Electricity producer price cap mechanism launched Friday

A price-cap mechanism for electricity producer payments is set to be launched this Friday and is expected to generate approximately 580 million euros for the Energy Transition Fund in July, a sum to be utilized for subsidizing consumer electricity bills.

Of this sum, 150 million euros will be derived from natural gas and lignite-fired power stations as well as power utility PPC’s hydropower facilities, while the other 380 million euros will stem from the RES sector.

Most of July’s funds to be provided by the RES sector will not be newly generated money as RES units had already refunded money to the RES special account and its surpluses were then injected into the Energy Transition Fund. Under the new system, these amounts will be directly injected into the Energy Transition Fund.

Through the new mechanism, PPC’s hydropower facilities will be paid 112 euros per MWh and all RES units will be remunerated at a rate of 85 euros per MWh. The remuneration rates for natural gas and lignite-fueled power stations will be determined every month based on a series of factors. For the mechanism’s first month, natural gas-fueled power stations will receive 253.99 euros per MWh for their output and lignite-fired power stations will receive 206.72 euros per MWh.

 

Gas-fired generation up 72.3% in February, PPC holds ground

Natural gas-fueled electricity generation rose sharply, by 72.3 percent, or 622 GWh, in February compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, according to power grid operator IPTO’s monthly report.

This increased generation essentially filled a gap created by lower hydropower production, which dropped by 76.3 percent, or 659 GWh, during the aforementioned period.

Lignite-fired electricity generation fell by 20.3 percent, or 105 GWh, in February compared to the same month in 2021, the IPTO report showed.

These changes highlight the importance of natural gas-fueled power stations for the country’s energy mix, supply security, and grid flexibility, market authorities told energypress.

Overall electricity generation in February reached 3,506 GWh, down 2.61 percent compared to the equivalent month a year earlier.

Natural gas-fueled generation represented a 54.13 percent share of this total production, renewable energy sources generated 40.02 percent, while hydropower units contributed 5.85 percent of the month’s total.

Market shares in the country’s retail electricity market remained virtually unchanged in February, the IPTO report showed.

Power utility PPC did not give away any ground, capturing a 64.23 percent share of the retail electricity market in February, marginally up from January’s 64.1 percent.

Mytilineos was ranked second with a 6.92 percent share, followed by Heron (6.48%), Elpedison (5.78%), NRG (4.19%), Watt & Volt (2.35%), Fysiko Aerio (2.04%), Volterra (2.01%), Zenith (1.89%) and Volton (1.49%).

 

Excess energy group profits taxed 90% as crisis measure

The effectiveness of a government measure that will heavily tax excess profits of energy groups as an extraordinary energy-crisis measure remains to be seen and will be determined once groups have announced their financial results for 2021 and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has completed a related inspection.

Given the fact that the RES sector is returning surplus amounts to the Energy Transition Fund, supporting energy crisis measures, the tax measure will be directed at all other technologies, namely lignite, hydropower and natural gas.

The RAE check will compare the earnings of energy companies – in electricity production and supply – between the October-to-March periods of the past two years to determine if excess energy group profits exist, and if so, their size. Any increase in earnings will be taxed 90 percent, according to the extraordinary energy-crisis measure.

 

 

 

RES producer certificate applications up in February

RES producer certificate applications rebounded in the February cycle to reach a total of 221 for a capacity of 3,196 MW, more than three times the capacity of the previous cycle, last October, whose slowdown was prompted by a new regulation requiring letters of guarantee worth 35,000 euros per MWh to accompany applications.

Net-metering and green PPA prospects are believed to be the main driving forces behind this elevated RES interest.

A total of 127 RES producer certificate applications representing a total capacity of 960 MW were submitted in October.

Of the February cycle’s 221 applications, 73 concern solar energy projects representing a total capacity of 1,833 MW. These applications include a number of exceptionally big projects, such as a 300-MW solar energy park in Thessaly, central Greece, as well as a 250-MW project in the mainland.

Wind energy projects followed with 70 applications totaling 1,118 MW. A prospective 315-MW wind energy farm planned for the Peloponnese is the biggest among these applications, followed by a 147.5-MW facility in Greece’s northeast.

Small-scale hydropower unit applications also figured prominently in the February cycle, reaching 66 for a total of 52.8 MW.

The February cycle also included 7 applications for hybrid RES units totaling 124 MW, as well as 5 applications for biomass units with a total capacity of 18.5 MW.

Brussels to propose windfall profit support for consumers

The European Commission, fearing the energy crisis will be prolonged, is moving towards adopting a French EU presidency proposal that would offer energy consumers support through redistribution of windfall profits earned by electricity producers in the RES, hydropower, nuclear and lignite sectors.

The European Commission strategy also includes a call for regulatory intervention to contain retail electricity prices.

The Brussels proposal, contrasting the European Commission’s energy-crisis stance until now, is included in a preliminary plan that was due to be officially announced next month but has been leaked by the EURACTIV media outlet.

Spain has already taken similar-minded action by taxing excessive earnings generated by nuclear power stations and large-scale RES facilities.

RES output high in ’21, demand back to pre-pandemic level

The RES sector set a new production record in 2021, reaching 17,193 GWh, up from 14,800 in 2020, a 16.2 increase, while, in another important development last year, electricity demand rebounded to pre-pandemic levels of 2019, totaling 52,322 GWh, up 4.7 percent compared to 2020, data provided in a latest monthly report from power grid operator IPTO has shown.

Another eco-friendly energy source, hydropower, also ended 2021 with a record production level of 5,293 GWh, 82.5 percent higher than the 2020 total of 2,900 GWh, the IPTO report showed.

The RES and hydropower sectors, combined, provided 46.1 percent of the country’s overall electricity production in 2022, which reached 48,721 GWh.

Lignite-fired generation fell by 7 percent, to 5,341 GWh, in 2021, reflecting this high-polluting and high-cost energy source’s continual retreat.

Power utility PPC has been regaining ground during the energy crisis of the past few months, increasing its retail electricity market share to 63.9 percent in December from 63.1 percent a month earlier, the IPTO data showed.

PPC’s retail electricity market share has increased by nearly two percentage points  since September, when the energy crisis hit.

Greece registers Europe’s lowest wholesale electricity price today

Greece has registered Europe’s lowest day-ahead market price today, helped by greater RES contributions that have lowered the wholesale electricity price by 57.44 euros per MWh in a day, to 197.24 euros per MWh.

Elsewhere in Europe, wholesale price levels for today are upwards of 250 euros per MWh, while in some countries, the level greatly exceeds 300 euros per MWh, headed by France, where the wholesale price is 329.27 euros per MWh.

Renewable energy units represent 31.13 percent of the energy mix in Greece today, offering a total capacity of 61.5 GWh, just below the level of natural gas, the top contributor, with a 35.62 percent share of the energy mix, or 70.4 GWh.

The country’s hydropower generation is also significantly up today, capturing a 16.5 percent share of the energy mix, or 32.6 GWh, well over usual recent levels of less than 10 percent, as a result of heavy rainfall over the past few days that filled hydropower reservoirs.

The price gap between Greece and other European markets has prompted an increase in electricity exports today to a level of 31.2 GWh. Imports were restricted to 3.2 percent of the energy mix, or 6.3 GWh.

PPC lignite reserves, stations ready for winter, official assures

Lignite reserves are sufficient to meet elevated demand this winter, while the country’s lignite-fired power stations, hydropower facilities and lignite mines are all set to operate, Dimitris Metikanis, general manager of power utility PPC’s lignite production division has noted in Parliament, in response to questions over energy sufficiency and the energy crisis.

PPC has done all that is possible to prepare the country’s lignite and hydropower units for possible energy demand increases during the winter, the PPC official noted.

Maintenance levels for the country’s lignite facilities have been relaxed in recent times as these units are headed for withdrawal by 2023, as part of Greece’s decarbonization effort. However, the energy crisis may require the lignite units to be brought back into play this winter.

Adequate lignite sources are expected to prevent a reliance on electricity exports, while PPC’s lignite-fired power station Agios Dimitrios V is expected to return by the end of the year after being sidelined for desulfurization work, the official informed.

Daily electricity demand in Greece is projected to reach between 180 and 190 GWh during colder weather conditions from December to February, according to power grid operator IPTO projections.

Such demand levels will require contributions from all available lignite-fired power stations, seven in total – Agios Dimitrios I, II, III, IV and V, Melitis and Megalopoli IV – offering a total capacity of 1,800 MW.

 

PPC’s rise prompts response of rivals over hydropower control

The rising number of customers returning to power utility PPC is triggering a response from rival independent electricity producers and suppliers, some of which, according to sources, are set to raise competition concerns with Greek and EU authorities by noting the utility’s exclusive use of the country’s hydropower facilities puts it in an advantageous position as profit generated from this activity is, to a great extent, being utilized for an aggressive pricing policy, helping win back customers.

This is not the first time PPC’s exclusive use of Greece’s hydropower capacity is being brought to the fore. On the contrary, it has always been on the European Commission’s agenda, especially during the previous decade’s period of Greek bailout negotiations, and was incorporated in related reports.

However, concerns over PPC’s lignite monopoly and how this matter should be tackled, which led to the introduction of NOME auctions, now abolished, followed by a recent agreement for PPC lignite packages to rivals, have taken precedence.

It seems the hydropower matter has now reached the tipping point for PPC’s rivals, facing toughened market conditions shaped by the energy crisis.

A number of independent producers are believed to be set to forward market data to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, as well as the domestic and European Commission competition authorities, to highlight their disadvantageous positions and call for intervention.

Authorities confident of energy sufficiency this winter

Energy authorities are confident the country is sufficiently equipped to meet energy demand this coming winter, suggesting that it would take a perfect storm, or combination of a number of unfavorable factors, to cause problems.

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas chaired a meeting earlier this week for an update on the winter preparations from officials at power grid operator IPTO, gas grid operator DESFA, as well as RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

An extremely cold winter would need to be combined with a sharp rise in electricity demand in neighboring countries, technical issues at Greece’s lignite-fired power stations, subdued RES participation due to weather-related conditions, electricity import difficulties and low water reserves at the country’s hydropower facilities for an energy shortage, authorities have suggested.

At this stage, the country’s natural gas-fueled power stations are running smoothly, but their rising operating costs are a concern.

Greece’s lignite-fired power stations do face occasional technical issues as their maintenance is nowadays less thorough in anticipation of a full withdrawal of these units by the end of 2023 as part of the country’s decarbonization plan.

Hydropower, RES units and electricity imports are all variable factors. The contributions to the grid of the first two depend on weather conditions, while electricity imports will depend on how Greece’s wholesale electricity prices compare with those of neighboring countries. If prices are relatively higher in Greece, the country will import. If price levels here are lower, electricity will be exported.

North Macedonia hydropower plant offers in September, PPC-Archirodon set

Power utility PPC and energy and construction firm Archirodon, in a partnership for North Macedonia’s prospective Cebren hydropower plant, at the Crna Reka river, face a mid-September deadline for binding bids.

The neighboring country’s state-owned power producer ESM, staging the tender, aims to have announced a preferred bidder by the end of the year.

The Cebren facility, planned to offer a capacity of between 333 and 458 MW and annual production of between 1,000 and 1,200 GWh, is expected to cost approximately 600 million euros.

The project is planned to be developed through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with state-owned power producer ESM.

PPC and Archirodon are among nine of ten initial bidders who have qualified for the competition’s final round. The others are: ENKA-COLIN (Turkey); EDF (France); Cobra-Cobra Hidraulika (Spain); EVN-Verbund (Austria); Webuild SPA Italia-Salini (Italy); Gezhouba Group China (China); Power Construction Corporation of China (China); and Ozaltin-Yapi Merkezi (Turkey).

Wholesale electricity prices ease as RES input increases

Wholesale electricity price levels are expected to drop to an average of 130 euros per MWh in the day-ahead market today, down 20 percent compared to yesterday, a de-escalation attributed to increased RES input, the energy exchange has informed.

Stronger winds have been forecast, increasing the generation potential of wind energy units.

The maximum price in the day-ahead market today is expected to reach 186 euros per MWh and the minimum price will be 92 euros per MWh.

Natural gas-fired power stations are scheduled to contribute the lion’s share, 40 percent, of the day’s electricity needs, renewable energy sources will contribute 24 percent, electricity imports and lignite-fired power stations will each provide 15 percent, while hydropower facilities will contribute 6 percent.

Electricity demand for the today is forecast to drop by 2.5 percent compared to yesterday.

 

 

Grid faces new challenge today as heatwave persists

The country’s grid stands to face yet another major challenge today as electricity demand could climb to a new record level, driven up by the sustained heatwave conditions, projected to reach levels of between 40 and 42 degrees Celsius.

Power grid operator IPTO projects electricity demand will reach 10,835 MW, which would be a new all-time high, following yesterday’s level of 10,662 MW.

Natural gas-fired power stations operated by power utility PPC and independent producers will once again contribute dominantly, exceeding 43 percent, according to energy exchange data.

PPC’s combined-cycle Lavrio IV will return to action today following the replacement of technical components at the unit, according to IPTO’s schedule for the day.

The overall input of renewable energy units is expected to rise marginally today, compared to previous days, and cover 16.5 percent of demand.

Electricity imports are also expected to cover 16.5 percent of demand today.

Lignite-fired power stations, including Megalopoli IV, back following repairs, are expected to represent 14.46 percent of the energy mix.

Major-scale hydropower facilities should cover a little over 9 percent of electricity demand.

The government’s crisis management team expects generation will reach required levels and, furthermore, could be boosted by greater output at wind-energy facilities as a result of stronger winds that have been forecast for today.

On the other hand, the prospect of stronger winds is unfavorable for firefighters seeking to subdue a number of fire fronts. Also, the risk of new fires is also higher. In such an event, the grid, under extreme pressure over the past ten days amid the sustained heatwave, would surely suffer further damages.

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO crews are continuing efforts to restore power supply in fire-hit Varybobi, north of Athens. The northern section of Evia, northeast of Athens, and Pyrgos, northwest Peloponnese, have also been affected by power supply cuts as a result of fires in the regions.

Connection terms list topped by PPC Renewables, key projects

Power grid operator IPTO has released a list of pending finalized connection terms for RES and combined heat and power (CHP) projects, prioritizing strategic investments and RES projects planned for lignite-dependent areas being phased out as part of the country’s decarbonization effort.

At the top of the list is an application for a 40-MW solar energy park project in Larissa, central Greece, listed under the strategic investments category.

It is followed by applications submitted by PPC Renewables for RES units planned in northern Greece’s west Macedonia area, until now a lignite-based local economy.

These applications submitted by PPC Renewables, a subsidiary of power utility PPC, concern 19 projects promising a capacity of approximately 1.9 GW, planned for the provincial cities Kozani and Florina. They include a 550-MW solar energy park in lignite-dependent Ptolemaida.

Also on the list are a further 76 connection-term applications for RES projects representing a total capacity of approximately 2.5 GW.

Overall, the list includes 96 applications for projects totaling 4.5 GW. Of these, 92 are PV projects, 2 are wind-energy projects, one is a combined PV and wind energy project, while the remaining application is for a small-scale hydropower station.

 

Lignite units to exit in August, according to IPTO plan

The introduction of a demand response mechanism in the balancing market within 2021 is projected in a Market Reform Plan, according to a power grid operator IPTO document that has been forwarded for public consultation until Wednesday.

The document notes that a related grid sufficiency study takes into account structural interventions in wholesale markets. These interventions have been included in the Market Reform Plan.

According to the reform plan, the demand response’s participation in markets is expected to be feasible as of the fourth quarter this year.

The new grid sufficiency study will be attached to the Market Reform Plan, whose draft copy has already been forwarded to Brussels, as previously reported by energypress.

The purpose of the study, along with a road map for wholesale market revisions, will be to support the need for a Strategic Reserve, during a first phase, as well as a Capacity Reserve Mechanism (CRM), planned to succeed it.

Besides these two mechanisms, IPTO also intends to take into account a plan entailing a swifter withdrawal of the country’s lignite-fired power stations. This is based on a key assumption that the power utility PPC, as it has announced, will withdraw remaining lignite units within August due to the unfeasibility of operating these units, nowadays high-cost as a result of elevated CO2 emission right costs.

Megalopoli III was withdrawn in March, even though IPTO had not offered its consent due to grid sufficiency concerns, while Agios Dimitrios, Megalopoli IV and Meliti are expected to follow in August.

The introduction of new units is expected to commence in September, 2022, beginning with a new Mytilineos natural gas-fired power station, and followed by Ptolemaida V early in 2023, initially as a lignite-fired unit before it is converted to gas in early 2026, a change that will also offer a capacity boost to 1,000 MW.

Also, new PPC hydropower facilities are expected to begin emerging midway through the decade, these being Metsovitiko (29 MW) in 2025, Mesohora (160 MW) in 2026 and Avlaki (83 MW) in 2028.

Clearing price hits record level, averaging €128.15/MWh

The clearing price at the energy exchange will exceed 130 euros per MWh for 15 hours today, pushing the average price to a record level of 128.15 euros per MWh.

Driven by the heatwave, electricity demand will climb to a 9,044-MW peak at 12.30pm, according to a forecast by power grid operator IPTO.

Four lignite-fired power stations, power utility PPC’s Agios Dimitrios I, II and IV and Meliti, have been recruited to support the grid’s needs today.

In addition, all of the country’s natural gas-fired power stations – PPC’s Aliveri V, Lavrio IV and V, Komotini and Megalopoli V, as well as the independent units Heron, Elpedison Thessaloniki, Elpedison Thisvi, Protergia and Korinthos Power – are expected to operate today.

Overall electricity demand is expected to reach 175,803 MWh. RES output is seen reaching 30,565 MWh, natural gas-fired power station generation should amount to 115,868 MWh, and hydropower production is expected to total 12,824 MWh.

Wholesale prices driven higher by heatwave, lignite units enter

The heightened electricity demand prompted by the country’s ongoing heatwave is applying intense pressure on wholesale price levels. Given today’s grid requirements, expected to exceed 8 GW, the clearing price at the energy exchange is seen rising to over 100 euros for 16 hours, peaking at 9pm at a price level of €127.82/MWh.

According to a power grid operator IPTO forecast, the system’s demand peak is expected to exceed 8 GW for a three-hour period, reaching as high as 8,108 MW. Overall demand today is seen totaling 156,115 MWh.

In order to cover the grid’s electricity needs for today, IPTO, in addition to the natural gas-fired power stations operated by power utility PPC and independent players, has also recruited four PPC lignite-fired power stations, these being Agios Dimitrios I, II and IV and Meliti.

The RES sector is expected to cover 27,540 MWh of total demand, while natural gas-fired power stations and hydropower units are seen contributing 99,651 MWh and 10,449 MWh, respectively.

As for the natural gas-fired power stations recruited for today’s grid needs, the list is comprised of PPC’s Aliveri V, Lavrio IV and V, Komotini and Megalopoli V, as well as the independent units Heron, Elpedison Thessaloniki, Elpedison Thisvi, Protergia and Korinthos Power.

Electricity demand up 7.5% in April, PPC market share steady

Electricity demand registered a sharp 7.5 percent rise in April, compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, driven by the government’s recent decision to ease lockdown measures, power grid operator IPTO’s latest monthly report has shown.

The relaxation of lockdown measures in Greece prompted a milder 1.5 percent increase in electricity demand in March, year-on-year.

On the contrary, electricity demand fell by 2.5 percent over the four-month period covering January to April, compared to the equivalent period a year earlier, according to the IPTO report.

This decline in electricity demand was approximately half the 5.1 percent drop, year-on-year, for the three-month period between January and March.

Electricity generation rose by 24.6 percent in April, compared to the same month a year earlier, according to the IPTO report.

Natural gas-fired power stations led the way, boosting their production by 52.4 percent, followed by lignite-fired power stations, whose output rose by 21.8 percent, RES units, increasing their generation by 5.8 percent and hydropower stations, which registered a 3.1 percent increase.

In terms of energy-mix shares, the pivotal role of natural gas-fired generation was once again made clear. It captured a 43 percent share of the energy mix in April, followed by the RES sector, capturing 36 percent, lignite with 11 percent, hydropower with 6 percent and electricity imports at 5 percent.

Power utility PPC’s share of electricity demand remained virtually unchanged for a third successive month in April, registering 65 percent, following a 64.8 percent share in March and 65.1 percent share in February.

Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, the frontrunner among the independent suppliers, was the only company to increase its market share in April. It rose to 8.2 percent share from 7.95 percent a month earlier.

Heron’s share was steady at 6.3 percent from 6.29 percent in March. Elpedison’s share experienced a mild drop to 4.72 percent from 4.88 percent. NRG’s share in April was unchanged at 3.99 percent, while Watt & Volt’s share slipped marginally to 2.44 percent from 2.58 percent.

PPC eyeing Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia for RES investments

Power utility PPC is looking to make its next major investment moves in the neighboring countries of Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia, solar energy and hydropower projects being a priority.

RES activity has soared in these three countries over recent years and is expected to continue.

PPC, which has not taken any investment initiatives abroad in quite a few years, anticipates it will be ready to announce details on major-scale solar farm projects in these countries towards the end of the year.

Bulgarian officials are making plans for 2.64 GW in new RES installations by 2030, of which 2.2 GW will concern solar farms, according to the country’s ten-year climate plan.

In Romania, the country’s 2030 projection is for investments reaching 5.2 GW in wind farm investments and approximately 5 GW in solar farms.

Serbia, possibly offering the biggest green energy investment opportunities among these three countries, will need between 8 and 10 GW in RES investments to replace coal-fired generation with a capacity of 4.4 GW by 2050, deputy energy minister Jovanka Atanackovic recently announced.

A first round of wind and solar project auctions is planned to take place in Serbia by the end of this year.

A month and a half ago, a partnership involving PPC and international contractor Archirodon advanced to the second round of a tender staged in North Macedonia for construction and operation of a major hydropower plant, Cebren, budgeted between 500 and 600 million euros and with a capacity between 333 and 458 MW.

PPC will continue to pursue this Cebren contract but its main focus will be on Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia and their solar energy project opportunities, sources informed.

 

 

DG Comp motives for restart of older PPC probe unclear

The European Commission has brought back to the fore a Directorate-General for Competition investigation of power utility PPC and power grid operator DEDDIE/HEDNO over market dominance abuse, despite major market changes that have taken place since 2017, when the probe began.

The direction the investigation’s restart remains unknown. Negotiations between Greece and Brussels for new mechanisms being negotiated could be impacted, some pundits suspect.

Also, the government and state-controlled PPC are currently seeking compensation for the power utility’s need to keep lignite-fired power stations and related mines operational for grid sufficiency needs.

No findings of the investigation’s first round have been released. The probe included raids by DG Comp officials, both local and Brussels-based, of the PPC and IPTO headquarters in Athens that lasted several hours, resulting in confiscations of USB flash drives, documents and hard drives.

PPC’s then-administration, in an announcement at the time, informed that the raid concerned a check on the utility’s “supposed” abuse of market dominance in the wholesale market for electrical energy produced from 2010 onwards.

Prior to the investigation, Brussels suspected levels of the wholesale electricity price – known as the System Marginal Price (SMP), at the time – were being manipulated by PPC through its lignite and hydropower facilities.

In 2017, PPC held an 87 percent share of the retail electricity market and 57 percent of overall electricity generation, now down to approximately 67 and 39 percent, respectively.

Four years ago, PPC’s lignite facilities still dominated the corporation’s portfolio and the energy exchange and new target model wholesale markets did not exist.

The current market setting bears little resemblance to back then. Lignite has regressed into an unwanted, loss-incurring energy source that is being phased out by PPC until 2023, while the energy market is undergoing drastic transformation, as was acknowledged by the European Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, also Brussels’ Commissioner for Competition, in an announcement yesterday.

 

Electricity demand falls 9.5% in January amid stricter lockdown

Stricter lockdown measures in January and their impact on business activity prompted a big reduction in electricity demand, down 9.5 percent compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, when lockdown measures had yet to be imposed, according to power grid operator IPTO’s monthly report.

Most of the country’s retailers were forced to disrupt their business activities in January following a period of less stringent retail measures in the form of a click-away service, enabling customers to pre-order and pick up goods from shops by appointment or, this measure’s extension, click-in-shop, permitting customers to enter stores, see and even try products by appointment.

Electricity demand in the high-voltage category was down by 3.3 percent in January compared to the same month a year earlier, the IPTO data showed.

Interestingly, despite the plunge in electricity demand, electricity production increased by 12.9 percent in January, hydropower being the biggest mover with a 221 percent increase, following power utility PPC’s decision to use its hydropower units as a result of elevated water reserves.

The domestic production increase was attributed to a fall in electricity imports and rise in electricity exports, the greatest quantity going to Italy (43%), followed by North Macedonia (24%), Bulgaria (22%), Albania (9%) and Turkey (2%).

RES output was higher by 43 percent in January as a result of strong winds during the month, while, on the contrary, lignite-fired generation fell 43 percent. Natural gas-fueled power station output was also down, marginally, by 2 percent.

In terms of energy mix share, natural gas-fueled power stations held a 36 percent share, RES units captured 35 percent, hydropower’s contribution represented 16 percent, and lignite was responsible for 13 percent of total electricity generation in January, the IPTO figures showed.

PPC covered 66.6 percent of electricity demand in January, followed by Mytilineos (7.52%), Heron (5.89%), Elpedison (4.63%), NRG (3.49%) and Watt & Volt (2.74%).

RES producer certificate applications wave sustained

The increased wave of RES producer certificate applications submitted of late continued with February’s round, attracting 477 applications representing a total of 8.8 GW, energypress sources have informed. This latest round’s deadline expired on February 10.

Applications for solar energy projects were dominant, both numerically and in terms of capacity, totaling 226 applications and 6 GW, respectively.

A total of 167 applications representing 2.65 GW were submitted for wind energy projects.

The remainder of applications concerned a variety of other RES technologies such as small-scale hydropower plants, combined cooling, heat and power (CCHP) facilities, as well as biogas-biomass units.

The supervising body, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is soon expected to begin processing applications submitted for the preceding December round and complete this procedure by late March or early April.

Successful applicants of the December round will then be requested to pay required fees for their producer certificates.

A total of 864 applications representing a capacity of 45.55 GW were lodged by prospective investors for the December round.

PM to visit stalled Mesohora dam project, completion ‘near’

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his energy minister Kostas Skrekas are scheduled to visit power utility PPC’s slow-moving Mesohora hydropower project in west Thessaly on Saturday as part of a wider visit to the area, for an update on its progress.

The Mesohora dam, along with the E 65 highway project in central Greece, will be the main topics of discussion at meetings, a few hours later in Trikala, between the PM, energy minister and regional authorities.

The Mesohora dam, close to completion since 2001, has been delayed by a series of setbacks, including, most recently, November’s nullification of the project’s environmental terms by the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court.

PPC is being deprived of revenue worth 30 million euros annually as a result of the project’s delay.

Efforts now being made to put the project’s completion back on track include PPC’s ongoing preparation of a new environmental impact study, which should pave the way for the dam’s new environmental terms.

The project’s new environmental license could be a swift procedure, enabling a restart of work for completion and trial tests of the new dam by the end of 2023, according to the most optimistic of forecasts.

The Mesohora hydropower facility, an investment exceeding 400 million euros, is designed to have a 160-MW capacity and produce eco-friendly electricity amounts of 360 GWh, annually.

PPC scouring southeast Europe markets for opportunities

Power utility PPC, on a mission, in recent months, to seek investment opportunities in neighboring countries, is carefully planning its first expedition abroad after some time.

Although PPC’s new three-year business plan does not specifically reference investment plans abroad, the company’s interest in other markets has become apparent.

PPC is striving to become a modern corporation and market leader in southeast Europe by 2030, the power utility’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis told a Bloomberg event late last week.

Potential projects on the corporation’s radar include North Macedonia’s Cebren hydropower facility, a 500-600 million-euro project for which PPC has entered a tender with Archirodon as its partner, and, further ahead, RES investments.

Establishing oneself as a dominant player in the southeast European market is a major challenge as highlighted by the participation of ten consortiums, big names included, in the Cebren hydropower plant tender, the latest following a total of ten preceding procedures for this project, all fruitless.

A proportion of PPC’s 1.1 billion-euro EBITDA target for 2023 could be generated by business activities beyond Greece.

The power utility has assembled a working group tasked with scouring foreign-market opportunities in all sectors, including hydropower, photovoltaics, other RES technologies, project tenders, as well as acquisitions.

PPC has made a series of unsuccessful investment quests over the past 18 years, beginning with Romania’s privatization tender, in 2003, for electricity distributors Electrica Banat and Electrica Dabrogea. PPC had advanced to this procedure’s second round but ultimately lost to Italian powerhouse Enel.

PPC bids for North Macedonia’s Cebren hydropower plant

Power utility PPC is among ten international bidding teams from the energy and construction domains that have submitted pre-qualification offers to a tender for North Macedonia’s prospective Cebren hydropower plant, an investment expected to require at least 500 to 600 million euros.

This preliminary stage of the tender concerns water usage licensing rights for hydropower output at the neighboring country’s Crna Reka river. Preliminary bids were opened yesterday.

A related committee to soon be assembled by the North Macedonian government will examine whether the bids submitted fully meet the tender’s requirements before qualifiers are invited to a second round for offers concerning the project’s development in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with state-owned power producer ESM.

Besides PPC, which has teamed up with energy and construction firm Archirodon, the other nine bids were submitted by: EVN-Verbund (Austria); Gezhouba Group China (China); Power Construction Corporation of China (China); EDF (France); Eiffage-Waterlu-Andritz-Norconsult (France, Austria); Webuild SPA Italia-Salini (Italy); Cobra-Cobra Hidraulika (Spain); ENKA-COLIN (Turkey); and Ozaltin-Yapi Merkezi (Turkey).

The North Macedonian government plans to commission a consultant for preparations concerning the tender’s second round.

In previous years, more than ten tenders have been staged for the construction and operation of the Cebren hydropower plant, but all efforts have proved fruitless, for a variety of reasons.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s administration has noted that a serious effort is being made for the project’s development, ascertaining the current tender will be successfully completed.

It is planned to offer an installed capacity of between 333 and 458 MW for annual electricity production of 1,000 to 1,200 GWh.

Natural gas-fueled generation reaches energy-mix record share of 56.64%

The energy mix contribution of natural gas increased to a record-level share of 56.64 percent in October, a latest energy exchange monthly report has shown.

This significant rise in the energy-mix share of natural gas – to a level never before reported since the full liberalization of Greece’s electricity market – has been attributed to a major slowdown of power utility PPC’s lignite-based generation.

Natural gas-fueled power stations operated by power utility PPC and independent producers further consolidated their place in the energy mix standings, stretching further ahead of other fuel categories.

October’s 56.64 percent energy-mix share captured by natural gas broke this fuel’s previous record of 53.76 percent, registered in August. The natural gas energy-mix share had dipped slightly to 51.74 percent in September before rebounding for October’s record-breaking result.

A year earlier, the natural gas energy mix share was below 50 percent, at 49.86 percent, while lignite’s share was at approximately 22 percent.

Returning to the latest energy-mix figures, natural gas was followed by the RES sector, capturing 33.86 percent, lignite’s share shrunk further to 4.25 percent, and hydropower followed with a 3.21 percent share.

PPC’s lignite-based generation could rise slightly in coming months to cover telethermal needs.

The role of natural gas in the ongoing energy transition towards renewable energy dominance is expected to play a pivotal role for the grid’s sufficiency and security.

Balkan hydropower projects focus of Sarajevo event in November

Τhe prospects and development strategies of the hydropower industry in the Balkan region will be further discussed at the 4th International Summit and Exhibition “Hydropower Balkans”, scheduled to take place November 4-5, 2020 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the lead-up, organizers have prepared a report on the results of a study focused on the development of hydropower projects in the Balkans.

This report provides:

  • An overview of the hydropower industry in the Balkans per country;
  • A list of the most promising hydropower projects to be developed until 2025 in the Balkan region per country;
  • 120+ experts survey results with key information about Balkans hydropower industry prospects in the upcoming 10 years.

Request the report : https://www.hydropowerbalkans.com/analytics-report-on-current-industry-conditions/

Strategic Partners 2020: Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske (ERS), Elektroprivreda BiH

Balkan hydropower summit planned for November in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The 4th Annual International Summit and Exhibition Hydropower Balkans 2020 is scheduled to take place November 4 and 5 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the lead-up, organizers of the event have prepared a related report listing all key HPP construction and modernization projects planned to be launched in the Balkan region between 2020 and 2025.

Projects featured in the report include:

  • Čebren HPP in North Macedonia, a 333-MW construction project in North Macedonia whose investment needs are budgeted at 570 million euros.
  • HPP Komarnica construction in Montenegro. EPCG has signed an agreement to produce a preliminary design plan for this construction project, an investment estimated to be worth 237.9 million euros.
  • Dabar HPP construction in Republika Srpske, one of the two entities of Boznia and Herzegovina. Hidroelektrana Dabar, a unit of Elektroprivreda Republika Srpske, issued a public call for financing and building of HPP Dabar, a turnkey/engineering project valued at some 200 million euros.
  • HPPS Foča and Paunci construction, a plan by Republika Srpska and Serbia plan to jointly build two HPPs with a combined installed capacity of between 90 MW and 95 MW. This investment is estimated at 200 million euros.
  • HPP Buk Bijela construction. Serbia and Republika Srpska intend to jointly build the Buk Bijela hydropower plant, a project requiring an investment of 193 million euros.

Requests for the full list of investment projects may be submitted to: https://www.hydropowerbalkans.com/request-the-full-list-of-investment-projects/

MH Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske and JP Elektroprivreda BiH are the November event’s strategic partners.

Gas, renewables cover 76% of electricity demand in June

Natural gas and renewable energy sources covered 76 percent of electricity demand in June, limiting lignite’s contribution to a mere 5 percent, latest figures provided by power grid operator IPTO have shown.

The development highlights the fast-approaching end of the lignite era in Greece, currently in transition towards green energy.

Natural gas-fueled generation in June covered 37 percent of electricity demand, plus 2 percent contributed by cooling, heating and power (CCHP) generation, while renewables contributed 37 percent, including hydropower input of 9 percent.

Highlighting lignite’s severely diminished role in generation, PPC restricted its lignite-fired generation last month by 75 percent compared to the equivalent month a year earlier.

During this same one-year period, renewable energy source generation increased by 7.6 percent, while natural gas-based electricity production was up by a milder 1.2 percent, the IPTO data showed.

In another noteworthy statistic, all of the country’s lignite units were switched off for 40 hours, continuously, for the first time in June.

Low-cost gas driving down wholesale electricity prices

The abundance of low-cost natural gas, enabling electricity producers operating gas-fired power stations to offer extremely competitive prices, is reshaping the wholesale electricity market.

Highlighting this development, the average level of the System Marginal Price, or wholesale electricity price, today, a day of strong demand, is expected to be contained below 40 euros per MWh, at 39.551 €/MWh.

Today’s electricity demand is expected to peak over 8.3 GW with total consumption reaching 168,674 MWh. The wholesale price during the peak hours will not exceed 38.850 €/MWh.

The market conditions for today are not an isolated incident but part of a wider trend that has developed during the week.

Yesterday’s average SMP was just 35.961 €/MWh despite a peak of 8,105 MW and total electricity consumption of 162,777 MWh.

On Wednesday, when demand peaked at 8,072 MW and overall consumption totaled 162,492 MWh, the SMP was 39.243 €/MWh.

The SMP exceeded the 40 €/MWh level just once this week, on Tuesday, reaching 40.689 €/MWh, a day whose peak was below 8000 MW.

The week started with Monday’s SMP average at 39.277 €/MWh, a lower peak of 7,649 MW, and total consumption for the day of 152,716 MWh.

SMP prices have been falling to even lower levels during weekends. Last Sunday, the average SMP was just 30.629 €/MWh with the peak down to 6,370 MW and the day’s consumption at 134,563 MWh.

The grid relied on just one lignite-fired power station, Agios Dimitris III, last Sunday. Demand was primarily covered by gas-fired generation, as well as renewable energy sources, hydropower units and electricity imports.