Greece-Italy grid link reopened amid market manipulation suspicions

The reopening, just days ago, of the Greece-Italy electricity grid interconnection, following a three-month closure for repair work on a submarine power cable segment close to the Italian shore, represents good news for market officials and traders as the anticipated higher electricity demand of winter draws nearer.

However, the frequency of closures of this interconnection has raised concerns among certain Greek market authorities who suspect that Italian officials may be involved in an orchestrated effort to manipulate market prices to their benefit, local pundits have suggested to energypress.

The interconnection was shut down for repair work between September 3 and November 30 following a scheduled one-month interruption between late May and late June for annual maintenance work.

The Greek-Italian grid interconnection had also remained closed for an even longer period late last year, between October 9 and December 16, once again for repair work.



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.







Reopening of Greek-Italian interconnection, repaired, imminent

An interconnection linking Greece and Italy’s grids is expected to begin operating again within the next few days after a technical fault forced its temporary closure last October.

Technical tests, necessary as the interconnection had remained out of order over an extended period of time and also because of the harsh weather conditions experienced of late, have been completed.

IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator, is expected to be given the all clear by technicians for the interconnection’s re-launch any day now. The interconnection was shut down on October 20.

IPTO and Italy’s Terna attributed the temporary closure to faults detected along onshore cables.

The reconnection is being eagerly anticipated by authorities as Europe is bracing for a new energy crisis due to sub-zero weather forecasts, once again expected to increase the need for trans-boundary energy trade.

The Greek-Italian interconnection is expected to help supply electricity to the French market – at favorable trading prices – as a result if the temporary closure of nuclear power stations in France.

Heightened electricity demand is also likely in Greece amid the expected freezing weather conditions. In this case, the reopened Greek-Italian interconnection could facilitate electricity imports into Greece.


Greek-Italian interconnection problem ‘not a capacity threat’

The country’s grid interconnection linking the Greek and Italian systems, out of order since October 20 and not expected to be reinstalled until mid-January, will not cause any capacity issues in Greece, IPTO, the power grid operator, and Terna, Italy’s transmission system operator, have reassured in an announcement.

The temporary disconnection has affected the volume of Greek-Italian transboundary electricity trade, which is influencing system marginal prices.

The disconnection could affect the export plans of local electricity suppliers who purchased low-priced electricity through Greece’s recent inaugural NOME auction and were planning to supply amounts to Italy, where electricity prices are relatively higher at present.

According to a report published by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, 14.9 percent of revenues generated by electricity auctions concerning Greece and interconnected neighbors stemmed from the Italian market in the second half of 2015 and first half of 2016. The temporarily disconnected interconnection facilitates 12.1 percent of Greece’s electricity imports and 2.8 percent of exports.