Power utility PPC plans, next week, to begin operating 58-MW capacity generators leased and to be installed at a company power station even though electricity demand on the island is expected to be far lower than usual this summer.
The island will still need this generation boost to meet local energy requirements despite the pandemic’s anticipated negative impact on tourism, authorities have estimated.
Crete’s energy sufficiency situation will not be resolved until the island’s grid interconnection with Athens is completed.
The generators, to be installed at PPC’s power station at Atherinolakkos, southeastern Crete, are scheduled to begin operating on July 1.
PPC has received a production permit for the generators between July 1 and August 31. Depending on the conditions, this license could be stretched to also cover September.
Under normal circumstances, electricity demand on Crete typically reaches 700 MW during the summer as a result of major tourism development on the island. Power outages, both short and long-lasting, are a common summer occurrence on Crete.
The government has taken key initiatives to facilitate progress of the Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection project, vital for the island’s energy sufficiency following the compulsory withdrawal of high-polluting power stations.
A decision was reached yesterday at a cabinet meeting headed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to induct this project into a code making the expropriation of property compulsory.
Prior to this, early in April, government officials delivered the project’s environmental terms.
The latest move, offering expropriation rights, enables work to progress before compensation amounts have been determined and paid out to displaced property owners.
However, in return, the Greek State must apply for temporary or final determination of compensation within one month.
Officials at power grid operator IPTO, developing the project, have embraced the government decisions as they promise to prevent delays for this ambitious and challenging grid interconnection.
Large-scale projects such as the Crete-Athens grid link cover areas administrated by successions of local authorities. Subsequently, overall project progress greatly relies on the swift issuance of licenses by local authorities.
As the next step, the winning bidders of cable installation work are expected to sign project contracts in May. The signing of contracts for the development of terminal stations is anticipated in the first half of June.
RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has reiterated a request for energy ministry support needed for the execution of a plan that is expected to resolve energy sufficiency concerns on Crete until the island’s major-scale interconnection with Athens is completed.
The authority, which has resent a package of Crete-sufficiency proposals to the energy ministry, is essentially seeking permission from the ministry to recruit consultants so that it can proceed with necessary tenders.
The RAE plan, comprised of four basic actions, is based on a related study conducted by the National Technical University of Athens. Besides ensuring energy sufficiency for the island, the proposals also meet environmental standards.
The conversion of a diesel-fueled power station into a 100-MW natural gas-fueled facility is one of the four RAE proposals.
Another entails the installation of a new 100-MW power station, preferably natural gas-fueled.
A third action involves a RES capacity addition of roughly 200 MW, evenly split between wind and solar facilities.
RAE’s fourth proposal concerns the installation – and introduction to the Greek grid – of energy storage systems, or high-tech batteries, representing a capacity of between 30 and 40 MW.
The first and second proposals depend on LNG supply to Crete. Subsequently, a tender will need to be staged for the installation of an FSRU as well as a 100-MW power station.
The additional RES capacity will also require tenders. In addition, RAE proposes a tender for the energy storage systems it envisions for the island.
These batteries could also be used on other Greek islands in the future if they are eventually no longer needed on Crete.
RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is close to finalizing a plan designed to ensure energy sufficiency on Crete during the busy summer months through an overall capacity boost of approximately 90 MW.
The authority is expected to secure 60 MW of this required additional capacity through a leasing arrangement of power generators at the island’s Atherinolakkos location. This has represented a standard solution in recent years.
It is still unclear how the remaining amount of between 25 and 30 MW will be generated to ensure energy sufficiency throughout the summer for the entire island.
Authorities had previously decided to have a power utility PPC wind turbine relocated from Rhodes to Xylokamara in the Hania prefecture. However, PPC and distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO eventually asked for this turbine system to remain on Rhodes this summer, despite the addition of a new unit on the island.
A leased wind turbine for installation at the Hania prefecture is a solution now being seriously considered. This option’s cost is estimated between five and six million euros, roughly the amount it would cost to have the Rhodes turbine transported to Crete and then back to Rhodes. This option’s electricity generation cost is high.
RAE is also considering shipping in a vessel with three or four units on board.
Greece is in a good position to meet its energy demands this coming winter, even under unfavorable conditions, without import needs for most of the season, ENTSO-E, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, has noted in its annual report.
The second half of December and January will be the most crucial period, the report noted, adding that RES curtailment is not expected to be needed in Greece.
Overall, the EU is ready to meet the winter’s energy demands, barring extraordinary conditions, according to the ENTSO-E report.
Temperatures 10 degrees Celsius below normal levels, combined with unanticipated capacity losses and low RES output, would create problems in Belgium and France in January, the report forecast. If so, these member states will need to depend on energy imports and possibly need to take emergency measures, it added.
The conversion of power utility PPC’s oil power plant facilities in Crete’s Atherinolakos location into gas-fueled units appears to be the latest addition to a package of solutions intended to ensure electricity sufficiency on the island as of 2020, when high-polluting units, in their current form, will need to have been withdrawn from the system as part of the EU’s environmental policy.
The Atherinolakos units, offering a 100-MW capacity, were granted lifetime extensions a few days ago by energy minister Giorgos Stathakis, unilaterally, without European Commission approval, for continued operation until a grid interconnection project linking Crete with the Peloponnese is completed.
These PPC units have already been given an extension by the European Commission until the end of this year.
The energy minister’s plan intends to keep the Atherinolakos units running until the Crete-Peloponnese interconnection, Crete’s small-scale link, is completed. A large-scale interconnection linking Crete with Athens is also in the making.
The Atherinolakos units could end up becoming part of a long-term solution for Crete that will depend on LNG shipments to Crete.