EU leaders hesitate to take energy crisis action

EU leaders, disunited by conflicting interests, have hesitated to take any decisive energy crisis action at a summit of the 27 member states in Brussels, whose agenda includes the energy crisis. The leaders have opted to defer the issue until October 26, when EU energy ministers are scheduled to meet.

The EU’s member states of the south, short on storage infrastructure for green energy, are pressing for solutions to the energy crisis, while Europe’s north, better equipped to weather the storm, sees no real need for urgent action, despite the exorbitant energy price levels.

Industrial producers in the south, consequently disadvantaged and under greater pressure, are calling for intervention.

Russian president Vladimir Putin, pressuring for EU approval of the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline running to Germany via the North Sea, yesterday informed that gas supply to Europe could only be increased via this new pipeline route. Russia’s reduced supply is a key factor of the current energy crisis.

In Greece, the only possible solution for the short term would entail reducing fuel taxes, an option the government may adopt to soften the effects of the energy crisis, which, if left unattended, will lead to political repercussions.

As for longer term solutions, EU member states could agree, at the upcoming meeting of energy ministers, on the prospect of placing joint natural gas orders as protection against future crises. This would send a signal to markets that Europe possesses the political will to stand up to crisis situations, which could prompt some degree of price de-escalation.

Gov’t also working on support measures for gas consumers

The government is seeking further energy crisis support measures that would also facilitate energy consumer categories not included in relief measures announced so far to deal with the crisis.

The administration’s latest support effort, commented on yesterday by government spokesman Giannis Economou on SKAI TV, is believed to concern natural gas consumers and could entail offering this category installment-based payments for bills.

The administration has already announced subsidies for electricity consumers and, to date, not offered gas consumers any support.

However, the government’s plan, which could also include support measures for the mid-voltage category, is believed to still be at a preliminary stage.

Athens is seeking to mobilize EU member states for the establishment of an EU fund that would compensate energy consumers and ease the cash flow concerns of suppliers. EU leaders will focus on the energy crisis at a summit meeting this week.

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas has just announced an increase of a sum, from 10 million to 40 million euros, to be made available for funding electricity supply reconnection costs of low-income households facing supply cuts as a result of their inability to cover energy bills.

 

Fears of energy market unpaid receivables rebound growing

Government as well as electricity and natural gas company officials appear increasingly concerned about a rebound in unpaid receivables at energy firms as a result of exorbitant energy price increases faced by consumers.

The scale of the ongoing energy crisis plus the inability of analysts to make confident price projections has government officials scrambling for solutions, including through EU action, that could lessen the energy cost burden for consumers and protect supplier cash flow.

During a meeting yesterday with European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis reiterated a European Commission proposal for revisions that could enable energy bill payments through installments.

According to sources, the Greek government could insist on a proposal made by energy minister Kostas Skrekas for the establishment of an EU transitional compensation fund, supported by CO2 emission right revenues, distributing amounts to member states as energy-crisis aid.

The Prime Minister suggested this proposal during his meeting with the European Commission deputy, who did not offer a direct response but indicated that a European solution would be sought during an EU summit scheduled for next week, sources said.

Support for energy consumers would also help the finances of suppliers, who, as a result, would be in a better position to offer energy bill payments through installments.

 

More energy price hikes feared as Europe searches for solution

Another round of record-breaking energy price increases throughout the continent could be looming. Europe is primarily placing its hopes on an increase of Russian gas supply, which would greatly ease the ongoing price ascent, but, for the time being, energy prices are continuing to rise at unfathomable rates.

Under the currently alarming conditions, shaped by an unfavorable combination of international market trends, including main supplier Russia’s subdued gas supply to Europe, Dutch TTF hub futures for November contracts are set to once again reach levels of 160 euros per MWh. This would skyrocket wholesale electricity prices to 350 euros per MWh, a 70 percent increase on the current record level of 204 euros per MWh and 300 percent higher than a year ago.

Russia has cut back on its gas supply to Europe as a means of pressuring the EU for approval of its Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, running through the North Sea to Germany. The project is opposed by some EU members as they would lose significant sums in transit revenues.

The EU has been left without a Plan B and greatly dependent on Russian gas supply for a number of reasons, including a gas reserve drop in many countries due to the summer’s prolonged heatwave, as well as increased LNG demand in Asia.

In Greece, roughly 50 percent of the country’s electricity generation is produced by natural gas-fired power stations, meaning gas price levels directly impact electricity prices.

 

EU energy ministers to discuss consumer protection measures

EU energy ministers plan to discuss the alarming increase in energy prices on October 6 at a session expected to take into consideration a proposal made by Greek energy minister Kostas Skrekas for a temporary hedging mechanism that would be linked to the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) as a means of protecting consumers against the overall energy cost ascent, caused by a combination of unfavorable factors, internationally.

Higher energy costs, which have energy consumers, including industrial, bracing for a challenging winter, will also be a key issue at a EU Summit meeting on October 21 and 22.

Natural gas prices yesterday climbed to 85 euros per MWh, several times over levels registered earlier in the year, oil prices exceeded 80 dollars per barrel, and CO2 emission rights, on a record-breaking streak, reached 62 euros per ton.

Besides these price rises, energy sufficiency issues are also beginning to emerge around Europe, as well as in China, for a variety of reasons.

In Greece, the combination of higher prices for primary and secondary materials, greater transportation costs, given the country’s location on the edge of Europe, plus the increase in energy prices, threatens to paralyze the industrial sector.

The country’s energy-intensive consumers are calling for a revision to supply rules. In the domestic retail electricity market, suppliers are being forces to revise prices. Some have so far resisted but are battling against narrowing profit margins. Customer shifts by disgruntled customers are already being observed.

 

Greece tables hedging fund plan to soften energy crisis

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas has proposed the adoption of a temporary hedging mechanism by EU member states as a means of easing the burden of increased electricity costs on consumers.

The minister’s proposal, which would enable funds to be drawn from the Emissions Trading System through extraordinary auctions offering additional carbon emission rights or prepayment of potential ETS revenue, was tabled at a meeting of EU energy ministers in Ljubljana yesterday.

The ministers assembled in search of a solution to counter the relentless rise in carbon emission right costs.

Skrekas’ proposal is similar to household mitigation measures recently announced by the Greek government for which electricity subsidies will be financed by revenues generated at carbon emission right auctions, through the Energy Transition Fund.

According to estimates by Greek officials, a sum of between 5 and 8 billion euros will be needed to cover the EU’s overall energy support needs this coming winter. Distribution of this amount to member states would take into account respective electricity consumption levels, heating needs and GDPs.

At the Ljubljana meeting, Greece, Spain and Italy were the only member states to propose the adoption of EU-wide measures as an effort to restrict the effects of the energy crisis, seen worsening for households and businesses this coming winter.

 

Brussels fears electricity prices could reignite Euroscepticism

The European Commission is pressing for an antidote to counter the sharp rise in electricity prices around Europe, fearing a prolonged period of escalated prices could spark a new wave of Euroscepticism that would put EU citizens at odds with the continent’s energy transition plan, a key Brussels climate-action strategy.

Allegations of market manipulation and doubled CO2 emission right prices since the beginning of the year, at 59.43 euros per ton yesterday, have reinforced the overall reaction against the EU’s energy policy, placing governments under pressure and fueling unrest.

With fears growing of a resurgence in France’s yellow vest movement, the European Commission is seeking to convince citizens that the Emissions Trading System (ETS), a cornerstone of the EU’s green-energy transition policy, is not the cause of the electricity price rises, instead laying the blame on natural gas and fossil fuels.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, in her State of the Union Address, delivered yesterday, was clearly distressed by the situation, offering strong support for the European Green Deal. But, judging by the overall response, she has not appeased the concerns about rising energy prices.

The president’s thinking was reiterated by her deputy Frans Timmermans, in charge of the European Commission’s climate action portfolio, according to whom, only one-fifth of the electricity price increases can be attributed to the elevated CO2 emission rights prices.

 

 

New RES support framework, featuring changes, imminent

The energy ministry appears to have taken initiatives intended to increase capacity quantities offered at RES auctions and also retain national control over the determination of these quantities, depending on developments, given the more ambitious National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) for the installation of a greater number of RES units, reflecting loftier EU goals, energypress sources have informed.

A draft detailing the new RES support framework for Greece has been finalized following talks between the energy ministry officials and European Commission officials and is now in the hands of the finance ministry’s Central State Aid Unit (KEMKE), responsible for the framework’s official implementation, expected in a few days.

Considerable changes have been made to an initial plan announced by former energy minister Kostis Hatzidakis, not only in terms of the number of auctions to be staged and capacities offered, but also in terms of its overall principles, sources noted.

The new framework makes no mention of an initial Greek proposal for six auctions, each offering 350 MW, for a total of 2.1 GW, but it does call for a capacity of at least 3 GW.

It also includes provisions for geographically based auctions covering areas such as Crete, Evia and the Cyclades, as well as special procedures for small-scale PVs.

In addition, the auctions will not need to be held by 2023 but will be extended until 2025, based on EU directives.

Through the new RES support framework, wind and solar farm energy investors will, through competitive procedures, secure feed-in tariffs for twenty-year periods.

 

 

Technical chamber wants lignite maintenance in energy mix

TEE, the Technical Chamber of Greece, favors the continued use of the country’s modern lignite-fired power stations for an energy-mix representation of between 10 and 12 percent over the next few years, as a means of securing electricity sufficiency and strategic reserves.

The chamber’s administration has officially approved an internal vote adopting this position. Its scientific committee, comprised of metallurgical engineers, expressed strong reservations over a government decision to prematurely terminate lignite-fired electricity production as part of the country’s decarbonization plan.

Extensive public debate and a detailed study, essential for a matter of such strategic importance for Greece, should have preceded the premature lignite withdrawal decision, the TEE scientific committee pointed out.

An approved master plan for the lignite withdrawals was rejected by regional authorities in Greece’s two lignite-dependent regions, western Macedonia, in the north, and Peloponnese’s Megalopoli, as proposals forwarded by local authorities and citizens were not considered or discussed, the committee noted.

A total of 19 months have elapsed and over 2,500 jobs lost since the government’s decision to prematurely withdraw lignite-fired units in the two areas, but the administration’s master plan for a fair transition, intended to restructure these lignite-dependent local economies, continues to lack clarity, the committee stressed.

EU funds made available for the restructuring of the two lignite-dependent economies, just over 700 million euros and well under a five billion-euro amount initially announced, are very limited for a proper and fair transition, the chamber added.

 

EU ‘Fit For 55’ climate package to bring about many changes

To be presented today by the European Commission, the EU’s upcoming “Fit For 55” package of climate-change measures, setting stricter and more ambitious objectives for a 55 percent carbon emission reduction by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, will bring about a series of revisions.

These will include changes to the Emissions Trading System (ETS) and fuel taxation, as well as the introduction of new taxes and a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), promising transboundary taxes on non-EU countries regarded as making a lesser effort, than the EU, to combat climate change.

It still remains unclear if consumers or polluters, or both, will cover the cost of the “Fit For 55” measures.

Heating and transportation costs are expected to rise considerably over the next few years, according to a Euractiv report.

The package’s draft proposes an expansion of the ETS into the heating sector, for buildings, as well as into transportation, as a disincentive restricting high-polluting practices, including use of diesel.

The CBAM is expected to be launched on a three-year trial basis, beginning in 2023, before it is officially implemented in 2026.

EU to present tougher climate change rules with ‘Fit For 55’

The EU’s upcoming “Fit For 55” package of measures, setting stricter and more ambitious objectives for a 55 percent carbon emission reduction by 2030, promises to bring about widespread change in the energy sector, impacting renewable energy, energy efficiency, the Emissions Trading System (ETS), energy taxation and forestry regulations.

National Energy and Climate Plans will need to be adjusted once the package comes into effect.

The package, whose details are planned to be presented by the European Commission on July 14, will, without a doubt, have an immediate impact on CO2 emission rights, seen rising even higher than yesterday’s new all-time high of 57.90 euros per ton, even though some time will be required before disagreements are overcome and the package is ratified in EU parliament.

“Fit For 55” has already prompted negative reaction from EU members states in the east.

The ETS is expected to apply to a greater number of sectors, the objective being to push CO2 emission right prices higher so that polluters are forced to reduce emissions rather than pay exorbitant amounts.

The RES sector’s representation in the EU energy mix, currently set at 32 percent for 2030, will be pushed higher to levels of between 35 and 40 percent, according to sources. Environmental organizations have been pressuring for an even more ambitious level of 50 percent.

Also, the measures will introduce transboundary taxes on non-EU countries regarded as making a lesser effort, than the EU, to combat climate change.

The new rules are also expected to reinforce Land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF) regulations set by the UN Climate Change Secretariat.

Brussels green taxes, CBAM to prompt energy market changes

Tax incentives for eco-friendly energy technologies and disincentives for polluting energy sources such as carbon and petroleum products, feature in the European Commission’s imminent package of eco-related taxes, while, for trade relations with non-EU countries, a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism will include penalties for a series of imports, including electricity.

The package of tax incentives, to be announced on July 14, will prompt major changes in Europe’s energy market, hastening developments towards a greener economy. Without a doubt, reaction by unhappy players can be expected.

Lignite will become an even more costly energy source as a result of the measures. Gasoline, other auto fuels and heating fuels may be spared of extra levies as existing Greek fuel tax rates are already among Europe’s highest, well over the EU average.

Implementation of the tax measures may take until 2023 as European Parliament and the EU-27’s national parliaments will all need to ratify the package before it can be introduced.

The arrival of these tax measures is expected to immediately lift carbon emission right prices to even higher levels. Already soaring, they exceeded 53 euros per ton yesterday, and, according to analysts, could end up reaching as high as 100 euros per ton, as was noted by power utility PPC’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis, at yesterday’s Delphi Economic Forum.

Beyond the EU borders, the European Commission will introduce a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, to apply for the EU’s relations with non-EU members. This mechanism could spark political tension, even trade wars.

It will aim to protect European industry from unwanted competition in sectors such as the energy, steel, aluminium, cement and fertilizer industries by increasing the cost of imports from non-EU areas and countries without CO2 right markets, such as the west Balkans, Turkey, India and China.

The CBAM is also expected to be introduced in 2023.

Unlocking Greece’s offshore wind potential – Challenges, opportunities

Greece’s attempts to develop its untapped offshore wind potential have stalled in the past, but renewed investor interest and government commitment to set up a sound regulatory framework has strengthened its prospects.

By Dimitris Assimakis, Partner, and Minas Kitsilis, Senior Associate, Reed Smith.”

Introduction

Since 2006, Greece has taken several different approaches to the development of offshore wind projects. So far, these policy measures have had few concrete results. Given the present ambitious national energy and climate plan for the period up to 2030, dictating at least a twofold increase of the existing renewable energy capacity, the immediate necessity for new capacity due to the government’s decision to cease the operation of all existing lignite-fired power plants by 2023, as well as the existence of certain impediments to the further development of onshore wind farms, such as the availability of land, the pressure from other activities, such as tourism, and the necessity for the considerable expansion or reinforcement of the grid, offshore wind is expected to start playing an important role in the country’s pursuit of cost-effective and efficient renewable energy prospects.

For several years now other EU coastal countries with significant sea fronts have developed offshore wind projects and so this could certainly be a successful approach for the country with the most extensive coastline among all Mediterranean countries and one of the highest offshore wind potential in the region.

Therefore, aside from certain technical challenges (e.g. steep sea-bed drop-off around mainland Greece and around most of the Greek islands) and foreign affairs policy issues (e.g. territorial disputes in the Aegean Sea), a clear national regulatory framework, which adequately addresses spatial planning, licensing, grid interconnection and economic support issues, is also required in order for offshore wind technology to deliver its significant potentials in the country’s power generation mix.

Ongoing structured public discussions with interested investors and stakeholders as well as recent policy statements from the Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy are expected to result in an offshore wind-specific framework within this year that will enable the exploitation of this valuable renewable energy source also in Greece. Already, major international market players such as Ocean Winds (EDPR and Engie) in cooperation with Terna Energy, the largest renewable power producer in Greece, Iberdrola, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Equinor are actively involved in these discussions, while reportedly other international investors such as Blue Float Energy and Innogy are closely following the developments in the sector. Moreover, local market players such as PPC Renewables, the renewables arm of Public Power Corporation (Greece’s largest power producer and supplier), Copelouzos group and RF Energy are actively engaged in this process. These deliberations are conducted within a very positive momentum for the offshore wind sector, following the recent release of the EU Strategy on Offshore Renewable Energy and the great technological developments in the sector, especially with respect to the imminent commercialisation of large-scale floating wind projects, which seem to be the most proper offshore wind technology for Greece given the depth of its territorial waters.

Past approaches stalled

Until mid-2010 the generally applicable licensing scheme at the initiative of interested investors was also applicable for offshore wind projects’ development, licensing, spatial planning and economic support against transparent and objective criteria and a regulated feed-in tariff through a standardised long term (20 years) power purchase agreement with the energy market operator as offtaker and dispatch priority for the power produced. In this context a large number of licence applications for offshore wind projects were filed with the competent Regulatory Authority for Energy in Greece (RAE).

However, only two fixed-bottom offshore projects were licensed by RAE in 2012, one of an approximately 500 MW capacity offshore the island of Lemnos in the north Aegean Sea and another one of 216 MW capacity offshore the port of  Alexandroupolis in the Thracian Sea. On the other hand, most of the licence applications filed within the period are still pending assessment from RAE with unclear further development options in anticipation of the new offshore wind-specific framework.

Subsequently, in mid-2010 Greece introduced a special centralised planning scheme for offshore wind projects to be rolled out at the initiative of the jointly competent Ministers of finance and economy, maritime affairs, foreign affairs, national defence, culture, tourism, environment and energy by virtue of a new provision introduced into the Renewables Law 3468/2006 (i.e. Article 6A), which rendered the previous open licensing scheme inapplicable for offshore wind projects.

That rather unclear approach entailed the strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of potential offshore project sites before the respective projects were licensed by the Minister of Environment and Energy, instead of RAE, and before they were auctioned off for construction through an open public tender process (public works procurement process) against economic exploitation by the successful bidder during the concession period; presumably through some long term power purchase agreement with the energy market operator as offtaker against an agreed feed-in tariff and dispatch priority. Environmental impact assessment (EIA) and further site planning, installation and construction works licensing until the operation period (inclusive) would follow the generally applicable legislation for renewables, except for some special provisions of law for the concession of sea areas in favour of renewable energy projects that would be anyways addressed as above.

This framework also entailed a number of implementing ministerial decisions and presidential decrees that were never adopted as this approach was never actually pursued in spite of a SEA study commissioned to this end by the Centre for Renewable Energy Sources in Greece (CRES) and presented in September 2015.

New approach required │ key issues

Licensing framework – recent developments & challenges ahead

The recent review of the Environmental Licensing Law 4014/2011 in May 2020 (i.e. by virtue of Law 4685/2020) raised certain hopes at it was aimed at simplifying and expediting the environmental licensing of projects of any type, including renewable energy projects, as well as at simplifying the first licensing milestone for renewable energy projects before RAE. Offshore wind projects are qualified as ‘special renewable energy projects’ and may benefit from the above simplified licensing framework as soon as an offshore wind-specific framework is adopted. In effect, this licensing framework reinstates the previous licensing scheme at the initiative of interested investors but ultimately, fails to provide any coherent legal certainty as it does not explicitly repeal the rather problematic provision of Article 6A of Renewables Law 3468/2006 mentioned above.

So although the general environmental licensing and the RES specific licensing framework were improved through the adoption of Law 4685/2020, there was not actually any real value for the offshore wind sector from this legislative process, since two parallel and apparently, inconsistent licensing regimes are currently in place although neither in full force and effect until Greece finally decides whether it will go on with a centralised or a develop-led planning system. Moreover, the licensing framework in place does not really address what will happen with the existing two electricity production licences granted as well as the various licence applications that are still pending assessment under the past licensing scheme.

Apparently, the envisaged new framework should provide for a consistent, coherent and well-structured licensing regime enabling as well the performance of any early development actions from the investors, in the sense that they should be allowed, on the basis of an exclusive right, to enter into a specific sea area in order to perform wind measurement campaigns and preliminary field surveys.

Spatial planning issues

The Special Spatial Planning Framework for Renewables of December 2008 provides for wind power in general and onshore and offshore wind power in particular. Such provisions include generally applicable criteria, limitations and exclusion zones for wind energy and special ones for onshore and offshore wind projects. However, it is commonly admitted that the said framework needs to be reviewed to account for technological developments and acquired experience in spatial planning and deployment of renewables not only in Greece but also in the EU, including current best practices.

The Ministry of Environment and Energy is already working on updating the framework but it will take some time to achieve concrete results due to the technical and SEA studies involved. In addition, it must also be compatible with the regional and other special frameworks for spatial planning that are also under review pursuant to Part A of Law 4417/2016 and most importantly, with the still pending maritime spatial planning for marine areas in Greece according to Part A of Law 4546/2018 (as per the relevant EU Directive 2014/89) for the avoidance of conflicts. An interim solution may have to be sought in this connection as otherwise neither central nor individual planning will be feasible and legally sound against a reasonable time schedule and certain target capacity for offshore wind development by 2030 and beyond.

Sovereign rights and public international law

Greece has reserved the right to exercise all its sovereign rights under Article 3 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to expand its territorial sea beyond six (6) nautical miles, which is the current breadth thereof, up to twelve (12) nautical miles measured from baselines determined in accordance with the UNCLOS. Greece has signed and ratified the UNCLOS by virtue of Law 2321/1995. Recently, by virtue of Law 4767/2021, Greece has expanded its territorial sea to twelve (12) nautical miles in the whole of the Ionian Sea area up to the Cape Tainaron in south Peloponnese, while it is reiterated therein Greece’s sovereign rights to do the same with all other sea areas, including the Aegean Sea, being the area with the highest offshore wind potential.

However, given the historical tension between Greece and Turkey concerning the Aegean Sea, it is rather questionable whether Greece will finally decide to exercise such sovereign rights and expand its territorial sea to twelve (12) nautical miles also in the Aegean Sea, according to the UNCLOS, in the years to come. In this respect, it is reasonably expected that any development of offshore wind projects in the Aegean Sea will need to be limited within the six (6) nautical miles zone. Further, the establishment and delimitation of the Greek exclusive economic zone by means of valid and legally binding agreements with neighbouring states pursuant to the UNCLOS is still pending too, save for the recent agreements with Italy in the Ionian Sea and Egypt in part of the Mediterranean Sea south-east of the island of Crete.

Proper support scheme for offshore wind

The new support scheme for renewables in Greece introduced by virtue of Law 4414/2016 in line with the European Commission’s Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy for the period 2014 – 2020 provides for operating aid to renewables through a technology-specific sliding feed-in premium (FiP) scheme for the vast majority of new projects which is added as a premium to wholesale market revenues and thus tops up their market revenues in order for the operating aid to reach an acceptable level of support measured against a technology-specific reference tariff (RT).

Aside from small scale and experimental projects, since 2017 the RTs are set through competitive bidding processes (auctions) on project basis for the two mature technologies (i.e. onshore wind and solar photovoltaic) in technology-specific and technology-neutral auctions run by RAE. In the event that the wholesale market price of a renewable technology exceeds the applicable RT, the excess is rebated to a special account for renewables kept by the RES operator and aggregator of last resort (DAPEEP) and hence the operating aid contract is a standardised two-way contract for differences (CfD) between the applicable RT (as strike price) and the producer’s revenues from the wholesale electricity market.

The auctions scheme is expected to extend beyond 2020, likely up to 2024 and for a certain overall capacity threshold not in excess of 2.1 GW, in accordance with the relevant statements made by the Minister of Environment and Energy in mid-November 2020.  However, technology-specific auctions for offshore wind or technology-neutral auctions including offshore wind are not likely to be feasible for Greece in this time schedule. In the meantime, previous auctions for renewable electricity have resulted in applicable RTs for onshore wind and solar photovoltaic projects below wholesale market prices for certain time periods. Therefore, alternative revenue structures involving corporate renewable power purchase agreements (PPA) cannot be excluded for onshore wind and solar photovoltaic or offshore wind projects in Greece in common with other countries where such alternatives are already pursued for some years now in the onshore wind and solar photovoltaic sectors, and recently also in the offshore wind sector. However, such structures are hardly suitable or bankable during the early days of a new sector development like offshore wind.

Optionally, individual aid without an auction process is also possible for renewable energy projects (including offshore wind) exceeding 250 MW or clusters of projects exceeding 250 MW and sharing common interconnection with the transmission system according to the said guidelines on State aid and Article 4 para 12 of Law 4414/2016. Individual aid requires prior notification to and approval from the European Commission. An implementing ministerial decision is still pending (para 12 was added to Article 4 of Law 4414/2016 in end-2019) for all renewable energy projects or clusters of such scale and importance for national and EU renewable energy targets, but it is reasonably expected soon. This option is reasonably considered more suitable, especially for floating offshore wind projects, and certainly more bankable at the early stages of any new renewable technology.

Moreover, Greece could consider when developing its national recovery and resilience plan in the context of the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility possible priority actions in order to facilitate the development of offshore wind projects in the country.

Grid connection

However, unlocking the great wind potential of the Greek seas and islands depends on the development of some critical interconnections, some of which are expected in the short to medium term. The anticipated completion of the interconnection of the island of Crete with the high-voltage system in the Athens metropolitan area by 2023 and of all Cycladic islands by 2024 will enable the significant development of new wind power capacity on these islands but also in the sea areas around them covering a significant part of the south Aegean Sea.

Moreover, ADMIE, the Greek TSO, has included in its current ten-year development plan the progressive interconnection of all other major islands in the south-eastern and north Aegean Sea, such as the islands of Rhodes, Kos, Karpathos Lemnos, Lesvos, Samos and Chios by 2029,  covering therefore though such plan the remaining of the Aegean Sea.

ADMIE is actively participating in the discussions held for the formulation of the offshore-wind specific framework and clearly, one of the key issues which need to be addressed therein is the interlink of any offshore wind investment projects with ADMIE’s development plan and its role in the design, construction and financing of the necessary grid expansion and reinforcement works.

Strategic investments programme and offshore wind

Since 2011, Greece has had in place an investments facilitation programme whereby productive investments (private or public ones, foreign or domestic) which generate quantitative and qualitative results of major significance for the national economy (including other criteria on investment budget, employment creation, innovation and sustainability) are qualified by an inter-ministerial committee as ‘strategic investments’ and are entitled to one-stop-shop and fast-track licensing and development procedures, including environmental and spatial planning ones as well as land expropriation related ones and dispute resolution provisions.

Part B of Law 4608/2019 on attracting strategic investments aims at modernising, improving and enhancing the scope of application and the fast-track licensing and development procedures in favour of strategic investments. These new provisions include: special spatial plans on project basis; tax benefits (as individual State aid subject to applicable EU regulations); one-stop-shop and fast-track licensing within 45 calendar days per licence, permit, opinion or approval (subject to special EU law provisions and procedures, e.g. public awareness on environmental matters), and overall within three (3) years from the MoU between the strategic investor and the Minister of Finance and Development on the time schedules and mutual obligations; cash grants for research and development (R&D) projects, and a UNCITRAL arbitration clause for disputes relating to the said MoU. On the other hand, applications for qualification under the new programme can be filed until the end of 2023.

Greece’s strategic investments programme has facilitated to some extent the spatial planning and licensing of a number of investments, mainly in tourism and other commercial sectors including some solar photovoltaic and solar thermal projects of scale and clusters of onshore wind projects. However, it has been limited to licensing aspects thereof and it does not address operating aid or other economic support aspects. Furthermore, it captures urban or onshore (including seashore) spatial planning, but it does not capture offshore aspects and maritime spatial planning that is still pending as described above. Therefore, account taken of the end-2023 current deadline for applications under the new programme, it is yet to be considered in more detail how the new programme for strategic investments in Greece could facilitate offshore wind. A recent positive development though is the special benefit conferred now under the programme to innovative renewable projects, amongst which offshore wind projects, in relation to their priority for grid connection over other projects using more typical renewable energy technologies, such as onshore wind and solar photovoltaic projects.

The way forward    

Experience from other jurisdictions has shown that formulating a comprehensive and appropriate legal framework for offshore wind in any given country is a challenging multi-disciplinary exercise. Structured public discussions with interested investors and stakeholders are ongoing in Greece during and have been for the last couple of years. Specific proposals are also being put forward for public consultation by stakeholders like the Hellenic Wind Energy Association but also from major global offshore wind developers. The Ministry of Environment and Energy has also announced that it will present a legislative proposal for offshore wind by mid-2021 taking into account the particularities of the Aegean Sea and international experience in offshore wind industry and technologies. We are confident that the ongoing process will result in a comprehensive legislative proposal for an offshore wind-specific framework. However, time and planning are of the essence for long lead capital intensive infrastructure investments like offshore wind to materialise within a certain time schedule, e.g. by 2030, on legally sound and commercially sensible and therefore bankable conditions in order to pursue successfully the national and EU energy, climate and environmental policies.

 

PPC production share dips since 2010, still among EU’s top 10 leaders

Eurostat data identifying the biggest energy producers of EU member states and their respective shares has highlighted a delay in Greece’s electricity market liberalization, specifically in the domain of electricity generation.

Greek power utility PPC maintained a 51.3 percent share of the country’s electricity production in 2019 – the year for which most recent data is available – placing the country in ninth place among 25 member states, in terms of the size of the leading producer’s market share.

Despite being ranked relatively high on this list, PPC’s share of production, from a long-range perspective, has contracted substantially over the past decade or so.

PPC has shed 33.8 percent since 2010, when its share of total electricity production stood at 85.1 percent. Independent producers began emerging in Greece’s electricity production market about a decade ago.

Similar electricity production share drops, by the leading producers, have also been recorded in other member states.

In Belgium, the share of the country’s top producer fell by 39.5 percent to 39.1 percent during the equivalent period. In France, the top producer’s share fell from 86.5 percent to 65.6 percent, while in Slovakia the dominant producer shed 28 percent of its share.

The biggest decline was registered in Luxembourg, where the leading electricity producer’s share of 85.4 percent in 2010 plummeted to 18.1 percent in 2019.

A full monopoly was maintained on Cyprus with the state-controlled utility representing 100 percent of generation in 2019.

The Cypriot utility, topping the list, was followed by the biggest producers in: Latvia (86.4%), Croatia (80%), Estonia (76.4%), France (65.6%), Czech Republic (60.5%), Slovenia (53%), and Slovakia (52.8%).

Brussels reiterates call for single energy, water authority

The European Commission has reiterated, in latest contact with the energy and environment ministry, a recommendation for the establishment of a single Regulatory Authority for Energy and Water as an independent monitoring body with a broadened task range, including regulation of rules for investments, management and pricing of water, especially drinking water, energypress sources have informed.

This time around, the recommendations by Brussels come as part of a strategy promoting the development of a circular economy and sustainable growth.

The European Commission was prompted to readdress the issue as it believes the existence of 120 or so municipal water supply and sewerage companies around the country – each applying their own and inexplicable, to a certain extent, pricing policies – does not contribute to rational water management.

Single regulatory authorities supervising the energy and water sectors have already been established in many EU member states, including neighboring Italy.

This country’s initiative was discussed, among other topics, at a meeting yesterday between energy minister Kostas Skrekas and Italy’s Ambassador to Greece, Patrizia Falcinelli, sources noted.

The establishment, in Italy, of a single regulatory authority for energy, water and wastewater has led to impressive social and economic benefits, the Italian diplomat is believed to have informed the Greek minister during their meeting.

The energy ministry is reportedly working on a plan designed to broaden the tasks of RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, sources informed, stressing finalized decisions had yet to be taken.

EU lawmakers vote in favor of carbon levy on certain imports

EU lawmakers have adopted a resolution for a carbon levy on certain imports from less climate-ambitious countries, with 444 votes in favor, 70 against and 181 abstentions.

Through the adoption of a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), to be implemented in 2023, the aim will be to create a global level playing field and prevent carbon leakage, which could create competitive disadvantages for European industrial producers.

The resolution underlines that the EU’s ambitious climate change targets should not lead to carbon leakage as global climate change efforts will not yield results if European production simply relocates to non-European countries with less ambitious emission standards, European Parliament announced in a statement.

European lawmakers, therefore, are in favor of a carbon tax on goods from non-EU countries that have not set ambitious targets for tackling climate change, as the EU has done with its ETS emissions trading system.

Besides creating a level playing field worldwide, the resolution should also serve as an incentive for both European and non-European industries to accelerate decarbonization procedures in line with the Paris Climate Agreement objectives.

 

Gas developments in the East Med

The international oil companies (IOCs) are still reeling under the impact of low oil and gas prices and massive losses and asset write-offs during 2020. ExxonMobil, under increasing pressure, is considering further spending cuts and even a shake-up of its board.

The path to full recovery will be slow and at the end of it, in 2-3 years, the IOCs will be different, placing more emphasis on clean energy and renewables.

In the meanwhile, around the East Med, Egypt is forging ahead. It has signed a new exploration agreement with Shell for an offshore block in the Red Sea. This is in addition to the 22 agreements signed during 2020 that included major IOCs such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, Eni and Total. Moreover, EGPC and EGAS are planning to offer onshore and offshore exploration blocks for bidding in February.

This continuing activity led to the discovery of 47 oil and 15 natural gas fields in 2020, 13% more than in 2019, despite Covid-19.

Tareq El-Molla, Egypt’s petroleum minister, signaled earlier this month Egypt’s intention to expand its petrochemicals sector to take advantage of the country’s expanding hydrocarbon resources. Egypt has updated its petrochemical national plan until 2023 to meet the increasing prospects in this industry.

LNG exports

Egypt has also benefited from the recent increase in LNG prices, resuming exports from its liquefaction plant at Idku, with most exports going to China, India and Turkey. The country is also ready to resume exports from its second liquefaction plant at Damietta starting end February. This has been lying idle since 2012 due to disputes that have now been resolved.

LNG exports will mainly utilize surplus gas from the Zohr gasfield and possibly imports from Israel, should prices allow it.

In fact, the resumption of LNG exports from Idku relieved some of the pressure on Egypt’s gas market, which is in oversupply partly due to impact of the pandemic, but also due to falling gas demand in Egypt’s power sector and growth in renewable energy.

El-Molla said that Egypt is planning a revival of its LNG exports. But this depends greatly on what happens to global markets and prices.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said that the Asian LNG demand and price spike in January was a short-term phenomenon and it is not an indicator that global demand will rebound in 2021. The IEA expects only a small recovery in global gas demand this year, after the decline in 2020, partly due to the pandemic. But given ongoing concerns over the pandemic, the rate of gas demand growth will remain uncertain. The IEA said the longer-term future of LNG markets remains challenging.

Gas from Israel

Chevron – having acquired Noble Energy and its interests in the region last year – with Delek and their partners in Israel’s Leviathan and Tamar gasfields, signed an agreement to invest $235million in a new subsea pipeline, expanding existing facilities. According to an announcement by Delek, the pipeline will connect facilities at Israeli city Ashod to the EMG pipeline at Ashkelon, enabling Chevron and its partners to increase gas exports to Egypt to as much as 7billion cubic meters annually (bcm/yr).

The partners signed agreements last year to export as much as 85bcm/yr gas to Egypt over a 15 year period. Gas supplies from Israel to Egypt started in January last year.

It is not clear at this stage if new agreements will be reached to fully utilize the increased export capacity from Israel to Egypt, but given Egypt’s gas oversupply this may not be likely.

These developments, though, show the vulnerability of Cyprus and the weakness of relying on trilateral alliances with Egypt and Israel for its gas exports.

EastMed gas pipeline

This is being kept alive by regional politicians. Only this week, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia confirmed their support for the EastMed gas pipeline.

While such developments are good politically, bringing like-minded countries around the East Med closer together, they are not sufficient to advance the project. This requires private investment and buyers of the gas in Europe. None of these is forthcoming, because the project is not commercially viable. By the time the gas arrives in Europe it will be too expensive to compete with existing, much cheaper, supplies.

Europe is also moving away from gas and from new gas pipeline projects. Catharina Sikow Magny, Director DG Energy European Commission (EC), covered this at the European Gas Virtual conference on 28 January. Answering the question how much natural gas will the EU need in the future, she said ZERO. She was emphatic that with the EU committed to net zero emissions by 2050, by then there will be zero unabated gas consumed in Europe. In addition, with the EU having increased the emissions reduction target from 40% to 55% by 2030, the use of gas in Europe will be decreasing in order to meet the 2030 and 2050 climate targets. She said that ongoing natural gas projects are expected to be completed by 2022 – with no more needed after that.

With exports to global markets becoming increasingly difficult, there are other regional options to make use of the gas discovered so far around the East Med, including power generation in support of intermittent renewables and petrochemicals, as Egypt is doing. The newly constituted East Med Gas Forum (EMGF) should place these at the heart of its agenda.

What about Cyprus?

Hydrocarbon exploration activities around Cyprus are at a standstill, partly due to the continuing impact of Covid-19, but also due to the dire state of the IOCs and the challenges being faced by the natural gas industry in general.

This lack of activity in resuming offshore exploration may be a blessing, taking the heat off hydrocarbons, while priorities shift to discussions to resolve the Cyprus problem and the Greece-Turkey maritime disputes.

Dr Charles Ellinas, @CharlesEllinas

Senior Fellow

Global Energy Center

Atlantic Council

3 February, 2021

 

Spain’s Repsol on verge of exiting Greek upstream market

Spanish petroleum firm Repsol, a member of consortiums holding licenses to three fields in Greece, is on the verge of leaving the country’s upstream market as a part of a wider strategic adjustment prompted by the oil crisis and the pandemic, developments that have impacted exploration plans, as well as a company plan to reduce its environmental footprint, sources have informed.

The upstream industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, which has driven down prices and demand. The EU’s climate-change policies are another key factor behind Repsol’s decision.

Repsol is believed to have decided to significantly reduce the number of countries in which it is currently present for hydrocarbon exploration and production, the intention being to limit operations to the more lucrative of fields.

All three fields in Repsol’s Greek portfolio are still at preliminary research stages and do not offer any production assurances, meaning they will most probably be among the first to be scrapped by the company from its list of projects.

Respol formed a partnership with Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) for offshore exploration in the Ionian Sea. Repsol is the operator in this arrangement. A license secured by the two partners for this region in 2018 was approved in Greek Parliament a year later.

Also, in 2017, Repsol agreed to enter a partnership with Energean Oil & Gas, acquiring 60 percent stakes, and the operator’s role, for onshore blocks in Ioannina and Etoloakarnania, northwestern Greece.

Repsol maintains interests in over 40 countries, producing approximately 700,000 barrels per day.

‘Clear prioritization towards renewable-hydrogen solutions essential’

Council of the European Union
Rue de la Loi 175
Brussels, 8 December 2020

Honorable Energy Ministers,

The signatories of this letter urge you to place renewable hydrogen solutions at the core of the Hydrogen Council Conclusions that you are set to adopt this month.

The EU Hydrogen Strategy acknowledges, without ambiguity, that renewable hydrogen produced from 100% renewable electricity through electrolysis is the most sustainable solution for delivering the Green Deal. The EU must put all resources and political will in making this renewable-based hydrogen competitive with conventional hydrogen solutions before 2030.

Becoming a global leader in renewable hydrogen cannot be achieved without bold commitments. The European renewable success story was built on a clear political framework and targeted support schemes to spearhead innovation and accelerate economies of scale. In less than a decade wind and solar became the most cost-competitive sources of new power generation.

To replicate this success in renewable hydrogen, signatories urge the Member States to commit to an ambitious regulatory framework. One that accelerates renewables deployment, scales up the production of electrolysers “made in Europe,” and supports technological breakthroughs increasing the efficiency and competitiveness of renewable hydrogen solutions.

The primary driver of this revolution is direct electrification and the further uptake of renewable electricity by 2030. The EU must recognise the need for new, hydrogen-related renewable installations in the review of the Union’s binding renewable energy target by 2030. This will ensure Europe builds upon the benefits of direct electrification which is today the most competitive decarbonisation solution for most of energy uses, while securing the capacities needed to produce renewable hydrogen at scale.

The second driver is innovation. Europe must significantly increase the efficiency and competitiveness of its electrolyser technologies. To achieve this, there is no time to waste in transition investments. The EU needs to channel available funds, from the Recovery and Resilience Facility, Horizon 2020 and Green Deal calls towards such future-proof technologies. They will reduce Europe’s reliance on fossil fuel and accelerate the competitiveness of renewable hydrogen solutions even before 2030.

The third driver is the roll-out of the right electricity and hydrogen infrastructure. In the short-term while renewable-based hydrogen solutions are upscaling volume production, Europe must prioritise the faster modernisation of its electricity grids and streamline investments into hydrogen infrastructure with a prime focus on the local production and use of renewable-based hydrogen, to meet specific needs from ’hard to abate’ sectors. Repurposing of existing pipelines should not be an objective per se, to avoid investments in stranded assets and unnecessary costs for EU citizens.

A clear prioritisation towards renewable-hydrogen solutions is essential to provide investment certainty and unlock the significant investments needed by 2030. By making the appropriate choices and placing renewables at the core of Europe’s future energy system, Europe can lead the way in the global energy transformation and become a global leader in renewable hydrogen. Our companies stand ready to deliver this vision.

Decarbonization strategy’s spatial planning enters crucial stage

The country’s decarbonization master plan is entering one of its most crucial stages, the establishment of spatial planning for a just transition, or establishment of new commercial activity in regions to be financially impacted by the country’s withdrawal of lignite units, now underway.

These spatial plans, which will need to be submitted to the European Commission for approval, will determine the speed and success of the overall effort as just transition mechanism funding approval will be based on them.

A just transition mechanism sum of 5 billion euros is expected to be utilized. However, Greek officials will need to present analytical spatial plans detailing the transitions in accordance with the National Energy and Climate Plan. These plans will be incorporated into the EU’s National Strategic Reference Framework funding program.

Power utility PPC, monopolizing the country’s lignite facilities, will obviously be involved in the process. The utility will keep some of the land hosting lignite mines to develop its own investment plans, including solar energy parks.

The lignite-dependent economies of west Macedonia, in the country’s north, and Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese, will need to be completely redeveloped as part of the decarbonization plan.

It remains unclear when Greece’s spatial redevelopment plans will be ready to be submitted to the European Commission. They are not expected to be ready any time before the new year.

Terms soon for last mixed RES auction to be staged under old framework

A ministerial decision on the terms, conditions and scheduling of one last mixed RES auction for solar and wind energy capacities to be held under the current legal framework is expected within the next few days.

A capacity of 350 MW will be offered to the auction’s participants early in 2021. It remains unclear if the capacity on offer will be evenly distributed for the solar and wind energy sectors.

Once the ministerial decision is delivered, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, will officially announce the auction.

Investors will be given more time than usual to obtain supporting documents needed for auction participation as a result of the extraordinary lockdown-induced conditions, sources informed.

The session’s 350 MW to be offered represents the remaining capacity from auctions in 2020.

The energy ministry has submitted an application to the EU for an extension of competitive procedures concerning RES projects until 2024.

The new auction model is expected to incorporate improvements based on increased competition through more active target model participation and price reductions benefiting consumers, while also ensuring a clear-cut framework for RES producers.

Greece climbs up to 12th place in EU electricity tariff cost rankings

Greece has climbed seven places, to 12th from 19th, in the EU rankings for retail electricity cost, pushed higher by a government decision reached last year to increase tariffs at state-owned power utility PPC, according to latest Eurostat data.

These tariff hikes at PPC were imposed by the government in August, 2019 to protect the utility from falling into bankruptcy.

The EU rankings concern electricity price levels for household consumption levels between 2,500 to 5,000 kWh, annually.

Electricity tariff increases for households in Greece rose by an average of 8.6 percent in the first half of 2020, compared to the previous half, when the country was ranked 19th.

The first-half tariff price for households averaged € 0.129 per KWh, not including taxes and surcharges, up from €0.1189 per KWh in the second half of 2019.

PPC remains Greece’s dominant supplier, representing 63 percent of electricity consumption.

The PPC tariff increase has made electricity more expensive in Greece than in countries with higher income per capita levels. Electricity is now more expensive in Greece than in France (€ 0.1247 per KWh), Finland (€ 0.1178 per KWh), Spain (€ 0.1178 per KWh) and Sweden (€ 0.1130 per KWh), all with higher income levels. Electricity is also more expensive in Greece than in Portugal (€0.1139 per KWh).

Despite the country’s rankings rise, electricity prices in Greece remain below the EU average (€0.1327 per MWh), a result of the competition generated by independent suppliers, subduing prices.

The biggest electricity tariff decreases in the first half of 2020, compared to the previous six-month period, were recorded by the Netherlands (-31%), Latvia (-12.8%), Slovenia (-11.4%), Sweden (-10%) and Estonia (-8.9%), the Eurostat data showed.

Industry still awaiting mid-voltage energy tax cut four months on

Industrial enterprises of the mid-voltage category are still waiting for the implementation of a special consumption tax (EFK) reduction more than four months after the measure was first announced by the government.

Though this tax cut would have minimal impact on the government’s tax revenue, it is important for a large number of companies – approximately 170 with annual energy consumption levels of more than 13 GWh.

Last July, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the special consumption tax for mid-voltage industrial firms would be lowered from 5 euros per MWh to 2.5 euros per MWh, the level imposed on high-voltage producers.

The measure’s total cost, estimated at 3 million euros, promises some energy-cost relief for mid-voltage industrial enterprises.

Producers have not received any further news on the consumption tax cut measure since it was announced in July, prompting concern and frustration among industrial circles.

Energy cost represents a considerable part of total production costs for energy-intensive producers.

Wholesale electricity prices in Greece are 47 percent higher than the EU average and nearly 70 percent higher than the lowest price level in the EU, according to official European Commission data.

IPTO, handling target model’s balancing market, set for launch

Power grid operator IPTO has declared being fully prepared for its imminent target model role of managing the balancing market, one of the new market systems to come into effect this coming Monday, when the target model is set to be launched.

Besides being tasked with managing the target model’s balancing market, IPTO, in a widely unknown role, will also be responsible for measuring overall operations of the target model.

The balancing market, an extremely complex market system requiring fundamental changes compared to current practices, will perform real-time balancing of demand against available offers.

The energy exchange will be responsible for the target model’s day-ahead and intraday markets.

In the lead-up to the forthcoming launch, IPTO, challenged by pandemic-related obstacles such as travel and staff restrictions, needed to make a series of coordinated efforts. These have included development of information systems and corresponding interface systems with the energy exchange (BMMS, MSS, XBMS and MODESTO), plus staff training.

The target model, representing the Greek electricity market’s most significant reform, is essential for market coupling with equivalent European markets.

The target model promises to reinforce the country’s energy security, offer consumers greater financial benefits through transboundary competition, lead to fair and competitive pricing in the wholesale market, while also facilitating further RES penetration, and, by extension, hastening greenhouse gas emission reductions and the decarbonization effort.

Minister urges target model readiness for smooth launch

Energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has urged all target model officials – including RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy; power grid operator IPTO; the energy exchange and EnExClear – to have resolved any pending issues so that a smooth launch of the model may be achieved on November 1.

Describing the upcoming date as historic for Greece’s energy sector, the minister was essentially conveying concerns of energy producers, traders and suppliers, not yet fully convinced that all market systems will be in full working order for the imminent launch.

The balancing market, in particular, remains a concern. The energy exchange is overseeing the day-ahead and intraday markets and IPTO will manage the balancing market.

Simulated dry-run testing of these markets, conducted for a period of over two months to test their limits and operating ability ahead of the target model launch, was completed about a fortnight ago.

Greece’s lead-up to the EU target model has been affected by a series of delays. Hatzidakis, the energy minister, is clearly determined to see the target model procedure through, not only because it is an EU commitment but also because of its prospective market and consumer benefits.

The target model will result in market coupling, or harmonization of EU wholesale markets, the intention being to eliminate market distortions and intensify competition.

A final full-scale test of all market systems is scheduled for October 27 while all is anticipated to be ready on October 30 ahead of the November 1 launch.

EuroAsia project moving again, Egypt present with EuroAfrica

Development of the wider region’s two major electricity grid interconnections, the EuroAsia Interconnector, to link Greece, from Crete, with Cyprus and Israel, and EuroAfrica Interconnector, a complementary project to link Cyprus with the African continent via Egypt, was discussed at a meeting in Nicosia yesterday between Greece’s energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and his Cypriot counterpart Natasa Pilides.

Progress at EuroAsia Interconnector, whose launch is scheduled for late in 2023, was held back by a Greek-Cypriot dispute prompted by Greek power grid operator IPTO’s withdrawal of the wider project’s Crete-Athens segment from EuroAsia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests.

The Crete-Athens segment is now being developed as a national project by IPTO and subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection.

EuroAsia Interconnector and EuroAfrica Interconnector promise to develop Cyprus into an electricity hub. A 310-km cable from Israel and a 498-km line from Egypt will converge at coastal Kofinou, in Cyprus’ south. From this hub, an 898-km cable is planned to link Cyprus with Crete before reaching Athens.

At yesterday’s meeting, the Greek and Cypriot energy ministers primarily focused on EuroAsia Interconnector, the Crete-Cyprus-Israel project, at a more mature stage.

Budgeted at 2.5 billion euros, this project, regarded as an EU Project of Common Interest, will promote regional energy security and further RES penetration in all three participating countries, Hatzidakis noted. The EU, it is estimated, will need to contribute at least half the project’s value.

Cyprus is the only EU member state without electricity grid interconnections.

Germany’s Siemens was awarded a procurement contract last May for EuroAsia Interconnector’s HVDC converter stations, budgeted at 623 million euros.

EuroAsia Interconnector was initially planned to offer 2 GW but this capacity has been halved, for the time being, as the other 1 GW will be used for the Crete-Athens grid interconnection.

EuroAsia Interconnector’s Israel-Cyprus segment is budgeted at 900 million euros while the cost of the bigger Cyprus-Crete section is estimated between 1.6 and 1.8 billion euros.

 

New market dry-run testing to end this week, target model launch on Nov. 1

The dry-run testing procedure for market systems ahead of the forthcoming target model launch, scheduled for November 1, will be finalized at the end of this week, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, the energy exchange and power grid operator IPTO have jointly decided.

Dry-run testing of the day-ahead, intraday and balancing markets began on August 3 to test their limits and operating ability ahead of the target model’s launch, aiming for market coupling, or harmonization of EU wholesale markets.

Market coupling, to increase competition and lower wholesale energy prices, will ultimately lead to energy union, the EU strategy seeking to offer consumers secure, sustainable, competitive and lower-cost energy.

All domestic parties involved, as well as the energy ministry, have ascertained the Greek launch will take place on November 1 following previous delays.

Even during these final days of simulated testing, day-ahead market prices have, at times, continued to display discrepancies with Day-Ahead Schedule price levels.

This has been attributed to the absence, from dry-run testing, of many traders who participate in the Day-Ahead Schedule, meaning the price levels of the two situations are based on different data.

Though balancing market prices have improved considerably as the simulated testing has progressed, following discrepancies, conclusions cannot be made until actual market conditions come into effect.

Meanwhile, public consultation by RAE on a market monitoring mechanism and a market surveillance mechanism for the new markets is due to be completed next Monday.

The market monitoring mechanism will seek, through structural and performance indicators, to evaluate levels of concentration and the market power of each participant, while the market surveillance mechanism will focus on identifying and combating strategies detrimental to competition.

The next step, once the new markets are launched, will be to market couple, initially with the Italian market, by the end of the year, followed by the Bulgarian market, in the first quarter of 2021, Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis recently informed.

 

 

Cross-industry climate change effort emphasized by CEO Alliance

The CEO of multinational power company Enel, Francesco Starace,  and chief executives from eleven European companies, have joined forces for a zero-carbon future and a more resilient Europe, Enel has announced in a statement.

The European Union is committed to net zero emissions by 2050, which is in line with the CEO Alliance companies’ own decarbonization strategies, the statement noted.

All members support the Paris 2050 goals, the EU Green Deal and the ambition to raise EU climate targets. They represent different industries, generate a combined 600 billion euros in annual revenues and employ 1.7 million people. The CEO Alliance channels their decarbonization efforts: it connects sectors and strategies, identifies potential for collaboration, and fosters projects and investments for a sustainable economy and society.

At its inaugural meeting in Stuttgart, the cross-industry alliance underscored: “The climate targets of the European Union are feasible. Our industries do not block, but rather foster the shift toward a carbon-neutral economy. We see growth potential for all industries in the long run. If we manage this historic transformation successfully, sustainable development and new future-proof jobs will be the result. Together, we will support all efforts to reach a social consensus for more sustainability.”

With yesterday’s start, the CEO Alliance becomes an association of action that unites corporate strategies, industries and societies on the road to a carbon-neutral Europe.

All members believe the new climate targets of the European Commission, envisaging emission reductions of 55% by 2030, are manageable.

On the industry side, the CEO Alliance members have already pledged to invest more than 100 billion euros in their respective decarbonization roadmaps over the next years to help reach these targets.

Every member has defined its own strategy to address decarbonization, by reducing carbon emissions across the relevant value chains and by offering sustainable products and services to customers. For reaching the respective CO2 targets, each member and each sector is dependent on other members and sectors, which especially calls for cross-sector activities.

Collaboration potential of the Alliance was identified in six fields: in energy systems, renewable power generation must be scaled up rapidly and power grids must be modernized. In terms of mobility and transport, the EV charging infrastructure must be expanded and the low-carbon transport or shipping of goods intensified. Zero-impact production – in particular for renewable power generation components – and sustainable battery production are key aspects in manufacturing and industrial processes. In terms of buildings and urban environments, the focus is on zero-emission offices and sustainable green city planning. In regard to new business models, the focus is on carbon tracking with digital technologies in the supply chain. The field of sustainable finance will also offer new opportunities.

The members also agree that the transformation towards a net-zero carbon future needs to be based on a broad public consensus. The CEO Alliance is willing to contribute to this consensus, and to establish a social contract, by intensifying the dialogue between stakeholders from the private sector, public sector and civil society. At the same time, the members call on political leaders to create the necessary political support and incentives. At the inaugural meeting, the dialogue started with a discussion with Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President of the European Commission.

The CEO Alliance is convinced that ambitious decarbonization and cross-sector collaboration require ambitious and cross-sector policy frameworks, for example carbon pricing with a minimum floor price in the EU Emissions Trading System, a reform of the energy taxation system, and driving demand for sustainable, innovative and digital solutions, among other things by using renewal schemes, public procurement and investments.

The CEO Alliance represents members from key industry sectors: ABB, AkzoNobel, Eon, Enel, Iberdrola, A.P. Møller Maersk, Philips, SAP, Scania, Schneider Electric, Siemens and Volkswagen.

Following an initial joint letter to the European Commission in June 2020, the first face-to-face meeting underscored the commitment to act fast and to recognize the urgency of the necessary transformation for future competitiveness.