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.