RAE delivers grid emergency action plan, listing 16 dangers

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has forwarded, for consultation, an emergency action plan for Greece’s electricity sector, listing a total of 16 possible danger scenarios, two of which, a disruption of Russian natural gas supply and cyberattacks at crucial energy infrastructure, are regarded as highly probable and intolerable.

The aforementioned dangers, along with natural disasters, such as extreme weather conditions, would prompt extended outages, putting lives at risk and resulting in a leakage of information crucial for national security, according to the action plan, which RAE prepared with support from power grid operator IPTO.

Other dangers included in this list include equipment failure, floods, heat waves, snow storms, forest fires and human error.

The action plan’s proposed responses, to avoid grid collapse or even destruction, include load reductions, pumped storage station and electricity export disruptions, activation of reserve solutions and consumption-reduction mechanisms, and, as a last resort, electricity supply disruptions for businesses and households.

Fast-track transmission project licensing to slash time needed

The energy ministry is preparing a new set of rules for fast-track licensing of grid transmission projects, the aim being to slash, by 75 percent, the overall time required for issuance of licenses concerning transmission projects deemed essential for the updated National Energy and Climate Plan, sources have informed.

The revisions, adopting proposals forwarded by power grid operator IPTO, promise to accelerate and simplify licensing procedures for grid transmission projects that have remained complex and too long for many decades. Under the current rules, licenses take as long as five years to be issued.

Environmental permits, just part of the overall licensing procedure, take at least 24 months to be completed. This time period is expected to be restricted to a maximum of seven months once the licensing procedure for grid transmission projects is simplified.

Also, the time needed for related building permits will be reduced from six months, at present, to just 15 days, sources informed.

The new licensing framework for grid transmission projects will serve as an integral part of the national plan for RES management, IPTO sources noted.

 

Green power injection cuts as a result of network saturation

Green power injections into the grid will be cut by as much as five percent, when required for the system’s safe operation, as a result of the grid’s saturation, according to information obtained by energypress on an imminent legislative revision concerning non-guaranteed absorption of RES-based electricity production.

This revision will be included in a draft bill being prepared by the energy ministry for a second round of RES licensing simplification as well as framework for the development of energy storage facilities.

The ministry’s draft bill is expected to be forwarded for consultation within the next few days, most probably next week, before being submitted to parliament for ratification.

The RES injection cuts will concern the country’s entire grid, the objective being to create grid space for as many RES units as possible in the upgraded transmission network to be developed by power grid operator IPTO projects planned until 2030.

 

 

Operator starts grid substation upgrades, to offer RES units 1,750 MW

Power grid operator IPTO has begun upgrading low and medium-voltage substations around the country to facilitate new RES unit connections to the grid.

The overall effort, expected to create additional grid capacity for RES units totaling 1,750 MW, is still at its early stages. So far, two of 33 substation upgrades have been completed, according to energypress sources.

The upgrade is budgeted at 30 million euros, of which 12 million euros is planned to be provided through the recovery fund.

The 1,750 MW in RES unit connections to be enabled by the operator’s substation upgrades represents nearly 40 percent of a 4,640-MW RES capacity estimated to be needed for the National Energy and Climate Plan to reach its energy-mix goals.

The upgrade work promises to increase substation capacity by 250 MVA in the Peloponnese and Epirus regions, by 100 MVA in the wider Athens area, by 200 MVA in central Greece, and by 250 MVA in north and northeastern Greece’s Macedonia and Thrace regions.

All contracts for the substation upgrades are expected to have been awarded by the fourth quarter in 2023, while all work is scheduled to be completed by the fourth quarter in 2025.

 

IPTO grid projects set to receive €195m in recovery fund support

Two major grid projects planned for development by power grid operator IPTO in order to boost the country’s grid capacity and energy security are set to receive a total of 195 million euros in funding through the recovery and resilience fund, following a joint ministerial decision by the energy and finance ministries.

The joint ministerial decision secures financial support, through the recovery and resilience fund, for the fourth and final phase of the Cyclades interconnection and reconstruction of the Koumoundourou high-voltage center along with a 400kV line linking the facility with the Corinth high-voltage center, west of Athens.

The two projects are budgeted at a combined total of 482 million euros. The fourth phase of the Cyclades interconnection, budgeted at 393 million euros, is expected to receive 165 million euros through the recovery and resilience fund.

The Koumoundourou high-voltage center, whose budget is estimated at 89 million euros, is expected to receive 30 million euros in financing through the recovery and resilience fund.

IPTO investments, including island grid links, up sharply over past 4 years

Investments made by power grid operator IPTO in the first nine-month period of 2021, for the development of crucial grid projects, including island grid interconnections, as well as upgrades of existing facilities, reached 241.8 million euros, exceeding, by more than 100 million euros, amounts spent during equivalent periods in any of the years prior to the operator’s split from power grid operator PPC in June, 2017, through an ownership unbundling procedure.

Since 2018, IPTO’s investments in grid projects have reached 1.12 billion euros, more than double the amount tallied in the preceding four-year period between 2013 and 2016, when a total of 489 million euros was invested.

The operator’s investment strategy has focused on accelerating grid interconnection projects serving Aegean Sea islands, thereby ending their energy isolation while also reducing the environmental and financial impact of local high-polluting and costly generators used on non-interconnected islands.

RAE launches inquiry into ‘western corridor’ grid delay

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has launched an enquiry into the delay of Greece’s “western corridor” power grid project, now behind schedule and posing a serious threat to the national grid’s overall operating ability.

The corridor’s delayed delivery has been linked to objections raised by a small group of nuns at a monastery in the northern Peloponnese’s Kalavryta area, opposing the installation of several  remaining pylons needed for the project’s completion.

Power grid operator IPTO has provided RAE with an extensive report, hundreds of pages long, detailing the project’s entire course, following a request made by the regulatory authority.

The “western corridor” is now behind schedule as envisaged in the operator’s 10-year development plan.

RAE has also requested an explanation from IPTO as to why it did not promptly inform the regulatory authority on the project’s delay, given that it was full aware of the nearby monastery’s stance, so that possible alternative solutions could be explored.

IPTO contends all its actions, from the moment the monastery-related problem arose, have been carried out in accordance with energy ministry instructions, as is the case with all matters of strategic importance.

 

IPTO preparing new formula for grid capacity availability

Power grid operator IPTO is preparing revisions to a framework for incoming RES project applications, including, as the first major change, a new formula calculating available grid capacity, the operator’s deputy director Giannis Margaris (photo) has noted during an online update.

This new formula will factor in all offers made by the operator in the market as well as new RES projects, both in development and at the planning stage, Margaris pointed out.

IPTO expects to have finalized the formula within April, before presenting it to the energy ministry and then the market.

The operator is also preparing a tracking system that will enable investors to be updated, at any given moment, on the progress of their connection term applications, the IPTO deputy informed.

These upcoming changes come in the wake of a flood of group applications for small-scale RES projects, seeking direct links to the grid, as well as complaints by ABO Wind over IPTO’s delay in examining the company’s connection term applications.

Such objections serve as an opportunity for a reexamination of the grid entry framework, Margaris noted.

The problems that need to addressed concern the licensing and grid entry frameworks, not grid capacity, neither now nor until 2030, the IPTO deputy stressed.

Blackout threat remains, operator staff shortage exposed

The country’s power transmission and generation systems have met heightened electricity demand prompted by extreme weather conditions, including heavy snowfall around the country over the past couple of days, but the threat of power outages still remains.

The weather system, bringing some of the heaviest snow seen in Greece in years, exposed a personnel shortage at distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, whose medium and low-voltage networks suffered extensive damages caused by collapsing trees.

The operator’s personnel have struggled to cope with the challenge of repairing numerous damaged transmission lines. Approximately 1,000 trees reportedly collapsed onto power lines in Athens, causing power cuts at thousands of homes in the city’s north and east.

Between 500 and 600 experienced technical staff members have left IPTO over the past three years without being replaced, which has left the operator vulnerable to extreme conditions, union members have pointed out.

IPTO crews are currently working around the clock to meet repair demands, while 60 of the company’s technicians stationed in other parts of Greece have been brought into Athens to reinforce crews covering the capital.

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas yesterday visited power grid operator IPTO’s national control center where he was updated on the transmission system’s current situation, electricity generation levels, as well as the operator’s projections for the next few days.

“So far, the transmission system has responded well to the challenges of the Medea storm front,” IPTO’s chief executive Manos Manousakis informed the minister. “But the duration of the extreme weather conditions carries dangers,” he added.

Athens, Peloponnese power supply reinstated after fire damage

Power supply to Athens and Peloponnese areas affected late last night by a fire that broke out at a key grid facility west of Athens, in the Aspropyrgos area, was swiftly reinstated after power grid operator IPTO technicians along with distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO crews took action to repair damages at the grid facility.

Earlier today, the ministry assured that the environment had not been impacted after a team of environmental authorities visited the fire-damaged facility in Aspropyrgos to measure the amount of pollution in the air.

Electricity supply to Athens areas was mostly reinstated within 40 minutes while power transmission to the Peloponnese was back within 55 minutes.

The cause of the fire at the Aspropyrgos power facility is still being investigated.

Central Athens, suburbs in the west and south, as well as areas on the capital’s western outskirts, all experienced blackouts late Sunday night. In the Peloponnese, Corinth, Nafplio, Tripoli, Sparta and Kalamata were all affected. Three islands close to Athens, Aegina, Poros and Agistri, also had their electricity supply cut.

DEDDIE/HEDNO crews are still working intensively to reinstate medium-voltage supply at isolated locations in the areas that were affected.

 

 

Grid upgrade restarts, enabling Peloponnese RES development

A strategically important 400-kV western-corridor grid upgrade project reaching Megalopoli, central Peloponnese, to greatly increase electricity transmission to and from the Peloponnese, enable further development of RES facilities and gas-fueled power stations in the region and ensure voltage stabilization for the country’s southern grid, is now nearing completion following a delay of more than a year prompted by objections from a nearby monastery in Kalavryta, northern Peloponnese.

Contractor crews have now returned to work without resistance from nuns at the Kalavryta’s Agion Theodoron monastery, who previously objected, contending the construction activity, half a kilometer away, impacted the monastery’s tranquility.

Work on the project, budgeted at 110 million euros, had been brought to a standstill for nearly 14 months. The project contractor estimates construction of the project’s two remaining transmission towers will require between 60 to 80 days.

Overall, the project was blocked for a total of 12 years before work finally began in 2018 for completion in 2020.

 

Distributor DEDA wants swifter delivery of operator projects

Gas distributor DEDA, covering all areas around Greece except for wider Athens, Thessaloniki and Thessaly, wants gas grid operator DESFA to complete key grid projects six months sooner so that the distributor may proceed with tenders for distribution network expansion projects.

DESFA needs to construct metering/regulating stations in Livadia, central Greece, as well as the Kastoria and Kozani regions in northern Greece.

DEDA called for a swifter delivery of these stations in public consultation staged for DESFA’s ten-year development plan covering 2021 to 2030.

DESFA plans to complete work on the Livadia metering/regulating station in March, 2022. However, DEDA has requested the station’s completion six months earlier, explaining it will not be able to distribute to consumers in the area until the station’s construction has been completed.

DEDA also called for the Kastoria and Kozani stations to be complete six months earlier, citing the same reasons.

In addition, DEDA requested the development of a natural gas compressor station close to the areas of Karpenisi, central Greece, and Amfissa, slightly southeast, to facilitate CNG supply to these regions.

Grid problems exposed by cold weather prompt call for upgrade

Electricity grid deficiencies exposed by cold weather around Greece in recent days have prompted the energy ministry to call for an adjustment of a distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO investment plan being prepared by the operator’s new administration.

Ageing infrastructure accentuated by a lack of investments needed for upgrades required a major mobilization effort for approximately 3,000 low-voltage network repairs.

Over 200 teams of technical experts backed by 30 associated companies with crews totaling some 1,000 persons needed to be deployed to combat the network’s problems.

Energy minister Costis Hatzidakis was obliged to offer his gratitude in a public statement but the urgent need for a network upgrade remains.

The ministry now wants increased investments for the network’s maintenance. The prospective arrival of a strategic partner at DEDDIE/HEDNO, a power utility PPC subsidiary headed for a privatization procedure offering a 49 percent stake, will be crucial in the effort to upgrade the network.

However, the financial support of a new strategic partner is not expected to come through until 2021 or 2022, even if the distribution network operator’s privatization is completed by mid-2020.

Over the past five years, distribution network investments made by the operator have fallen by approximately 40 percent, shrinking to 155.5 million euros in 2018 from 257 million euros in 2014.

 

 

Grid prepared for demand peak of first heatwave this summer

Given the day-ahead market’s indications, the country’s first heatwave of this summer, expected to increase temperatures to levels of between 37 and 38 degrees Celsius today and tomorrow, should not cause any problems for the grid.

The system is prepared for daily demand levels of 150,760 MWh at a System Marginal Price (SMP), or wholesale price, of 73.549 euros per MWh.

Renewable energy is programmed to cover 21,584 MWh of daily demand and hydropower facilities a further 8,156 MWh.

As for the country’s lignite-fired power stations, power utility PPC’s Kardia II, III and IV, Agios Dimitrios III and IV and Megalopoli III and IV will all be called into action.

So, too, will gas-fueled power stations operated by PPC and private-sector electricity producers (Aliveri V, Lavrio IV and V, Megalopoli V, Heron, ENTHES, Protergia, Corinth Power).

Electricity exports totaling 21,350 MWh have also been planned. Demand is forecast to peak at 2pm, reaching a level of 7,622 MW.

In a statement released yesterday, Greek gas utility DEPA ascertained the country’s gas needs will be covered this summer, as will supply needs for customers in Greece and Bulgaria.

Total gas demand in Greece last year between June 15 and August 15 reached 8.1 TWh and is expected to rise to 9.2 TWh for the equivalent period this summer, according to DEPA.

Gas grid operator DESFA’s incoming LNG shipments for this period this summer will amount to 7.3 TWh, dramatically up from a 2.4 TWh total unloaded at the Revythoussa terminal on the islet off Athens during the summer period last year, according to the operator.