Three CCGTs to vie for two grid spots covering 1.9 GW, Aurora study shows

Three new combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plants will be vying for two spots on the electricity grid to cover an available capacity of 1.9 GW, a latest study conducted by Aurora Energy Research and covering the period between 2022 and 2030 has shown.

The Aurora Energy Research study estimated the grid’s available capacity at 2.7 GW but subtracted 820 MW to be offered by the Mytilineos group’s already-completed CCGT in Viotia’s Agios Nikolaos area, slightly northwest of Athens.

The three candidate projects are a CCGT power plant being co-developed by GEK TERNA and Motor Oil in Komotini, northeastern Greece; a power plant being constructed by power utility PPC, gas company DEPA Commercial and the Copelouzos group’s Damco Energy in Alexandroupoli, also in the northeast; as well as PPC’s Ptolemaida V, when it converts from a lignite to natural gas-fueled facility in 2028.

Development of Thermoilektriki Komotinis, the GEK TERNA-Motor Oil CCGT in Komotini, has reached an advanced stage and is considered the most efficient power plant in Greece. Once operational, it will emit 75 percent less CO2 than a lignite plant.

Work on the Alexandroupoli CCGT began last January and is slated for completion in 2025. PPC holds a 51 percent stake, DEPA Commercial has a 29 percent share, and the Copelouzos group’s Damco Energy maintains the remaining 20 percent. This facility will be equipped to also run on hydrogen and mixed fuel.


IPTO moves fast to issue 4,250 MW in RES connection offers

Power grid operator IPTO has issued connection offers totaling a capacity of 4,250 MW for RES projects seeking grid space since the arrival of a recent ministerial decision signed last August and revised in late January to shape the procedure’s details, including its fast-track priority system.

The operator has also received a substantial number of applications for a first wave of standalone batteries representing a total capacity of 5,340 MW. These applications have already received environmental permit, meaning the turnout for an upcoming investment support program expected to be staged by the end of June will be considerable.

A ministerial decision will need to be issued this month so that a first auction may be staged within Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) fund deadlines.

‘Incentives for battery additions to PVs would free up grid space’

Power grid operator IPTO’s Deputy Chairman, Ioannis Margaris, participating in a panel discussion at yesterday’s second and final day of the Power & Gas Forum in Athens, proposed incentives for behind-the-meter energy storage unit additions to still-unelectrified solar panel installations as a means of making available extra grid capacity for new RES projects.

Efficient use of the grid’s limited capacity is crucial. Authorities have already warned that unless drastic action is taken, the country’s grid capacity is headed towards exhaustion in the coming years.

At present, occupied grid capacity totals 25 GW, 11 GW concerning RES projects already operating and 14 GW concerning active final connection offers, the IPTO deputy noted.

Margaris stressed that grid access in many parts of the country will soon become unavailable given the large number of RES project connection applications submitted by investors to IPTO.

Stricter terms limiting the duration of connection offers for stagnant projects, a measure that was recently ratified in Parliament as part of a multi-bill submitted by the energy ministry, will help free up valuable grid capacity, the IPTO deputy stressed.

Also taking part in the forum’s panel discussion, Dr. Stavros Papathanasiou, Professor at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), agreed that a solution concerning the addition of energy storage units to RES projects will, sooner or later, need to be adopted.

Adding behind-the-meter batteries to solar panel systems, either under development or already operating, is the only option to avoid big project cuts as the objective is to accommodate as many RES units as possible into the grid’s limited capacity, the professor stressed.

Battery additions will, of course, increase the cost of solar energy projects, but this increase should not add more than 15 to 20 euros per MWh to the cost of electricity produced by each project, assuming batteries with a duration of between 0.5 and one hour are installed, Papathanasiou informed.


Incentives for RES projects with storage units considered

The energy ministry is considering subsidy support and licensing simplification initiatives as incentives that could encourage RES investors to add energy storage units to projects that have already received connection offers.

Although the ministry’s thoughts on the issue are still nascent, it is already favorably inclined to pursue the plan, proposed by sector experts, as it would free up significant grid capacity and enable further RES development for a bigger green-energy share of the energy mix.

Highlighting the benefits offered by RES projects incorporating energy storage units, a RES project with a capacity of 100 MW, for example, would occupy 72 MW of the grid, whereas the same project would take up approximately 50 MW of the grid if it were to be equipped with an energy storage unit.

Efficient use of the country’s grid, saturated at certain points, is crucial. RES units in operation and maturing RES projects possessing final connection offers currently represent a total capacity of 24 to 25 GW, just below the transmission system’s projected capacity of approximately 29 GW in 2030.

Stalled RES projects totaling 3.6 GW to face ultimatums

RES projects that have received final connection offers in the past from power grid operator IPTO but have remained stagnant as a result of failing to submit contract applications will be set deadlines, as part of an energy ministry effort to free up urgently needed grid capacity.

A related amendment has been included in an energy ministry multi-bill covering a range of matters. It will be taken to Parliament next week for debate and ratification.

Older RES projects representing a total capacity of 2.4 GW are estimated to have stalled since receiving final connection offers, along with a further 1.2 GW in green-energy projects that had submitted their applications collectively.

Sector officials believe that older RES projects representing 1.5 GW of this 3.6 GW tally in stalled projects will be withdrawn as a result of the deadlines to be set by the energy ministry, freeing up coveted space for new RES investments.

According to the ministry’s new terms, RES projects that received final connection offers up until December 31, 2020 will need to submit their contract applications by June 30, 2023. RES projects that received final connection offers between January 1 and December 31 in 2021 will have until August 31, 2023 to submit contract applications.

RES units currently operating in Greece represent a total capacity of 11 GW.

IPTO’s Western Corridor power line to be delivered next month

A much-delayed section of a power transmission line project in Greece’s west, dubbed the Western Corridor, for which its developer, IPTO, the power grid operator, was forced to bypass a monastery in the Kalvryta area following objections and legal action taken by its nuns, is expected to be delivered by the end of this month, enabling the wider project’s launch by mid-April, energypress sources have informed.

The new 400-KV double circuit transmission line will enable a high-voltage center in Megalopoli, central Peloponnese, to be connected to 400-KV circuits at Antirio, on the mainland’s southern coast. This will boost the Peloponnese’s existing transmission line connections, currently entirely facilitated by 150-KV transmission lines linked with the wider Athens area and western Greece.

The new Western Corridor transmission line, comprised of aerial, underground and underwater sections, has been 98-percent ready since 2019, the missing link being a section that was originally planned to run by the monastery, at a 500-meter distance. Legal action taken by the Kalavryta-area monastery’s nuns blocked the installation of two pylons, forcing a change of course further away from the monastery.

This section’s development was put on hold for several months as a result of the legal action taken by the monastery.

The project’s launch will not offer additional grid capacity for RES projects. RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has already factored in the additional increased capacity that would be freed up by the project.

Increased grid capacity will, however, be made available for new RES project additions once the Eastern Corridor, a 400-kV transmission line linking Megalopoli, Corinth and Athens, is completed.

HEDNO: Grid capacity boost of 5 GW by 2025 for RES units

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO plans to increase the network’s capacity by 5 GW to 13.5 GW by 2025 to facilitate RES output, Dimitris Vranis, the operator’s Director of the Network Users Division, has told an industry event in Thessaloniki.

The capacity goal set in the revised National Energy and Climate Plan for 2030 would, as a result, be exceeded, noted Vranis, while offering his views on the progress of PV and energy storage unit licensing at an annual event staged by POSPIEF, the Pan-Hellenic Federation of Photovoltaic Producer Societies.

A 25-GW objective has been set by the NECP for RES penetration by 2030, the official said.

Considering that half the RES units to be involved in this further penetration are expected to concern low and medium-voltage connections, the distribution network will need to be able to host projects representing 12.5 GW.

Given this projection, the operator’s aim for a distribution network capacity increase to 13.5 GW by 2025 exceeds the aforementioned capacity needed by 8 percent.

In addition, between 2025 and 2030, DEDDIE/HEDNO plans to further boost the network’s capacity by 2 GW, increasing it to 15.5 GW, Vranis told the POSPIEF event.

At present, RES facilities representing a total capacity of 6.5 GW are linked to the distribution network, the DEDDIE/HEDNO official noted.

Some 7,000 small-scale RES projects representing a total capacity of approximately 2 GW are now being developed, most of these PVs, while 5,300 units are privately owned and represent a capacity of roughly 400 MW, Vranis noted.


Grid capacity for net metering, energy community projects

Investor application rights for new solar energy projects will continue to remain suspended for an indefinite period, but existing distribution network capacity will be made available to investors submitting applications for net metering and energy community-related projects, highly ranked energy ministry officials have informed energypress.

The ministry is determined to offer as much grid capacity as possible for projects aiming to reduce the cost of energy for a wide range of consumers, the energy ministry officials noted.

Grid capacity totaling 2.5 GW has been reserved for roof-mounted photovoltaics concerning net metering projects. This reservation is expected to enable the installation of approximately 250,000 solar energy systems of up to 10 KW in the household, small business and farming categories.

RES project links up 60% in ’22, better grid utilization needed

RES projects ended 2022 having recorded one of the best performances in recent years in terms of new unit connections to the transmission system, adding a green energy capacity of 583 MW, up from a total of 370 MW in 2021, an increase of approximately 60 percent in a year.

This spectacular increase highlights the tremendous level of interest expressed by investors for the development of new RES projects in Greece. It puts the country on the right track towards achieving ambitious green energy targets set for 2030.

According to the revised National Energy and Climate Plan, Greece is striving for a RES energy-mix share of 80 percent by the end of the decade.

Against this backdrop, priority now needs to be given to better utilize the existing network through legislative initiatives that will free up reserved electricity space from stagnant RES projects.

Also, RES project licensing procedures need to be further simplified so that grid projects included in power grid operator IPTO’s 10-year investment program may proceed even faster.

IPTO connection term offers reach 3 GW, clear-out needed

Power grid operator IPTO has offered connection terms to new RES projects representing a total capacity of 3 GW since August, when a priority system was implemented to put in line applications submitted as far back as early 2021.

IPTO has moved at a fast rate. The 3-GW capacity in connection terms offered by the operator to RES project applicants over the past four months, following the signing of a related ministerial decision, would have taken an entire year to accumulate not too long ago.

IPTO, market officials estimate, has already covered 44 percent of grid capacity available for green energy priority groups, meaning roughly just 3 GW is still available for prospective projects.

Older RES projects still not developed despite having received connection terms quite some time ago need to be cleared out in order to prevent saturation of the grid’s diminishing capacity, market officials have pointed out, echoing a message delivered by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at September’s Thessaloniki International Fair.

Sector officials estimate the grid’s maximum capacity to be available in 2030 will be 28 GW.



Grid input limits for new RES and storage units discussed

Market operators have launched a consultation procedure to define energy grid input restrictions on new wind and solar energy parks, as well as energy storage units, both stand-alone and behind-the-meter, in order to make optimal use of available grid capacity and enable grid entry for as many new projects as possible.

Energy input limits were officially introduced through a legislative revision made to facilitate a second round of measures simplifying the licensing procedure for green energy investments.

Renewable energy units already operating, or either scheduled to operate or be officially declared ready-to-operate by December 31, will not be subject to the new grid input restrictions.

Power grid operator IPTO has proposed a grid input restriction representing 72 percent of full capacity for large-scale solar energy projects.

According to the proposal, wind farms installed or planned to be installed in south Evia, Crete, as well as interconnected Cyclades islands should be exempted from grid input restrictions.

Grid input restrictions for wind energy parks elsewhere should apply between 9am and 5pm, an eight-hour period when solar farms are producing at maximum levels, the operator has proposed. Penalties could be set for infringements.

Over 20% of older RES applications no longer valid

Between 20 and 30 percent of older RES project applications submitted to power grid operator IPTO have been cancelled as a result of the failure of project investors to deliver letters of guarantee by a November 4 deadline.

This deadline has essentially served as a filter removing abandoned RES projects for which grid capacity bids had been submitted by investors.

The cancelled RES applications represent a total capacity of 4 to 6 GW, while investors behind RES projects representing between 14 to 16 GW reconfirmed their interest.

Authorities estimate that available grid capacity for these older RES applications will total 6.5 GW, meaning grid capacity will still be insufficient to host all these projects.




‘Stricter enforcement of RES project development plans’

Stricter enforcement of project development schedules for prospective RES units holding connection terms is required, while licenses need to be revoked if project deadlines are not met, power grid operator IPTO deputy president Giannis Margaris has underlined at an energy storage event in Athens.

The official also stressed the need, from now on, for RES units with integrated energy storage facilities, a combination that would enable a greater number of renewable energy projects to be installed and increase the grid’s ability to absorb their output.

As for energy injection restrictions that will be imposed on RES stations and energy storage stations, the IPTO deputy revealed that a relevant study and proposal by the operator will be submitted to the energy ministry within the next few days.

Margaris reiterated the problem of potential saturation faced by the grid, noting Greece’s current installed RES capacity totals 10 GW (5.5 GW – distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, 4.5 GW – IPTO), plus 11.5 GW in connection term offers.

The resulting total sum is nearly 22 GW, while IPTO’s ten-year development plan envisages 28 GW by 2030, including capacity being created on islands through interconnection projects, Margaris explained, adding that the National Energy and Climate Plan puts the grid capacity objective at 25 GW by 2030, meaning just 3 GW of available capacity remains, despite the strong level of investor interest.