fell slightly to 0.56 percent from 0.58 percent.

Electricity imports exceeded electricity exports, in terms of volume, the energy exchange report showed.

Also, the number of hours of net imports grew against the number of hours of net exports, the data for March showed.

Elpedison launches tender for Thessaloniki power station

Energy company Elpedison has launched an international tender for procurement of mechanical equipment concerning its 826-MW gas-fueled power station project in northern city Thessaloniki’s Diavata area, sources have informed.

The company, also moving ahead with the project’s environmental permit procedure, is expected to soon finalize its investment decision.

Besides Elpedison, a number of other energy firms are also moving ahead with gas-fueled power station plans.

GEK-TERNA is planning a 665-MW facility in Komotini, northeastern Greece; power utility PPC recently secured a license for a 665-MW unit, also in Komotini; Elvalhalkor is pursuing plans for a 566-MW unit in Thisvi; the Copelouzos group is moving ahead with a 662-MW project in the industrial area of Alexandroupoli, in the northeast; and the Karatzis group is planning a 660-MW power station in Larissa, in the mid-north.

The Mytilineos group has already begun constructing an 826-MW gas-fueled power station in Viotia’s Agios Nikolaos area, northwest of Athens, a project expected to be launched late this year or early next year.

The establishment of a permanent CAT mechanism, anticipated by the investors behind these projects, promising grid flexibility, is crucial for the investment plans.

Electricity demand levels in the Greek market as well as the course of Greece’s decarbonization effort, expected to create openings for new power stations, are also vital factors.

 

PPC granted license for 665 MW gas-fueled power station

A power utility PPC investment plan entailing the development of a 665-MW gas-fueled power station in the industrial zone of Komotini, northeastern Greece has been granted a license by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, adding to the list of licensed projects to serve as a bridge in the country’s energy transition until the renewable energy sector fully prevails.

The project linked to this latest license, given a 35-year duration, is scheduled to be launched in December, 2024.

RAE has now granted five licenses to an assortment of companies for such investment plans, though not all will necessarily be developed.

An 826-MW gas-fueled power station being developed by Mytilineos in Viotia, slightly northwest of Athens, set to be launched at the end of this year, is the most advanced of these investment plans.

The maturity levels vary for other projects in terms of environmental licensing and other procedural matters. These include a 665-MW unit planned by Terna, also in Komotini; an 826-MW project planned by Elpedison in Thessaloniki; and an 830-MW facility planned by the Copelouzos Group’s Damco in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece.

Also, the power utility is expected to reach a decision on converting its prospective Ptolemaida V lignite-fired power station into a gas-fueled facility.

Suppliers want greater clarity on new customer switching rules

Electricity suppliers have agreed, in principle, on new rules proposed by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for customer switching, but demand greater clarity on a rule concerning the imposition of an upper limit on outstanding bills owed by customers seeking to switch suppliers.

Seven suppliers – power utility PPC, Protergia (Mytilineos Group), Heron, Elpedison, Volterra, Zenith and Fysiko Aerio/Hellenic Energy Company – and two associations – ESPEN (Greek Energy Suppliers Association), ESEPIE (Hellenic Association of Electricity Trading & Supply Companies) – took part in second-round public consultation staged by RAE, requesting views on three topics.

Preparations for the introduction of a debt-flagging system – the public consultation procedure’s second topic – offering general protection to suppliers by informing and preparing them on the track records of incoming customers, are headed in the right direction, participants agreed.

They also backed a RAE proposal that would permit suppliers to request electricity supply cuts from distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO for exiting customers who have not settled outstanding electricity bills.

This measure promises to contribute to more effective management of electricity-bill debt and support supplier receivables, participants pointed out.

RAE, in its proposals, sets a six-month limit for suppliers to take action against customers once they have switched companies.

Electricity demand falls 9.5% in January amid stricter lockdown

Stricter lockdown measures in January and their impact on business activity prompted a big reduction in electricity demand, down 9.5 percent compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, when lockdown measures had yet to be imposed, according to power grid operator IPTO’s monthly report.

Most of the country’s retailers were forced to disrupt their business activities in January following a period of less stringent retail measures in the form of a click-away service, enabling customers to pre-order and pick up goods from shops by appointment or, this measure’s extension, click-in-shop, permitting customers to enter stores, see and even try products by appointment.

Electricity demand in the high-voltage category was down by 3.3 percent in January compared to the same month a year earlier, the IPTO data showed.

Interestingly, despite the plunge in electricity demand, electricity production increased by 12.9 percent in January, hydropower being the biggest mover with a 221 percent increase, following power utility PPC’s decision to use its hydropower units as a result of elevated water reserves.

The domestic production increase was attributed to a fall in electricity imports and rise in electricity exports, the greatest quantity going to Italy (43%), followed by North Macedonia (24%), Bulgaria (22%), Albania (9%) and Turkey (2%).

RES output was higher by 43 percent in January as a result of strong winds during the month, while, on the contrary, lignite-fired generation fell 43 percent. Natural gas-fueled power station output was also down, marginally, by 2 percent.

In terms of energy mix share, natural gas-fueled power stations held a 36 percent share, RES units captured 35 percent, hydropower’s contribution represented 16 percent, and lignite was responsible for 13 percent of total electricity generation in January, the IPTO figures showed.

PPC covered 66.6 percent of electricity demand in January, followed by Mytilineos (7.52%), Heron (5.89%), Elpedison (4.63%), NRG (3.49%) and Watt & Volt (2.74%).

Grid sufficiency ensured despite today’s heightened demand

Virtually all of the country’s power generating facilities, including RES units, have been called into action today by power grid operator IPTO to cover heightened demand, expected to peak at 8,978 MW at 6.30pm, as a result of the sharp temperature drop around the country.

Power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations Agios Dimitrios III and IV, Kardia III and IV, and Meliti, will operate as the fundamental generation facilities.

Natural gas-fired power stations – PPC’s Aliveri V and Megalopoli V; Elpedison’s units in Thessaloniki and Thisvi; as well as Protergia and Korinthos Power units – will be on stand-by to contribute if demand fluctuations require their grid input.

RES output, expected to reach 58.135 GWh, will cover approximately 34 percent of the day’s overall demand.

As for prices, the grid entry of many lignite-fired power stations has pushed up clearing prices at the energy exchange, anticipated to reach €62.24/MWh today from €53.58/MWh yesterday and €41.70/MWh two days ago.

IPTO has asked energy-intensive producers to limit their energy consumption until the extreme weather conditions have elapsed, unofficially bringing into play the demand response mechanism. Cement and steel producers are among the energy-intensive producers voluntarily cutting back on energy consumption to help prevent any grid insufficiencies.

PPC loses 96,000 low-voltage connections in 3 months

Approximately 96,000 low-voltage consumers left power utility PPC for rival suppliers over a three-month period between April and June, 2020, market data released by distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO has shown.

PPC is losing low-voltage connections at a rate of between 30,000 and 40,000 per month, the data showed.

In the third quarter last year, the power utility shed 2.4 percent of its 81.03 percent market share held in 2Q. This loss of PPC customers led to market share gains for all the independent players, the top five enjoying the biggest gains.

A total of 1.38 million low-voltage consumers had switched from PPC to independent suppliers by the end of the third quarter last year, the data showed. This essentially means that PPC was serving 5.39 million low-voltage consumers at the end of the third quarter.

Independent supplier Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, ranked first among the independent players in 3Q last year with a market share of 3.36 percent and 228,000 supply connections, the data showed.

Elpedison followed closely behind with a 3.24 percent share and 220,000 supply connections. Heron was ranked third among the independent players with a 2.63 percent share and 178,000 supply connections, followed by Watt & Volt with a 2.39 percent market share and 160,000 connections.

The DEDDIE/HEDNO also showed a large transfer of low-voltage consumers to the universal supply service offered by suppliers, by law, at higher tariffs, to households blacklisted for unpaid electricity bills.

A total of 146,000 universal service connections were recorded in 3Q last year. The market’s top five suppliers are required to offer this universal service to sidelined households.

Suppliers target electromobility, smart home and city markets

Domestic energy suppliers, targeting the electromobility, smart home and smart city markets, are closely following rapid technological developments, internationally, company executives told an industry event, the 4th Ecomobility conference, held yesterday.

Elpedison, anticipating electromobility market growth, is offering related services for homes and businesses through its DriveGreen package, which includes electricity tariffs below night rates on a 24-hour basis and free-of-charge kilowatt hours every month for electric vehicle usage, the company’s chief executive, Nikos Zahariadis told the event.

A National Energy and Climate Plan projection on the auto market penetration of electric vehicles by 2030 is too ambitious as a result of high price tags on electric vehicles, lack of infrastructure and lofty taxes, Zahariadis noted. Revisions are needed if the NECP’s electromobility objective is to be achieved, he added.

Aristidis Grammatikopoulos, product development manager at energy supplier Fysiko Aerio, informed of the company’s participation in the development of recharging infrastructure. Fysiko Aerios has also prepared special packages and services for supply and installation of smart recharging units for domestic use, he added.

The Fysiko Aerio official also announced new smart-tech services, via mobile phone, offering customers optimal energy packages though an algorithm linked to individual energy consumption patterns.

Greek market data in 2020 show potential for the electromobility sector, despite difficulties, energy supplier NRG’s strategic manager Ilias Petris asserted.

The development of recharging infrastructure is the most pivotal factor for electromobility market growth, the NRG official stressed, adding that a current focus on the wider Athens area requires adjustment for a widespread approach.

The Motor Oil group, owner of NRG, has been a pioneer in electromobility through the installation of recharging networks along national highways as far back as two years ago, Petris noted.

 

Gas market competition intensifies, TAP lowering prices

Competition has intensified in the country’s wholesale gas market at a time of changing conditions and negotiations for 2021 deals between importers and major-scale consumers, namely electricity producers and industrial enterprises.

Many gas supply contracts expired at the end of 2020, requiring a large number of players to renegotiate deals. Some of these big consumers have already reached new agreements with gas wholesalers.

Market conditions have changed considerably compared to a year earlier. Supply of Azeri gas through the new TAP route has already begun to Greece as well as Bulgaria, increasing overall supply, which has obliged, and permitted, gas utility DEPA to pursue a more aggressive pricing policy as the company pushes to absorb quantities it has committed to through clauses in existing contracts.

Also, the TAP-related increase of gas supply to Bulgaria, combined with this country’s inflow of Russian gas through oil-indexed price agreements, currently relatively cheaper, is now depriving Greek wholesale gas companies of entry into a neighboring market that was available for trading activity last year.

Furthermore, conditions have also been impacted by a competition committee decision no longer requiring DEPA to stage gas auctions to make available a share of its gas orders to rival traders. This measure was introduced and maintained to help liberalize Greece’s gas market.

The new conditions are pushing Greek traders towards more competitive pricing policies. They appear to have acknowledged that their profit margins will be narrower in 2021.

DEPA, helped by the fact that a sizeable proportion of its gas purchases is oil-indexed, is said to be playing a dominant role in the ongoing negotiations for new contracts with customers.

It should be pointed out that, unlike rival gas importers such as Mytilineos, Elpedison and Heron, all benefitting through self-consumption of a large part of their gas orders for gas-fired power stations they operate, DEPA does not self-consume.

Prometheus Gas, a member of the Copelouzos group, remains a formidable player, while the power utility PPC and petroleum company Motor Oil are less influential in the wholesale gas market.

Higher LNG prices, compared to pipeline gas, will decrease demand for LNG this year and weaken the interest of traders for LNG supply through gas grid operator DESFA’s Revythoussa terminal on the islet just off Athens. Last year, this facility was a hot spot of trading activity as a result of lower-priced LNG.

PPC gains 3% in retail market for November share of 66.3%

Power utility PPC, the retail electricity market leader, gained an entire three percentage points in November, capturing a 66.33 percent share, up from 63.2 percent a month earlier, according to a latest energy exchange report.

The rankings among the market’s independent suppliers remained unchanged but minor market share gains and losses were reported for the month.

Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, shed over half a percentage point, dropping from 8.6 percent in October to 7.99 percent in November, but remained at the forefront among the independent suppliers.

Second-placed Heron also retreated slightly, to 6.55 percent in November from 6.97 percent in October, as did Elpedison, ranked third, to 4.67 percent from 5.05 percent.

Next in the rankings, NRG’s market share remained virtually unchanged, ending November at 3.37 percent from 3.38 percent in October.

Watt+Volt followed with a 2.69 share of the retail electricity market, up marginally from 2.67 percent, Volterra was next with 2.37 percent from 2.55 percent, Fysiko Aerio (Attiki GSC) made a slight gain to reach 1.61 percent from 1.48 percent, Zenith upped its share to 1.26 percent from 1.19 percent, Volton improved to 1.13 percent from 1.04 percent, and KEN remained virtually unchanged, at 0.59 percent from 0.6 percent.

Electricity exports increased and imports decreased in November, compared to a month earlier, the energy exchange data showed.

PPC’s business plan for 2021 to 2023 projects a reduction in customers from 6.1 million, last September, to 4.7 million, for a market share of 54 percent.

RAE discusses balancing market ceiling with producers

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is staging a series of meetings today with major-scale electricity producers to discuss its proposal, forwarded for public consultation last Thursday, for the imposition of a price ceiling on offers made by producers in the balancing market. Its price levels have risen sharply since a launch several weeks ago as part of the target model’s new markets.

Representatives of three electricity producers, power utility PPC, Protergia and Elpedison, all vertically integrated, have been invited by the authority to separately present their views on its price-ceiling proposal before they submit their official views to the matter’s public consultation procedure by tomorrow morning’s 11am deadline.

Producers operating gas-fueled power stations are generally believed to oppose the prospect of a price ceiling on their offers, as they consider the balancing market to be a useful tool measuring supply and demand in the electricity market, as is the case around Europe.

RAE has attached a three-month limit on the duration of its price-ceiling proposal. Restrictive measures such as the authority’s proposal are generally not embraced by the European Commission, as RAE chief executive Thanassis Dagoumas has admitted.

Non vertically integrated electricity suppliers, hit hard by price rises in the wholesale electricity market, of which the balancing market is a component, have called for the restrictive measure to take retroactive effect. This is considered an unlikely prospect by market officials.

Many critics of the target model preparation procedure had warned that its new markets should not begin operating unless a RAE monitoring mechanism is in full working order.

Latest market data published by power grid operator IPTO showed a mild de-escalation of balancing market price levels to between 12 and 13 euros per MWh for December 7 to 13, the new target model’s sixth week, but these levels are still regarded as being excessive.

Lignite unit output up, target model overpricing a factor

Power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations, temporarily covering for gas-fueled plants undergoing maintenance work and also favored by power grid operator IPTO as a result of excessive target model market prices demanded by independent producers, have made somewhat of a production comeback despite the urgency of the government and state-owned utility to withdraw these high-cost units as soon as possible.

On December 3, eight of the country’s ten remaining lignite-fired power stations operated throughout the day, most close to full capacity.

Agios Dimitrios I, III, IV and V, Kardia III and IV, Meliti and Megalopoli IV covered almost one third of the country’s total electricity demand, supplying over 40,000 MWh of the day’s 139,000 MWh to the grid.

In recent days, between six and seven lignite-fired power stations have been called into action.

Heron’s two gas-fueled power stations are currently sidelined for service work as are two such units respectively operated by Elpedison and PPC in Thessaloniki and Lavrio, close to Athens. Furthermore, overpricing in the day-ahead market by independent producers has prompted IPTO to seek lignite unit coverage.

PPC is still operating at least four lignite-fired power stations on a daily basis, despite related losses, to cover telethermal needs in cities of the west Macedonia and Megalopoli regions.

The power utility intends to hasten the withdrawal of its Megalopoli III, Kardia III and IV lignite-fired units, all set to close in 2021, according to an updated PPC business plan announced earlier this month.

Elpedison’s Thessaloniki power station upgraded, target model-fit

Elpedison’s power station in Thessaloniki, temporarily withdrawn on September 28 for a programmed upgrade, is set to start operating again at the end of this week.

The upgrade work, an investment worth approximately 20 million euros, was conducted to enhance the facility’s flexibility and performance, attributes that benefit in the target model’s new markets. The upgrade has also reduced the facility’s maintenance costs.

The power station’s increased flexibility enables operating level increase and decrease adjustments to be made with greater ease, while ignition emissions will now be far lower.

Elpedison has made clear its intent to invest in flexibility as demand for flexible units is expected to increase in the new target model framework.

The company’s Thessaloniki unit, a 400-MW facility constructed in 2006, had emerged as the first privately owned natural gas-fired power station in Greece.

Its development, including supplementary units needed to link the power station with the high-voltage and natural gas networks, cost a total of 250 million euros.

ELPE lockdown impact fears expressed amid poorer conditions

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE chief executive Andreas Siamissis has expressed fears of the latest lockdown’s impact on fuel consumption, which he will believes will be considerable, during a presentation of third quarter results to analysts.

Narrowed refining margins, which dropped to historic lows during the third quarter, combined with a drop in demand, resulted in unprecedently difficult conditions, ELPE officials noted.

However, rays of hope have emerged for an imminent improvement in refining margins, they added.

Elpedison, ELPE’s joint energy venture with Italy’s Edison, registered a strong power generation performance, up 31 percent in the nine-month period, aided by competitively priced LNG for its production units, company officials informed.

Electricity sales rose by 5 percent, while operating profit reached 43 million euros, from 15 million euros a year earlier.

As for the natural gas market, the commercial activity of gas utility DEPA, in which ELPE holds a 35 percent stake, increased in the third quarter.

DEPA – whose two new entities, DEPA Commercial and DEPA Infrastructure, are both headed for privatization in a procedure that is expected to be completed by March, 2021 – reported a 3Q volume-based sales increase of 48 percent. Its EBITDA figure moved up to 18 million euros, up from 6 million euros a year earlier.

ELPE’s list of imminent RES projects has more-than-doubled compared to last year, the company officials informed.

Extraordinary conditions push SMP as high as €105 per MWh

Extraordinary conditions resulting from coinciding temporary closures of various power facilities, both in Greece and abroad, have pushed up the System Marginal Price, or wholesale electricity, to levels of as much as 105 euros per MWh, as was the case yesterday.

Four domestic gas-fired power stations – Enthes (Elpedison), Heron CC, Lavrio IV and Protergia – were out of order yesterday, for different reasons.

Problems beyond the Greek border have made matters worse. Bulgaria’s 1,000-MW Kozloduy nuclear power plant is currently out of order. The Greek-Bulgarian line serves as a transit route towards North Macedonia as a line linking Bulgaria and North Macedonia is out of order. So, too, is a line linking Greece with Italy.

Power stations that rarely operate, such as an open-cycle Heron unit, needed to be called into action as a result of the problems on these various fronts. Their necessary contributions pushed the SMP to far higher levels.

Three power utility PPC lignite-fired power stations, Agios Dimitrios II and III and Melitis, along with PPC’s gas-fired power stations Aliveri V, Lavrio V, Komotini, Megalopoli V, as well as units run by the independent energy firms Heron, Thisvi and Corinth Power, all needed to be called into action to cover the grid’s needs.

The market appears to have normalized for today. SMP levels are down to relatively satisfactory levels, averaging 44.49 euros per MWh, primarily as a result of significant RES contributions, covering more than 50 percent of the overall demand, 123.993 GWh.

The lignite-fired power stations used yesterday – Agios Dimitrios II and III and Melitis – will remain closed today.

GEK TERNA, Elpedison close to decisions on gas-fueled units

GEK TERNA and Elpedison are expected to announce finalized investment decisions for new gas-fueled power stations with total capacity over 1,400 MW within the next two months, energypress sources informed.

GEK TERNA plans to develop a 660-MW power station at the industrial zone of Komotini, northeastern Greece, while Elpedison, a joint venture involving Hellenic Petroleum ELPE and Italy’s Edison, intends to construct units with a total capacity of 826 MW at the ELPE facilities in Thessaloniki.

These project plans are estimated to be worth a total of at least 600 million euros.

The energy companies have already received energy production licenses as well as other licensing requirements, including environmental permits, for these prospective units, regarded as mature investment plans.

Both companies are awaiting new CAT mechanism details for gas-fueled power stations before finalizing their investment plans. The economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, plus the anticipation of a second wave, are also crucial factors influencing the thinking behind these investment decisions.

Market capacity exists for new combined-cycle gas-fueled power stations during the energy transition over the next ten to 15 years, electricity market officials insist.

The planned withdrawal of power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations over the next three or so years combined with a lack of development in RES energy storage systems offers gas-fueled power generation an opportunity to cover capacity to be lost by lignite-fired power station closures.

A recent BloombergNEF report noted big natural gas-fueled power stations are not necessary. However, market officials point to the National Energy and Climate Plan as proof of the need for such units.

The Mytilineos group is developing an 826-MW CCGT in the Agios Nikolaos area of Boetia, northwest of Athens, with the aim of a launch in late-2021.

PPC secures 3 of 4.5 GW offered at last week’s flexibility auction

Power utility PPC secured the largest quantities at last Friday’s flexibility remuneration auction, obtaining 3 GW of a total of 4.5 GW made available to bidders, early data has shown.

Also, Mytilineos-Protergia secured 630 MW, followed by Elpedison with 469 MW and Heron with 339 MW.

The August 14 auction, staged by power grid operator IPTO, offered bidders flexibility remuneration rights for a period covering August 15 to October 31 this year.

A total flexibility capacity of 4,500 MW was offered at a starting price of 39,000 euros per MW, annually.

Gas supplier switching up 164% in newly liberalized gas market

A total of 20,134 gas company customers, 4.18 percent of 481,838 in total, switched suppliers in 2019, data provided by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has shown.

This mobility highlights the Greek retail gas market’s heightened level of competition less than three years since its liberalization and the determination of customers to secure the best possible deals.

In 2018, when the country’s retail gas market was liberalized, 7,611 customers of 441,330 in total, a far lower 1.72 percent, switched gas suppliers.

These figures represent a 164 percent rise, between 2018 and 2019, of customers switching gas suppliers.

Businesses registered the greatest level of mobility, followed by household customers and industrial customers, in that order, both in terms of gas amounts used and number of supply connections.

The supplier switching rate in the household category was 4.12 percent in 2019, up from 1.69 percent in 2018. In the business category, 5.72 percent of consumers switched suppliers in 2019, up from 2.41 percent in 2018.

On the contrary, supplier switching in the industrial customer category fell sharply to 3.17 percent in 2019 from 8.78 percent in 2018.

In numbers, 19,180 household consumers of 465,018 in total changed gas suppliers in 2019. In the business category, 944 of 16,505 made switches to new suppliers last year. As for the industrial category, 10 of 315 customers moved to new gas suppliers in 2019.

Despite the increased level of customer mobility, two suppliers, Zenith and Fysiko Aerio, remained dominant, capturing market shares of 65.51 and 25.76 percent, respectively, in terms of number of connections, according to the RAE data. The two frontrunners were followed by Mytilineos (2.85%), Elpedison (2.05%) and NRG (1.16%).

These market shares and rankings differ when based on gas volume. Under these terms, Zenith’s share was 35.95 percent in 2019, while Fysiko Aerio captured a 31.13 percent share. They were followed by PPC (5.96%), Mytilineos (5.44%), Heron (5.25%), Elpedison (5.21%) and DEPA (3.51%), among a field of smaller players.

 

 

Electricity supplier switching by consumers up 89% in 2019

Consumers switching electricity suppliers increased sharply by 89 percent in 2019, a report by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has shown.

A total of 576,436 consumers, 8.5 percent of the 6,783,075 consumers in total, switched suppliers in 2019, up from 4.51 percent in 2018, the report showed.

This sharp rise in consumer switches was attributed to growing consumer confidence in independent electricity suppliers as well as the effectiveness of discounts and various other offers made available by these suppliers to attract customers. Put simply, competition in the Greek electricity market appears to be intensifying.

Household electricity consumers showed the greatest degree of mobility, followed by mid and high-voltage consumers, or businesses and industrial consumers, the RAE report observed.

In the mid-voltage category, 834 business and industrial consumers of 9,071 in total, or 9.19 percent, switched electricity suppliers in 2019, according to the report.

Despite the increased customer mobility, power utility PPC remained dominant in 2019, supplying electricity to 5,694,627 consumers, or 83.95 percent of the 6,783,075 in total, the report showed. In terms of consumption, PPC held a 71.13 percent share, supplying 27.7 million MWh last year.

Independent supplier Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, was ranked second in terms of total number of customers in 2019, supplying to 181,232 customers, the report noted.

Elpedison was ranked third with 171,143 customers, followed by Heron (140,812), Watt & Volt (127,364), Zenith (73,968), Volton (69,688), NRG (52,961), Fysiko Aerio (39,881), Volterra (35,748) and KEN (33,997).

A total of 24 independent suppliers are active in Greece’s electricity market.

GEK TERNA set to develop new 660-MW thermal unit

GEK TERNA is expected to finance its development of a gas-fueled power station with a 660-MW capacity in Komotini, northeastern Greece, through bond funds totaling 500 million euros, sources have informed.

In a company statement, GEK TERNA noted it intends to use 400 million of 500 million euros in bond funds to finance the group’s investment program, which includes gas-fueled power generation.

GEK TERNA is close to reaching an investment decision on this facility, the sources added. It would represent the third thermal unit involving the group.

GEK TERNA, which has the potential to play a key role in renewable energy through Terna Energy, is not overlooking thermal-unit developments.

Greece’s decarbonization strategy and the dominance of natural gas as the main fuel during the energy transition are two factors creating major opportunities for the GEK TERNA group.

Other vertically integrated electricity producers are also preparing new thermal facilities. The Mytilineos group is already constructing an 826-MW gas-fueled power station in the Boetia area, slightly northwest of Athens. This unit is expected to be launched next year.

A licensing procedure by Elpedison, also for an 826-MW facility, in Thessaloniki, is maturing.

In addition, the Copelouzos group is making progress on licensing for a 660-MW facility in Alexadroupoli, northeastern Greece. Company official Kostas Sifneos recently said this facility’s launch is scheduled for 2022.

The country’s big energy players are also continuing to eye Balkan markets for electricity exports, pundits informed.

Universal supply service overcharge set at 12%

Electricity consumers resorting to the universal supply service, covering the energy needs of households and small businesses shunned by suppliers for failing to be punctual with payments, will face tariff levels 12 percent over the regular market rate, according to a related ministerial decision.

The country’s five biggest electricity suppliers, in terms of retail market share, will need to share the pool of old and new unwanted customers and provide the universal supply service.

Previously, the market leader – consistently PPC – was forced to offer the service alone after suppliers chose not to submit bids to related universal service tenders.

Under the service’s new rules, the highest tariff rate among the top five suppliers will serve as the base for the 12 percent overcharge.

PPC, still dominating Greece’s retail electricity market with a 90 percent share of power meters, Protergia (Mytilineos), Heron, Elpedison – all three control 3 percent each – and NRG (1%) are the top five suppliers who, by law, must offer the universal supply service.

 

 

PPC, majors face 20% sale limit on output for bilateral contracts

Vertically integrated electricity producers will be permitted to sell up to 20 percent of production through mutual agreements once the target model is launched, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has decided, ultimately doubling a 10 percent limited proposed by the Greek stock exchange, energypress sources have informed.

RAE reached its decision to set the limit at 20 percent after considering arguments presented by producers and sector authorities during consultation.

The limit takes into effect power utility PPC, dominating the retail market, as well as all integrated producers with retail market shares of more than 4 percent – namely, as things stand, Protergia, Heron and Elpedison, all with over 4 percent for quite some time now.

This decision by RAE is one of the last pending issues concerning energy exchange markets, recently rescheduled to begin operating on September 17, if all goes according to plan from here on.

ESAI/HAIPP, the Hellenic Association of Independent Power Producers, had proposed a limit of between 5 and 10 percent for PPC’s mutual agreements and forward contracts, and proportional limits for vertically integrated electricity producers with market shares of more than 4 percent.

PPC, which, from the outset, pushed for a 20 percent limit, based its argument on a study by global energy consulting company ECCO International, according to which the sale limit on output should range between 10 and 20 percent.

 

Electromobility creating various opportunities, players preparing

Besides the auto industry and recharging network investments, the country’s push towards electromobility, strongly supported by a draft bill delivered by the government yesterday for consultation, is also creating various other new business opportunities.

Enterprises active in battery and recharging technology, spare parts for electric cars and e-bikes, for example, can expect production opportunities.

Business opportunities are emerging for electricity companies, fuel companies, network owners and operators, recharging technology manufacturers and technology firms.

The government’s draft bill includes provisions enabling fuel stations, shopping centers, super markets, parking lots, as well as municipalities and prefectures to install recharging stations. An extensive, widely accessible recharging network will be pivotal to the country’s overall electromobility effort.

The draft bill also includes a provision for the establishment of electric vehicle charging operators, expected to primarily develop their own recharging stations, at locations either owned by them or prospective partners.

The operators will also be able to collaborate with shopping centers, super markets, municipalities and any other entities wanting to install recharging stations but lacking the size or interest to get too involved with more complex procedures.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has already announced the establishment of a subsidiary to focus on the energy group’s electromobility interests. Also, Motor Oil has taken its first steps, mainly through NRG, the group’s supply firm.

Both these major energy groups have already installed some recharging stations along highways and at other points. All major fuel companies plan to follow suit.

The country’s major independent electricity suppliers, Heron, Elpedison and Protergia, plus smaller players, have all incorporated electromobility into their strategic plans.

Power utility PPC, aspiring to dominate this sector, has already announced three MoUs, with the AB Vasilopoulos supermarket chain, Beat taxi service, and airport operator Fraport Greece. PPC aims to have installed 1,000 recharging stations around Greece over the next two to three years.

Some electricity suppliers have formed partnerships with car industries. Elpedison has teamed up with Mercedes Benz Hellas, Motor Oil’s NRG with BMW, and Protergia with Kosmocar-Volkswagen.

 

PPC mid-voltage market share tumbles to 30%, competition intense

Power utility PPC’s market share in the mid-voltage category, where competition has intensified, slid to 30.2 percent in May, well below its 53.72 percent share in January, making way for independent suppliers who have made significant gains since the beginning of the year.

Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, ranked second in the mid-voltage market, was the biggest gainer during the five-month period, increasing its mid-voltage market share to 20.02 percent in May, nearly double January’s 12.19 percent.

Heron follows with 13.74 percent, up from 9.24 percent in January. Elpedison is ranked fourth with 9.34 percent, from 6.72 percent in January. NRG is next, closely behind, with a 7.74 percent mid-voltage market share, from 5.16 percent at the beginning of the year.

No major market-share changes have been reported in the high and low-voltage categories.

Overall – high, mid and low-voltage categories – PPC captured 66.27 percent of the market in May, slightly below the previous month’s 67.25 percent.

Protergia is ranked second, overall, with a 7.31 percent share, up from 6.84 percent in April. Heron is in third place with 6.27 percent, gaining from the previous month’s 5.81 percent. Elpedison follows with 4.97 percent, down from 5.06 percent in April.

Top five taking on universal supply service, tender futile

A tender staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, offering electricity suppliers a two-year contract for universal supply service covering the needs of consumers who have been shunned for not being punctual with payments, has failed to produce a result.

Though the outcome of this procedure remains consistent with results of equivalent tenders in previous years, an imminent change of rules will require the electricity market’s top five suppliers, based on market share, to assume the universal supply service.  Higher tariffs are charged.

Until now, power utility PPC, as market leader, was forced to take on the job alone.

A ministerial decision on the rule change is expected to be delivered by deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas within the next few days.

The universal electricity supply service’s two-year contract starts on June 23.

Based on market data for April, the Greek retail electricity market’s top five suppliers are: PPC, Protergia, Heron, Elpedison and Watt+Volt. NRG trails slightly behind in sixth place.

Unlike other European markets, where the universal electricity supply service is a desirable venture, and, as a result, warrants competitive procedures, the equivalent service in Greece is typically neglected by suppliers as it has been abused by non-punctual electricity consumers exploiting the service as a safe haven.

Electricity demand down 12.6% in April, industrial use slumps 23.6%

Electricity demand slumped 12.6 percent in April compared to the same month a year earlier, the biggest drop registered by high-voltage industrial consumers, forced to suspend or restrict output during the lockdown, power grid operator IPTO’s monthly report has shown.

Industrial electricity consumption in April fell sharply by 23.6 percent, the IPTO report showed.

The drop in electricity consumption linked to mining activity was even sharper, falling 55.5 percent in April. Besides the lockdown, this drop was also attributed to significant operational restrictions implemented at power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power plants.

Electricity generation in April fell by 3.2 percent, to 2,893 GWh compared to 2,990 during the same month a year earlier, according to the data.

This reduction was mild compared to major shifts observed in sources of generation. Lignite-based generation fell by 62.7 percent year-on-year, confirming, most emphatically, the commencement of PPC’s decarbonization effort.

High costs for lignite-based generation severely reduced the operational time of PPC’s lignite-fired power plants, limiting lignite’s share of the electricity production mix to just 10 percent in April.

On the contrary, the production share of interconnected RES facilities, benefiting from favorable conditions, rose sharply by 33.9 percent, year-on-year, to capture a market-leading 36 percent share of overall electricity generation in April.

Natural gas-fired power plants followed with a 30 percent share following an 11 percent year-on-year rise in output.

Electricity imports (grid interconnections) contributed 18 percent, while hydropower facilities increased their output by 19.8 percent to capture a 6 percent share in April.

PPC provided 951 GWh, or 56.6 percent of the production, while independent producers covered 43.4 percent.

Among the independent producers, Mytilineos led the way with 228.1 GWh, followed by Elpedison (210.4 GWh), Korinthos Power (154.1 GWh) and Heron II (136.3 GWh).

The IPTO data on generation highlights an increasing shift towards cleaner energy sources.

 

 

Wholesale electricity prices rising, up to €47.30/MWh today

Wholesale electricity prices, determined by the System Marginal Price, are rebounding following a significant drop over the past few weeks.

The rise is being fueled by an anticipated increase in demand. A sidelined 600-MW line linking Greece with Bulgaria, depriving the system of electricity imports via this route, as well as a disruption in operations at an Elpedison power plant in Thessaloniki are two other contributing factors.

In addition, the Revythoussa LNG terminal just off Athens is not under any pressure, a factor subduing gas-fired unit bids and subsequently lowering the SMP.

Based on grid orders placed for today, the SMP has climbed to 47.30 euros per MWh, up from a level of around 30 euros per MWh five days earlier and 14.20 euros per MWh on May 1. Bidding by units has gradually risen since early May.

Demand, today, for domestic consumption and exports is estimated to reach 127 GWh, 40 percent of which is planned to be covered by natural gas-fired power stations, 30 percent by RES and hydropower plants, 23 percent by electricity imports, and 7 percent by lignite-fired power stations.

The SMP level will be determined by gas-fired power stations for 22 hours today, lignite-based generation will shape the price for one hour and imports for the remaining hour.

Energy groups pressing ahead with natural gas-fired unit plans

The country’s major energy groups are pushing ahead with investment plans for new gas-fired power stations despite the pandemic’s unprecedented impact on the economy and electricity market.

Mytilineos, a vertically integrated group at the forefront of electricity production and supply, began constructing an 826-MW energy center at Agios Nikolaos in the Viotia area, slightly northwest of Athens, last October and is continuing to press ahead with this project.

Investment plans by other players are also maturing. GEK-TERNA is moving ahead with licensing procedures for a 660-MW unit in Komotini, northeastern Greece. The Copelouzos group is paving the way for a 660-MW facility in Alexandroupoli, also in the northeast, while Elpedison is carrying on with procedures for an 826-MW power station in Thessaloniki.

Copelouzos could partner with an investor for the group’s Alexandroupoli project, sources informed.

All the aforementioned corporate groups are positioning themselves in a new energy landscape being shaped by the dominant role of natural gas in the transition towards renewable energy and cleaner energy sources.

This trend became very apparent during the lockdown in Greece. Natural gas and the RES sector covered 60 percent of domestic electricity demand in March.

Power utility PPC is pushing ahead with its decarbonization program without any backtracking, despite the crisis. This is creating a need for new and modern gas-fired power stations.

Furthermore, Greek energy groups are continuing to eye Balkan markets for prospective electricity exports. Electricity generation in the neighboring region has not been satisfactorily upgraded in recent decades, market officials pointed out.

Vertically integrated groups are also eagerly anticipating a new permanent CAT mechanism.

Natural gas bill payments down 30% in last two months

Natural gas bill payments have plunged by 30 percent over the past two-month period following a milder single-digit decline a month earlier, latest market data has shown.

Consumers have resorted to installment-based payback plans in far greater numbers during this two-month period of deterioration.

Suppliers, fearing a rise in unpaid receivables, are not hesitating to cut gas supply to customers who were already battling against energy debt prior to the pandemic and are now in deeper trouble. However, this supply-cut threat concerns a small percentage of customers.

Gas suppliers have yet to turn to the government for support measures, as was the case in the electricity sector. However, they may end up needing help in the form of low-interest loans, support mechanisms and other financial tools if the country’s tourism industry suffers a major setback this coming summer, as is feared.

Zenith and EPA Attiki (Fysiko Aerio) hold an 85.39 percent overall share of the country’s retail gas markets equipped with distribution networks – wider Athens area, Thessaloniki and Thessaly – data processed by energypress showed. Zenith leads with 46.14 percent and EPA Attiki follows with 39.25 percent.

EPA Thess, a former monopoly covering Thessaloniki and Thessaly, has lost approximately 15 percent of its market share to newly emerged rivals, the data showed. KEN, the biggest gainer, has captured 5.25 percent and is followed by Protergia (3.1%), Elpedison (1.91%), NRG (1.35%), Heron (1.05%), Watt+Volt (0.75%) and EFA (0.76%).