Local gas-fueled generation up in response to high-cost power imports

Higher electricity prices in neighboring countries, increasing the cost of electricity imports, have prompted power utility PPC to capitalize on the situation and operate its gas-fueled power stations at maximum capacity for satisfactory market prices.

In recent days, PPC’s natural gas-fueled units have covered between 35 and 40 percent of electricity demand.

Yesterday, the power utility’s gas-fueled power stations covered 40 percent of electricity demand at a price of 42.6 euros per MWh for ten hours.

Independent producers covered 19 percent of electricity demand at a price of 64.4 euros per MWh for one hour.

Electricity imports covered 14 percent of electricity demand for a price of 51.7 euros per MWh over 11 hours.

Renewable energy sources covered 24 percent of electricity demand yesterday, while the decreased lignite input continued on its downward trajectory, contributing 3.6 GWh.

In Bulgaria, the wholesale electricity price was 53.14 euros per MWh. In Italy, it was 51.93 euros per MWh. Romania registered a price level of 51.7 euros per MWh. The price in Serbia was 49.91 euros per MWh.

Mid-voltage battle toughens, reflecting lower wholesale cost

Competition between electricity suppliers has intensified in the mid-voltage category, where lower prices currently reflect a sharp drop in the cost of wholesale electricity and, subsequently, wider profit margins available to suppliers.

Competition has yet to intensify in the household and business markets despite discount packages offered by most electricity suppliers, including the power utility PPC, from the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.

This lack of competition has been attributed to a cautious stance adopted by independent suppliers as they wait to see how much profit margin leeway will be shed by a drop in electricity demand and electricity bill payment delays.

It is a different picture in the mid-voltage category, where suppliers are bombarding both existing and prospective customers with price offers.

Suppliers are spreading the risk of wholesale price fluctuations by diversifying their price offers. They are keeping a close watch on the System Marginal Price, determining wholesale prices.

The course of the SMP in coming days remains unclear. Signs of a possible rebound in wholesale electricity prices have emerged as the SMP is now clearly higher than levels registered last week.

Wholesale electricity prices have mainly fallen as a result of increased contributions to the grid by natural gas-fueled power stations, supplied low-cost LNG, as well as RES units.

 

Higher-cost lignite sidelining gas units a Greek market paradox

Greece’s wholesale electricity market is still adjusting as, despite sharp rises in CO2 emission right costs, lignite continues to play a leading market role. Contributions from lower-cost gas-fueled generators remain subdued.

A recent drop in temperatures around the country has led to wholesale electricity market demand peaks of more than 7,500 MW since the beginning of December, up from previous demand peaks ranging from 6,000 to 6,100 MW.

According to the energy exchange’s day-ahead market data, virtually all of the power utility’s coal generators are contributing to distribution without operating at full capacity. Instead, they are running at minimum levels. This is reducing the need for gas-fueled generators.

Yesterday, PPC’s Agios Dimitrios III, IV and V, Kardia III and IV, Amynteo I and Meliti all operated at minimum levels, while the contribution of gas-fueled generators was kept to a minimum. Sidelined units included Heron, ENTHES, Aliveri and Komotini, while Protergia and Korinthos Power units contributed only during peak demand hours.

The picture for today remains unchanged with the System Marginal Price (SMP), representing the wholesale price, at 63 euros per MWh, as was the case yesterday. Before the recent increase in demand, SMP levels ranged between 50 and 55 euros per MWh.

Power grid operator IPTO, offering an explanation for the ongoing dominance of coal over gas, despite the rising demand in the wholesale market, noted that turning off and withdrawing a lignite-fired power station – except for telethermal units – costs more than leaving a gas-fired power station sidelined without distribution input.

For PPC, the objective is to maintain the SMP at low levels as the utility is required to purchase energy from the pool given its big market share in supply and smaller share in production.

CAT flexibility mechanism’s publication to pave way for auctions

Greece’s new CAT mechanism model compensating electricity generation flexibility, a bailout demand taken on by the government during the fourth review, will be uploaded to the EU’s official website either today or tomorrow and is then expected to be officially endorsed soon after.

According to energypress sources, the European Commission gave permission for the Greek plan’s publication a few days ago, once adjustments it had requested were made.

The European Commission is expected to officially approve the new CAT flexibility mechanism soon after it is published, sources informed.

Then, Greek authorities are expected to push ahead with procedures leading to the first auction. Though it is not yet clear how long this could take, environment ministry officials are confident the first CAT flexibility mechanism auction could be staged in July. Preliminary work needed to set up the auctions has already begun ahead of the plan’s anticipated approval in Brussels, the ministry officials noted.

The new CAT flexibility mechanism will operate transitionally until the implementation of the target model, expected towards the end of the first half next year.

Independent electricity producers are keen to see the new CAT flexibility mechanism up and running as its previous version expired in April, 2017. This has prompted financial issues at production units.

Hydropower facilities, natural gas-fueled power stations, as well as RES units will be eligible to take part in these auctions and be compensated for their short-term notice electricity supply to the grid. Compensation for RES units will be limited to output not remunerated through renewable energy support mechanisms.

Assuming no major changes have been made to the plan, the new CAT flexibility mechanism should offer compensation for 4,263 MW of annual output. Hydropower facilities are expected to be entitled to compensation for output totaling 750 MW, up from the previous model’s amount of 582 MW. Starting prices at the CAT flexibility mechanism descending-price auctions are expected to be set at 39,000 euros per MW, higher than 25,000 euros per MW originally planned.

The demand response mechanism (interruptability) – compensating major-scale consumers, such as industrial enterprises, when the TSO (IPTO) asks them to shift their energy usage (lower or stop consumption) during high-demand peak hours, so as to balance the electricity system needs – will not be incorporated into the new CAT flexibility mechanism.

 

Gas-fueled power producers take on LNG tanker security measure costs

Natural-gas fueled electricity producers will assume the cost of a RAE (Regulatory Authority for Energy) decision to hire a tanker for additional storage capacity at the Revythoussa islet LNG terminal, just off Athens, as a precautionary gas supply measure for this winter season.

The details concerning the cost coverage of this measure have been included in an energy ministry amendment of a bill drafted for the establishment of energy communities, promising decentralized, locally generated energy solutions.

According to local regulations, licensed natural-gas fueled electricity producers need to maintain agreements with DESFA, the natural gas grid operator, as well as natural gas reserves.

Costs to be covered by natural-gas fueled electricity producers include the tanker’s hiring and operational costs.

A tanker loaded with 120,000 cubic meters of LNG arrived at Revythoussa at the beginning of this year and will remain docked at the facility until the end of February to offer supply security should high-demand conditions emerge, as was the case last winter, when the system was stretched to its limits.