Environmental permit exemption for PVs between 0.5-1 MW

A recent ministerial decision concerning the environmental classification of RES projects has been published in the government gazette, enabling the utilization of benefits offered by recent environmental legislation to photovoltaics between 0.5 and 1 MW, no longer requiring environmental permits.

There has been considerable confusion about environmental permit requirements for this RES category as regional authorities have been inconsistent with their policies. Some have exempted PV installations from the need for environmental permits while others have not.

To contain the confusion, the energy ministry had advised regional authorities not to offer environmental permit exemptions until the delivery of its related ministerial decision. Even so, a significant number of projects were offered permit exemptions prior to the ministerial decision.

It remains unclear how authorities will go about processing PV projects that were exempted from environmental permits but have remained stagnant following connection offer applications submitted to distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO.

Remaining energy utility sales, DEDDIE and IPTO, nearing

The time is nearing for Greece’s two remaining energy utility  privatizations, those of electricity distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and power grid operator IPTO.

An energy ministry official yesterday updated journalists on the progress of both sales at a presentation of gas distributor DEDA’s five-year investment plan.

All details concerning the sale of a 49 percent stake in DEDDIE/HEDNO, a fully owned power utility PPC subsidiary, will be ready and finalized in September, enabling the announcement of a tender that month, according to the ministry official.

Preparations for this sale include the evaluation and transfer of assets used by DEDDIE/HEDNO from PPC to the operator.

As for the IPTO sale, talks between the operator and China’s SGCC – already holding a 24 percent stake in IPTO and first-offer rights in the event of the sale of a further stake in the operator – are still at an early stage.

The energy ministry is moving carefully in an effort to comply with fine details of EU directives concerning the entry of non-EU members into European enterprises and infrastructure.

Distribution network operator sale next big challenge for PPC

Power utility PPC’s next major challenge, following a second securitization package of unpaid receivables, will be the privatization of fully owned subsidiary DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator, a procedure expected to be pitched to prospective bidders towards the end of the year before a tender is launched in the first quarter of 2021.

A plan to sell a 49 percent stake with increased managerial rights remains intact, but officials are also considering to lower the stake. In addition, some thought is being given to offering DEDDIE/HEDNO buyers the stake through two rounds, but the basic plan, to offer 49 percent as one sale package, remains likeliest.

A new regulatory framework for DEDDIE/HEDNO will need to be approved over the next few months, and, in addition, the government must also fine-tune the privatization’s details.

A leadership renewal at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, responsible for the operator’s new regulatory framework, has, not unexpectedly, delayed a series of matters on the authority’s agenda, including the new regulatory framework for DEDDIE/HEDNO. It was forwarded for consultation until June 19.

Revisions concerning the operator’s permitted earnings were proposed, while a four-year period is planned for the new framework, from 2021 to 2024, with an option for a four-year extension until 2028.

The new framework is expected to include bonuses for objectives achieved at the distribution network operator and vice versa. The DEDDIE/HEDNO business plan includes goals such as the replacement of conventional power meters with smart meters, as well as operating cost and electricity theft reductions.

Tesla managerial job posts for Greece signal market entry plan

Job classifieds for Greece recently posted by Tesla on the company website, including for the position of a sales and delivery manager, confirm the US hi-tech giant is planning to establish a local trading network for electric vehicles.

This prospect highlights the significant electromobility growth potential Tesla sees in the Greek market.

Tesla’s preparations for a trading division in Greece represent the third step in the company’s overall plan for Greek market entry following initiatives to establish an R&D department and develop a national recharging network.

Tesla has already established a Tesla Greece R&D division, expected to employ up to 50 specialized engineers once in full gear. This division’s current workforce figure remains well below the target, raising questions in the R&D community.

Tesla, since the beginning of the year, has been involved in talks with Greek government officials as well as representatives of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for the installation of recharging units on Greek highways.

However, speculation that Tesla could be seeking to develop a recharging network that would be compatible only for its electric vehicle models has raised concerns. It should be pointed out that the Tesla plan for Greece is still in the making. Clarity will be offered once the Tesla plan for Greece is finalized.

The energy ministry has introduced an electromobility law designed to attract investment in the sector.

DEDDIE not coping with RES connection term applications

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO is struggling to keep up with an increasing inflow of applications for connection terms by investors behind solar energy projects, while, in many cases, many applications, when finally processed, are not being approved as a result of network saturation.

This problem mainly concerns smaller-scale investments whose capacity is not enough to warrant grid connections via the power grid operator IPTO. DEDDIE is not able to upgrade the network with substations, wherever this is technically possible.

Though the distribution operator has made considerable administrative progress it has not been enough to cope with the increased number of applications.

In the first half of 2020, DEDDIE responded, either positively or negatively, to a total of 1,500 connection term applications by RES investors representing a total of 580 MW, energypress sources informed.

This is almost double the inflow processed by DEDDIE in the second half of 2019 (730 applications, 245 MW), and triple the number the distribution operator processed in the first half of 2019 (520 applications, 165 MW).

Highlighting the scale of the problem faced by DEDDIE, some 7,000 applications arriving from various parts of the the country currently remain pending. Even at its currently faster pace, DEDDIE will require at least two years to get through these applications, joined constantly be new arrivals, many of these concerning energy communities, which are given priority.

 

RES project completion, without connection, to suffice for tariffs

The energy ministry is working to revise a rule that determines when development of RES projects is considered complete, which enables them to secure their tariff prices for output, either through competitive procedures or not.

Under the current rules, RES projects are considered ready once they have been connected to networks, not when their development has been completed.

This has proven to be a major problem for investors behind wind and solar energy projects completed on time but unable to secure tariff prices as a result of the inability of power grid IPTO or distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO to offer connections when needed.

The matter is being worked on, the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou noted during a virtual conference staged by the Hellenic-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Final decisions have not been reached but the plan is to have authorities inspect and certify the completion of RES projects regardless of whether they have been connected, in order to secure tariff levels available at the time, sources informed.

The energy ministry is also striving to further simplify RES licensing procedures by merging or even eliminating certain steps or permits currently required, according to Sdoukou.

 

 

RAE wants HEDNO incentives for combating electricity theft

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has proposed financial incentives for distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO as a means of clamping down on electricity theft.

The regulatory authority estimates the annual cost of electricity theft at 139 million euros, based on data concerning 2018, or 4.1 percent of the grid electricity inflow total.

According to the data, electricity thefts are stealing electricity amounts of approximately 1.7 TWh per year, whose resulting cost is burdening consumers.

Adoption of the RAE proposal through its incorporation into a new regulatory framework would offer the operator greater incentive to counter electricity theft, the authority believes.

RAE forwarded its proposal as part of current consultation on a new formula for DEDDIE/HEDNO’s revenues between 2021 and 2024.

Power utility PPC’s administration has requested a new regulatory framework for the distribution operator, a PPC-owned subsidiary, ahead of its privatization to offer investors a 49 percent stake.

A new regulatory framework, seen as promising security for investors, would complete DEDDIE/HEDNO’s business plan for 2020-2028.

 

PPC picks Goldman Sachs as consultant for DEDDIE sale

The board at power utility PPC has reached a decision to hire US financial services company Goldman Sachs as privatization consultant for the sale of a 49 percent stake in distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a subsidiary, sources have informed.

This appointment is seen as the first step in preparations leading to the partial privatization, while the choice of a heavyweight consultant reflects the importance of the sale for both the government and state-controlled PPC.

The prospective entry of an investor with a 49 stake raises hopes for a major network upgrade, including digitization. Modernized infrastructure will help intensify competition in the domestic electricity market. However, enormous sums are needed.  A project entailing the installation of smart meters, alone, is budgeted at one billion euros.

European operators as well as foreign funds investing in energy networks and infrastructure expressed strong interest in DEDDIE prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis.

The operator’s regulated earnings and steady yield serve as a safe and profitable haven for capital investment, while DEDDIE’s tremendous asset base expansion potential adds to the appeal for investors.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, and DEDDIE are currently working together to further modernize the operator’s regulatory framework.

Also, DEDDIE is currently finalizing a new business plan, covering 2020 to 2028. It envisions a gradual increase of annual investments to 350 million euros, more-than-double the current level of 150 million euros.

 

DEDDIE regulatory framework a prelude for new business plan

Distribution network operator DEDDIE’s new regulatory framework, featuring incentives for an achievement of goals designed to benefit the energy market and consumers, will be forwarded for consultation within the next few days by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The framework’s endorsement is seen as a prelude to the finalization of the operator’s new business plan, envisioning a major increase in investments and the recruitment of some 1,000 employees.

DEDDIE’s existing regulatory framework is designed to cover the operator’s costs through a cost-plus system, whereas the new proposal, a performance-based system, features incentives for improved performance.

The new framework will aim to create more favorable investment conditions, provide incentives promoting project upgrades and innovation for significant improvements to services, distribution network reliability and electricity quality, as well as a reduction of consumer costs.

Once endorsed, the framework will be valid for four years and also determine how the operator’s revenues will be calculated for a further four years.

Elefsis Shipyards, owing over €5m to PPC, faces power cut

Power utility PPC, taking supply-cut action against major debtors, appears set to add Elefsis Shipyards, owing the utility over 5 million euros in overdue power bills, to its hit list.

Over the past few years, Elefsis Shipyards has registered for a number of installment-based payback programs offered by PPC but repeatedly failed to meet deadlines. Its debt owed to PPC has continuously increased.

PPC is believed to be moving to forward an electricity-cut order to distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, against Elefsis Shipyards, within the next few days.

An Elefsis Shipyards restructuring plan envisioned by strategic investor Onex has run into a dead end. The inability of current shareholder Nikos Tavoularis and the investor to agree on a number of issues is a key reason behind the impasse.

Just weeks ago, the government intervened to secure a three-month extension for a recently expired contract between the shipyard and the Hellenic Navy.

This government initiative promises temporary financial relief for Elefsis Shipyards following the main shareholder’s failure to offer consent for the shipyard’s restructuring plan before March 31, which led to the contract’s expiration.

The Hellenic Navy contract extension will enable the shipyard to cover 70 percent of salaries to its 600 or so employees on the payroll during the current quarter but solutions for various creditors, including PPC, have yet to be found.

DEDDIE investments boosted to reach €350m, annually

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO’s investment amounts concerning its business plan from 2020 to 2028 will be gradually boosted to reach annual levels of 300-350 million euros, up from 150-170 million euros, the operator has decided.

DEDDIE chief executive Anastassios Manos has presented the operator’s upgraded investment plan to board members.

It incorporates and fine tunes the distribution network strategy included in the business plan for power utility PPC, the operator’s parent company.

The upgraded DEDDIE business plan will be finalized once RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has cemented its regulatory framework.

DEDDIE’s investments have continuously dwindled in recent years.  Contrary to other EU operators, the company’s Regulatory Asset Base (RAB) value has subsequently diminished during this period of contraction as new investments each year have been outweighed by the depreciation levels of previous projects.

The operator’s new investments will focus on upgrading and expanding the network to facilitate the RES sector’s growing needs and broadened network presence, as well as ambitious electric vehicle targets.

The overall upgrade will include network digitization projects for advanced grid management and smart meter installations.

‘Firm steps for privatizations but pandemic’s impact considered’

Decisive steps are being taken for Greece’s energy-sector privatizations, representing two thirds of the country’s overall privatization program, but the pandemic’s impact on international markets will not be neglected, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has pointed out in an interview with Greek daily To Ethnos.

There is no need to rush a plan to reduce the Greek State’s stake in Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) as this sale is not one of restructuring character, the minister noted.

A government decision to sell stakes in DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade, two new entities emerging from a split at gas utility DEPA, is moving ahead as planned, Hatzidakis informed.

First steps have been taken to reduce, below 51 percent, the Greek State’s share in power grid operator IPTO, “but this does not mean we will proceed tomorrow morning,” he said.

State-controlled power utility PPC is preparing terms of an international tender for the sale of at least 49 percent of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a subsidiary, the minister said. This procedure is scheduled to commence in the third quarter of this year, he added.

Ministry seeking to reignite stalled energy sector initiatives

The energy ministry is seeking to resume coronavirus-interrupted actions on a number of fronts, which, prior to the crisis, were expected to lead to major energy sector changes in 2020. These include the decarbonization effort, privatizations, green-energy infrastructure investments and a launch of the energy exchange.

The ministry’s strategic plan aiming to inject new impetus into these initiatives includes market liquidity protection through support mechanisms and bank loans for operators and key market players such as power utility PPC.

Efforts will also be made to accelerate decarbonization initiatives and keep alive pending energy sector privatizations, including those of gas utility DEPA’s two new entities, DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade; the prospective sale of a 49 percent stake of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a PPC subsidiary; as well as an underground gas storage facility at a depleted offshore gas field south of Kavala.

Green energy investments, a key party of Greece’s revised and more ambitious National Energy Climate Plan, are expected to regain dynamic momentum as of 2021, following this year’s pandemic-induced disruption.

This is also the case for major infrastructure projects such as power grid operator IPTO’s grid interconnections for Crete, the south, west and north Cyclades and other areas. These interconnection projects require investments totaling more than 4 billion euros. These are expected to be completed by 2030.

Grid interconnection projects are also being worked on for the gas sector. Gas grid operator DESFA is looking to expand its network to cover 39 cities.

Market support measures worth €550m may prove insufficient

A number of electricity market support measures planned by market authorities and firms for the next few months are estimated to be worth 550 million euros, but this may not be enough.

The effectiveness of the measures will depend on the depth and duration of the pandemic-related recession, still in the making.

Should the Greek economy contract by 10 percent this year, as projected by the IMF in a report announced yesterday, and the effects spill over into 2021, as is feared, then the current measures will prove insufficient.

Authorities yesterday announced an initiative offering lighter terms to electricity suppliers for surcharge payments to market operators.

Electricity suppliers will be able to pay 30 percent of their regulated charges marked out for the power grid operator IPTO, distribution operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and RES market operator DAPEEP for the two-month period of April and May over four monthly installments, according to an energy ministry plan. This measure, alone, is estimated to be worth about 200 million euros.

Also, power utility PPC and distribution operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, its subsidiary, appear to have secured European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) loans, for next month, totaling between 180 to 200 million euros.

PPC considering €100-200m EBRD loan as recession aid

Power utility PPC may seek a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) worth between 100 and 200 million euros to cover extraordinary needs seen emerging for both the utility and its subsidiary firm DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator, as a result of the pandemic and consequent recession, still in the making.

The extent of the pandemic-related recession cannot yet be determined. Financial support from the EBRD, which has extended loans to PPC in the past, would bolster the power corporation’s cash flow and also provide a safety net for its subsidiary during these uncertain times.

PPC fears the distribution operator’s earnings, resulting from surcharges included in electricity bills, will drop by approximately 30 percent. A growing number of consumers are not meeting payment deadlines for electricity bills.

PPC is also preparing to launch a securitization initiative for unpaid receivables.

 

 

Suppliers offered lighter terms for surcharge commitments

An energy ministry provision promising electricity suppliers supportive terms for surcharge payments to market operators has been included in a wider legislative act facilitating pending and urgent matters linked to various ministries.

Electricity suppliers will be able to pay 30 percent of their regulated charges marked out for the power grid operator IPTO, distribution operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and RES market operator DAPEEP over four monthly installments, according to the energy ministry plan.

A one-month grace period will be offered for the first installment. Suppliers will need to keep servicing the other 70 percent of regulated charges as normal.

The lighter terms are crucial for electricity suppliers, fearing they may not receive a large percentage of regulated surcharges included in electricity bills as a result of rising unpaid receivables.

Over the past few weeks, electricity bill payments have fallen by levels of approximately 30 percent.

Though offering some relief to electricity suppliers, the less demanding terms for their payment of regulated charges will tighten the budgets of market operators and consequently weaken their ability to remunerate conventional and RES electricity producers for output to the grid.

Authorities intend to combat this threat through a security mechanism now being pieced together.

Operator executing electricity cut orders, bad debt swell feared

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO has begun executing electricity supply cut orders forwarded by suppliers, especially independent players, moving to protect themselves against a rise in unpaid receivables and potential bad debt.

Many consumers not keeping up with their electricity bill obligations are believed to be financially capable but unwilling to pay. They are suspected of exploiting the pandemic’s extraordinary conditions as their consumption patterns do not reflect those of struggling households.

Over the past few weeks, electricity bill collection figures have fallen by levels of approximately 30 percent, prompting independent suppliers to act now rather than later.

Discount rates and tariff reductions are being offered to customers as support against the lockdown’s stifling effects but electricity bill payment delays cannot be tolerated, company officials have noted.

DEDDIE technicians attempting to execute electricity supply cut orders are in some cases facing resistance, even violent behavior, from disgruntled consumers, it has been reported.

 

 

 

 

Security fund initially limited to operators, suppliers must wait

A security fund being established by the energy ministry as financial protection for electricity market players from the pandemic’s repercussions will, for the time being, be limited to covering the needs of market operators.

A wider package also including protection for suppliers, as was initially intended, will need to be examined later on as its cost, estimated anywhere between 600 million and one billion euros, is considered too substantial by authorities.

Limiting the security fund’s coverage for market operators will require an amount of between 100 and 200 million euros, it has been estimated.

The security fund’s sum promises to compensate power grid operator IPTO, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and RES market operator DAPEEP for regulatory surcharges not expected to be received under the current conditions.

Consumer electricity bill payments, which include regulatory surcharges, are projected to fall by approximately 30 percent over the next two to three months.

 

 

Long-term HEDNO regulatory terms ahead of privatization

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has begun work on a long-term regulatory framework for distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO following a request by power utility PPC, the operator’s parent company. The distribution operator’s regulatory framework is currently revised annually.

PPC wants a stable, long-term regulatory framework for its subsidiary ahead of its planned privatization as potential buyers will be offered a clearer picture on the operator’s earnings prospects.

The framework, being prepared by RAE in conjunction with the distribution network operator, will take into account various factors and determine the latter’s earnings.

It is believed the new regulatory framework will have a four-year duration, but this detail remains unconfirmed.

PPC’s administration has requested a five-year plan along with terms enabling an extension for a further five years.

The new framework is expected to be completed by June ahead of its implementation at the beginning of 2021. Various trial runs are planned until then.

The distribution operator’s new regulatory framework is expected to include incentives encouraging the achievement of goals such as a reduction of distribution system leakages, network improvements and higher WACC levels.

 

Officials forced to reexamine Crete’s energy sufficiency plan for summer

Power utility PPC and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, are currently reexamining data concerning Crete’s energy demands for this coming summer as the coronavirus pandemic is expected to severely impact tourism activity.

In response to the closure of old, high-polluting power stations on Crete, energy authorities have been planning a number of energy units to meet higher tourism-related electricity demand in the summer.

However, a revision to the plan will now probably be needed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s negative impact forecast for the tourism sector.

Prior to the pandemic’s outbreak, RAE, basing its calculations on data provided by distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, had concluded Cretan electricity generation needed to be bolstered by a level of between 80 and 85 MW.

PPC has already completed a tender for a 58-MW facility. RAE has also requested PPC to stage a second tender for a further 25 MW. But revisions may now be necessary.

The additional units on Crete are intended to help cover the island’s energy needs until a grid interconnection with the mainland, all the way to Athens, is completed. The grid interconnection project’s completion is scheduled for 2023.

Operator set to execute electricity supply cut orders

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO has avoided executing electricity cut orders issued by suppliers since early March, when the coronavirus pandemic’s restrictive measures truly began stifling economic activity in Greece, but this tolerant stance is about to change, beginning this week, energypress sources have informed.

Late last week, DEDDIE officials contacted electricity supply companies to ask if previous power cut orders targeting consumers behind on electricity bill payments remain valid and, if so, whether suppliers still want the operator to pull the plug on them.

In general, suppliers seem to want action but will remain lenient with customers whose bad payment records are strictly linked to the coronavirus-related lockdown. No tolerance is expected to be offered to customers who have been unreliable for extended periods.

Electricity suppliers have accumulated enough data to be able to distinguish between customers directly impacted by the current lockdown and those exploiting the situation to avoid payments, even if financially capable, and, in a number of cases, affluent.

This targeted strategy is expected to be pursued by the independent electricity suppliers as well as power utility PPC, the market’s main player.

DEDDIE has made clear to suppliers that it will bear no responsibility for executions of electricity cut orders.

Cash-flow relief measures in the making for electricity suppliers

Two cash-flow relief measures for electricity suppliers, one offering installment-based payments of regulated charges, the other, reduced guarantee costs for the right to operate on non-interconnected islands, are currently being prepared by the energy ministry.

Electricity suppliers collecting reduced customer payments will be able to service about 30 percent of their regulated charges through interest-free installments over a limited period of time.

Also, the level of guarantees provided by electricity suppliers to distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO for the right to operate on 29 non-interconnected islands will be reduced for the six-month period running from April to September.

In other measures, the government yesterday announced a support framework for trade and distribution companies operating in the electricity and gas markets. Employees in these sectors will each be entitled to 800-euro allowances covering a 45-day period if their job contracts have been temporarily suspended. In addition, tax debt payments for these employees will be suspended for four months.

The establishment of a support fund for energy companies is also being examined.

Electricity suppliers financially pressured by coronavirus crisis

Electricity suppliers are feeling the financial effects of the coronavirus crisis, threatening to increase the level of electricity bill arrears amid reduced consumption and lower sales.

Consumers are now contacting suppliers to request installment-based payment arrangements, or, worse still, expressing an inability to meet electricity bill payments, energypress has been informed.

Retailers and small businesses whose operations are being stifled by the coronavirus lockdown are particularly feeling the pressure.

Electricity suppliers maintaining a dominant mid-voltage customer base are very concerned as the coronavirus spread has already begun inflicting financial damage on sectors such as tourism, hotels and restaurants, all expected to be particularly affected by the ongoing crisis.

Retailers, too – except for supermarket chains, registering rising sales figures – are also under severe pressure. Their position will deteriorate further as a result of a government decision temporarily shutting down most shops as of today.

Electricity suppliers are more or less helpless at present. Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO would not execute any electricity-cut orders amid these extraordinary conditions.

Subsequently, suppliers are calling for a delay of their payments to operators such as power grid operator IPTO, DEDDIE, and RES market operator DAPEEP for network usage fees, a RES-supporting ETMEAR surcharge and other such obligations.

 

Network access for blocked small-scale PV producers through joint bids

An amendment enabling small-scale solar energy producers to team up and jointly apply for connections to power grid operator IPTO’s transmission network will be added to a forthcoming draft bill for environmental permits being worked on by the energy ministry.

Investors behind small-scale solar energy projects cannot currently connect to distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO’s network as a result of saturation.

Numerous prospective small-scale solar energy producers have faced network connection problems in most parts of the country, prompting the energy ministry to enable network access through the IPTO network, normally available for bigger RES producers.

Small-scale solar energy investors design facilities for connections to DEDDIE/HEDNO’s distribution network, not IPTO’s transmission network. However, the DEDDIE/HEDNO network is saturated in many parts of the country, and, in many cases, any potential for capacity increases has been exhausted.

The problem has been exacerbated by a flood of network connection applications submitted by small-scale RES producers in recent months.

The energy ministry is engaged in talks with DEDDIE, IPTO and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to resolve the issue, the ministry’s secretary-general recently responded to RES producer concerns.

 

April RES auction as planned, other sessions face delays

A mixed RES auction for wind and solar energy projects planned for April 2 by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, will go ahead as scheduled as, being on online procedure, it will not be disrupted by the extraordinary conditions prompted by the coronavirus spread, the authority has announced.

None of the procedure’s nine registered participants have called for the mixed auction to be postponed.

However, investors behind solar energy projects seeking connection terms from distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO will face delays because of the operator’s need to reorganize as a result of the coronavirus impact on its operations.

The operator was already troubled by an accumulation of applications prior to the coronavirus crisis.

RAE, currently understaffed and facing an array of projects, may have trouble preparing on time for separate wind and photovoltaic RES auctions planned for June and July, industry experts have warned.

These sessions will most probably be officially announced after summer and staged at the end of the year, pundits believe. The two auctions must be held within 2020, according to a related ministerial decision.

The supply chain for solar modules and related equipment from China, the world’s dominant supplier, has been severely affected by the coronavirus outbreak in China, adding to the concerns of RES investors.

 

Market slump a worry for DEPA Trade sale, gov’t holds firm

Privatization fund TAIPED and the energy ministry, already into the early stages of a sale offering the Greek State’s 65 percent of DEPA Trade, a new entity formed by gas utility DEPA for its privatization, are keeping a close watch on international markets, battered amid fears prompted by the coronavirus spread around the world.

The DEPA Trade sale, an emblematic energy-sector privatization, had already been given a first-round deadline extension for non-binding bids, until March 23, prior to the latest coronavirus-related market concerns. But the worsening international conditions, which prompted markets to plunge on Monday, have made the DEPA Trade sale’s officials far more vigilant.

Though an improvement of market conditions by the DEPA Trade privatization’s March 23 non-binding deadline cannot be ruled out, authorities are certainly  concerned for a number of reasons.

DEPA Trade does not offer investors secured WACC levels, as is the case with networks and infrastructure, including DEPA Infrastructure, power grid operator IPTO and distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO. This absence of a fixed yield makes DEPA Trade’s value susceptible to international and domestic market turmoil.

Also, far lower LNG prices at present represent an unfavorable development for DEPA Trade as the company is committed to pipeline natural gas import agreements with take-or-pay clauses. This restricts the firm’s ability to choose.

In addition, investors, local and foreign, inevitably revise investment plans, or, at best, wait, when faced by overwhelming situations such as the coronavirus outbreak.

Furthermore, any market-slump period is not a good time to sell assets. Should markets remain unsettled for an extended period, the market value of DEPA Trade will be impacted.

The government plan remains unchanged, the DEPA Trade privatization still being at an early stage, energy ministry officials told energypress.

 

Utilities prepare emergency coronavirus plan for energy security

The country’s energy utilities have prepared an emergency plan – comprised of alternatives – designed to ensure ongoing operations at strategically important energy facilities amid the coronavirus outbreak, now also a growing concern in Greece.

The emergency plan, prepared by leading officials at power utility PPC, power grid operator IPTO, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, gas grid operator DESFA and gas utility DEPA, in agreement with the energy ministry, is designed to offer maximum coronavirus protection to personnel, especially staff employed at energy production and distribution management posts.

The plan includes three alert levels, mild, medium and pandemic conditions.

Preventive disinfection operations are being carried out at utility facilities. Emphasis is being placed on IPTO’s national and regional energy control centers, DESFA’s LNG storage station on the islet Revythoussa, off Athens, as well as PPC’s power stations.

The plan also includes shift replacements and personnel transfers in the event of coronavirus spreads within utility ranks, as well as secluded on-site accommodation for personnel at energy infrastructure locations and power stations.

Online preparations are also being made to enable headquarter-based personnel to work from home should the outbreak worsen.

Overall, preventive measures promoted by national health authorities are being applied.

Energy utility officials who took part in a related energy ministry meeting have assured government authorities that the country’s electricity and natural gas supply will remain uninterrupted.

 

RAE close to energy plan for Crete in busy summer months

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is close to finalizing a plan designed to ensure energy sufficiency on Crete during the busy summer months through an overall capacity boost of approximately 90 MW.

The authority is expected to secure 60 MW of this required additional capacity through a leasing arrangement of power generators at the island’s Atherinolakkos location. This has represented a standard solution in recent years.

It is still unclear how the remaining amount of between 25 and 30 MW will be generated to ensure energy sufficiency throughout the summer for the entire island.

Authorities had previously decided to have a power utility PPC wind turbine relocated from Rhodes to Xylokamara in the Hania prefecture. However, PPC and distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO eventually asked for this turbine system to remain on Rhodes this summer, despite the addition of a new unit on the island.

A leased wind turbine for installation at the Hania prefecture is a solution now being seriously considered. This option’s cost is estimated between five and six million euros, roughly the amount it would cost to have the Rhodes turbine transported to Crete and then back to Rhodes. This option’s electricity generation cost is high.

RAE is also considering shipping in a vessel with three or four units on board.

Small-scale PV investors must unite to skip network saturation obstacles

Energy authorities are working on resolving network access problems encountered by small-scale PV investors as a result of saturation issues and appear headed towards promoting joint applications by investors that would avoid distribution network operator restrictions.

Small-scale PV investors, because of their limited size, are currently forced to design solar energy parks for network access through distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO’s distribution network, not transmission networks controlled by IPTO, whose transmission networks, in most cases, are not saturated but demand higher capacities for connection eligibility.

The saturation problem of distribution networks concerns many parts of the country. In many cases, these saturated networks cannot be upgraded for capacity increases.

Some small-scale PV investors are already opting to team up and avoid the distribution network limitations imposed by DEDDIE. However, reaching consensus for a joint plan can be challenging.

The energy ministry is currently engaged in talks with DEDDIE/HEDNO, IPTO and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, officials, a leading ministry official has informed.

“We want to clear the way for interested parties currently being blocked by DEDDIE as a result of the saturated networks,” the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou told a forum staged by SEF, the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies. “We’re thinking, for example, of bringing together many PV projects which, at present, cannot be connected to DEDDIE’s network as a result of saturation, for one united application to IPTO.”

Priority rights for increasing energy community bids to be abolished

The energy ministry is seriously considering to abolish a priority given by distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO to the examination of grid connection applications made by energy communities.

The number of energy community applications has snowballed as a result of this prioritization, leaving unattended thousands of applications submitted by investors pursuing individual renewable energy projects.

A ministerial decision on the matter could be issued next week, energypress sources informed.

Priority rights are expected to be maintained for certain cases, including energy community projects involving local government organizations and net metering plans.

A temporary solution severely curbing priority rights for energy communities is expected to be implemented until an official decision is reached.

Energy communities enable electricity consumers to also become producers through renewable energy output, while also permitting municipalities and regional authorities to establish localized energy policies.