Court hears case against power producers’ windfall tax formula

The Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, heard, last week, an appeal filed by energy company Heron and the Mytilineos metals and energy group’s Protergia and Corinth Power companies to challenge a tax formula applied for windfall profits of electricity producers.

The energy ministry has adopted a windfall tax formula proposed last year by RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Waste, Energy. It establishes windfall earnings to be taxed by comparing profits in 2022 with those of 2021.

The plaintiffs, in their case, contend that the use of 2021 as a base year for the comparisons is incorrect as it represents the inaugural year of the target model, which brought about anticipated inaccuracies as market players sought to adjust to this new mechanism.

Authorities ought to have gone back further in time for a fairer comparison with 2022 results before determining windfall profits to be taxed, the plaintiffs have argued in their case.

The Council of State will, most likely, uphold the windfall tax formula being applied as it has raised significant amounts for the Energy Transition Fund, helping millions of households and enterprises cope with the energy crisis through subsidized energy.

A decision by the Council of State is expected imminently.


Significant cut in energy storage tariffs at next auction

The energy ministry has decided to significantly cut tariffs to be offered at a second auction for standalone batteries, prompted, in its decision, by investors’ lofty expected revenues, as reflected by bidding at a first auction in August.

Tariffs for RES projects with standalone batteries are expected to drop well below the starting price of 200,000 euros per MW, for a year, offered to successful bidders in the first auction.

According to sources, levels may even be halved, the likeliest level expected to range between 100,000 and 120,000 euros per MW.

The follow-up auction will be held with the aim of expanding the country’s supported energy storage portfolio, initially planned to reach 1,000 MW.

The tariff cut, whose extent is expected to be clarified this week, through a ministerial decision, will enable officials to offer a greater capacity through the second auction.

This additional capacity, expected to exceed 300 MW, promises to pave the way towards an installed energy storage total capacity of more than the 1,000 MW that had been originally planned, through three auctions.

Besides the tariff starting price to be offered to RES projects with standalone batteries at the next auction, the ministerial decision will also offer financial details on letters of guarantee required of successful bidders.

RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Waste, Energy and Water, will announce the next auction once the ministerial decision has been issued.

A total of 12 RES projects with storage units for which successful bids were submitted in the first auction, secured tariffs averaging 115,000 euros per MW, for a year, or 57 percent below the starting price.

Action to tackle electricity bill evasion, theft, costing plenty

The energy ministry appears determined to deal with the wider cost and market repercussions caused by strategic electricity bill evaders and electricity theft as it prepares a plan aimed at keeping electricity price levels under control once universal subsidy support for consumers is lifted at the end of the year and indexation clauses are reintroduced by suppliers.

Energy minister Thodoris Skylakakis, a former deputy at the finance ministry, knows well that electricity bill evasion can be likened to tax evasion, as consumers who manage to avoid paying electricity bills, by taking advantage of lax domestic regulations to switch suppliers and leave behind unsettled bills, are ultimately doing so at the cost of punctual consumers, who end up shouldering consequent costs.

Even if a fraction of unpaid receivables owed to electricity suppliers were to be covered, this would help suppliers subdue their tariff levels, market officials pointed out.

Taking all this in mind, the energy ministry is expected to announce tough measures in October, clamping down on serial electricity bill evaders as well as electricity thieves.

Meanwhile, the ministry will also seek to offer reinforced energy-cost support to low-income households as of 2024, when universal energy-crisis aid, in the form of subsidies, will cease to exist and indexation clauses are reactivated by suppliers. Income levels and geographical location are expected to be factored into calculations for support to eligible households.

The ministry’s action plan countering electricity bill evaders, estimated at 30,000, will involve implementing a debt-flagging system similar to one used in the banking sector.

Electricity theft, the other key front that needs to be addressed, cost consumers a total of 789 million euros in 2022, according to recent data.

PV auction tariffs may be limited to units with batteries

The energy ministry, which has identified an urgent need for battery integration into PV projects, aims to incentivize such a combination by restricting PV tariffs offered at RES auctions for investors developing solar energy units with storage units.

The ministry fears prospective solar energy growth would have an unfavorable wider impact on the grid if PV projects develop at a faster rate than battery usage.

Solar energy farms are seen, by the ministry, as a key problem as they operate in coordinated fashion, producing energy at the same time of day, regardless of where they are located around the country, whereas wind farms, offer inconsistent output, day and night, which varies depending on their location.

Installed RES capacity growing at a faster rate than electricity storage would not only shrink available grid capacity but will also exacerbate RES cutbacks, made to prevent grid overloading, the ministry has noted.

Ministry planning offshore wind farm pilot projects

The energy ministry appears determined to press ahead with the development of one or two pilot projects for offshore wind farms at Greek territorial waters over the next few years, until market conditions for this sector have matured and technological advancements allow for bigger projects that are sustainable, based on market terms, a situation not expected before the end of this decade.

Ministry officials are exploring the possibility of EU funding for these pilot projects, but have yet to identify any specific sources.

These potential pilot projects are not related to bottom-fixed offshore pilot projects in the Alexandroupoli area, northeastern Greece, already being developed through a different procedure.

Support measures ensuring the sustainability of offshore wind farms, a RES sub-sector still at a nascent stage, are necessary, as was highlighted by a recent auction in the UK, which failed to attract any bidders. Without support, renewable energy growth rates may be impacted.

The energy ministry plans to soon complete an institutional framework, publish related maps, announce tenders and measure wind speeds.

Measurement details concerning all areas considered for offshore wind farms, not just those to host the pilot projects, are expected to be made available to investors so that they can have a complete picture for overall investment plans.

The country’s updated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), currently being prepared ahead of its imminent submission to the European Commission for approval, will include revisions highlighting the Greek State’s objective of fostering robust growth for the offshore wind farm sector.

Speaking at the recent Thessaloniki International Fair, deputy energy minister Alexandra Sdoukou expressed a determination to dispel doubts about the offshore wind farm sector’s future in Greece. “Our wind [energy] potential is incomparably superior to that of our neighbors”, she noted.

Great depths encountered at Greek territorial waters will make it virtually impossible to install bottom-fixed wind turbines at most areas, meaning investors will need to opt for floating units as a means of exploiting the country’s rich wind potential, especially in the Aegean Sea.


RAAEY proposal tackling ‘energy tourism’ in a month’s time

RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Waste, Energy and Water, commissioned by the energy ministry to prepare a proposal for revisions to the electricity market’s supply code as a means of countering a surge in bad debt faced by electricity suppliers as a result of roving customers who are switching suppliers and escaping from unsettled electricity bills, will put forward its plan for a five-day consultation period, October 9 to 13, before finalizing its text and forwarding a completed version to the ministry by October 20.

This schedule was established at a RAAEY meeting yesterday with energy ministry officials and representatives of the country’s electricity suppliers.

RAAEY will use, as a template, a preceding plan it had prepared and delivered to the energy ministry in the spring of 2021, following three rounds of consultation.

At yesterday’s meeting, electricity supplier representatives raised objections to certain aspects of the existing plan and, it was agreed, will deliver proposed amendments by the beginning of next week. These concerns will be taken into consideration by RAAEY before it finalizes its proposal for the energy ministry.

Power utility PPC and independent suppliers are expected to forward their concerns through ESPEN, the Greek Energy Suppliers Association.

Revisions to the electricity market’s Article 42 of the supply code, which would stop strategic defaulters from fleeing to new electricity suppliers, will include a debt-flagging system, a key part of the previous proposals. This system will be managed by distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO.

Under current market rules, consumers with unpaid electricity bills remain free to switch suppliers. Resulting bad debt is estimated to have reached at least 300 million euros and may have even exceed 400 million euros.

Officials meet on revisions addressing ‘energy tourism’

The energy ministry, preparing action to combat a surge in bad debt faced by electricity suppliers as a result of roving customers who are switching suppliers and escaping from unsettled electricity bills, has commissioned RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Waste, Energy and Water, to prepare a relevant study leading to revisions.

RAAEY plans to host a meeting today with energy ministry officials and representatives of all the country’s electricity suppliers ahead of the planned revisions.

The ministry intends to revise Article 42 of the Supply Code, which would stop strategic defaulters from fleeing to new suppliers if they have not covered outstanding energy bills.

Under current market rules, consumers with unpaid electricity bills remain free to switch suppliers. Resulting bad debt is estimated to have reached at least 300 million euros and may have even exceed 400 million euros.

Bad debt recorded by electricity suppliers has risen to 3 percent of their revenues, up from 1 percent not too long ago.

Also, financial losses resulting from the failure of most consumers to pay for a universal electricity supply service offered, by law, to blacklisted customers by the top five suppliers, based on market share, is distorting the market. The service’s participating suppliers are consequently forced to pass on losses incurred to punctual customers, market officials have noted.

The ministry is planning revisions for both Article 42 of the Supply Code and the universal electricity supply service.

Energy company NRG’s general manager Anastasios Lostarakos recently highlighted the need for action, in the form of legislative revisions, to tackle irregularities, significantly burdening suppliers. The longer the issue remains unaddressed, the deeper the financial hole for suppliers, he noted.


Electricity subsidies overhaul to introduce income criteria

A new electricity subsidies model being prepared by the energy ministry for launch in January will offer consumers subsidies on a selective basis, taking into account criteria such as income, electricity usage levels, property ownership and, possibly, geographical location of consumers, as opposed to the current system, offering universal support.

The European Commission is pressuring for an end to universal electricity subsidies and wants a new model that would ensure energy-cost support is offered to households in real need.

The government had mildly modified its electricity subsidies model earlier this year, in February, restricting subsidies to monthly consumption of up to 500 KWh, after subsidizing all consumption in the preceding 18 months.

The new, overhauled subsidies model being shaped by the energy ministry for Greece’s electricity market is expected to share similar traits to the income-based formula offering heating fuel subsidies, which also includes geographical location and number of persons per household as factors.

If geographical location of consumers is incorporated into the new subsidy model for electricity subsidies, different subsidy rates will be applied for different regions.

Power suppliers’ windfall tax imminent, to raise up to €275m

The government is preparing to introduce a windfall profit tax on electricity suppliers for earnings between August, 2022 and June, 2023, which is expected to rake in up to 275 million euros in tax revenue, calculations have indicated.

The energy ministry, now set to co-sign a joint ministerial decision that will enable the tax measure’s introduction, has received relevant financial data provided by electricity suppliers to determine if an existing tax formula shaped for the measure will need any revising as a result of the time that has elapsed since its establishment.

Under the current plan, the windfall tax formula will be applied in segments to calculate taxes covering an initial five-month period from August to December last year, and then over two successive three-month periods running from January to March, 2023 and April to June, 2023.

The tax measure could also be applied over one eleven-month period, but this would require a legislative revision.

If implemented in fragmented fashion, as currently planned, the tax measure is seen raising approximately 275 million euros, while, if applied over one continual period, the measure would raise roughly 250 million euros.

Electricity suppliers will be expected to make immediate payments covering 60 percent of any resulting windfall tax amounts, followed by the other 40 percent at latter dates.

Tax revenue raised through this extraordinary measure is planned to be injected into the country’s Energy Transition Fund.

Levy on gas for power output to be terminated at end of year

The energy ministry plans to terminate an extraordinary levy that was imposed on natural gas used for electricity generation at the beginning of 2024, along with the termination of other measures implemented in the wholesale and electricity markets during the energy crisis.

A joint ministerial decision issued last spring for subsidy distribution of amounts collected through the extraordinary levy is also set to expire on December 31, 2023.

The joint ministerial decision, which had been signed by then-energy minister Kostas Skrekas and former deputy finance minister Theodoros Skylakakis, now in charge of the country’s energy portfolio, facilitated the collection of funds through the levy on gas used for electricity production in order to contribute to electricity-bill subsidies offered through the Energy Transition Fund.

The formula of the levy on gas used for electricity production, introduced in November, 2022, was revised in May this year and set at 5 percent of the TTF index, replacing a previous fixed charge of 10 euro per MWh.

Though this revision did reduce the cost of the levy imposed on gas used for electricity production, it has continued distorting the domestic wholesale market, market officials have contended.

As a result, the levy has undermined the competitiveness of domestic gas-fueled power plants compared to counterpart units in neighboring countries, thus limiting their operating hours.

The TTF index, a key benchmark for natural gas prices in the European market, ended August at an average of 34.83 euros per MWh for contracts requiring delivery in September.


Fully subsidized municipal PVs to aid low-income households

The energy ministry is set to finalize a support program  designed to fully subsidize municipalities for PV installations that will be used to supply low-cost electricity to low-income households via municipal energy communities.

PV systems to be installed around the country through this initiative promise to offer a total capacity of 1,000 MW and play a key role in combating energy poverty, sources informed energypress.

A wider support package for low-income households being prepared by the government is expected to represent a key part of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ speech at the upcoming Thessaloniki International Fair, taking place September 9 to 17.

Mitsotakis was scheduled to present his government’s four-year plan this coming weekend, but the visit will now be rescheduled, most likely for within the next week, as a result of attention needed to the consequences of a fierce storm that has battered many parts of Greece over the past couple of days.

The PV support program for municipalities, budgeted at 120 million euros, will be implemented by TAIPED, Greece’s privatization fund. Municipalities will need to have established energy communities to be eligible.

Some 30,000 low-income households are expected to benefit from the program’s first stage.

Connection-term priority for RES projects with storage units

The energy ministry is planning to revise the process for licensing renewable energy projects by giving connection-term priority to projects that include energy storage batteries. This move is driven by the need to address grid capacity shortages resulting from the rapid increase in RES projects in recent years.

The promotion of energy storage promises to complement the effectiveness of an enormous amount of ongoing investments in grid upgrades, energy minister Theodoros Skylakakis noted during a TV interview while commenting on the country’s grid capacity issues.

Both solar and wind energy projects would be given priority status for connection terms if batteries are incorporated into their plans, an addition minimizing their usage of grid capacity, the minister clarified.

Energy ministry officials have already begun work on a formula for the connection-term priority plan.

At present, operating RES projects are estimated to represent a total capacity of 26 to 27 GW, meaning grid capacity for new RES units is expected to be fully taken by 2030, if taking into account that approximately 2 GW will also be needed for offshore wind farms planned to be developed by the end of the decade.

Small-business subsidy returns solution sought for electricity suppliers

The energy ministry and ESPEN, the Greek Energy Suppliers Association, have held talks in search of a solution that would reimburse electricity suppliers for electricity subsidies they have provided, on behalf of the Greek State, to small businesses supplied up to 35 kVA, as well as all bakeries, regardless of supply capacity.

The total amount owed by the Greek State to electricity suppliers is estimated to have reached 800 million euros and has been pending for many months, despite the fact that this outstanding sum has been fully recognized, including legally.

Under the current reimbursement procedure, the Greek State only reimburses electricity suppliers for customers who have submitted formal declarations to RES market operator DAPEEP, managing the Energy Transition Fund that covers subsidies, once these formal declarations have been checked.

However, most customers tend to neglect filling in and forwarding these required formal declaration forms, hindering the reimbursement procedure.

An initial Brussels-approved subsidy support program for small businesses ran from February to November last year and has since been extended on a monthly basis.

Lower energy storage tariffs considered for next auction

The energy ministry is considering to lower tariffs for energy storage projects that make successful bids at a second energy-storage auction following intense competition displayed at a first auction.

The follow-up auction will be held with the aim of expanding the country’s supported energy storage portfolio, initially planned to reach 1,000 MW.

A reduction in tariffs for energy storage projects at the next auction would be coupled by an increase in the overall capacity – in excess of 300 MW – to be offered to investors. This additional capacity promises to pave the way towards an installed energy storage total capacity of more than the 1,000 MW that had been originally planned.

Bidding by energy storage projects that secured tariffs at the first auction ranged between 33,948 euros per MWh, for a year, and 64,122 euros per MWh, for a year, well below a starting price of 115,000 euros per MWh, for a year.

A total of twelve projects involving seven bidders shared approximately 400 MW.

Ministry preparing to toughen up on electricity theft

The energy ministry is preparing to take strict action in an effort to combat electricity theft, a rising concern now estimated to represent 5 percent of electricity market revenue. Some 13,000 power meter breaches were reported last year by DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator.

Energy ministry officials held talks yesterday with representatives of RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, Environment, and Water, DEDDIE/HEDNO and electricity suppliers to discuss an action plan.

Besides tougher rules resulting in stricter penalties for electricity theft, energy market authorities also aim to take further action on two fronts.

DEDDIE/HEDNO, it has been decided, will install smart meters at all shops, especially in sectors where a greater number of electricity-theft cases have been observed, such as hospitality.

Smart meters provide real-time data on electricity consumption, making it easier to detect any unusual or unauthorized usage patterns.

Officials have also agreed to take action at Roma camps, where electricity theft has been rampant, by converting overhead power line crossings into underground networks.

Support program for business-sector PVs set for September launch

The energy ministry plans to launch a photovotaics support program for businesses by the end of September, promising enterprises energy-cost savings through self-produced energy.

Subsidy support for PV installations in the business sector will be reserved for systems incorporating zero feed-in batteries, which do not enable injections of renewable energy output into the grid.

This effectively means business-sector PVs will be able to be installed anywhere around the country, regardless of grid capacity availability.

The list of successful applicants, to vie for support funds totaling 160 million euros, should be finalized towards the end of November, or, in a worst-case scenario, no later than December, energypress sources informed.

The support program, to be funded by the Resilience and Recovery Fund, will be administered by TAIPED, the Greek privatization fund.

Electricity suppliers call for supply code overhaul

Electricity retailers share the same view as RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, Environment, and Water, and the energy ministry in wanting the country’s new supply code to be revamped into a modern framework for the energy sector rather than a mere update of the existing set of rules, a teleconference between the authority and suppliers has highlighted.

Suppliers called for changes to most articles of the country’s current supply code. The teleconference was held as RAAEY is currently preparing a related proposal for the energy ministry. According to a related ministerial decision, the new supply code needs to be implemented by the end of the year.

RAAEY’s proposal will need to be ready for consultation by the end of November, according to market officials.

Given this time frame, RAAEY will need to get to work on revisions to the existing supply code within the next few days.

A common grievance voiced by electricity suppliers during yesterday’s teleconference included the absence of regulations that prevent consumers with outstanding electricity bills from switching to different suppliers.

The ease with which blacklisted household and business consumers who have been shunned by electricity suppliers over payment failures can resort to the country’s universal electricity supply service, provided – by law – by the electricity market’s top five suppliers, was another concern highlighted by power suppliers.

The extent of revisions needed to the supply code means that it could need to be rewritten from scratch.

Given the demands of such an overhaul, some suppliers have proposed that the effort be carried out over two stages, with priority given to more crucial matters, so that they may be implemented by the end of the year.

Focus on germanium, antimony mining, vital mineral resources

The Greek government, along with its Ministry of Environment and Energy, is placing significant emphasis on harnessing the potential of the country’s mineral resources, with particular attention directed towards the utilization of germanium and antimony elements, both vital for industry and the energy transition.

Rockfire Resources plc, a UK-based exploration company focusing on precious metals, base metals, and critical minerals – its subsidiaries include Hellenic Minerals I.K.E. – revealed last year that it had identified germanium deposits at the Molaoi mine in southeastern Peloponnese. The company is currently awaiting EU funding to progress with the development and utilization of these resources.

The European Union’s Environment Agency has identified germanium as one of the top 20 raw materials considered critical metals by the European Commission, given the potential risk of supply shortages.

Germanium is an important semiconducting material, while its compounds are used, among other things, for telecommunications optical fibres, as polymerization catalysts and in photovoltaics, while it is also widely used in various sectors of the chemical industry and metallurgy.

Germanium holds significant importance as a semiconducting material. Its compounds find application in diverse areas, including telecommunications optical fibers, photovoltaics, and serve as polymerization catalysts. Furthermore, germanium plays a crucial role in various sectors of the chemical industry and metallurgy.

As for the country’s antimony deposits, Greece possesses great potential, Theodoros Skylalakis, the Minister of Environment and Energy, highlighted at a recent EU energy council meeting.

The EU is willing to support European antimony extraction efforts as 87 percent of the world’s production of this mineral resource hails from China.

Antimony is used in the production of refractory materials, dyes, as well as in the glass industry, batteries and semiconductors.

Deputy Minister of Environment and Energy Alexandra Sdoukou, speaking at a recent conference titled “Greek specific issues: new raw materials industrial projects in Greece”, announced the launch of a tender for the lease of a mining site in order to determine the existence and exploitation of antimony, a mineral included in all EU lists from 2011 to date as a critical strategic metal.

Ministry planning 4-month limit on universal supply service

The energy ministry plans to impose a four-month limit on the use of the country’s universal electricity supply service by black-listed household and business consumers who have been shunned by suppliers over payment failures.

The ministry has already forwarded a draft of its plan to all electricity suppliers for comments, by the end of this week, following a short extension, before it finalizes the revised service rules.

At present, black-listed consumers no longer accepted by electricity suppliers can rely on the universal electricity supply service for unlimited periods.

Provided collectively – by law – by the electricity market’s top five suppliers, based on market share, the universal electricity supply service has grown to become a key supplier.

According to most recent related data provided by RAAEY, the the Regulatory Authority for Energy, Environment, and Water, the universal electricity supply service served 210,415 power meters in May. This is nearly ten times over the total of roughly 22,500 power meters served a decade ago.

Framework to offer investors RES grid-injection cut support

The energy ministry is preparing to form a working group that will be tasked with establishing a sustainable framework to support essential reductions in renewable energy source (RES) grid injections, for the prevention of grid overloads.

This working group will also shape incentives for ongoing RES projects, so that batteries may be integrated into these investments.

Energy ministry officials as well as representatives of all the country’s market operators – Regulatory Authority for Energy, Environment, and Water; power grid operator IPTO; distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO; RES market operator DAPEEP – are expected to participate in the working group.

In addition, market players will be invited to offer regular views on the work being carried out by the working group, to ensure that the investment community’s positions have also been taken into consideration.

The working group’s interventions are planned to mitigate the impact of RES grid-injection cuts on investors, and also to ensure that investments in new RES plants will possess the required predictability in terms of project cash inflow.

Small-scale PV tariffs facing RES auction-induced reduction

Small-scale PVs with capacities of up to 500 KW and energy-community PVs of up to 1 MW, both categories still eligible for non-auction tariffs, are expected to face significant tariff reductions as a result of a side effect to stem from an upcoming RES auction.

The auction is expected to be announced by RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, Environment, and Water within September and staged a month later.

The reduction in administratively-set tariffs for small-scale PVs expected to be prompted by the upcoming RES auction can be attributed to the current formula applied for calculating these non-auction tariffs.

This formula is expected to cause a significant reduction in tariffs concerning RES producers who are not obliged to participate in competitive procedures.

SPEF, the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Energy Producers, is expected to inform the energy ministry on the matter in the coming days. The association is expected to stress the need for a legislative revision facilitating a revision to the existing formula concerning administratively-set tariffs, which could prevent their anticipated decline.

Non-auction tariffs for small-scale PVs are currently at 65.74 euros per MWh, a price level valid until August 31, 2024, following an extension granted by the energy ministry last spring.

However, under the current formula, October’s RES auction will significantly reduce this non-auction tariff level.


Electricity subsidies total €9.2bn over past 2 years

Electricity consumers in Greece have received over 9.2 billion euros in subsidies over the past two years, the EU’s sixth highest amount, as a percentage of GDP, a support effort that has been instrumental in Greece’s battle to mitigate the impact of rising electricity prices on its population, the energy ministry has informed.

Greece has steadily recorded variable-tariff electricity price levels below the European average, especially since the summer of 2022, when the energy crisis began to take full force, and, subsequently, has ranked as one of Europe’s lowest-cost countries for retail energy, the energy ministry added, referring to regular data published by HEPI, Europe’s Household Energy Price Index.

The government’s electricity subsidies policy has continued to produce tangible results for consumers in Greece, protecting society and the economy, the ministry noted.

A subsidy-funding mechanism withholding windfall earnings of power producers in the wholesale market, and the suspension of indexation clauses in electricity bills, have both been extended until December 31 in order to assess the situation in international energy markets over the coming months and decide accordingly on the necessity of emergency measures, the ministry noted.

During this period, the ministry will also establish a suitable framework enabling suppliers to better inform consumers on products, while also promoting transparency and price-comparing ability, it added.

Work on new supply code by year’s end now underway

The energy ministry has set in motion the establishment of a new electricity supply code, by the end of the year, following a late-July request by deputy minister Alexandra Sdoukou to RAEEY, Regulatory Authority for Waste, Energy and Water, calling on the authority to formulate its opinion.

RAAEY plans to make an official announcement on this matter at a Thessalonki International Trade Fair event on September 10.

During the upcoming event, officials from electricity suppliers and representatives of consumer organizations will be provided with an opportunity to express preliminary perspectives on necessary adjustments to the current framework, as well as perspectives on new provisions that they believe will need to be incorporated into the new framework.

It is worth noting that the electricity market’s existing code was established in 2013 and, as a result, a number of its provisions have been rendered outdated by subsequent advancements within the domestic retail sector.


NECP revisions in consultation for October Brussels delivery

The energy ministry has shared an updated National Energy and Climate Plan with market officials for their input in consultation until August 28.

Notably, this updated NECP incorporates revisions to 2030 targets that were initially outlined by the ministry in January pertaining to the installed capacity of power stations and energy storage units.

The targets outlined in the proposal, which indicate the expected status of each technology within the national electricity system after a decade, should be viewed as preliminary. In the final version of the text, the energy ministry is expected to incorporate further amendments to the relevant figures after having taken into consideration the insights and suggestions provided by various market players.

In contrast to its earlier presentation in January, the updated NECP now features a comprehensive full-text structure. Notably, it encompasses projections detailing the anticipated trajectory of consumer electricity prices up until 2030 and 2050. Additionally, this refined version incorporates estimations regarding the necessary levels of investment and consumer expenditures required to align with the objectives of climate targets.

The draft currently undergoing consultation includes a slight correction concerning the projected involvement of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) in the energy mix for 2030. Specifically, RES participation in gross final energy consumption has been adjusted to 44%, a marginal decrease from the previously presented 45% in January.

Additionally, RES contribution to electricity generation has been refined to 79%, reflecting a minor adjustment from the earlier figure of 80%.

The revised NECP includes a significant cut in batteries, whose installed capacity in 2030 has now been set at 3.1 GW, from 5.6 GW. The target for pumped-storage units has also been reduced to 2.2 GW from 2.5 GW.

On the contrary, the 2030 target for installed gas-fueled power stations has been increased to 7.7 GW from 7 GW, while lignite-fired power stations are expected to be fully withdrawn by 2030.

The ministry aims to soon finalize its revised NECP for submission to the European Commission by October. The finalized plan will include road maps for 2030 and 2050, as is expected of all member states.




Ministry preparing debt-flagging data system for 2024

Recently appointed energy minister Theodoros Skylakakis expects to have a detailed draft for a debt-flagging data system covering the energy market by September, the official has reiterated in comments to local media over the past fortnight.

The prospective debt-flagging data system, a topic discussed for years by market officials as a solution to the accumulation of unpaid receivables burdening energy suppliers, would detail energy-bill payment records of consumers for all market players to see.

Once introduced, the debt-flagging data system, to be fashioned in the style of an equivalent system used by the banking sector, would enable energy suppliers to check consumer payment records before they sign up new customers.

Following years of hesitation, rival electricity suppliers now appear far more willing to cooperate on the implementation of a debt-flagging data system as all have been victims of runaway consumers exploiting loopholes to switch suppliers despite owing previous energy-bill amounts.

The local retail energy market’s unpaid receivables, including amounts that have gone down as bad debt, have ballooned to exceed one billion euros.

It remains unclear if the energy market’s debt-flagging data system will be launched this year or next, but the latter appears most probable as work is still required to finalize the plan.

One thing for certain, the energy market’s rules will change. Current rules do not restrict consumers from switching suppliers, even if they are behind on energy bill payments to existing suppliers.

The problem worsened for suppliers approximately a year ago, when the government, as part of a package of energy crisis measures, included a rule amendment permitting consumers to switch suppliers without incurring penalties for premature withdrawals from contracts.

Ministry planning two-pronged attack on strategic non-payers

The energy ministry is preparing a two-pronged attack to counter electricity users deemed as capable but unwilling to pay their power bills, who, as a consequence, have made it a habit to switch suppliers while leaving behind unpaid amounts.

The ministry, according to sources, is preparing a debt-flagging data system whose consumer payment records will be available for all electricity suppliers to see before they sign up new customers.

As a second measure, the ministry plans to cross-examine, through finance ministry data, the financial standings of consumers behind on electricity bill payments. If these consumers are deemed to be high-income earners or owners of sizeable asset portfolios, they will face legal consequences.

Speaking yesterday on local radio SKAI, recently appointed energy minister Theodoros Skylakakis noted: “The fact that the State always has to take care of electricity [prices] does not mean that it does so in the same way for everyone. Someone, for example, with savings of 100,000 euro cannot be treated as vulnerable to energy prices, or in the same way as someone with 200 euros in savings.”

The country’s electricity suppliers have been burdened with an estimated 500 million euros in bad debt over the past year, alone, as a result of the actions of strategic non-payers.

Their ability to avoid payments was greatly assisted by a decision issued by the Council of State, Greece’s supreme administrative court, in 2016. The court annulled a market rule requiring consumers to settle outstanding amounts owed to suppliers before switching.

Strategic non-payers were further assisted approximately a year ago when the government, as part of a package of energy crisis measures, included a revision permitting consumers to switch suppliers without incurring penalties for premature withdrawals from contracts.

RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Waste, Energy and Water, in a recent proposal forwarded to the energy ministry, has suggested it establish a law that would permit electricity retailers to order supply cuts for former customers with a certain number of unpaid electricity bills.





DESFA gas pipeline for west Macedonia approved by ministry

Gas grid operator DESFA has received a five-year installation approval to construct a gas pipeline network in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, a project to run a total of 158.34 kilometers, from the Imathia, Pella and Florina regions to the Kozani region, north of Ptolemaida.

Just over one-third, or 35 percent, of the gas pipeline project has already been constructed. Its completion is slated for autumn next year.

The section of the pipeline now under construction will be equipped to accommodate and transport a mixture of natural gas and hydrogen, while a planned second parallel pipeline will be able to transport hydrogen exclusively.

The gas pipeline network’s main branch, a 93.64-kilometer section with a 30-inch diameter, will run from Trikala (Imathia) to Komnina.

It will branch off towards Aspro (3.37 km), Naousa-Veria (21.27 km), Perdika (9.12 km), and Kardia (30.95 km).

DESFA calls for comprehensive hydrogen market plan

Gas grid operator DESFA has underlined the need for a clearer strategy concerning the development of a comprehensive hydrogen and renewable gas market with specific policy initiatives, in comments forwarded to the energy ministry as part of a wider effort for revisions to the National Energy and Climate Plan, energypress sources have informed.

DESFA officials, responding to questions on the matter, highlighted the crucial role to be played by hydrogen in the energy transition.

The operator’s line of thinking is not merely limited to the utilization of excess energy resulting from renewables, but stretches out further and includes a whole value chain that would enable the utilization of hydrogen in all its possible applications.

Such a prospect, it was pointed out to energypress, requires a more holistic approach at a political level that would include political actions and measures enabling the development of the hydrogen sector, as opposed to the current approach, focusing on excess electrical energy.

It is worth noting that prospective hydrogen production – given announcements made and the anticipated expansion of the country’s electricity system – will far exceed the needs of the country itself, making necessary infrastructure enabling exports to other markets.

DESFA’s approach, therefore, not only concerns the use of hydrogen in certain sectors as a replacement for natural gas in the context of the decarbonization process.

The gas grid operator is awaiting further clarification from the ministry so that it can draw up its infrastructure development plan taking into account renewable gas and hydrogen as a factor.