Consumption record expected, industry on switch-off standby

Electricity consumption today is expected to exceed yesterday’s level of 10,700 MWh, a ten-year high, and reach close to 11,000 MWh, which would represent an all-time high, as the prolonged heatwave peaks.

Industrial consumers are awaiting switch-off orders from power grid operator IPTO. Up until yesterday, they had yet to receive such instructions, but a number of industrial enterprises have already switched off voluntarily, while Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has urged consumers to exercise restraint in electricity consumption.

Authorities are placing their hopes for grid sufficiency in strong summer breezes forecast for Thursday that should cool temperatures and significantly boost generation through the country’s wind energy facilities.

Though still too early to judge, the grid appears to have stood up to the heatwave’s challenge so far. Minor technical issues and brief outages in various parts of the wider Athens area, Larissa, central Greece, and Agrinio, in the northwest, have been reported.

Authorities remain on edge as the resilience of a largely outdated grid remains uncertain amid daily consumption levels of 9,000 to 10,000 MWh for days on end.

Lignite-generated input is playing a crucial role. It covered between 16 and 18 percent of consumption yesterday. Power utility PPC’s lignite-fired Megalopoli III power station, which has been sidelined for months as part of the country’s decarbonization phase-out plan, operated most of the day yesterday.

 

Energy minister calls emergency meeting, heatwave set to peak

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas is due to visit power grid operator IPTO’s control center in Athens today for an emergency meeting he has ordered to deal with grid sufficiency issues raised by the prolonged heatwave conditions, expected to become even more acute during the week.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will participate in the emergency meeting along with the head officials of RAE, the Regulatory Authority of Energy, power grid operator IPTO, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, and power utility PPC.

The grid is expected to face unprecedented conditions in coming days as electricity demand peaks to reach record levels, prompted by the extreme weather conditions.

The energy ministry has already urged the public to exercise restraint in electricity consumption over the next few days as a means of helping the pressured grid cope with the heatwave’s demands.

The energy minister also staged an emergency meeting yesterday morning with officials of the aforementioned energy sector companies.

Electricity demand today is expected to peak at 9,600 MW, at around 9pm, well over the average peak of 8,115 MW in the first half of 2021.

Imports, lignite, technical issue avoidance key to grid stability

The role of electricity imports, mobilization of power utility PPC lignite-fired power stations that have been sidelined for months, such as Megalopoli III, and unexpected technical failures at grid infrastructure and power stations are three key factors that will determine the performance of the country’s grid over the next few days, during which the ongoing heatwave conditions are forecast to peak and reach temperatures of as high as 45 degrees Celsius.

Power grid operator IPTO has already asked PPC to mobilize the Megalopoli III power station, a 250-MW unit headed for withdrawal and out of action over the past nine months as a result of grid saturation at the network in the Peloponnese.

But the extreme electricity demand has forced this unit’s return, highlighting the grid’s continuing dependence on lignite-fired generation during times of extreme need.

Over the past few days, lignite-based electricity has represented 16 percent of the country’s overall generation.

As for electricity imports, Greece, ideally, will need to import a few hundred MW from North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey. The import potential from these sources is limited to between 1,400 and 1,500 MW annually.

A new interconnection to link Nea Santa, northeastern Greece, with Bulgaria’s Maritsa area in the country’s south, designed to double the grid interconnection capacity between the two countries, will not be ready before mid-2022.

The demand response system, compensating industrial consumers when the TSO (IPTO) asks them to shift their energy usage (lower or stop consumption) during high-demand hours, so as to balance the electricity system’s needs, is another tool that could be activated to save and re-channel approximately 1,000 MW.

Grid to rely on lignite units amid extreme weather for 2 more yrs

The country’s grid sufficiency will rely on power utility PPC’s high-polluting and high-cost, for the utility, lignite-fired power stations for at least a further two years whenever extreme temperature fluctuations are experienced, as was the case last week, on Friday, when the heatwave pushed demand up to 9,258 MW, as well as Wednesday, when demand rose to similar levels.

PPC’s group of old lignite-fired power stations will need to keep offering solutions until at least 2023 during extreme weather conditions, be they heatwaves or snowstorms, a situation that will need to be seriously taken into account by the committee responsible for the new National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP).

The committee will stage its first meeting today to begin preparing the new 2030 NECP. Many uncertain factors still remain.

According to the existing NECP, now being revised, new natural gas-fired power stations offering a total capacity of 1,650 MW, plus Ptolemaida V – a lignite-fired unit to be converted to a natural gas-fired unit in 2025 for an eventual capacity of 1,000 MW – will need to be launched by 2030.

The new NECP will anticipate greater RES penetration by 2030 than the existing NECP. The existing plan expects renewable energy sources to cover 62 percent of overall electricity demand by the end of the decade, whereas the new NECP will increase this level to 72 percent.