‘Environmental assessments undermining green transition’

At a time when the European Commission is urgently promoting renewable energy growth, development in the Greek RES sector is being held back by special environmental assessment requirements for projects that threaten to undermine the country’s green energy transition, ELETAEN, the Greek Wind Energy Association, has underlined in a statement.

The delay in the energy transition poses a threat for the environment, perpetuates the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, and does not allow for a reduction in energy prices, the association added.

Special environmental assessments are being demanded too easily and for extensive areas, prohibiting RES project applications from making progress, the association pointed out.



Conditional green status recognition for nuclear, gas activities in EU

The European Commission has begun a consultation procedure for new conditions that would recognize certain gas and nuclear activities as green activities, a 60-page Taxonomy Complementary Delegated Act distributed to member states at the turn of the year has indicated.

The new classification system, which will cover industries that produce about 80% of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU, is the first global attempt to define sustainable economic activity and help eradicate so-called green fraud (Green Washing).

Essentially, a list of activities is being formed that will guide the financial markets to finally decide which investment are eligible for financing.

Plan for more green islands with EU funding worth €300m

The energy and environment ministry is preparing to add more islands to its development plan for green, eco-friendly islands, through GR-Eco Island, an EU-funded program whose budget could reach 300 million euros.

The ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou, who headed a pilot project for the small Dodecanese island Halki, west of Rhodes, and oversees the overall GR-Eco Island effort, is currently involved in related talks with island mayors, officials at the shipping and island policy ministry, as well as deputy development and investments minister Yannis Tsakiris.

Sdoukou is believed to be working to establish criteria based on which island authorities can express funding interest for the transformation of their respective islands into smart, green and energy independent locations. Officials are expected to be invited to submit requests in the first half of 2022.

GR-Eco Island funding worth 100 million euros is expected to be derived from the new National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), while a further 200 million euros could be provided by the decarbonization fund.

The list of islands to be included on the GR-Eco Island, according to sources, are: Symi, Agathonisi, Megisti, Arkii, Marathi, Kasos, Pserimos, Gyali, Leipsii, Telendos, Nisyros, Megalonisi, Inousses, Psara, Fournii, Thymena, Amorgos, Anafi, Donousa, Iraklia, Antiparos, Schinousa, Ios, Sikinos, Koufonisi, Folegandros, Thirasia, Kythnos, Kimolos, Serifos, Sifnos and Kea.



Listed players plan 16 GW in RES projects worth €16bn

Greece’s listed energy groups, alone, plan to invest a total amount of 16 billion euros over the next decade for the development of green energy projects representing over 16 GW, big figures highlighting the anticipated dominance of the green energy market in the years to come as the country transitions to cleaner energy sources and decarbonizes.

Investments are already anticipated in mature RES technologies, namely wind and solar energy facilities, while, once market and regulatory conditions allow, major investments will be made in energy storage as well as offshore wind farms.

Terna Energy, market leader in Greece’s RES market, plans to reach an installed capacity of 3,000 MW in the next five years. The company, the biggest wind energy player in Greece and southeast Europe, is currently developing wind energy projects representing 400 MW while a further 63 projects are nearing maturity.

Power utility PPC is making impressive RES market progress through its subsidiary PPC Renewables. PPC, according to the company’s updated business plan, will make investments totaling 3.4 billion euros until 2023, 34 percent of this amount concerning RES investments.

Green energy is also a key aspect in the Mytilineos group’s investment plans over the next few years. Its solar energy projects portfolio, representing 1,480 MW, is one of the biggest in Greece. The company possesses 300 MW in RES projects either operating, under construction or set for construction, as well as a further 100 MW headed for final investment decisions by the end of 2021. Mytilineos also plans to develop 20 energy storage projects, each with a 50-MW capacity.

Hellenic Petoleum (ELPE), both acquiring and developing RES projects, is aiming for a 2-GW RES portfolio by 2030.

Motor Oil Hellas recently acquired 11 operating wind farms with a total 220-MW capacity as well as a 20-MW facility still under construction from private equity fund Fortress. MOH is aiming for an operating RES capacity of 364 MW by the end of 2022 as well as a medium-term RES goal of between 500 to 600 MW.

Ellaktor is planning investments worth 1 billion euros for the development of 900 MW through its partnership with Portugal’s EDPR.

Contractor Intrakat also aims to push ahead with a one billion-euro RES investment plan. The company has joined forces with Gaia Anemos, possessing wind and PV production licenses representing approximately 1 GW, plus RES expertise.

RF Energy has reached an investment decision to develop an offshore wind farm with a capacity of 498.15 MW northeast of the island Limnos. The project is budgeted at two billion euros, according to the company.




PPC industrial supply deals last act ahead of market share dive

Power utility PPC’s latest supply agreements with industrial consumers, finalized just days ago with steel producer Viohalco, Titan cement and building materials group, as well as all other industrial players, following a preceding deal with Aluminium of Greece, a member of the Mytilineos group, represent, barring unexpected developments, the final act ahead of major market changes that will dramatically reduce the utility’s market share beyond December 31, 2023, when these new high-voltage supply agreements expire.

They are PPC’s last industrial supply agreements offering fixed tariffs. As of 2024, PPC will offer indexed tariff prices that will be pegged to the wholesale electricity market’s monthly clearing price in the day-ahead market.

This change will most likely prompt industrial consumers to seek alternative electricity supply solutions.

Aluminium of Greece has already done so, as it plans to receive electricity from the Mytilineos group’s new natural gas-fired power plant being developed in the Agios Nikolaos industrial zone in Viotia’s Agios Nikolaos area, northwest of Athens, to be direct cable-linked to the Aluminium of Greece facility, as well as through RES production, ending a 60-year association with PPC.

At present, PPC sells an annual electricity amount of between 63 to 64 TWh, of which approximately 5 TWh concern high-voltage electricity. If energy-intensive consumers leave PPC from 2024 onwards, to avoid indexed tariffs, the utility’s electricity sales will drop to between 58 and 59 TWh, and, by extension, its retail market share will contract to about 50 percent from 64 percent at present.

This is the state-controlled utility’s aim as an evenly divided electricity market in which PPC will hold a market share of about 50 percent and the independent suppliers the other 50 percent will end the DG Comp’s frequent interventions over the utility’s excessive retail market share.

The energy ministry is aiming for green-energy power purchase agreements (PPAs) to cover 20 percent of industrial electricity demand by next year.


EBRD reports close to €800 million investment in Greece in 2020

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) stepped up its investments in Greece in 2020 to address immediate needs caused by the coronavirus pandemic and to create the foundations for a recovery with a focus on building back better economies.

Continuing its support for the Greek economy in 2020, the Bank made €797 million new investments in 17 projects, compared to €571 million in 13 projects in 2019, putting Greece in the EBRD’s top five countries of investment last year. 

Andreea Moraru, EBRD Director for Greece, said: “We are very proud to contribute to the robust response of the Greek economy to the crisis, supporting the recovery, helping local businesses with their needs and facilitating the transition to greener economic activities.” 

The Bank provided a senior unsecured loan of up to €160 million power utility PPC. The facility will support PPC’s working capital needs at a time of customer payment volatility following the outbreak of the crisis. It will also strengthen the resilience of the electricity sector as a whole by ensuring the stability of essential utility supplies and maintaining the momentum towards decarbonization. 

The EBRD also stepped up its efforts to help the Greek private sector by investing €57.5 euros in GEK TERNA’s successful issuance of a seven-year €500 million bond. GEK TERNA S.A. is the holding company for a group active in concessions, renewable energy, thermal energy and construction, incorporated in Greece. 

This issuance was the largest bond transaction to be listed to date on the Athens Stock Exchange and the first corporate issuance in the country since the outbreak of the pandemic. The proceeds will be used to refinance secured commercial loans with longer tenors and reduced financing costs, enabling a corporate transformation that will optimize the capital structure of GEK TERNA. 

Facilitating the transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy, EBRD launched its just transition initiative linking the transition to a low-carbon economy with inclusive economic development. One of the first projects under this approach was the Bank’s €75 million investment in the successful Eurobond tap issuance by Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), in support of a new solar photovoltaic plant in Greece, the largest solar energy project in south-eastern Europe to date. 

The total funds of €100 million raised will enable ELPE to finance the construction of 18 solar photovoltaic (PV) plants with a total installed capacity of 204 MW in Kozani, western Macedonia, the country’s most coal-dependent region. The solar park will be built close to existing coal-fired power plants that are being phased out and is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 320,000 tons annually.

In addition, the EBRD invested €50 million in the first senior preferred (SP) green bond issuance by the National Bank of Greece (NBG), combining support for capital market development and for the green economy in Greece. It was the first green bond issuance by a Greek bank and the first SP instrument to be issued by a Greek financial institution. 

Together with other investors, the EBRD invested in a €186.4 million securitization transaction of automotive leases, originated by Olympic Commercial and Tourist Enterprises S.A. (Avis), the leading car leasing company in Greece and master franchisee of the global car rental company Avis Budget Group.  

The transaction was an important milestone for the Greek securitization market as it was the largest issuance by a non-bank originator and the first auto lease asset-backed security transaction in the country with a sustainable and green element. 

Part of the proceeds will be used by Avis for the replacement of its existing fleet with lower CO2 emissions, electric and hybrid vehicles, helping the company to reduce its diesel footprint.

In late 2020, the EBRD joined forces with the Ministry of Development and Investments of Greece to establish a new public-private partnership (PPP) preparation facility cooperation account, following a request from the Greek authorities. 

The EBRD will manage the facility, which will provide high-quality, client-oriented project preparation, training and advisory services, policy support and institutional strengthening activities related to the infrastructure sector in Greece. The Ministry will fund the activities of the facility with €20 million. The project pipeline will mostly be in the social infrastructure sector (education and health), sustainable urban infrastructure, and water and waste management.

Keeping vital trade flows going, the Bank provided a €20 million factoring facility to ABC Factors under its Trade Facilitation Program (TTP). Building on the EBRD’s cooperation with Alpha Bank, the parent company of ABC Factors, the facility will enable the factoring subsidiary to further expand its portfolio of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and local corporate clients by providing funding for domestic and international factoring transactions. Greece remains the EBRD’s most active country under TFP, with close to €320 million trade transactions in 2020.  

In 2020, the EBRD started 41 new advisory projects with Greek SMEs in various areas, such as strategic and business planning, marketing and e-commerce, operational efficiency, financial management and digitalization, and delivered five online export training seminars to more than 100 participants. Donor funding from Greece, as well as from the European Union through the European Investment Advisory Hub of the European Investment Bank, has been crucial. 

Papoutsanis, a leading Greek manufacturer of soap and liquid cosmetics, became the first Greek firm to join the EBRD’s Blue Ribbon program, which combines business advice and finance for companies that stand out for their market leadership and high-growth potential. 

Furthermore, the Board of Directors of the EBRD approved a new strategy for Greece, which will guide the bank’s investment and policy engagement in the country during the next five years. 

The EBRD responded to the coronavirus pandemic with record investment of €11 billion in 2020 through 410 projects. This represents a 10 per cent increase in annual business investment relative to 2019, when the bank provided €10.1 billion to finance 452 projects.

Going solar boosts UK house prices by average of £32,000

The installation of roof-mounted solar energy systems is boosting property values as prospective buyers appreciate energy self-sufficiency and reduced energy bills in the long run.

In the UK, the market value of houses with roof-mounted PV systems increases by an average of 32,459 pounds, or 36,000 euros, according to a study conducted by energy solutions company EffectiveHome.co.uk in ten major cities.

The impact of roof-mounted PV installations on property value was biggest in London, prompting price increases in excess of 90,000 pounds for properties worth the city’s average housing price level of 686,321 pounds, according to the EffectiveHome.co.uk study.

Bristol followed with a property price boost of 45,142 pounds for properties worth the city’s average property level of 322,444 pounds. In Edinburgh, the boost measured 40,095 pounds for the average housing price of 286,397 pounds. Leicester followed with a 31,577-pound price boost for the average housing price level of 225,552 pounds. In Manchester, the increase is 29,278 pounds for the city’s average housing price level of 209,134 pounds.

PV systems offer potential electricity bill savings of at least 27,500 pounds over a 30-year period, the study determined.

“With house prices currently experiencing a mini boom, it’s interesting to see what impact solar energy and benefits such as reduced energy bills and lowering carbon emissions is having,” noted Dan Graby, director at EffectiveHome.

The value of properties equipped with PV systems is expected to be particularly boosted in countries with abundant sunshine, such as Greece, as the world increasingly turns its attention to green energy solutions.

A third round of a subsidy program – worth 850 million euros – supporting energy efficiency upgrades of properties in Greece is expected to be open for applications in October.

Recovery fund support for RES assembly lines, wind farms

Assembly lines for RES project equipment such as cables and pylons, as well as the development of infrastructure to host offshore wind farms, will feature in energy ministry proposals for funding support through the European Commission’s new recovery plan.

The environment and energy ministry, along with all other ministries, have been given until August 24 to submit their proposals to the Prime Minister’s office for project funding support through the European Commission’s new recovery tool, Next Generation EU.

The proposals from all ministries will then be shaped into a national plan that will then be delivered to Brussels in October for approval.

EU funding support for RES-sector assembly units and offshore wind farm infrastructure would come as an addition to other eco-friendly initiatives taken by the energy ministry, including a third round of subsidy support for domestic energy efficiency upgrades through the Saving at Home program; upcoming subsidies for electric vehicle purchases; green economy investments; and grid network development.

Thoughts for the development of RES equipment assembly lines in Greece had first been aired about a decade ago, but, at the time, the country’s RES sector was too small to make such plans feasible.

New wind farms offering a total capacity of 727.5 MW were connected to Greece’s grid last year, a record-level performance for the country.


Green energy to remain a catalyst for Greek economic growth

Local authorities, in the coming months, will focus on reigniting green energy investment interest expressed by many international funds until February, when the coronavirus outbreak began halting plans.

The restart could be a challenging task as certain funds may hold back following losses on stock exchanges.

Even so, the pandemic’s impact on green energy markets is expected to be far milder compared to other sectors.

Market analysts throughout the continent believe prospective investments in renewable energy, waste management, energy efficiency upgrades for buildings, as well as decarbonization initiatives, will serve as key factors for economic growth in Europe, including Greece.

The European Green Deal, aiming for a climate-neutral EU of zero greenhouse gases by 2050, will not be endangered by the current pandemic-induced crisis as it is a short-term condition that pales by comparison to the grander plan set out for the next 30 years, energy ministry sources told energypress.

However, a slight regression of green energy investment plans is initially anticipated, compared to positions in February.

Between 70 and 80 percent of foreign investors are expected to remain interested in Greece’s green energy sector in the months ahead, analysts believe.



Bioethanol, Iran tension lift gasoline prices by four cents per liter

Motorists, in recent days, have faced the prospect of gasoline price hikes of as much as three to four cents per liter, compared to December 31 levels, escalating tension in the Middle East following the assassination of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani in a US drone attack ordered by President Donald Trump and the event’s impact on the international oil market being a key factor.

Another – less publicized and possibly more important – factor also leading to fuel price rises concerns an EU law requiring greater use of bioethanol, produced from a renewable source. Over the past year, a new EU law for cleaner energy has obligated refineries to include biofuels in their fuel mix.

As a result, the percentage of bioethanol included in conventional gasoline mixes has increased as of January 1, increasing gasoline production costs.

Subsequently, the price of gasoline at local refineries has risen from 1,173.59 euros per cubic meter on December 31 to 1,198.59 euros in prices registered January 1 and 2. This represents an overnight price increase of 25 euros per cubic meter or 2.5 cents per liter. The price rise will begin taking effect at petrol stations today, the end of the extended festive season in Greece.

The rising concerns in the Middle East combined with the cleaner auto fuel initiative will result in a retail price increase of approximately four cents per liter.

Worse still, a retaliatory attack by Iran on Saudi facilities, or an effort by Tehran to block the Strait of Hormuz, a corridor through which 20 percent of global oil is transported, would prompt far sharper price hikes. The latter scenario would lift oil prices to over 150 dollars a barrel, according to a report by research company Capital Economics.



Foreign funds find appeal in PPC’s green energy plans

Power utility PPC’s strategic decision to decarbonize and make a dynamic entry into the renewable energy sector is the prospect that interests foreign fund managers most about the utility, judging by the overall response at a series of meetings between PPC chief executive Giorgos Stassis and fund managers in London over the past couple of days.

The PPC boss held meetings with over 30 fund managers as part of a roadshow at the London Stock Exchange.

PPC’s plans to restructure, boost cash flow and sell a majority stake of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO were also embraced by fund managers representing foreign funds such as Ambrosia Capital, Pictet Asset Management, One Investments, STJ and Schroders. But, without a doubt, the power utility’s plans for a greener future drew the greatest amount of interest.

For years now, green energy investors have found it difficult to fathom why Greece, a country blessed with abundant sunlight and exceptional wind energy potential, is not at the forefront of renewable energy developments, but, instead, missing RES targets.

PPC needs to take the initiative and develop major green investments, otherwise Greece will not establish itself as a key market player in this domain, the fund managers commonly believed.

Many foreign fund managers questioned how PPC would accumulate the capital needed to move ahead with its green plans given the fact that, until recently, it was in frantic search of between 900 and 950 million euros to avoid an unfavorable  rating in an imminent report, due September 24, by certified auditor Ernst & Young.

PPC hopes a new business plan being prepared by McKinsey will convince investors and quell these fears.

Cost of green energy continuing decline, industry data shows

RES auction prices have dropped considerably, both for solar and wind energy, driving green energy prices to levels below the System Marginal Price (SMP) for longer periods, the results of the latest auction, staged on Monday, have confirmed following similar results in 2018.

A price level of 78.42 euros per MWh for output by solar facilities with capacities of less than 1 MW at the RES auction in July, 2018 was less than the SMP for 2.9 percent of the total time elapsed until that stage in the year.

Six months later, at a RES auction in December, 2018, the price for this category dropped to 66.66 euros per MWh and was lower than the SMP for 32.2 percent of the year’s total time.

The trend is similar in the wind energy sector. In the category for wind energy facilities with capacities of between 3 and 50 MW, the RES auction price fell from 69.53 euros per MWh to 58.58 euros per MWh between July and December in 2018. The SMP was greater than auction prices for 19.7 and 59.2 percent of the time, respectively.

JinkoSolar helping deliver low-carbon Winter Olympics in China in 2022

JinkoSolar, one of the world’s biggest solar module manufacturers, has been chosen to provide 20MW solar panels for a state-level demonstration project integrating solar plus wind and storage in Zhaangjiakou, where its renewable energy roadmap will support the ambition to deliver a low-carbon Winter Olympics in 2022, the company has announced in a statement.

This project will support the establishment of a ‘low-carbon Olympic zone’ in Zhangjiakou, with plans for both the Olympic center and Olympic stadiums to be powered by renewable energy, and will help Zhangjiakou to become China’s first energy transition pilot city, the JinkoSolar statement noted.

The Games will be the first major global sporting event held in China since the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Co-host Zhangjiakou, located approximately 200 kilometers from Beijing, has been identified as having a strong renewable energy resource endowment, with abundant wind, solar and biomass potential in the region. The city aims to generate 50 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020, which will enable the 2022 Winter Olympics to be the most environmentally friendly ever staged. The initiative is also expected to pioneer a movement towards the cost-effective decarburization of the world’s greatest spectacles.

Commenting on JinkoSolar’s choice, Gener Miao, the company’s CMO, noted: “We are honored to be selected as one of the main suppliers of panel for this demonstration project combining the most advanced technology and products of solar, wind and storage. Our high-performance products will contribute to the new mode and serve for Low-Carbon Winter Olympics.”



RES sector fears wind energy opposition within Syriza party

RES energy players fear a wing of governing Syriza party officials opposing the installation of wind energy parks could influence government decisions despite the energy ministry’s apparent support for green energy development.

The energy ministry is currently preparing a tender in search of a consultant to be tasked with studying and preparing a new spatial plan for renewable energy sources, according to sources. The ministry is aiming to announce a preferred bidder by April.

Local authorities see the spatial plan as a move possessing potential for organized and well-structured RES development in Greece, in accordance with the country’s ambitious green energy targets.

However, certain local renewable energy players, especially wind energy investors, fear Greece could risk missing ambitious targets set for 2030 as the implementation of the country’s green energy plan could be hampered by various damaging restrictions – explicit and illicit, legal and illegal – being promoted and imposed.

Some of these restrictions have already impacted spatial planning frameworks of certain regions, including on Crete and in mainland Greece.

It is feared these restrictive measures will be officially adopted through the RES sector’s Special Spatial Plan to emerge through the latest initiative.