Lignite areas from PPC to Greek State through SPVs

Power utility PPC’s lignite zone areas not to be repurposed for the development of RES units as part of Greece’s decarbonization effort will be transferred to the Greek State through the establishment of two special purpose vehicles, one representing PPC, the other the Greek State.

At this stage, it appears that the power utility will transfer to the Greek State about two thirds of lignite areas it has used for electricity generation.

Talks between the coordinating committee, headed by government official Constantinos Mousouroulis, and PPC, held to determine which lignite areas and mines will remain under the wings of the state-controlled utility, are nearing completion.

Expenses that would have been covered by PPC for the repurposing of the lignite areas to be transferred to the Greek state will be taken into account for the agreement between the two sides.

PPC, as a result, will be spared of these expenses as the restoration of the lignite areas taken on by the Greek State will be funded through a 242 million-euro sum expected for the national recovery plan.

PPC has already begun procedures for the establishment of its SPV, sources have informed.

At the other end, a coordinating committee handling Greece’s just transition development is preparing a new section, for a related draft bill,  describing the charter of the Greek State’s SPV. This section will be forwarded for public consultation. Once the draft bill has been ratified, PPC’s unutilized lignite areas will be transferred to this SPV.

 

Recovery plan eyes €270m for e-car part facilities, rechargers

National recovery plan features will aim to lay the foundations for an electric vehicle industry in Greece through 200 million euros in subsidies for the establishment of production facilities making batteries and parts for electric vehicles, sources have informed.

The national plan, to be fed by the European Commission’s Recovery and Resilience Plan, once approved in Brussels, is designed to create jobs where they are needed most, including in parts of west Macedonia, in Greece’s north, and Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese, whose lignite-dependent economies require restructuring as a result of the country’s decarbonization strategy.

The national recovery plan will also seek to offer a further 70 million euros in subsidies for the installation of approximately 8,500 recharging posts for electric vehicles, both regular and fast chargers, much higher in cost. Regular recharging units cost between 3,000 and 5,000 euros while fast chargers cost about 20,000 euros each.

Given the aforementioned subsidy plans, Greece’s electromobility effort could enjoy financial backing totaling more than 300 million euros, as, besides the 270 million euros being anticipated through the national recovery plan, an amount of between 30 and 40 million euros has already been secured through other financing programs.

The government plan aims for one in three vehicles circulating in Greece by 2030 to be electric.

 

DESFA to push ahead with west Macedonia gas pipeline

Gas grid operator DESFA is determined to push ahead with the development of a natural gas pipeline in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, a project budgeted at 110 million euros, either with financial support from the EU’s current National Strategic Reference Framework or other financing solutions, including bank loans, if the project is ultimately excluded from EU recovery fund support.

Though a finalized decision on the list of projects to receive EU recovery fund support has not been reached, DESFA, according to energypress sources, will proceed with this pipeline project, part of the operator’s ten-year development plan for 2021 to 2030, totaling 545.5 million euros.

In examining its financing options for this gas pipeline project, DESFA will take decisions based on containing network usage fees to be paid by consumers.

The European Commission and European Investment Bank (EIB) no longer finance conventional gas-based infrastructure projects, unless eco-friendly hydrogen is incorporated into their plans. Even so, the west Macedonia gas pipeline has been included in the recovery fund catalogue as the project is linked to the post-lignite era.

Possessing a clearly developmental role with multiple benefits for the wider region, the pipeline represents part of the energy transition plan for west Macedonia, a lignite-dependent local economy, as it will help replace lignite-based energy, contribute to growth, and support the region’s industry.

The pipeline, to stretch 130 km, could be swiftly licensed, DESFA officials believe, as long as its financing plan is settled and municipal and regional authorities acknowledge the region’s gas penetration need. The pipeline’s delivery was forecast for within 2023 before questions concerning the project’s financing emerged.

DESFA focusing on gas pipeline for west Macedonia network

Gas grid operator DESFA and energy ministry officials are currently discussing financing options that could be sought for the operator’s plan to develop a gas pipeline needed to facilitate a gas network expansion in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, energypress sources have informed.

DESFA is awaiting approval by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for its ten-year development plan, worth more than 545 million euros, including the gas pipeline project.

The talks between DESFA and the energy ministry officials are focused on public funding possibilities, primarily European, to cover part of the cost of the gas pipeline, which would ultimately help contain the level of network usage tariffs to be covered by consumers.

Local officials anticipate this network expansion plan should qualify for EU development fund support, even though EU policy generally does not favor gas projects, as it clearly represents a development project that promises multiple regional benefits, including replacement of lignite-based energy, on the way out as a result of the country’s decarbonization strategy.

Besides the EU recovery fund, officials in Greece are also considering the prospects of financial support from the EU’s National Strategic Reference Framework or a number of regional development programs.

The gas network expansion plan in the country’s west Macedonia region will require the development of a 130-km gas pipeline from Trikala, in the mainland’s mid-north, a project budgeted at 110 million euros.

According to sources, DESFA has revised an original pipeline route plan, bringing the pipeline closer to cities where medium and low-pressure networks for households and businesses are to be developed by gas distributor DEDA.

Talks continue for EU recovery fund energy projects package

Electricity network upgrades, including restricted underground cable installations – due to limited funds – at areas presenting serious energy security problems; decarbonization; as well as spatial planning and redevelopment for carbon-neutral cities feature as plans in an initial energy-projects package, worth over one billion euros, linked to the EU’s recovery fund, Brussels sources have informed.

Brussels authorities are currently appraising these projects, a procedure expected to be completed by the end of March. The Greek government will then need to immediately incorporate approved plans into a National Recovery and Resilience Plan and submit it to Brussels by early April.

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas and European Commission officials discussed the ministry’s proposals during a virtual conference yesterday.

Besides decarbonization, energy efficiency upgrades of buildings, as well as energy-related town and spatial planning, the government is also addressing the need to modernize infrastructure, especially networks, as was highlighted by problems encountered in many parts of Greece during recent snowstorms.

The installation of underground transmission cables will be restricted to between 2,000 and 2,500 kilometers of medium and low-voltage networks, given the amount of recovery funds available for this project, estimated at 200 million euros, according to energypress sources.

The cost of installing underground medium-voltage power lines is estimated at 100,000 euros per kilometer, compared to 30,000 euros for overhead lines. Installation costs for low-voltage power lines are estimated at 70,000 euros per kilometer, compared to 25,000 for overhead lines.

The overall effort is also expected to include an upgrade of ageing overhead transmission lines around Greece, dating back to the 70s and 80s.

Smart meter 6-year installation plan forwarded for public consultation

Details of a DEDDIE/HEDNO distribution network operator project for the replacement of parent company power utility PPC’s old power meters around the country with digital meters have been included in a five-year, 2.3 billion-euro development plan prepared by the operator, just forwarded for public consultation.

The operator’s power meter upgrade, a project budgeted at 850 million euros and expected to require six years for completion, is expected to draw from the EU recovery fund.

The project will entail procurement and installation of 7.5 million smart meters for low-voltage consumers nationwide, as well as their inclusion in a new telemetric center with a capacity to host 8 million points.

Consumers stand to benefit from smart meters as the digital technology of these systems will enable monitoring of electricity consumption patterns and levels through home devices or web applications. As a result, consumers will be able to shift energy-intensive practices to lower-cost time zones.

Electricity suppliers will also gain from the conversion to smart meters as these new systems will permit suppliers to shape demand-based pricing policies, offering flexibility to consumers for more competitive packages.

DEDDIE’s WACC close to 7%, RAE framework approval soon

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO’s new WACC level, determining the yield, required by potential buyers, will be set at just below 7 percent for a four-year period covering 2021 to 2024, energypress sources have informed.

This WACC level, well over rates of no more than 2.5 percent offered by respective European operators, is expected to be seen as a very attractive offer by investors.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has been given the green light by the energy ministry to hasten proceedings for a launch of the DEDDIE/HEDNO privatization, offering a 49 percent stake, in November, as promised by the ministry.

DEDDIE/HEDNO has awaited RAE’s approval of its new regulatory framework, including the WACC level, to launch the tender. This framework will include an option for a four-year extension, covering 2025 to 2028.

If the privatization is launched next month, it could be completed within the first quarter of 2021.

Market officials have forecast a DEDDIE/HEDNO selling price of close to 1.5 billion euros for the 49 percent stake.

The operator’s assets, essentially comprising networks totaling 239,000 kilometers in length, plus substations, are estimated to be worth 3.5 billion euros.

The DEDDIE/HEDNO business plan for 2021 to 2024, still subject to official approval, should excite investors. It features investments worth 2 billion euros and network 5G add-on potential for a wide range of telephony and internet services.

The prospective installation of 7.5 million digital power meters in place of conventional meters around the country, an upgrade budgeted at 850 million euros, is another strong selling point. Recovery funds will be sought for this project, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis recently informed. This would save the operator a considerable amount.

Germany’s EON, Italy’s Enel, Enedis, a subsidiary of France’s EDF, as well as a number of Chinese companies had showed interest, unofficially, in the DEDDIE/HEDNO sale well before the pandemic broke out.

 

 

NSRF help for decarbonization until recovery fund is launched

Greece’s decarbonization effort will, for the time being, need to rely on the National Strategic Reference Framework for EU subsidy support until member state objections and disagreements over the pandemic-related Recovery Fund are resolved to enable its launch.

The European Commission and certain member states from eastern Europe, including Hungary and Poland, appear set for a new round of recovery fund negotiations following objections raised over terms set in July.

More affluent member states such as the Netherlands and Finland have made milder complaints, noting the summer agreement’s handout plan is too lenient.

A January 1 start for the recovery plan appears increasingly unlikely as a result of these disputes.

A delay would impact anticipated recovery-fund financial support for pivotal decarbonization efforts in Greece, including related public road projects. Company-funded projects such as solar energy farms to be developed by power utility PPC and Hellenic Petroleum ELPE will not be impacted.

In a worst-case scenario concerning the recovery fund’s date of launch, projects will need to entirely depend on the new National Strategic Reference Framework for subsidy support through a transitional program covering 2021 to 2023, well-informed sources told energypress.

Projects that would be eligible for subsidy support through this transitional program are budgeted at a total of 250 million euros, according to an initial estimate.

They include PPC and ELPE solar energy farm plans; PPC’s Ptolemaida V power station, currently under construction; as well as PPC’s post-lignite investments.

 

Energy ministry seeks recovery fund support for many domains

The energy ministry, seeking to ensure EU recovery-fund support for mature projects in key energy-related domains, has proposed their inclusion in a national plan whose first draft will be submitted by the government to the European Commission this month.

Greece is entitled to approximately 32 billion euros from the EU recovery fund, worth a total of 750 billion euros (390bn in subsidies and 360bn in loans) and established to counter the impact of the global pandemic.

Approximately 37 percent of the recovery funds will be used for green-energy development.

Energy efficiency upgrades of buildings; grid interconnections and RES initiatives, including energy storage; electromobility; nature protection; decarbonization; spatial planning for RES development; solid and liquid waste management; and smart power meter installations, a severely delayed project in Greece, are among the domains the energy ministry wants included in the national plan for EU recovery funds.

The energy ministry has previously sought support for some of these domains through the National Strategic Reference Framework.

A total of 130,000 efficiency upgrades of buildings have so far received subsidy support over a decade-long period through Greece’s Saving at Home program. The ministry is looking to significantly increase this rate to 60,000 upgrades per year through the recovery funds program.

Greece’s energy ministry will also seek recovery fund support for two major electricity interconnections – Crete’s major-scale interconnection,  to link the island’s grid with Athens; and the fourth phase of the Cyclades interconnection – both being developed by power grid operator IPTO.

 

Recovery fund support for RES assembly lines, wind farms

Assembly lines for RES project equipment such as cables and pylons, as well as the development of infrastructure to host offshore wind farms, will feature in energy ministry proposals for funding support through the European Commission’s new recovery plan.

The environment and energy ministry, along with all other ministries, have been given until August 24 to submit their proposals to the Prime Minister’s office for project funding support through the European Commission’s new recovery tool, Next Generation EU.

The proposals from all ministries will then be shaped into a national plan that will then be delivered to Brussels in October for approval.

EU funding support for RES-sector assembly units and offshore wind farm infrastructure would come as an addition to other eco-friendly initiatives taken by the energy ministry, including a third round of subsidy support for domestic energy efficiency upgrades through the Saving at Home program; upcoming subsidies for electric vehicle purchases; green economy investments; and grid network development.

Thoughts for the development of RES equipment assembly lines in Greece had first been aired about a decade ago, but, at the time, the country’s RES sector was too small to make such plans feasible.

New wind farms offering a total capacity of 727.5 MW were connected to Greece’s grid last year, a record-level performance for the country.

 

Launch of electromobility subsidy program now imminent

A draft bill for subsidies supporting purchases of electric cars, scooters, bicycles and recharging units is set for publication in the government gazette today ahead of a needed ministerial decision, probably next week, and the launch of a related platform for applicants, expected in August.

Prospective buyers of electric vehicles and rechargers do not need to wait until the platform is launched. If all criteria are met, buyers can proceed with purchases whose outlay will be deemed valid for subsidy support, energy ministry sources told energypress.

However, buyers will need to promptly lodge their subsidy applications to the platform once it is launched, probably within August, to secure their subsidies.

Just like the “Saving at Home” subsidy program for domestic energy efficiency upgrades, electromobility subsidy applications lodged to the platform will be processed in chronological order until the program’s budget, totaling 100 million euros for one and a half years, has been fully absorbed.

Some 16,000 to 17,000 applications – for electric cars, exclusively – would be enough to fully cover the 100 million-euro amount offered.

A big response and swift absorption of funds is likely to lead to the release of further subsidies supporting the electromobility sector.

The government announced a series of incentives early in June with the aim of invigorating the electric car, scooter and bicycle market. The public’s response to the platform will serve as a crucial indicator on the appeal of these incentives.

Electric car purchases of up to 30,000 euros are expected to be subidized by 20 percent, while a lower subsidy rate of 15 percent is planned for purchases exceeding 30,000 euros.

Over €500m secured for new energy efficiency upgrades fund

Greece has secured over 500 million euros for a third “Saving at Home” subsidy program promoting energy efficiency upgrades of homes. This amount will stem from a sum of 32 billion euros allotted to Greece through the EU’s new post-coronavirus recovery package, energypress sources have informed.

The new program, to offer generous incentives to medium and high-income earners, will be set an objective to annually upgrade 60,000 homes into smart homes. This target could be raised to 80,000 homes buildings, according to some sources.

Smart energy management systems, electric vehicle recharging units and roof-mounted solar modules are among the projects to be eligible for subsidized funding through the new third round of the Saving at Home program, to be officially announced within the next few days ahead of a September launch.

The third Saving at Home program is expected to be followed by a long series of new-generation programs to become available from 2021 over a three-year period as part of a national strategy, now being shaped, to be funded by Greece’s 32 billion-euro share of the EU post-coronavirus recovery package.

According to energy ministry estimates, annual sums of at least 750 million euros are expected to be injected into smart home upgrades between 2021 and 2023, project activity that should reach a sum of between 2 and 2.5 billion euros.

Expanded energy efficiency upgrade program planned

A new subsidy program for domestic energy efficiency upgrades, to replace a preceding Saving at Home model in autumn, will feature more ambitious objectives than those set in the National Energy and Climate Plan, be constantly open for applicants, carry greater capital, and apply for a wider range of energy efficiency interventions, including smart home technology installations, deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas has pointed out in an interview with Greek daily to Ethnos.

Over the past decade, some 130,000 homes were upgraded at a cost of 1.3 billion euros, but a swifter rate will be sought through the new subsidy program, the minister noted.

The achievement of national energy policy objectives will require some 60,000 domestic energy efficiency upgrades per year and approximately 8 billion euros in funds until 2030, Thomas explained, adding that Greece will seek greater capital amounts through the EU recovery fund.

“Due to the requirements created in the context of the recent macroeconomic conditions and forecasts, we are working on a modern and much more ambitious framework to reinforce household energy upgrades for a transition to a support system offering energy upgrades and autonomy,” Thomas noted. “The new program is a direct government response to the post-pandemic era, the aim being to boost economic activity in domestic value-added sectors such as construction, manufacturing of building materials and solar systems, and also strengthen households by reducing energy costs.”

An even wider base of households will be eligible for the new subsidy program, while increased subsidy rates will be offered if predetermined energy efficiency targets are achieved by interventions, he added.

 

‘Energy ministry policies crucial in effort to revitalize economy’

The energy ministry’s policies promise to play a pivotal role in the challenge faced by the government to revitalize the national economy following lockdown, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has noted in an article featuring in GREEK ENERGY 2020, the energypress team’s latest annual publication covering the Greek energy sector.

Action is already being taken by the ministry through a decisive energy-sector agenda that aims for growth and is fully aligned with the European Green Deal, now a key economic growth tool throughout Europe, the minister notes.

New financial tools such as an EU recovery fund, worth 750 billion euros, according to a European Commission proposal, are designed to help the EU achieve its goal of transition towards a zero-emission economy through support for the gradual elimination of fossil-fuel dependence, RES growth and energy savings, the minister writes.

Greece is ready to make the most of this EU support package, effectively an additional NSRF funding program for the country promising capital worth around 32 billion euros, in order to achieve sustainable green-energy growth, according to Hatzidakis.

Besides decarbonization and RES development, other aspects incorporated into the energy ministry’s wider plan include:  electromobility growth; a third Saving at Home subsidy program for domestic energy-efficiency upgrades; reforms for greater competition, transparency and more attractive price offers in the energy market; reduced industrial energy costs; and energy-sector privatizations, the minister notes.