Greek-Italian market coupling boosts transaction efficiency

The Greek-Italian electricity market coupling of day-ahead markets, launched on December 15 as part of the target model, is living up to its expectations as a safety valve facilitating optimal electricity flow between countries.

The initiative, operating through a single price coupling algorithm, EUPHEMIA (Pan-European Hybrid Electricity Market Integration Algorithm), which calculates energy allocation, net positions and transboundary electricity prices, has run smoothly since its launch over a month ago.

Greek-Italian transboundary electricity transactions admittedly enjoyed a high level of maturity prior to the introduction of market coupling, courtesy of reliable price forecasts by participants for the Greek and Italian markets.

A grid interconnection, in the form of a 163-km, 400-kV voltage and 500-MW capacity subsea cable, has been in service since 2002.

However, the market-coupling initiative has taken the efficiency of these transboundary Greek-Italian electricity transactions to a higher level as auctions allocating grid interconnection capacities are no longer required.

Since the mid-December coupling of the Greek and Italian energy markets, electricity has constantly flowed from the market offering lower prices to the higher-priced market, proving this market system’s ability to utilize interconnections to their fullest.

Market coupling of the Greek and Bulgarian day-ahead markets is planned to follow, its launch scheduled for spring.

An increased number of interconnected electricity markets promises to give the Greek wholesale electricity market a regional role. However, transboundary grid interconnections will need to be upgraded if this is to be achieved.

Brussels forwards new PCI list, to be finalized late this year

The European Commission’s fifth PCI (Projects of Common Interest) list in the electricity and natural gas sectors, being forwarded for public consultation, features, for now, a number of project additions and removals, compared to the previous edition.

Market officials and state authorities will have the opportunity to offer their views and observations over the consultation procedure’s twelve-week period before the European Commission adopts a finalized version of the fifth PCI list towards the end of 2021, based on an existing Trans-European Networks for Energy (TEN-E) framework, focused on linking the energy infrastructure of EU countries.

PCI projects are entitled to EU funding support. Brussels authorities introduced selection criteria revisions in December, ascertaining, however, that the impact of all projects, especially on CO2 emissions, will be appraised when finalizing the PCI list’s fifth edition.

The provisional list includes a number of electricity and gas sector projects concerning Greece.

Electricity-sector projects involving Greece include: a Bulgarian-Greek grid interconnection, expected to be completed in 2023; an Egyptian-Greek-Libyan grid interconnection headed by Green Power 2020 and scheduled for delivery in 2025; as well as three Egypt-Greece interconnections, two of these featuring Kykladika Meltemia SA as project promoter and expected to be respectively completed in 2025 and 2028, and a third headed by Elica SA and scheduled for completion in 2028.

An energy storage project planned by Eunice for Ptolemaida, northern Greece, and scheduled for completion in 2022 is a new entry on the PCI list.

In the natural gas sector, the PCI list includes: the Alexandroupoli FSRU (2022); a subsea pipeline between Greece and Italy, known as the Poseidon Pipeline (2025); EastMed, a pipeline planned to carry natural gas from the east Mediterranean to European markets, via Crete (2025); a compressor station in Thessaloniki’s Nea Mesimvria area (2022); a metering and regulating station in Megalopoli, Peloponnese (2025); a compressor station in Abelia, in Greece’s mid-north (2023); a compressor station in Kipoi, northeastern Greece (2024); a pipeline link for the Alexandroupoli FSRU (2022); a TAP pipeline capacity increase (2025); and the development of an underground gas storage facility (UGS) in the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in northern Greece (2023).

Operators disagree on Crete network responsibility shift

Power grid operator IPTO and distribution network operator DEDDIE are locked in a dispute over the point in time at which management responsibility of Crete’s small-scale grid interconnection, to reach the Peloponnese, should be transferred from DEDDIE, currently responsible for Crete’s network as the island is classified as a non-interconnected island, to IPTO.

DEDDIE contends that IPTO must take on the responsibility of managing the island’s network with the launch of the small-scale interconnection, anticipated in March, and not in 2023, when Crete’s full-scale interconnection, all the way to Athens, is expected to begin operating.

Crete should be considered an interconnected island as soon as the small-scale grid interconnection to the Peloponnese is launched, even though this infrastructure’s capacity will be able to cover about 30 percent of the island’s energy needs, DEDDIE contends.

Normally, the grid status of islands is automatically revised from non-interconnected to interconnected when grid interconnections serving their energy needs are launched. However, Crete, Greece’s biggest and most populous island, represents a much bigger interconnection project that is being developed over two stages.

DEDDIE, backing its case, has cited an older opinion forwarded by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to the energy ministry, through which the authority supported that Crete’s network must be considered a part of the national grid, ending its non-interconnected island status, once the small-scale interconnection begins operating.

Also citing technical reasons to support its view, DEDDIE has pointed out that IPTO will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the small-scale grid link, infrastructure directly influencing the Cretan network’s performance. Therefore, the island’s high-voltage network and the Crete-Peloponnese interconnection must be managed by the one operator, DEDDIE contends.

IPTO does not reject the prospect of eventually becoming responsible for Crete’s network, but the power grid operator does oppose the idea of assuming responsibility for a fixed asset that does not belong to the company. Crete’s high-voltage network is owned by power utility PPC.

At present, PPC does not appear ready to sell. As a result, IPTO believes DEDDIE must be responsible for the network’s management until this asset is transferred to the power grid operator.

Cretan small-scale grid link tested, launch by year’s end

Power grid operator IPTO has begun electrification procedures at Crete’s small-scale grid interconnection with the mainland, to the Peloponnese – ahead of a bigger link to reach Athens – and is now preparing to conduct trial tests ahead of the project’s official launch by the end of the year.

The small-scale interconnection, covering a total distance of 132 kilometers, from Hania in Crete to Lakonia’s Neapoli area, is an investment worth 356 million euros.

Its development, including subsea cable installations at depths of 1,000 meters, has remained on schedule despite the pandemic’s obstacles.

The project’s imminent launch will enable the transmission of electricity from the mainland to Crete, high-voltage loads of 150kV, for the first time.

Crete’s large-scale grid interconnection with Athens, scheduled for completion in 2023, will secure exclusive supply to the island from the mainland, ensuring quality electricity supply for the island’s residents and visitors, IPTO has noted.

The overall project’s completion is expected to reduce public service compensation (YKO) surcharge costs imposed on electricity bills to fund island-based power-generating facilities by 300 to 400 million euros per year, while CO2 emissions on Crete will be reduced by 60 percent.

 

 

IPTO, Terna plan Greek-Italian link boost of up to 1,000 MW

Power grid operator IPTO is taking initiatives to upgrade Greece’s interconnections with neighboring countries, acknowledging transboundary grid link insufficiencies are having a negative impact whose consequences include market functional disorders and higher electricity prices.

The operator has formed working groups with all of Greece’s neighboring countries to examine the prospect of constructing or reinforcing existing interconnections.

These associations include cooperation with Italian operator Terna. The two sides, prepared to consider both an upgrade of the existing system or the development of a new one, estimate that the Greek-Italian grid interconnection requires a capacity increase of between 500 and 1,000 MW.

According to sources, IPTO and Terna have agreed to proceed with related studies for an optimal solution as soon as possible. The operators intend to reach a decision within the next few months. Any selection will need to be approved by the Greek and Italian regulatory authorities of energy.

IPTO intends to include this project in its ten-year development plan covering 2022 to 2031, expected to be presented at the end of the year.

The existing Greek-Italian electricity grid interconnection, a 163km subsea cable with a 500-MW capacity in operation since 2002, will be used to facilitate the target model’s next stage, market coupling, beginning on December 15 with the aim of harmonizing the energy markets of the two countries.

ENTSO-E, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, has pointed out that a Greek-Italian grid interconnection boost will be needed for an effective bridging of prices between the two countries.

IPTO awaiting approval of 20% Ariadne sale for €40m minimum

Power grid operator IPTO’s needed approval from RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, of its sale plan offering a 20 percent stake in subsidiary firm Ariadne Interconnection, tasked with the development of the Crete-Athens grid interconnection, is now in the hands of the authority, sources informed.

A condition setting a minimum sale price of 40 million euros, or 20 percent of the nominal value of Ariadne’s equity capital, totaling 200 million euros, has been included in the plan, the sources added.

It also includes criteria that will need to be met by prospective bidders, as well as the tender’s steps all the way to the final round, when qualifiers will be given access to the sale’s video data room.

The VDR will offer candidates financial, technical and legal details concerning the Crete-Athens grid interconnection, a project budgeted at one billion euros and slated for completion within 2023.

IPTO has already secured a 400 million-euro loan from Eurobank, an additional 200 million euros will stem from own capital, while the other 40 percent is expected to be provided in the form of EU subsidies, now close to approval.

China’s SGCC, IPTO’s strategic partner with a 24 percent stake, as well as European operators, among them Italy’s Terna and Belgium’s Elia, have all expressed interest ahead of the Ariadne Interconnection tender.

Importantly, IPTO is still awaiting RAE’s approval of WACC levels for the Cretan interconnection project – permitted revenue (2018-2021) and required revenue (2019-2021).

Projects categorized as projects of major significance are legally entitled to additional returns beyond the asset-based yield.

Energy ministry seeks recovery fund support for many domains

The energy ministry, seeking to ensure EU recovery-fund support for mature projects in key energy-related domains, has proposed their inclusion in a national plan whose first draft will be submitted by the government to the European Commission this month.

Greece is entitled to approximately 32 billion euros from the EU recovery fund, worth a total of 750 billion euros (390bn in subsidies and 360bn in loans) and established to counter the impact of the global pandemic.

Approximately 37 percent of the recovery funds will be used for green-energy development.

Energy efficiency upgrades of buildings; grid interconnections and RES initiatives, including energy storage; electromobility; nature protection; decarbonization; spatial planning for RES development; solid and liquid waste management; and smart power meter installations, a severely delayed project in Greece, are among the domains the energy ministry wants included in the national plan for EU recovery funds.

The energy ministry has previously sought support for some of these domains through the National Strategic Reference Framework.

A total of 130,000 efficiency upgrades of buildings have so far received subsidy support over a decade-long period through Greece’s Saving at Home program. The ministry is looking to significantly increase this rate to 60,000 upgrades per year through the recovery funds program.

Greece’s energy ministry will also seek recovery fund support for two major electricity interconnections – Crete’s major-scale interconnection,  to link the island’s grid with Athens; and the fourth phase of the Cyclades interconnection – both being developed by power grid operator IPTO.

 

Norton Rose Fulbright Athens team advises on largest interconnection project

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has advised IPTO/ADMIE, the owner and operator of the Greek electricity transmission grid, on the concession of the Crete – Attica HVDC interconnection project, to ADMIE’s subsidiary, Ariadne Interconnection. It is the largest electricity grid infrastructure project ever developed in the country and one of the longest subsea electricity links (328kms) developed so far globally.

The project includes the construction of a bipolar high voltage direct current (HVDC) cable, linking the island of Crete with the transmission grid in the Athens metropolitan area (Attica), with a rated power of 1 GW (2 x 500 MW), as well as the construction of electrode stations, AC/DC converter stations and onshore (underground) high voltage lines in Crete and Attica. The project is expected to be commissioned in 2022 and its estimated budget is €1 billion.

Advice included the drafting of the concession agreement and also extended to the consultation of the concession agreement with the national regulatory authority for energy (RAE) and credit institutions which are interested in financing the implementation of the project.

The Norton Rose Fulbright team was led by Athens-based partner Vassilis Koroxenidis with assistance from senior associate Sergios Karotsieris. Dimitris Assimakis, head of the firm’s Greek energy practice, assisted the team on the national and EU regulatory and public procurement issues relevant to the project.

Dimitris Assimakis commented: “We are delighted to have assisted ADMIE, the Greek electricity TSO, with the implementation of this emblematic electricity interconnection project. This project illustrates ADMIE’s strong commitment to the further expansion of the transmission grid to the Aegean Sea islands. This contributes not only to the improvement of a reliable power supply and the economic growth of these regions but, most importantly, helps combat their environmental degradation and enables the addition of new renewable capacity from the islands into the national grid.”

Cyprus wants unchanged cost agreement for link with Crete

Though a new application submitted by EuroAsia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests, to the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility for funding support concerning an electricity grid interconnection project to link the Greek and Cypriot systems has yet to be examined or reciprocated by the European Commission, Greece and Cyprus have already begun talks on how to divide the remainder of the project’s costs not covered by the CEF.

The Cypriot side, which took the initiative for these talks, appears determined to ensure that Greece will stick to its share of the cost under the terms agreed to when the project also included the Athens-Crete link as part of a wider plan to interconnect the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli systems.

EuroAsia Interconnector head the wider Greek-Cypriot-Israeli plan. Greek power grid operator IPTO withdrew the Athens-Crete segment and is now working on it as a national project. IPTO is aiming for swifter progress on this section, urgently needed to resolve Crete’s pressing energy sufficiency issues.

Cyprus’ Regulatory Authority for Energy, RAEK, has forwarded to its Greek counterpart RAE a text presenting its cost-related views. RAEK wants to ensure that a Cross Border Cost Allocation agreement signed by the two sides late in 2017 for the Greek-Cypriot link, running from Crete to Cyprus, remains valid, despite Greece’s withdrawal of the Athens-Crete section.

According to the CBCA agreement, Cyprus will take on 63 percent of the cost of the Crete-Cyprus link and Greece will be responsible for the other 37 percent, under the condition that 50 percent of the total cost will be covered by EU funds, through the CEF.

The Crete-Cyprus interconnection is budgeted at 1.5 billion euros, meaning Greece’s share will be approximately 280 million euros.

This amount will be incorporated into IPTO’s accounts and need to be recovered through network surcharges included in consumer electricity bills, seen as a delicate matter by the Greek government.

Greek authorities have yet to respond to RAEK’s initiative as they await news from the European Commission on the CEF request.

Natural gas, electricity imports most influential for Greek SMP levels

Natural gas and electricity imports are playing an increasingly important role in shaping System Marginal Prices, or wholesale prices, while the influence of more traditional energy sources is waning, latest monthly data provided by the Greek energy exchange has shown.

Natural gas’s influence on SMP levels grew between January and May this year, compared to other fuels and electricity imports and exports, the data showed.

Throughout the five-month period, natural gas-fueled power stations consistently ranked first in number of hours used for SMP levels, peaking in May with 491 hours. Electricity imports consistently followed as a the second most influential factor for all five months.

Lignite-fired power stations, previously a key factor for SMP levels, are now limited to a marginal role, their lowest contribution, one hour in an entire month, recorded in April, the January-to-May figures showed.

Greece’s international grid interconnections are playing an increasingly influential role in shaping the country’s SMP as well as covering energy demand, the data showed.

Power grid operator IPTO has increased capacities for electricity imports via Greece’s grid interconnections in the north.

IPTO, ministry, RAE seeking common ground for Ariadne tender

Officials at power grid operator IPTO, the energy ministry and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, are seeking common ground that would pave the way

a tender to offer a minority 39 percent share in IPTO subsidiary Ariadne Interconnector, an SPV established for the development of the Athens-Crete electricity grid interconnection.

IPTO is looking to attract an investor, or investors, for a minority stake in Ariadne as financial support for the costly project.

IPTO wants to maintain a majority stake in its subsidiary as the operator is determined to control the construction of a project it will eventually operate.

State Grid Corp of China (SGCC), holding a 24 percent stake of IPTO, is expected to participate in the tender. The Chinese company has already expressed interest for a 20 percent stake in Ariadne and has signed a related memorandum with IPTO.

If SGCC’s interest is limited to a 20 percent stake, then a second equity package carrying a further 19 percent is likely to be offered to other investors.

EuroAsia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a wider PCI-classified project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids, was expected to acquire a 39 percent in Ariadne. However, a dispute with IPTO over control of the wider project’s Crete-Athens section has distanced EuroAsia.

Energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and IPTO chief executive Manos Manousakis are both confident concerns raised by RAE over the tender’s procedure will be overcome and enable a launch of the competition within the first months of this year.

RAE is worried about complications that could arise and trouble the tender as a result of SGCC’s stake in IPTO. If not handled appropriately, the tender could spark protests from rival bidders claiming unfair competition, RAE fears. Also, the authority is well aware of Brussels’ sensitivity to the prospect of a wider Chinese presence in EU infrastructure.

 

Euroasia takes Crete grid link case to supreme court

Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a PCI-status grid interconnection to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli systems, has escalated its legal action against Greek power grid operator IPTO amid their dispute for control of the Greek segment’s development, planned to link Crete with Athens.

Euroasia has stepped up its legal action by filing a case to the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, following a rejection by AEPP, the Authority for the Examination of Preliminary Appeals, reliable sources have informed energypress.

The Cypriot consortium is seeking to have an AEPP verdict overturned, which would disrupt related project tenders currently being held by Ariadne Interconnector, an IPTO subsidiary.

The case is scheduled to be heard on September 5, the sources noted, adding Greek authorities are in the process of making their legal preparations.

The recently appointed Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has already made clear his intentions to not alter the project’s ongoing procedures, while also indicating a willingness for greater cooperation with the Cypriot side.

 

 

Greek power producers also eyeing Balkan export potential

The country’s power producers are focusing on the market prospects of  neighboring countries along with a heightened interest in Greece’s electricity market as a result of the upcoming elections, seen bringing the main opposition New Democracy party into power for more decisive reform action at power utility PPC, and intensified market competition.

Investments plans by PPC, currently developing its Ptolemaida V power station, as well as by private-sector enterprises, which have announced plans for five new state-of-the-art units, are expected to create an overabundance of electricity, even of all these plans are not executed. This is one of three main factors turning the attention of power producers to neighboring markets.

Also, it has become clear that Balkan markets lack flexibility in electricity generation as they primarily depend on coal, while gas networks that could support flexible gas-fueled power stations in the region are insufficient.

A third factor contributing to the heightened the interest of local producers for energy-related business in the wider region is Greek power grid operator IPTO’s ongoing upgrade of Greece’s grid interconnections with neighboring countries, especially Bulgaria and North Macedonia, which promises to create greater export potential.

Besides the independent producers, PPC is also looking to capitalize on this export potential.

RES targets, sector investments of €8.5bn at risk, officials warn

Greece needs to move swiftly to simplify renewable energy licensing procedures, ratify energy storage regulations and push ahead with electricity grid interconnections, especially the Dodecanese project, if RES objectives set for 2020 is are to be met and investments made, two key RES sector associations have stressed.

An objective aiming for RES-generated energy consumption of 40 percent by 2020 will be difficult to achieve, officials of ESIAPE, the Greek Association of Renewable Energy Source Electricity Producers, and ELETAEN, the Greek Wind Energy Association, have highlighted at a news conference.

RES-generated electricity represented 26.5 percent of total consumption in 2018, they noted.

Major bureaucratic issues continue to plague the sector despite significant steps taken both at an international level and locally, through the implementation of new terms, the respective chiefs of ESIAPE and ELETAEN, Giorgos Peristeris and Panagiotis Ladakakos, pointed out.

RES storage and grid interconnections investments worth 8.5 billion euros and planned for over the next five years, according to a related study, are in danger of not been executed, Peristeris warned. These promise to provide a 1.5 percent GDP boost, the ESIAPE president added.