Athens awaiting EU outcome for Gazprom payment stance

The Greek government’s stance regarding Moscow’s demands for ruble-currency payments to Gazprom for natural gas supply will depend on decisions to be taken by fellow EU members, government officials have told energypress.

Athens is expected to push for greater clarity on the matter and a common European stance on the issue at an emergency meeting of EU energy ministers called by the French EU presidency for next Monday.

An imminent payment expected to be made by German company Uniper will be pivotal in decisions to be made by EU member states on Moscow’s ruble-currency payment demand for Russian gas supply.

According to German media, Uniper intends to make a euro-currency payment to Gazprom, but, rather than make the payment to a European bank, as the company has done until now, it will instead transfer the related amount to Russia’s Gazprombank, not on the sanctions list.

As has been widely reported, Russian president Vladimir Putin has ordered countries deemed as adversaries to make gas payments through a specific procedure involving two Gazprombank accounts, a foreign-currency account and a ruble-currency account. Gazprombank will convert foreign-currency sums to rubles before transferring the resulting amounts to parent company Gazprom.

All eyes on Germany’s ruble payment stance for Russian gas

Greece and the entire EU are waiting to see if Germany will agree to Russia’s demand for Gazprom gas supply payments in the ruble currency.

Berlin’s next payment to Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom is due tomorrow. To date, Chancellor German chancellor Olaf Scholz has refused to bow to Moscow’s recent payment-term demands.

The decision to be reached by Germany on this dispute with Moscow is expected to serve as a guide for most EU members.

Berlin has officially noted that Russian president Vladimir Putin’s payment demand violates the terms of an agreement signed between the two sides.

Besides creating artificial demand and, subsequently, greater value for the ruble, which has been impacted by sanctions on Russia, Moscow’s demand for natural gas payments in its currency is also seen as a Russian show of strength aiming to force the EU to succumb to Russian demands.

The EU’s refusal, so far, to bow to Russia’s ruble-currency pressure for natural gas payments has contributed to keeping gas prices at high levels.

Greek officials who took part in an energy-security meeting yesterday, called by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, reportedly stated that the EU made a mistake to reject Russia’s ruble payment demand, made in late March.

The ongoing political tension and market turbulence, resulting in higher natural gas prices, is benefitting Russia’s gas revenues.

 

Major RES input lowers electricity price to near zero Sunday afternoon

Greatly increased renewable energy contributions – covering over 80 percent of demand – during yesterday’s weekend siesta hours of 2pm to 5pm pushed down the wholesale electricity price to virtually zero, or 0.09 euros per MWh.

RES input reached approximately 5 GW (wind and solar energy units), while demand was limited to just over 6 GW, enabling authorities to withdraw from the market lignite and gas-fired power stations.

On the same day, when RES input eventually fell and gas-fired power station contributions were brought back into the grid, the electricity price level rebounded to 283 euros per MWh by the evening.

The wholesale electricity price averaged 168.22 euros per MWh on Sunday, a 27 percent reduction compared to Saturday.

Similar price fluctuations were also recorded in other parts of Europe over the weekend. Negative prices were recorded in Germany and the Netherlands, at -2.49 euros per MWh, and they were even lower in Belgium, at -17.97 euros per MWh. These negative prices essentially mean that consumers are paid to use electricity.

Today, electricity market conditions are back to the ongoing energy crisis’ normal levels. The average wholesale electricity price is at 243.08 euros per MWh, up 44.5 percent compared to yesterday, despite RES input representing 51.1 percent of the energy mix.

Europe on edge, tested by Putin’s ruble payment demand

Tension in Europe has risen with signs of disorientation emerging over Russian president Vladimir Putin’s demand for ruble-currency payments to cover Russian natural gas supply.

German chancellor Olaf Scholz, according to Moscow, initially agreed on this payment term for Russian gas supply, but this was swiftly denied by the chancellery.

Italian prime minister Mario Draghi abruptly rejected Putin’s ruble-based payment plan for Russian gas supply, while Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki has called on Europe to impose an embargo on Moscow and follow his country’s example by stopping all Russian energy imports until the end of the year.

Europe is on high alert. Reliance on Russian energy reaches as high as 80 percent in Austria. Germany’s dependence on Russian energy is also high, at 55 percent.

Both countries have taken steps for gas rationing over the payment stand-off with Russia, fearing, like all of Europe, a halt in energy deliveries from Russia because of the dispute over payments.

Robert Habeck, Germany’s federal minister for economic affairs and climate action, has called on citizens to use electricity as moderately as possible.

Should Putin take the dreaded step and cut energy supply to Europe, distribution of existing natural gas reserves, as well as supply from non-Russian sources, will need to be prioritized, with preference for hospitals, power stations and crucial industries, needed to avoid economic collapse.

If European governments are forced to announce a state of emergency, an electricity rationing plan will need to be implemented for all households. The UK was forced to adopt such an extreme measure, for fuel, during the oil crisis in 1973.

In Greece, a halt in Russian natural gas supply would stop economic activity in just a few days. The country’s daily gas consumption reaches approximately 200,000 MWh, of which 115,000 MWh is supplied by Russia.

Additional LNG shipments in April; the mooring of an FSRU at the Revythoussa islet LNG terminal, just off Athens, for a capacity increase; full-capacity generation at the country’s lignite-fired power stations; as well as an agreement with Italy to ensure storage capacity at the neighboring country’s gas storage facilities, for strategic reserves, are all necessary steps ahead of next winter.

It remains to be seen if Russia’s war on Ukraine will carry on into summer and require extreme measures, or end soon, to the relief of all.

The TTF gas exchange ended trade yesterday at 118 euros per MWh. Wholesale electricity prices in Greece today are at 222.38 euros per MWh.

In comments offered during yesterday’s opening day of the two-day Power & Gas Forum staged by energypress, Pantelis Kapros, Professor of Energy Economics at the National Technical University of Athens, estimated that natural gas prices, even if the war were to end now, will average between 50 and 70 euros per MWh this year.

 

 

 

South Kavala UGS tender’s final round not until early summer

The final round of privatization fund TAIPED’s tender for a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north will not be held until early this summer following a latest deadline extension by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, on consultation regarding the facility’s business pricing framework, sources closely following the project’s developments have informed energypress.

Prior to this deadline extension, the overall procedure was delayed by several months as a result of a disagreement between RAE and gas grid operator DESFA over supplementary investments that would enable the country’s grid to cater to the needs of the UGS.

Consultation for UGS pricing framework proposals and other details, including DESFA’s ten-year development plan, was to expire on March 14, but RAE has offered participants an extension until March 30.

It is believed RAE’s text forwarded for consultation has been deemed far from satisfactory by prospective investors. If no changes are made, the tender could fail to produce a result, despite its long duration.

Such a prospect threatens to leave Greece as Europe’s only country without a single UGS for many years to come.

Elsewhere, EU member states are rushing to fill their UGS facilities ahead of next winter, following an order issued by the European Commission as part of a plan to drastically reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian gas.

The EU has a total of 170 UGS facilities, offering a total capacity of 4.2 trillion cubic metres. Germany tops the list with 60 facilities that represent 42 percent of the continent’s UGS capacity. France follows with 16 UGS facilities, Italy has 13 functional facilities and 7 under construction, while Romania has 8 UGS facilities and Bulgaria one.

 

 

Markets challenged by nuclear withdrawals, gas crisis, demand

A series of unfavorable developments, including nuclear reactor withdrawals in Germany and Belgium, persistently high natural gas prices and strong energy demand threaten will further test the European grid, threatening to prolong the energy crisis.

The withdrawal of nuclear reactors in Germany and Belgium, combined with skyrocketing natural gas prices, will negatively impact Europe’s electricity market, even in countries where natural gas holds a small share of the energy mix, as markets are interconnected, enabling a knock-on effect.

Germany has announced a withdrawal, today, of nuclear reactors with a combined capacity of 4.25 GW and remaining capacities, totaling about 4.3 GW, by end-2022. Overall, this phase-out represents 12 percent of the country’s electricity supply.

In addition, Germany’s new coalition intends to reassess the country’s existing decarbonization plan, its phase-out of fossil-fuel plants running until 2038, with the aim of shortening this procedure t0 2030, if possible.

Belgium is headed in the same direction. The country’s nuclear reactor phase-out runs until 2025. The country’s Doel 3 facility is planned to shut down in October, 2022, followed by Tihange 2 in early 2023.

Electricity demand in ten European countries is forecast to increase by 2 percent, or 5 GW, on average, in 2022, according to a Platts Analytics projection.

North rejects wholesale price as reflection of energy mix cost

A French-led proposal aligning members of Europe’s south and calling for wholesale electricity prices to reflect the energy-mix cost, from now on, has been rejected by a nine-member bloc of the north, including Germany, which insists energy exchange markets are functioning well.

France joined forces with Greece, Italy, Romania and Spain at a council meeting of European energy ministers yesterday, during which Barbara Pompili, France’s Minister of Ecological Transition, tabled the proposal from the south.

Despite the energy crisis of recent months, which has driven up energy cost levels to unprecedented levels and placed consumers, including industry, under great pressure, Europe’s north, better equipped to handle adverse market conditions as a result of more diverse energy mixes and numerous grid interconnections, has remained adamant that markets remain rational.

Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands all refused to discuss the French-led proposal at yesterday’s council meeting, noting that natural gas must continue to shape wholesale electricity prices.

Colder weather a first test for European energy system

Falling temperatures in Europe, particularly at central and western regions, have increased electricity and natural gas demand for household heating needs, representing a crash test for the European energy system, interlinked and influencing market conditions from one country to another.

Wholesale electricity price levels have risen to record levels in France and Germany, currently experiencing sub-zero Celsius temperatures.

Besides the sudden drop in temperatures, windless conditions are depriving the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany of wind-based generation, down by at least 15 to 20 GW today, according to market data.

Subsequently, the energy mix of these countries and the EU as a whole has increased in cost as the mix is now dominated by natural gas, on a record-breaking price surge in recent months.

This has prompted wholesale electricity price increases throughout Europe. In Greece, day-ahead market prices for today are at 281.03 euros per MWh, a new record for the country following a rise for a fourth consecutive day.

German wholesale electricity prices have also struck a new record level today, reaching 273.89 euros per MWh, up 13.9 percent in a day. Dutch wholesale electricity prices rose 15.5 percent in a day to reach 254.01 euros per MWh. In France, the average wholesale electricity price for today is 295.82 euros per MWh. The highest price level in Europe was recorded in Serbia, reaching 310.63 euros per MWh.

Meteorologists have forecast a heavy winter. Greek officials are awaiting energy price levels for the rest of November before they decide on whether to increase current electricity subsidy levels.

 

 

 

Electricity prices could be driven further 13% higher in December

Latest complications in the licensing procedure for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline running directly from Russia to Germany through the North Sea, as well as the EU’s deteriorated ties ties with Belarus, key transit territory for Russian gas entering the EU via Poland, appear set to push electricity price levels even higher in coming weeks.

Wholesale electricity in Greece averaged a price of 221 euros per MWh in the first half of November, up from 198 euros per MWh for October, overall.

If current conditions do not improve, suppliers estimate that retail electricity prices will reach nearly 300 euros per MWh in December, up 13 percent from the current November level of 265 euros per MWh.

Market players are being pushed to the edge. Some suppliers are waging survival battles, others are seeking to appease unsettled customers through campaigns offering energy-efficiency tips, while others are seeing their market strategies overrun by the continual flow of unfavorable developments.

Greek government officials are also jittery, realizing that household electricity subsidies of 39 euros per month offered for November and December for the first 300 KWh of consumption will not be enough.

 

 

Ministry official to hold strategic energy talks in Washington

Strategic opportunities emerging as a result of the Greek energy market’s ongoing transformation as well as the geopolitical significance of certain major projects, such as the Southern Gas Corridor, intended to diversify Europe’s gas sources and reduce the continent’s dependency on Russian gas, will be discussed by the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou with American officials during her visit to Washington this week.

The Greek official, travelling to Washington today, plans to hold discussions covering the entire range of energy policy issues, from new RES technologies, hydrogen, the energy mix, as well as investments of geopolitical nature, including Balkan gas interconnections, the Alexandroupoli FSRU project in northeastern Greece, the underground gas storage (UGS) facility at the almost depleted gas field of South Kavala in the Aegean Sea’s north, as well as Greece’s role as a regional hub for energy source and route diversification.

Inevitably, the talks will also cover the current energy crisis troubling the world, especially Europe.

US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm has directly criticized Moscow for deliberately subduing its gas supply to Europe in order to manipulate the energy market and pressure Brussels for approval of Nord Stream 2, an underwater gas pipeline directly connecting Russia with Germany through the North Sea.

Certain countries that stand to lose significant gas transit revenues oppose this new pipeline. It has also generated years of conflict between Berlin and Washington. Nord Steam 2 has almost been completed and is now undergoing trial runs.

Europe is heavily dependent on Russian gas, while some countries in central and eastern Europe, including the Balkans, are almost entirely dependent. The US is seeking the greatest possible share for supply of American LNG.

PPC to partially absorb power costs, Brussels action imminent

Power utility PPC has decided to pursue a policy that will partially absorb electricity market price increases prompted by a volatile combination of unfavorable factors.

The utility plans to limit the impact of carbon emission costs and not pass on the entirety of their effect to consumers.

Competitors will either have to follow suit and subdue price hikes, which will hurt their financial results, or risk suffering market share losses.

The response of PPC’s rivals remains unclear at this stage. Marker players are now trying to estimate the duration of this unfavorable period of elevated prices.

Natural gas prices have surged, driven by Russia’s decision to slow down gas supply to Europe, presumably to pressure Brussels into brushing aside its reservations about a new Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Germany. Also, CO2 emission costs have continued to rise.

CO2 emission cost futures contracts for December are stuck at levels of between 61 and 62 euros per ton, while analysts forecast levels of 65 euros per ton over the next few months, or possibly longer.

Given these factors, analysts believe it is a matter of time before the European Commission intervenes in an effort to deescalate market price levels by subduing CO2 emission costs and increasing its pressure on Moscow for a return to normal gas supply levels to Europe.

Otherwise, market conditions will become increasingly volatile with social repercussions, especially in countries experiencing extreme price increases that have been even greater than those in Greece.

In Bulgaria, for example, wholesale electricity prices have skyrocketed to more than 100 euros per MWh, well over the country’s usual levels of about 30 euros per MWh.

IPTO study backing PPC lignite compensation bid soon to EC

The energy ministry is preparing to forward to the European Commission a power grid operator IPTO study that underlines the ongoing necessity of the country’s lignite-fired power stations for grid sufficiency.

The IPTO study was requested by energy minister Kostas Skrekas to bolster a compensation request submitted to Brussels by state-controlled power utility PPC as a result of the grid’s ongoing need for lignite units, nowadays loss-incurring facilities due to elevated CO2 emission right costs.

PPC, Greece’s sole operator of lignite units, plans to phase out its lignite units over the next three years as part of the country’s decarbonization strategy.

The energy ministry expects to forward the IPTO study to the European Commission within the next fortnight. Greece is seeking compensation for PPC through a support mechanism for as long as these lignite units remain in use.

Last week, the European Commission began examining whether a similar German compensation request complies with EU rules and should be approved.

European Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager suggested that the German plan theoretically complies with Europe’s green energy agreement and its goals.

“Within this context, our role is to safeguard competition by ensuring that compensation for premature withdrawal [of lignite units] is kept to a minimum,” Vestager commented. “The information available at this point is not sufficient to judge.”

EU hesitation to the German plan concerns a number of aspects, including the duration of the compensation period.

RES auctions postponed throughout Europe

Governments throughout Europe are postponing RES auctions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on markets.

Germany, France and Ireland have already taken steps back to protect new RES projects, currently at various development stages, according to a Green Tech Media report.

Germany had planned seven RES auctions for this year. The country has so far offered 400 MW for solar energy projects and 675 MW for wind farms, while a further 2.9 GW for onshore wind farms and 1.4 GW for solar energy facilities remain pending. Strong investment interest had been expressed prior to the postponements.

In France, a RES auction for solar energy projects has been postponed by two months. In Ireland, a session that had been planned for April 2 has now been rescheduled for April 30. Portugal has also postponed a RES auction offering 700 MW for solar energy projects.

On the contrary, Dutch authorities intend to press ahead with a RES auction at the end of this month, offering 700 MW for wind farms. Swedish multinational power company Vattenfall’s Dutch subsidiary has announced it will not participate.

 

 

 

RWE, to invest €1bn in Greek RES market, signing MoU today

German energy group RWE intends to invest approximately one billion euros in Greece’s renewable energy market over the next few years.

Details of the investment plan will be included in a Memorandum of Understanding expected to be signed today by the company heads of the German group and Greek power utility PPC at a Greek-German economic forum in Berlin.

RWE’s investment plan includes providing PPC expertise for its decarbonization effort. A prospective conversion of an existing PPC lignite-fired power station into a biomass facility, as well as joint investments in solar and wind energy projects with PPC subsidiary PPC Renewables are among the projects listed in the investment plan.

German renewable energy investment interest is focused on solar and wind energy projects. Other related technologies such as offshore wind facilities, as had been reported in the past, are not being considered.

RWE chief executive Rolf Martin Schmitz had informed Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of the German energy group’s interest to invest and provide knowhow at a meeting in Germany last October.

Between 2012 and 2018, RWE reduced its CO2 emissions by 60 million tons, a 30 percent reduction. The group, looking to be fossil fuel-free by 2040, will focus on further development in the RES and energy storage domains, an investment effort estimated at 1.5 billion euros. Germany has pledged to be carbon-free by 2038.

German players eyeing NECP opportunities ahead of Berlin forum

Greece’s major energy market opportunities, from the auto vehicle growth to decarbonization, renewable energy development, ambitious network investments and underwater cable interconnections are being eyed by German energy groups, preparing to participate at a high-level German-Hellenic Economic Forum next month.

The event, scheduled for March 9 in Berlin, is expected to be attended by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as a follow-up to a previous meeting between the two leaders in the German capital last August.

Greece’s new green agenda was tabled for the first time at that summer meeting, along with the idea to stage next month’s investment forum.

The Greek government, looking to execute an ambitious 44 billion-euro National Energy and Climate Plan by 2030, will gauge the level of German investor interest at the upcoming Berlin forum.

Leading German groups expected to participate at next month’s event include RWE, among the companies believed to be interested in supporting power utility PPC’s decarbonization effort, EON, eyeing opportunities at distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO; as well as Enercon, seeking wind energy partnership. Prospective partnerships with Greek players such as PPC, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), Mytilineos and Terna Energy are expected to be discussed.

 

Terna

Gov’t to hasten hydrogen market development amid investment interest

Procedures leading to the establishment of Greek hydrogen market appear set to progress faster than expected, the government’s strategic decision for greater renewable energy penetration of the energy market, investment interest and Germany’s upcoming EU presidency being catalysts. The government will aim to implement related regulatory framework by July.

Hydrogen tariffs, sector support, technical prerequisites for the infusion of hydrogen into the natural gas network, as well as the determination of maximum mix levels for the two fuels are among the issues included in the new framework, to be accompanied by a sustainability study on related facilities.

Feasibility studies examining the level of competitiveness of such infrastructure as well as costs do not exist at present. They need to be conducted so as to enable authorities to determine the number of units that can enter the Greek market.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has publically expressed interest to develop the country’s first hydrogen refueling station for vehicles. Greek utility DEPA and Italy’s Snam have also expressed interest. Snam reiterated its interest at a New Year company event staged yesterday by Greek gas grid operator DESFA. Snam is a main shareholder, along with Enagas and Fluxys.

A recent McKinsey study commissioned by Snam for the Italian market showed that hydrogen can cover 23 percent of domestic energy demand in 2050 amid a 95 percent decarbonized market.

PPC claiming compensation for operation of coal generators

Power utility PPC is looking to claim compensation for keeping its loss-incurring coal generators in operation to help meet the country’s electricity needs.

The utility aims to seek compensation through an EU cost-recovery mechanism for as long as its existing lignite-fired power stations will need to keep operating until a planned withdrawal procedure for these units is completed by 2023.

A strategic reserve capacity being used in Germany is being looked at by state-controlled PPC.

PPC chief executive Giorgos Stassis made the request to the Greek government, which in turn has relayed the matter to Brussels.

European Commission officials, who have held talks on the matter with energy ministry officials, have not responded favorably to the Greek request. On the contrary, they believe Greece owes amounts related to the country’s insistence on using coal generators as a European Court decision has not been implemented.

PPC has also made note of a compensation plan for gas-fueled power stations on the islands that are expected to be interconnected. The power utility believes it will be entitled to compensation if the operation of these units is deemed necessary for grid emergency back-up reasons.

The power utility also claims it would be entitled to compensation for any unrecovered amount of its investment in these gas-fueled power stations if they happen to be withdrawn prematurely.

 

Energy deputy in Berlin Thursday for new round of bilateral talks

Moving on from his participation at this year’s Greek-themed Capital Link Forum in New York, deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas will be in Berlin Thursday for the third round of a Greek-German Action Plan on Bilateral Cooperation.

Greek and German officials will have an opportunity to discuss ensuing steps for energy-sector projects.

Germany’s energy minister is already familiar with Greece’s new National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), presented by the Greek energy deputy last week at an EU council of energy ministers.

The Greek government has already shown an interest to utilize German decarbonization know-how following the fellow EU member state’s initiatives taken in this domain. The matter was discussed in October by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis with the head of RWE.

Germany’s investment interest, consistently firm, has grown even stronger following the Greek government’s recent announcement of a plan aiming for a swifter withdrawal of power utility PPC’s coal generators.

Bilateral energy-sector cooperation was also keenly discussed at a Berlin meeting in August between the Greek leader and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Strong German interest exists for all of Greece’s forthcoming energy-sector privatizations. E.on, for example, is among the firms interested in a sale, announced yesterday, offering 100 percent of DEPA Infrastructure, a new entity that has emerged from a split at gas utility DEPA.

PPC lignite withdrawal plan to cost €4bn, German model indicates

The complete withdrawal of power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations by 2028, when Greece is expected to have decarbonized, according to a recent goal set by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, will cost an estimated four billion euros, if an approximation prepared by German electric utilities company RWE for Germany’s decarbonization effort is locally applied.

RWE has estimated Germany’s lignite withdrawal plan will cost 1.2 billion euros per 1,000 MW withdrawn from the system.

To achieve full decarbonization by 2028, Greece will need to withdraw 3.4 GW of lignite units.

The head of RWE, Rolf Martin Schmitz, who met with the Greek leader last week, expressed the Germany company’s interested to collaborate with PPC for joint development of RES projects and also provide expertise for the Greek utility’s withdrawal of lignite units.

RWE, which has already withdrawn some of its older lignite-fired units, remains Europe’s biggest polluter as it still maintains the continent’s largest lignite portfolio. RWE is currently negotiating its lignite withdrawal plan with the German state.

 

Decarbonization plan prompts German investment interest

Greece’s decarbonization plan, to be executed through a gradual withdrawal of power utility PPC lignite-fired power stations in the country’s west Macedonia region, in the north, and Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese, has prompted German investment interest.

The head of German electric utilities company RWE, Rolf Martin Schmitz, expressed an interest for green investments in Greece to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at a meeting yesterday in Germany. Schmitz highlighted his company’s knowhow in pursuing post-lignite plans.

The timing of yesterday’s meeting was not coincidental. Just weeks ago, Greece’s leader, speaking at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, announced a decarbonization objective for the country by 2028.

Yesterday’s session can be seen as a follow-up to a meeting between Mitsotakis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin last August.

The two leaders had discussed environmentally friendly investments and also announced a plan to stage an investment forum involving Greek and German firms possessing green energy experience.

The Greek government’s current search for a plan that will ensure a smooth transition to the post-lignite era no doubt signals investment opportunities in Greece for RWE.

No signs of market pressure despite European heatwave

Despite soaring temperatures in central Europe, expected to exceed 40 degrees Celsius in France and Germany, electricity markets have been spared of excessive pressure, as highlighted by day-ahead market price reductions prompted by strong wind forecasts, meaning that part of the additional electricity demand will be covered by wind energy generation.

In Germany yesterday, over-the-counter electricity prices fell by 5.25 percent to 37.9 euros per MWh, while in France, price levels of agreements for delivery today fell by 4.5 percent to 31.5 euros per MWh.

In France, peak-hour demand is expected to increase by 1.6 GW to 51.5 GW, while, in Germany, demand is seen remaining steady at 63.4 GW.

These trends can be partially attributed to wind energy production rises in both countries.

Likewise, day-ahead market data for Greece, where temperatures are forecast to drop, has shown no signs of pressure. Today’s demand level of 156,365 MWh is expected to be easily met by thermal production and the RES sector. The Greek system has programmed to export 22,768 MWh.

Heatwave, unfavorable factors prompt energy crisis meeting

The country’s grid capacity is set to be seriously tested for the first time this summer over the next few days when temperatures around the country are forecast to soar to levels of at least 37 degrees Celsius, which is sure to prompt widespread and heavy use of air conditioning systems and lead to a surge in electricity demand.

This anticipated early-summer heatwave will coincide with a combination of unfavorable temporary factors limiting electricity generation.

A crisis team comprised of RAE (Regulatory Authority for Energy), DEPA (gas utility), DESFA (gas grid operator) and IPTO (power grid operator) officials will convene for an emergency meeting today, energypress sources informed, to discuss energy supply as the heatwave nears.

The LNG terminal at the Revythoussa islet off Athens is currently closed for expansion work, now in progress. The Greece-Italy interconnection linking the grids of both countries is temporarily closed until June 21 for maintenance work. The anticipated increased reliance on air conditioners during the heatwave will require greater electricity output from the country’s gas-fueled power stations. Also, higher electricity prices in regional markets have prompted local traders, lured by the higher prices, to increase Greek electricity exports to the north.

Participants at today’s emergency meeting will seek solutions ensuring the grid’s ability to meet heightened electricity demand over the next few days.

CO2 emission right costs have risen over the past three months, especially in May, while fuel and natural gas price levels have also climbed to remain at elevated levels.

These developments have sharply increased prices of electricity futures markets contracts both in Germany, guiding European developments, and in regional markets impacting Greece, namely Hungary, which shapes prices in Balkan countries interconnected with Greece, as well as Italy, a key market also interconnected with the Greek grid.

In Germany, wholesale electricity prices rose by approximately 10 euros per MWh in a month. In Italy, current electricity futures contracts concerning delivery in July are being established at levels of around 75 euros per MWh.

These regional price increases are already impacting the Greek market, where the System Marginal Price, or wholesale price, averaged 56.33 euros per MWh in May. June contracts are being established at 59 euros euros per MWh.

RAE and the country’s operators see all these factors as severe warnings which prompted the need for today’s meeting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wholesale power prices rise, perilous times for suppliers

Increased wholesale electricity prices in Europe, still only partially reflected in the Greek market, are increasing the challenges faced by local suppliers.

CO2 emission right costs have risen over the past three months, especially in May, while fuel and natural gas price levels have also climbed to remain at elevated levels.

These developments have sharply increased prices of electricity futures markets contracts both in Germany, guiding European developments, and in regional markets impacting Greece, namely Hungary, which shapes prices in Balkan countries interconnected with Greece, as well as Italy, a key market also interconnected with the Greek grid.

In Germany, wholesale electricity prices rose by approximately 10 euros per MWh in a month. In Italy, current electricity futures contracts concerning delivery in July are being established at levels of around 75 euros per MWh.

In Hungary, energy supply term contracts covering all of 2019 (CAL-19 contracts) rose by 6.3 percent in May, from 47.45 euros per MWh to 50.78 euros per MWh. Compared to price levels in March, the cost of CAL -19 contracts has increase by 22 percent, from 41.65 euros per MWh to 50.78 euros per MWh.

These regional price increases are already impacting the Greek market, where the System Marginal Price, or wholesale price, averaged 56.33 euros per MWh in May. June contracts are being established at 59 euros euros per MWh.

Worse still for independent suppliers, the starting price at the country’s next NOME auction, next month, will be significantly increased.

Higher price levels in regional markets have made electricity exports a more attractive prospect for local traders, resulting in further upward pressure on local prices.

Given the current market conditions, lofty price levels reached at previous NOME auctions no longer look as bad, officials at independent supply firms have told energypress. Elevated NOME auction prices of 45.2 euros per MWh reached at the end of 2017 are no longer regarded as lofty and will soon be reminisced, independent supply firm officials said.

NOME auctions were introduced in Greece nearly two years ago to offer independent suppliers access to the main power utility PPC’s lower-cost lignite and hydrocarbon sources.

It remains to be seen whether independent suppliers, especially smaller players, will be able to handle these wholesale price increases as they push to penetrate the retail market. Export and trading will offer suppliers some profit opportunities but, at current wholesale price levels, most firms, including PPC, are incurring losses in the local retail supply market.

Under normal market conditions, wholesale price increases lead to higher retail prices. But this is not so in the Greek electricity market, still distorted. State-controlled PPC, the dominant player, does not set its retail prices based on cost but political decisions taken at the energy ministry, keeping electricity price levels lower than they should be.

This market distortion is affecting the ability of independent suppliers to compete and gain more respectable retail market shares as they are forced to follow PPC and keep their price offers low.

An upcoming reduction of the RES-supporting supplier surcharge will offer independent suppliers some relief, but it does not appear to be enough to offset the higher wholesale prices, while CAT payments paid by suppliers are expected to be reintroduced.

 

 

 

 

Local energy communities plan receiving German support

An energy ministry plan promoting the establishment of energy communities is receiving German support through GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), a financing mechanism of Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), as was highlighted at the ongoing Thessaloniki International Fair over the weekend.

The GIZ mechanism, which provides support to plans and initiatives in southeast Europe, is backing the Greek energy ministry’s plan for energy communities as a result of an agreement reached by the two sides for the development of decentralized RES installations and community RES projects.

Energy communities offer decentralized, locally generated energy solutions.

Two leading energy ministry officials, Aliki Skliri and Dimitris Tsekeris, a close associate of energy minister Giorgos Stathakis, are scheduled to visit Berlin for a September 15 meeting at the foreign ministry on the Greek-German energy communities plan, officially titled “Technical assistance for renewable energies and energy efficiency in Greece”. It is being co-funded by the European Commission.

GIZ is currently also advising Greece’s energy ministry on needed legal framework revisions, which, it has stressed, are “crucial for further RES and energy efficiency development.”

GIZ has also collaborated with Greece’s energy ministry in the recent past, in 2015, as an adviser for the country’s new RES regulatory framework.

 

 

 

German RES auctions open up to projects in other EU member states

The German government has offered its approval to an initiative that will soon open up the country’s RES auctions to investors planning projects in other EU member states.

The German energy ministry announced that 5 percent of the country’s annual RES auction capacity, or 300 MW, will, from now on, be set aside for auctions concerning projects to be developed in other EU markets.

This move was offered as a condition by the European Commission for its approval of Germany’s new legal framework for the RES sector.

Until now, foreign investors could only take part in pilot program auctions for photovoltaic systems.

Germany’s energy ministry has set three conditions. The German State will limit its funding of RES projects abroad to   EU member states funding RES projects in Germany. Also, bilateral agreements will need to be reached between participating countries and Germany. Thirdly, the electricity to be generated at facilities abroad will need to truly impact the German market.

Rainer Baake, state secretary at Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, noted that the development promises to support the RES sector’s diversification, growth and balance.

EC officially endorses German ‘demand response’ plan

The European Commission has officially announced its endorsement of Germany’s existing “demand response” plan, an energy cost-saving mechanism for major-scale industrial enterprises. This comes as a significant development that could lead to the implementation of similar measures in other EU member states.

Greece’s equivalent, the “disruption management” auctions, already introduced, are scheduled to end in November, 2017. The country’s industrial sector recently submitted a request for the measure’s extension.

This system enables major industrial enterprises to benefit from electricity cost savings in exchange for shifting energy usage to off-peak hours whenever required by the operator in order to maintain the grid’s stability.

Germany’s “demand response” system had already been put to use but had not been officially approved in Brussels.

Greek industry has already warned of grave consequences in the sector if left without the support of the “disruption management” system.

Agreement signed for German RES knowhow on Greek islands

Leading Greek and German officials have signed two agreements, one for provision of German knowhow to support renewable energy (RES) development in Greece, especially the non-interconnected islands, and another to promote exports.

The agreements were signed by Greece’s Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis, the country’s Economy, Development and Tourism Minister Giorgos Stathakis, and German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, also Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, in Athens last Friday following an energy conference focused on the Greek and German energy sectors beyond 2020.

Gabriel, while delivering a speech at the event, noted that environmentally friendly policies and economic development ultimately do not contravene each other. He cited Germany’s decision, reached in 2011, to phase out nuclear power plants by 2022, as an example. The change of course has cost Germany 30,000 nuclear-linked jobs but created 300,000 new jobs through the country’s RES sector development, Gabriel told the conference.

The visiting German politician stressed the need for a switch from petrol to renewable energy for electricity production on the Greek islands, as well as for a need to reduce electricity costs in Greece, currently well above the EU average.

Gabriel stressed that 80 percent of German RES power production is exported, noting that Greek and German collaboration could lead to such prospects for Greece.

Stathakis, Greece’s Economy, Development and Tourism Minister, told the conference that the recent completion of the first review of the country’s third bailout package offers potential for the beginning of an economic rebound within 2016.

He said a new development law aims to support small and medium-sized enterprises, including in energy, as it will facilitate development of various ventures, including small-scale hydropower stations, RES units, biofuel facilities and hybrid stations on non-interconnected islands.

Skourletis, Greece’s Energy Minister, said the new support system for the RES sector will eliminate market distortions and promises to create a stable and secure environment for investors. Greece’s energy sector future beyond 2020 includes greater RES penetration, development of energy efficiency and storage systems, electric car usage growth, and eco-friendly islands, he noted.

The minister added that reducing energy costs by interconnecting the Greek islands with the mainland grid, an initiative, which he said, will also help further boost Greece’s tourism economy, stands as a key objective.

‘Energy offers major potential for Greek-German cooperation’

Further Greek-German cooperation in the energy sector, with emphasis on the renewable energy (RES) sector, was the main topic of discussion during a meeting in Athens yesterday between Greece’s Energy Minister Panos Skourletis and German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, also Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy.

During a joint press conference, Gabriel announced that two agreements had been reached, one to promote cooperation between the two countries in the energy sector, as well as sustainable growth in this domain, and the other to offer support to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Greece possesses considerable potential in the RES sector, a field in which Germany has accumulated major know-how over the past twenty years, Gabriel noted.

The visiting official stressed that numerous German companies are interested in investing in Greece.

Following the press conference, Gabriel and Skourletis, accompanied by top-ranked local associates, met with roughly forty German company representatives. Prospective energy-sector investments were discussed and ideas exchanged.

“As you know, the energy sector can serve as a springboard for new growth and certainly constitutes, I would say, a field of a strong cooperation between Germany and Greece, as was highlighted by today’s meeting with Mr. Gabriel,” Skourletis told journalists.

Skourletis also said RES and energy efficiency prospects would be discussed at an energy conference in Athens, scheduled for today. The conference is being co-organized by the Energy Ministry, the Economy, Development and Tourism Ministry, and the German Economic Affairs and Energy Ministry.

 

 

German entrepreneurs seek RES investments on the islands

A considerable number of German entrepreneurs expressed their readiness to invest in Greece – especially in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy source (RES) production, particularly on the Greek islands – during various talks and events held yesterday as a result of a visit to Athens by a 40-member German delegation headed by Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, also Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy.

Greece’s energy minister Panos Skourletis noted that both government and the ministry he heads are “here to facilitate entrepreneurs interested in investing in our country’s energy sector.”

German investors declared an interest to install conventional RES systems, especially wind-energy systems on Greek islands, and develop interconnection networks to transfer energy production to the mainland grid. Also, the installation of innovative technologies to offer islands energy independence is another prospect that interests German investors, they noted.

Energy independence on the islands could be supported though a series of moves, including development of hybrid wind-and-photovoltaic systems, technologies offering large energy storage capacities, as well as the installation of digital power meters for efficient management. Such initiatives promise to further utilize exisiting RES facilities at a rate of 80 to 85 percent from around 20 percent at present.

Skourletis, Greece’s energy minister, while delivering a speech last night at a function organized by the Greek-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry on the occasion of the delegation’s visit, stressed the government’s determination to support a “new era of growth” in the RES sector.

Skourletis underlined Germany’s impressive level of progress achieved in the RES sector and the domain’s incorporation into the daily lives of people.

“Energy cost reduction and security, issues now dynamically back on the forefront, concern us just as much as they do all other European nations, both for our citizens and production units – especially now, as we strive to create conditions for economic growth and a way out of the recession,” Skourletis remarked.