NECP and efforts on the right track, Brussels report notes

The country’s efforts to reach objectives set in the National Energy and Climate Plan, shaped by long-term European climate and energy goals, as well as the domestic plan itself, have been favorably reviewed by the European Commission in a related report released yesterday as an appraisal of the finalized NECP submitted to Brussels by the Greek government.

The European Commission, which has reviewed the NECPs of EU member states and how they stand in connection with Europe’s energy and climate objectives, described the Greek plan and its progress as “satisfactory” and “sufficient”.

The Brussels review, however, pointed out that the country’s reforms concerning competition in the retail and wholesale electricity and gas markets, among other domains, require strengthening.

The report also called for an enhancement of Greece’s just transition plan concerning the post-lignite era. Greater detail in the assessment of the social and employment repercussions, as well as retraining requirements, in lignite-dependent areas where the lignite-fired power stations are planned to be withdrawn over the next three years is needed, it noted.

As for measures concerning the Greek economy’s pandemic-related recovery, at least 37 percent of recovery funds to be made available should be invested in climate-linked initiatives so that mid-term emission reduction targets are met, the report noted.

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.

Upper limit for non-auction PV units down from 500 to 200 KW

Local authorities have decided – in a proposal to be forwarded to the European Commission for approval – to lower to 200 KW from 500 KW a capacity upper limit requiring PV projects to participate in RES auctions for tariffs when this limit is exceeded, sources informed.

A satisfactory transitional period will be offered to investors to facilitate the actualization of scheduled RES projects up to 500 KW.

Greek officials expect to have finalized revising local RES auction rules within the next fortnight before submitting a plan to Brussels for an extension of competitive procedures.

Government officials have yet to decide on the duration of the RES auction extension to be requested as well as the total capacities for wind and solar energy to be auctioned.

However, the government officials have already taken initiatives to revise auction terms for greater bidding competition that would lower tariff prices for RES output.

Meanwhile, a prospective draft bill that would secure tariffs for RES units once they have been certified as ready by the distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, instead of when electrified, as is the case at present, will take some before being submitted to parliament.

 

 

PPC’s new image a prelude to revised business plan, imminent

Retail outlets to open for extended business hours, digital products and new services, swifter withdrawals of lignite-fired power stations, as well as an acceleration in the development of major-scale and smaller RES projects are among the factors contributing to power utility PPC’s new corporate image, showcased yesterday, during a 40-minute event, by chief executive Giorgos Stassis, who described the new image as a prelude to a revised business plan to be presented towards the end of the year.

The revised business plan, to have a three-year duration, will be a more ambitious and confident plan than last year’s version as, besides swifter lignite unit exits, it will feature bolder digitalization steps, a more aggressive retail market policy, aim for a RES portfolio well over 1 GW over the next three years, through a pool of prospective projects totaling 6 GW, and also feature network and personnel investments.

Next year, the company will aim to double 24 existing retail outlets – they begin operating for extended business hours as of today – as well as 75 service centers that may be visited by appointment only.

Yesterday’s announcements represent just part of the developments to be gradually announced by PPC, the most imminent being a new series of digital products, dubbed PPC myHome, to be launched within the next few days.

The new business plan’s level of ambition will also depend on external factors, Brussels being pivotal. Settlement of the country’s ten-year lignite dispute with the European Commission will offer state-controlled PPC greater leeway.

PPC is also hoping for a favorable Brussels response within November on a compensation request for 200 million euros, annually, for every year lignite-fired power stations in the west Macedonia and Megalopoli regions will need to keep operating.

PPC planning industrial tariff discounts, reflecting lower cost

Power utility PPC intends to offer discount tariffs, as generous as its finances can permit, to industrial consumers in a move that would represent key complementary support for the government’s plan to reduce industrial energy costs.

PPC’s ability to deliver on this industrial energy discount plan will very much depend on the fate of the corporation’s compensation request forwarded to the European Commission for the utility’s gradual withdrawal of its loss-incurring lignite-fired power stations between 2021 and 2023. PPC has requested compensation of 200 million euros, annually.

A Brussels decision on this request is not expected any sooner than late November. If this PPC initiative fails to produce a positive result, Greece’s ten-year dispute with the European Commission over the country’s continued reliance on lignite for electricity generation could drag on.

Greece cannot be expected to adopt a mechanism offering state-controlled PPC’s rivals access to lignite-based output if the European Commission refuses to approve cost-offsetting measures for the utility, as has been the case in other EU member states, local sources contend. Germany and Dutch energy companies have benefited from such offsetting measures in the past.

Whatever the outcome, state-controlled PPC seems determined to support the industrial sector by minimizing its profit margin for new electricity supply contracts, to come into effect January, 2021. However, the corporation has made clear it will not sell below cost to any industrial consumer.

Industrial enterprises believe a 10 percent tariff increase agreed to in March, 2019 for a three-year period covering 2018 to 2020, can no longer be justified as electricity production costs have since fallen, meaning tariffs must follow suit.

PPC lignite compensation effort key to Brussels negotiations

Greek authorities have taken to a higher European Commission level a compensation request by the state-controlled power utility PPC, seeking 200 million euros, annually, for the gradual withdrawal of its loss-incurring lignite-fired power stations between 2021 and 2023, hoping for a favorable outcome with the next two months.

If, however, the effort fails to produce a positive result, Greece’s ten-year dispute with the European Commission over the country’s continued reliance on lignite for electricity generation could drag on.

In this case, Greece will probably not agree to settle a long-running antitrust case that has prompted the government to offer PPC’s rivals 40 percent of the utility’s lignite-based generation until the lignite-fired power stations are withdrawn.

Greece cannot be expected to adopt a mechanism offering PPC’s rivals access to lignite-based output if the European Commission refuses to approve cost-offsetting measures for the utility, as has been the case in other EU member states, local sources contend.

Germany and Dutch energy companies have benefited from such offsetting measures in the past.

All issues will need to be resolved as one package deal or there will be no deal at all, sources said.

At this stage, a new European Court antitrust case against Greece, for PPC’s lignite monopoly, would make little, if any, sense as the country’s lignite-based generation will have greatly diminished by the time the case is heard.

Fast action needed for industrial emission cost offsetting tool

Greek authorities need to act fast in the coming months if industrial producers are to keep receiving CO2 emission-right cost offsetting support as of January 1, 2021 through a European Commission mechanism.

The European Commission has just announced new state aid directives concerning greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2021. EU member states will need to soon forward their offsetting mechanism plans to Brussels.

Certain revisions have been made. Copper has been added to the list of industrial sectors eligible for emission cost offsetting mechanisms, while the textile and fertilizer sectors have not been included.

Besides copper, the steel, aluminium and paper production sectors have also been included on the list.

The European Commission aims to counter non-EU competition, including Chinese, and prevent industry shifts to locations outside the EU.

EC calls for CO2 cuts; NECP revisions, RES boost ahead

The European Commission has announced a new European Climate Law proposal for even more ambitious CO2 emission cuts in the EU, calling for reductions of 55 percent by 2030, instead of the present goal of 40 percent. If adopted, this proposal will prompt further revisions of National Energy and Climate Plans and RES installation increases by EU member states.

Compared to previous NECP objectives, RES facilities in most parts of the EU will need to increase by levels of between 20 and 30 percent by 2030, while energy consumption must drop further, between 15 and 20 percent, if the new Brussels proposal is adopted, reliable sources have informed.

Adoption of the proposal will require greater green-policy effort by member states and much bigger investments.

CO2 emissions produced by vehicles and buildings could be taxed, while more generous subsidy programs could be offered for energy efficiency upgrades.

In Greece, a 55 percent CO2 emissions cut by 2030 would require a further increase in RES installations so that a 19-GW target, by 2030, included in the country’s current NECP may be exceeded.

This more ambitious objective will enable the actualization of a greater number of possible projects on stand-by, currently representing a capacity of 76 GW. However, bigger investments for network reinforcement, increased interconnections and energy storage facility installations will be needed.

 

Competitive procedures for island hybrid stations, EC says

The European Commission is demanding competitive procedures for the installation of energy storage units or hybrid stations on the Greek islands as a condition for the establishment and approval of a thorough support framework covering such investments, energypress sources have informed.

Energy ministry officials are currently engaged in talks with the European Commission on energy storage and hybrid station installations for the islands.

A universal pricing framework offering investors specific tariffs for all the islands will not be possible if the European Commission condition for competitive procedures is to prevail.

Greek officials are pushing for a universal pricing framework for non-interconnected networks, hybrid units with RES facilities, and energy storage units, on the grounds that these greatly contribute to grid sufficiency and security and can also offer major cost savings by eliminating the need for high-cost, high-polluting diesel-fueled power stations that operate on non-interconnected islands.

In particular, the energy ministry is seeking Brussels’ approval for a transitional framework to support hybrid units on islands with mature investment proposals and production licenses.

Speaking at an Economist conference yesterday, the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou said a plan for such a support mechanism has been submitted to the European Commission.

“We hope to have a response from the European Commission by the end of the year so that we can soon complete the pricing framework and make possible the actualization of these projects,” Sdoukou noted.

Initiatives are also being taken for the development of offshore solar farms and hydrogen-run unit, she added.

“We will continue to shape policies that promote renewables and guarantee that we will be at the forefront of the European energy transition,” Sdoukou concluded.

Brussels considering PPC compensation for lignite units

Certain European Commission officials are believed to be considering a compensation request made by power utility PPC for its three-year phase-out, between 2021 and 2023, of all existing lignite-fired power stations, severely burdened by elevated CO2 emission right costs.

Brussels officials had flatly rejected a compensation request made by PPC nearly a year ago. However, a shift by Brussels has become apparent in recognition of the Greek decarbonization effort’s progress.

The European Commission has offered compensation elsewhere for lignite units withdrawals. Last May, Brussels made available compensation worth 52.5 million euros for the Netherlands as a result of the country’s premature closure of its Hemweg coal-fired facilities.

At the time, the European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager had declared EU member states may need to compensate companies for their efforts to end their coal reliance, adding that the Dutch compensation amount does not threaten to cause market distortions at a European level.

PPC officials expect European Commission developments on the issue during the final quarter of this year.

Taking into account Brussels’ handling of such issues in the past, PPC officials also believe an antitrust case concerning the Greek power utility’s lignite monopoly and the corporation’s compensation request could be resolved simultaneously.

Ministry preparing to request RES auctions extension

The energy ministry is preparing to submit an official request to Brussels for an extension of up to three years for RES auctions – both mixed and separate (solar, wind) technologies – a support system securing fixed 20-year tariffs for new wind and solar energy installations.

Greece’s current auction system expires at the end of this year. The energy ministry may seek an extension until the end of 2023, when RES auctions will no longer be available in the EU. A request for a shorter extension is also being contemplated at the ministry.

The energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou has called a meeting for September 18 to involve the participation of all related authorities for decisions before the official extension request is drafted.

A technical report published by global service provider GIZ, analyzing  Greece’s RES auctions over the past three years, RES market achievements during this period, as well as problems that have emerged, will serve as a base for the talks at the upcoming meeting.

The energy ministry wants to prevent any momentum drop in the RES market and believes fixed tariffs, through auctions, over extended periods are necessary as they secure financing for RES projects, and, by extension, their development.

On the other hand, the ministry does not want to overburden the market through excessive RES special account obligations.

Excessive cost, for PPC, of running lignite-fired units hastening exit plan

The financial burden on power utility PPC as a result of its continued use of lignite-fired power stations at a time when the EU is racing towards climate neutrality has prompted the utility to revise its lignite unit phase-out plan for power stations in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region and Megalopoli in the Peloponnese.

According to latest information, PPC’s administration is planning further premature withdrawals of lignite-fired power stations after announcing a precipitated exit of its Megalopoli III unit, as was reported by energypress yesterday.

The Megalopoli III unit will be shut down six months sooner, in mid-2021, instead of early 2022. This 250-MW lignite-fired facility has operated for just six hours since April.

The average variable cost of lignite-based energy generation is €0.80 per MWh, well over the System Marginal Price of €0.45 per MWh, according to data presented by energy minister Costis Hatzidakis.

According to some sources, PPC has once again raised, to the European Commission, a compensation claim for being required to keep operating high-cost power stations in order to secure grid sufficiency and security.

PPC will be forced to proceed with swifter lignite unit exits if this compensation request is not satisfied, pundits said.

Power grid operator IPTO has the final say on the assessment of energy security matters.

PPC’s lignite-fired power stations covered just 36.8 percent of the country’s overall electricity demand in the first half, its lignite units playing a diminished role.

 

Pending issues crucial for industrial energy cost savings

A series of issues concerning prospective industrial energy cost savings that have surfaced either as industrial-sector requests or government announcements remain unresolved, creating insecurity within industrial circles.

New industrial electricity tariffs, currently being negotiated but with much ground still to cover for convergence, are at the very top of this list for industrialists.

One energy-intensive industrial producer has already abandoned power utility PPC after rejecting the industrial electricity tariff prices the utility had to offer.

Industrialists also want a public service compensation (YKO) surcharge reduction.

On another front, the sector expects a special consumption tax rate for mid-voltage industrial consumers with annual consumption levels of more than 13 GWh to be equated with the special consumption tax rate offered to high-voltage industrial enterprises. This revision, concerning approximately 170 factories, has been announced by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Another matter for the industrial sector concerns exempting major-scale industrial units from a series of additional electricity supply surcharges, in accordance with European Commission directives.

Industrialists also want a special consumption tax exemption on electricity used for mineral processing in cement and glass production, which would align Greek law with an EU directive from 2003.

The industrial sector is also anticipating a new mechanism to offset CO2 emission right costs.

Prinos rescue plan may offer Greek State stake in Energean Oil & Gas SA

A government rescue plan for Prinos, Greece’s only producing oil field, in the country’s offshore north, will offer the Greek State a small stake in Energean Oil & Gas, the field’s operator, and provide state guarantees for 75 million euros in financing needed by the company in 2020 and 2021 for investments included in its business plan, according to well informed sources.

The government is believed to be just days away from announcing its finalized rescue plan for Energean’s Prinos field, hit hard by the pandemic and lower international oil prices, factors that have impacted the global upstream industry.

Greek government officials are currently discussing the Prinos rescue plan with the European Commission, whose approval will be required. Though alterations to the aforementioned solution cannot be ruled out, good news on the rescue plan appears imminent.

Energean Oil & Gas recently published a business plan that lists interventions needed for Prinos’ rescue as well as the field’s sustainability over the next 15 years. The plan’s measures include actions to reduce emissions and drastically reduce the company’s environmental footprint.

Energean has invested approximately 460 million euros at Prinos during the company’s 13 years of operations at the field, including 50 million euros between last September and May, to avoid the closure of offshore and related onshore facilities. Some 270 jobs have been protected.

Prinos field rescue effort now at the finance ministry

A government effort to rescue offshore Prinos, Greece’s only producing field, in the north, is now in the hands of the finance ministry following preceding work at the energy ministry, sources have informed.

The field, like the wider upstream industry, has been impacted by the pandemic and plunge in oil prices.

Deputy finance minister Theodoros Skylakakis is now handling the Prinos rescue case following the transfer of a related file from the energy ministry.

According to the sources, three scenarios are being considered. A financing plan through a loan with Greek State guarantees appears to be the top priority. A second option entails the utilization of an alternate form of state aid. The other consideration involves the Greek State’s equity participation in the Prinos field’s license holder, Energean Oil & Gas.

The European Commission will need to offer its approval to any of these options as they all represent forms of state aid.

Energy ministry sources have avoided offering details but are confident a solution is in the making.

EU recovery fund compromise cuts into JTF for lignite end

A significant contraction of the Just Transition Fund that has resulted from a major compromise deal just reached between the EU’s north and south for a huge post-coronavirus recovery package has raised questions about the decarbonization effort’s financing and ability to progress smoothly.

A sum of 30 billion euros initially planned by the European Commission to be offered to lignite-dependent EU members states for their transition to cleaner energy will be cut to 10 billion euros.

A variety of post-coronavirus recovery sub-funds have been reduced in size, including the JTF, established to support Europe’s decarbonization process.

Prior to the compromise deal, a European Commission proposal had been made to increase the JTF amount for the EU’s lignite-dependent members to 40 billion euros from an initial sum of 7.5 billion euros.

Subsequently, Greece now stands to receive a few hundred million euros for its  decarbonization policy following an earlier estimate for a sum of 1.7 billion euros. The loss for Greece is worth approximately one billion euros.

The recovery package talks over the past few days saw a split between nations hardest hit by the virus and “frugal” members who were concerned about costs.

The deal centers on a 390 billion-euro program of grants to member states hardest hit by the pandemic. Italy and Spain are expected to be the main recipients.

It is the biggest joint borrowing ever agreed by the EU. Summit chairman Charles Michel described it as a “pivotal moment” for Europe.

 

First demand response auction in July, TFRM validity to get extra month

The energy ministry, anticipating the European Commission’s imminent approval of Greek government proposals for a demand response mechanism and a transitory flexibility remuneration mechanism (TFRM), has signed related ministerial decisions so that the mechanisms, vital tools for industrial energy costs, can be implemented immediately once Brussels has given the green light.

Official approval of the plans by the European Commission is expected within the next few days.

Power grid operator IPTO has been informed by the ministry so that it can prepare the first demand response auction, seen taking place within July. IPTO announced a registration procedure yesterday, setting a July 23 deadline for applicants.

The TFRM’s validity is expected to run for an additional month, compared to the initial term agreed to by Athens and Brussels, to make up for its delayed delivery.

Over the past few days, Greek authorities have needed to respond to numerous questions forwarded by Brussels officials, seeking explanations and clarification on both the demand response and flexibility mechanisms.

 

Ministry awaiting Brussels nod for demand response, TFRM

The energy ministry, anticipating the European Commission’s approval of Greek government proposals for a demand response mechanism and a transitory flexibility remuneration mechanism (TFRM), has decided to sign related ministerial decisions, possibly even today, so that the mechanisms can be immediately implemented once Brussels has given the green light.

Though the two sides have come closer on the mechanisms, it still remains unclear when the European Commission will go ahead with its approval.

Over the past few days, government officials have needed to respond to a series of questions from Brussels, seeking explanations and clarification on details concerning both mechanism plans.

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition is treating both mechanism proposals as one package.

Domestic energy-intensive industries are urgently awaiting the package’s approval in the hope that Greek power grid operator IPTO can stage a demand response auction before July is out.

Under terms agreed to so far, IPTO will be permitted to offer up to 800 MW through demand response auctions, down from 1,030 MW allowed through the preceding plan.

Also, the demand response mechanism will be made accessible to a greater number of companies, including smaller players, through a reduction of a consumption lower limit.

In addition, the demand response mechanism is expected to be valid for a one-year period, not two years, as was requested by EVIKEN, the Association of Industrial Energy Consumers.

The TFRM is expected to be divided into two stages, the first running until the launch of target model markets, scheduled for September 17, under the same terms that applied for a mechanism that expired in March, 2019.

The TFRM’s second stage is seen running from the launch of the target model until a permanent flexibility mechanism is introduced. Its capacity is expected to be drastically reduced to 750 MW from 4,500 MW. Remuneration levels are also expected to drop.

 

ENTSO-E pledges for climate-neutral, resilient, innovative European recovery

The Green Deal represents an unprecedented energy and societal transition with a massive deployment of large-scale renewable sources, innovative low carbon technologies, deeper electrification, new electrical uses, and energy system integration. ENTSO-E welcomes the European Commission’s strategy to gear all policies towards achieving a climate-neutral, resilient and innovative EU. The European TSOs stand ready to do their part to help the green recovery.

During the COVID-19 crisis, TSOs have demonstrated their unfailing solidarity and entire commitment to deliver electricity to all EU consumers and vital services. This unprecedented crisis should not deter EU and national Governments to deliver on the Green Deal as it is core to the European economic recovery. For the green recovery to be a success, ENTSO-E recommends EU policy makers to:

1/ recognize the key-enabling role of electricity TSOs in the energy system integration. As system operators, grid planners & developers, and as market facilitators, TSOs can drive Europe’s energy ecosystem towards a “system of interconnected systems” starting with the development of a multi-sectorial approach to grid planning and anticipatory investment for both onshore and offshore networks.

2/ put electrification at the heart of EU decarbonization policies. Electricity is the dominant vector for clean energy and the electricity transmission network will play a central role in achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

3/ invest in low-carbon and fit-for-purpose infrastructures and their digital “twins”. Investing in the adequate extension of the transmission network and in the “cyber physical” power system delivers value for the whole society in terms of competitiveness, resilience and sustainability. Innovation is essential and especially in areas that will help most the transformation materialize.

4/ ensure a smooth recovery of the whole electricity value chain. The lockdown measures impacted the whole electricity sector. Risk of shortage in strategic value chains and of critical materials should be monitored and addressed. This is also about strengthening Europe’s industrial and strategic autonomy.

Investing in the transmission grid helps move the energy transition forward and concretely supports Europe’s economic recovery by generating direct and indirect revenues throughout the planning and building phase, and by reducing price differentials between regions and the overall energy costs. Policy makers’ and stakeholders’ support is needed to overcome barriers to the needed extension and upgrading of the transmission power network, notably when it comes to facilitating the permitting process.

ENTSO-E and its members are committed to put their expertise at the service of decision makers to turn the EU Green Deal into reality and believe that these recommendations will contribute to the climate-neutral, resilient and innovative recovery of the European economy.

Pumped-storage project support plan delivered to Brussels

The energy ministry has delivered to the European Commission, for approval, a special support framework proposal concerning a 680-MW pumped-storage hydroelectricity project planned by GEK TERNA in Amfilohia, western Greece.

The project has been on the EU’s list of Projects of Common Interest (PCI) since 2012, while its studies have received Juncker Plan financing.

The total budget of the project, planned to generate 816 GWh annually, is expected to exceed 500 million euros.

Pumped-storage hydroelectricity allows energy from intermittent sources, such as solar, wind and other renewables, or excess electricity from continuous base-load sources, including coal, to be saved for periods of higher demand.

Also, pumped-storage hydroelectricity is a technology that promises major  support for domestic value-added sectors as its investments concurrently create thousands of jobs, boost public revenue, tax collections and social security fund contributions, besides resolving energy issues.

Cyprus wants unchanged cost agreement for link with Crete

Though a new application submitted by EuroAsia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests, to the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility for funding support concerning an electricity grid interconnection project to link the Greek and Cypriot systems has yet to be examined or reciprocated by the European Commission, Greece and Cyprus have already begun talks on how to divide the remainder of the project’s costs not covered by the CEF.

The Cypriot side, which took the initiative for these talks, appears determined to ensure that Greece will stick to its share of the cost under the terms agreed to when the project also included the Athens-Crete link as part of a wider plan to interconnect the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli systems.

EuroAsia Interconnector head the wider Greek-Cypriot-Israeli plan. Greek power grid operator IPTO withdrew the Athens-Crete segment and is now working on it as a national project. IPTO is aiming for swifter progress on this section, urgently needed to resolve Crete’s pressing energy sufficiency issues.

Cyprus’ Regulatory Authority for Energy, RAEK, has forwarded to its Greek counterpart RAE a text presenting its cost-related views. RAEK wants to ensure that a Cross Border Cost Allocation agreement signed by the two sides late in 2017 for the Greek-Cypriot link, running from Crete to Cyprus, remains valid, despite Greece’s withdrawal of the Athens-Crete section.

According to the CBCA agreement, Cyprus will take on 63 percent of the cost of the Crete-Cyprus link and Greece will be responsible for the other 37 percent, under the condition that 50 percent of the total cost will be covered by EU funds, through the CEF.

The Crete-Cyprus interconnection is budgeted at 1.5 billion euros, meaning Greece’s share will be approximately 280 million euros.

This amount will be incorporated into IPTO’s accounts and need to be recovered through network surcharges included in consumer electricity bills, seen as a delicate matter by the Greek government.

Greek authorities have yet to respond to RAEK’s initiative as they await news from the European Commission on the CEF request.

‘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.

 

Crisis’ impact on Prinos looked at, Energean up against time

The energy ministry has turned to specialized consulting firm assistance for a detailed analysis on the pandemic’s financial impact on the Prinos offshore oil field in northern Greece, the country’s only producing field at present.

The energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou, handling the matter on behalf of the ministry, is currently holding talks on a daily basis with officials at Energean Oil & Gas, the field’s license holder.

The company wants emergency government support amid the extraordinary market conditions, energypress sources have informed.

The two sides are believed to be closely examining related data to determine the extent of the financial damage, for this project, due to the plunge in international oil prices, prompted by lower demand amid the widespread lockdown.

Energean Oil & Gas has invested 50 million euros between September, 2019 and May to keep production flowing at Prinos, an aging field, sources noted.

Sustainability is becoming a growing challenge at this venture, employing a workforce of approximately 270 employees, market authorities have noted. A cutdown in operating costs is seen as essential.

A cash injection for “Epsilon”, a fresher field in the area also licensed to Energean, could be made as a support for the company. Another option may entail financial support by the Greek State in exchange for a stake in Energean. Alternatively, state guarantees could be offered for a bank loan.

The finance ministry is also expected to become involved in the Prinos rescue effort. Much work lies ahead before any decisions can be reached. These will require European Commission approval.

Ministry preparing for Brussels demand response, TFRM approvals

Anticipating the European Commission’s approval of government proposals for a demand response mechanism and a transitory flexibility remuneration mechanism (TFRM), the energy ministry is preparing ministerial decisions for immediate signing once Brussels has given the green light.

These decisions will need to be signed by Greek officials before the two mechanisms can be implemented. The ministry is preparing the ground to have both mechanisms launched as soon as possible.

Brussels and Athens have reached an agreement on the mechanisms, prompting the energy ministry to deliver a finalized version of the demand response plan to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition, ahead of this mechanism’s reintroduction.

The energy ministry expects power grid operator IPTO to be able to stage its first auction for demand-response capacities in July.

According to the agreement reached with Brussels, IPTO will be permitted to auction demand response capacities of up to 800 MW, below the previous limit of 1,030 MW.

Also, a greater number of participants will be eligible as enterprises with capacities of at least 2 MW will be able to take part, down from 3 MW in the previous mechanism. Troubled nickel producer Larco will not be excluded.

In addition, the new mechanism will run until September 30, 2021, not for two years as had been requested by EVIKEN, the Association of Industrial Energy Consumers.

As for the TFRM, it will remain valid until the implementation of a permanent CAT mechanism, which the energy ministry expects to launch in March, 2021.

The TFRM will be divided into two stages, the first running until the launch of target model markets, scheduled for September 17, under the same terms that applied for a mechanism that expired in March, 2019.

The TFRM’s second stage will run from the launch of the target model until a permanent flexibility mechanism is introduced. Its capacity is expected to be drastically reduced to 750 MW from 4,500 MW. Remuneration levels are also expected to drop.

Gas firms look to hydrogen for maintenance of EU funding

Natural gas distribution and trading companies around Europe, including Greece, are turning to eco-friendly hydrogen in an effort to overcome European Commission financing prohibitions, following 2021, for fossil fuel-linked pipelines and other infrastructure.

Greece’s gas grid operator DESFA and gas utility DEPA are currently seeking ways to secure financial support for projects through EU funding and the European Investment Bank.

Converting these investment plans into eco-friendly projects by turning to hydrogen, a RES-generated fuel, is one alternative.

DESFA, counting on the experience of its main shareholders, Snam, Fluxys and Enagas – the trio’s Senfluga consortium controls the operator with a 66 percent stake – is examining the prospect of transmitting hydrogen through the national gas grid, the Greek gas grid operator’s chief executive Nicola Battilana told the four-day Delphi Economic Forum, ending tomorrow.

This DESFA investment plan could be revealed as part of the operator’s next ten-year business plan, now being put together.

DEPA chief executive Kostas Xifaras also spoke of the opportunities offered by hydrogen. The Greek gas utility and its Italian partner Edison are believed to be open to the prospect of establishing partnerships with third parties for hydrogen transmission through the prospective East Med pipeline.

Hydrogen has the potential to play a key role in energy transition and climate-change objectives, noted Aristotelis Chantavas, head of Enel Green Power Hellas.

Representatives of eight EU member states, Greece, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, among them Greek deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas, recently stressed the significance of maintaining EU funding support for natural gas projects.

 

New EU support plan to boost energy-sector investments

The decarbonization plan, a third round of the Saving at Home subsidy program for energy efficiency upgrades at buildings, the electric vehicle market growth effort and renewable energy-hydrogen development are seen capturing the lion’s share of energy-sector funds expected to be made available to the country through a wider European Commission support package proposal entitling Greece to 32 billion euros, plus funds from the new National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) covering 2021 to 2027.

Over ten billion euros could end up being absorbed for investments in these four sub-sectors, according to enerypress sources.

The energy ministry, taking this prospective influx into account, is now shaping preliminary energy-sector plans to comprise part of a wider government plan.

An upcoming series of energy-sector privatizations are being attached to these plans as the increasing importance of energy as a growth tool promises to intensify Greek and foreign investment interest.

According to latest estimates, the amount Greece will be entitled to through the European Commission’s Just Transition Fund, designed to support regions impacted by the EU’s decarbonization policy, now stands at 1.7 billion euros. The new Brussels support package could more-than-triple this amount, according to some early estimates.

Also, the third round of the Saving at Home energy efficiency upgrade program, estimated at 350 billion euros, could now end up reaching a level of about one billion euros as a result of the new Brussels support plan.