US wants Greece as partner for pumped storage projects

Recognizing the importance of pumped storage hydropower technology as a means for energy storage, the US is promoting the establishment of a related international forum to bring together countries and companies for co-development of such projects.

According to sources, Greek deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas has received an invitation from the US department of energy and the International Hydropower Association requesting Greece’s participation in a US-headed multidisciplinary platform that will seek to reinforce the role of pumped-storage technology in current and future energy systems.

Pumped storage hydropower supply during the pandemic has provided vital energy support for US households, hospitals and schools, American experts have determined.

Washington believes pumped storage hydropower projects are capable of enhancing the reliability of grids and supporting further renewable energy penetration. This technology, regarded as tried and tested, can be further developed in the energy transition era, US experts support.

Pumped storage hydropower currently represents about 94 percent of global energy storage capacity, latest data has shown.

A pumped storage hydropower project planned by Greece’s GEK TERNA in Amfilohia, western Greece, is regarded as a pioneering initiative in Europe.

The country’s energy ministry has approached the European Commission for special funding support for this project, budgeted at over 500 million euros.

 

Grid passes summer’s first test, demand at 7,600 MW today

The country’s grid is set to face increased pressure as temperatures rise throughout the country and are forecast to reach as high as 39 degrees Celsius today. Electricity demand is expected to rise to 7,600 MW.

The country’s grid coped well during yesterday’s first major test for the summer. Electricity demand reached 7,300 MW amid temperatures marginally lower than the levels forecast for today.

The power utility PPC was forced to use its hydropower facilities. Water deposit levels have been extremely low this year. Further usage of the hydropower facilities will be needed today but PPC is expected to act cautiously as it awaits tougher days ahead.

PPC anticipates it may need to use 50 to 60 percent of its 3,171-MW total hydropower capacity in July.

The heat-related rise in electricity demand has coincided with increased wholesale electricity prices over the past week. They rose sharply from 28.62 euros per MWh on June 28 to 44.52 euros per MWh on Tuesday and 45.01 euros per MWh yesterday.

This first summer test for the grid has once again highlighted the extremely high costs entailed in operating lignite-fired power stations. Their generation costs are now between 90 and 100 euros per MWh.

During this heatwave, PPC, currently moving to withdraw most of its lignite units over the next three years, has opted to minimize its reliance on lignite, preferring instead to cover its generation needs through its natural gas units and hydropower stations.

 

 

 

PPC turns to hydropower facilities as temperatures rise

Power utility PPC has turned to its hydropower facilities to meet heightened electricity demand anticipated over the next few days as a result of hot temperatures in many parts of the country.

PPC plans to use hydropower stations during the peak-demand hours of 11am-3pm and 8pm-10-pm, but the input of these facilities is expected to be contained. Water deposit levels have been extremely low this year.

PPC’s hydropower stations, 15 in total, offer a capacity of 3,171 MW.

Temperatures are forecast to reach as high as 38 degrees Celsius in some parts of Greece. These weather conditions will force PPC to resort to its hydropower units.

The power utility may need to provide between 50 and 60 percent of its total hydropower capacity over the next few days.

Hydropower generation was down 24 percent in the first five-month period this year, compared to the equivalent period last year, according to power grid operator IPTO’s monthly report.

Hydropower generation reached 995 GWh between January and May compared to 1,308 GWh during the equivalent period in 2019.

Hydropower facility contributions to the country’s overall generation represented just 6 percent of the total in January, 4 percent in February, 6 percent in March, 7 percent in April and 9 percent in May.

New Peloponnese RES project applications deferred to 2021

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and power grid operator IPTO have written off any possibility of accepting new RES connection applications in 2020 for new solar and wind energy projects, as well as other technologies, but application procedures could recommence in 2021, energypress has been informed.

Authorities face the challenging task of managing an enormous level of RES investment interest, especially for solar energy projects, before procedures for new-project applications can restart.

In the Peloponnese, where RES development has been held back by system saturation for seven years, a new IPTO study is still needed on the capacity to become available once two transmission networks, the west and east corridors, are completed.

Once IPTO has delivered this study, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, should lift its saturation-related ban on new RES projects in the Peloponnese and also set capacities available for each technology – wind, solar, small-scale hydropower, biomass-biogas.

However, IPTO’s delivery of the west and east corridors in the Peloponnese does not promise a complete solution as these lines, limited to 400-KV capacities, are well below capacities represented by the level of investment interest.

A fair and effective competitive procedure serving as a selection process will need to be established.

Electricity demand down 12.6% in April, industrial use slumps 23.6%

Electricity demand slumped 12.6 percent in April compared to the same month a year earlier, the biggest drop registered by high-voltage industrial consumers, forced to suspend or restrict output during the lockdown, power grid operator IPTO’s monthly report has shown.

Industrial electricity consumption in April fell sharply by 23.6 percent, the IPTO report showed.

The drop in electricity consumption linked to mining activity was even sharper, falling 55.5 percent in April. Besides the lockdown, this drop was also attributed to significant operational restrictions implemented at power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power plants.

Electricity generation in April fell by 3.2 percent, to 2,893 GWh compared to 2,990 during the same month a year earlier, according to the data.

This reduction was mild compared to major shifts observed in sources of generation. Lignite-based generation fell by 62.7 percent year-on-year, confirming, most emphatically, the commencement of PPC’s decarbonization effort.

High costs for lignite-based generation severely reduced the operational time of PPC’s lignite-fired power plants, limiting lignite’s share of the electricity production mix to just 10 percent in April.

On the contrary, the production share of interconnected RES facilities, benefiting from favorable conditions, rose sharply by 33.9 percent, year-on-year, to capture a market-leading 36 percent share of overall electricity generation in April.

Natural gas-fired power plants followed with a 30 percent share following an 11 percent year-on-year rise in output.

Electricity imports (grid interconnections) contributed 18 percent, while hydropower facilities increased their output by 19.8 percent to capture a 6 percent share in April.

PPC provided 951 GWh, or 56.6 percent of the production, while independent producers covered 43.4 percent.

Among the independent producers, Mytilineos led the way with 228.1 GWh, followed by Elpedison (210.4 GWh), Korinthos Power (154.1 GWh) and Heron II (136.3 GWh).

The IPTO data on generation highlights an increasing shift towards cleaner energy sources.

 

 

Wholesale electricity prices rising, up to €47.30/MWh today

Wholesale electricity prices, determined by the System Marginal Price, are rebounding following a significant drop over the past few weeks.

The rise is being fueled by an anticipated increase in demand. A sidelined 600-MW line linking Greece with Bulgaria, depriving the system of electricity imports via this route, as well as a disruption in operations at an Elpedison power plant in Thessaloniki are two other contributing factors.

In addition, the Revythoussa LNG terminal just off Athens is not under any pressure, a factor subduing gas-fired unit bids and subsequently lowering the SMP.

Based on grid orders placed for today, the SMP has climbed to 47.30 euros per MWh, up from a level of around 30 euros per MWh five days earlier and 14.20 euros per MWh on May 1. Bidding by units has gradually risen since early May.

Demand, today, for domestic consumption and exports is estimated to reach 127 GWh, 40 percent of which is planned to be covered by natural gas-fired power stations, 30 percent by RES and hydropower plants, 23 percent by electricity imports, and 7 percent by lignite-fired power stations.

The SMP level will be determined by gas-fired power stations for 22 hours today, lignite-based generation will shape the price for one hour and imports for the remaining hour.

RES generation in EU captures record share of energy mix

Renewable energy generation captured a record-high 35 percent share of the EU’s energy mix in the fourth quarter of 2019, up from 31 percent a year earlier, primarily as a result of record generation levels registered by the hydropower and wind energy sectors, latest European Commission data has shown.

Hydropower production rose significantly, by over 16 TWh year to year, while major gains were achieved by the wind energy sector, whose onshore wind farms grew by 9 TWh, or 9 percent year to year, and offshore wind farms registered a record year-to-year increase of 3.3 TWh, 18 percent.

Overall RES generation in December totaled 105 TWh, a new record level for the month, as a result of favorable conditions for wind farms and record hydropower production levels.

On the contrary, the energy mix share of fossil fuel fell to 39 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, down from 42 percent a year earlier.

Greenhouse gas emissions in EU electricity generation fell by approximately 12 percent in 2019 as a result of the increase in RES production and a turn from coal to gas.

CO2 emission right costs increased by 57 percent year to year, to 25 euros per ton, according to the European Commission data.

 

 

PPC Renewables moving ahead with investment plans despite crisis

PPC Renewables, a subsidiary of power utility PPC, has, for the time being, remained unperturbed by the extremely adverse investment conditions prompted by the coronavirus pandemic and moved ahead with green energy project plans.

The company has completed tenders offering development contracts for a 5-MW hydropower facility in Karditsa, mainland Greece, as well as the first 15-MW stage of a 230-MW solar park in Ptolemaida, northern Greece.

The winning bidders of both contracts should be announced around late April or early May, barring unexpected developments.

PPC Renewables has already launched a second tender for the Ptolemaida solar park, once again offering a development contract for 15 MW, ahead of the 230-MW project’s main tender, for 200 MW, expected in mid-April.

The company secured a price of 49.11 euros per MWh for its Ptolemaida project at an auction staged today by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

During its construction stages, the Ptolemaida project is expected to create at least 300 jobs, while, when completed, the facility should generate 390,000 MWh, enough to cover the needs of 290,000 persons.

PPC Renewables is expected to be among the first companies to induct projects into the Target Model, in other words, contracts with consumers whose prices will no longer be determined at auctions staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

Grid entry adjustment for PPC telethermal-linked lignite units

The energy ministry is set to satisfy a power utility PPC request prioritizing the grid entry of its lignite-based production for telethermal support without factoring in this input to calculations determining the system marginal price, or wholesale price.

This requested procedure already applies for PPC’s compulsory hydropower input and RES units.

Under the current system, state-controlled PPC is incurring losses when entering into the grid lignite-fired units for telethermal needs in the west Macedonia and Megalopoli regions. More specifically, the utility is being forced to not operate its gas-fueled power stations, despite their lower operating costs, prompted by the large reduction in gas prices.

PPC’s LNG purchases, as a result, are not being utilized.

The ministry is now preparing a legislative act for the adjustment. It could apply for a limited amount of time to cover remaining telethermal needs in the post-winter season.

Independent producers have reacted against the plan. Some producers appear determined to take the issue to the EU competition authority, noting priority rule exemptions can only be made for RES, Combined Cooling, Heat and Power (CCHP) and hydropower units.

 

Reference prices for auction-free RES categories lowered

The energy ministry is set to sign a decision adjusting downwards reference prices for renewable energy stations not obliged to participate in competitive procedures.

This category includes small-scale hydropower stations, biomass, biogas and geothermal stations, wind energy facilities under 3 MW (6 MW for energy communities), as well as yet-to-be-launched wind energy facilities over 3 MW for which agreements were signed in 2016.

The new reference prices will apply for projects scheduled for launch and actual price settings following January 1, 2022.

Existing reference prices are based on legislation passed in 2016 and have not been adjusted since, except for wind energy facilities, which were subject to a price reduction following a related decision last year.

The forthcoming ministerial decision will seek to rationalize RES prices compensating the aforementioned RES categories, which, as a result of unique factors, are not required to participate in competitive procedures, as is the case for bigger wind energy projects as well as solar energy projects.

Brussels pressuring for wider access to PPC lignite power

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition has proposed wider participation in a Special Purpose Vehicle plan tabled by the energy ministry that would effectively also take on board independent electricity suppliers, not just energy-intensive industrial enterprises, for purchases of lower-cost lignite-generated electricity produced by power utility PPC.

Energy ministry officials began talks aiming for further electricity market liberalization in Greece in the lead-up to the Christmas break. These are expected to continue following the festive season and end by mid-January.

The energy ministry officials went into the talks having proposed the establishment of an SPV that would exclusively facilitate lignite-generated electricity purchases made by energy-intensive industrial enterprises.

This is seen as a plan that could contribute to the power utility’s market share contraction in the high-voltage category and also support emission cost savings.

Greece’s pledge for a thorough plan promising to fully liberalize the electricity market and break PPC’s ongoing dominance has been under the spotlight during these talks.

Going into the negotiations, Brussels made note of Greece’s non-compliance with a European Court ruling on PPC’s lignite monopoly.

The European Commission has remained relentless in its demand for corrective anti-monopoly measures on lignite, including, according to sources, the establishment of auctions along the lines of the NOME auctions recently abolished by the Greek government.

Brussels insists the SPV would need to be supplied electricity by PPC through auctions. Greek officials have sought to avoid discussing such a prospect given the government’s recent decision to end NOME auctions, arguing these have cost PPC plenty without delivering results in terms of market share contraction at the utility.

A proposal entailing hydropower sourced electricity supply to the SPV, in addition to lignite-generated electricity, has also been tabled at these talks. This would help limit emission costs if suppliers also enter the SPV.

The European Commission may have applauded the government’s recent decision for a swifter decarbonization process, but it has remained adamant on the necessity for third-party access to lignite – until 2023, when all of PPC’s existing lignite units are planned to have been withdrawn – as well as hydropower  if full market liberalization is to be achieved.

 

Analytical lignite withdrawal plan among NECP revisions

Full details on the withdrawal schedule of power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations as well as slightly more ambitious targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions and renewable energy production represent some of the key changes included in the government’s finalized National Energy and Climate Plan, delivered to Brussels just days ago, energypress sources have informed.

More ambitious projections on cleaner electricity generation by 2030 through hydropower, wind and solar sources feature as the most significant changes compared to the initial NECP version forwarded for public consultation.

Projections for significant PV development cost reductions are included in the plan.

The environment and energy ministry has provided further details on its ambitious 38 percent energy savings target, primarily through energy efficiency improvements at buildings, after the initial NECP was criticized for lacking specifics in this domain.

Installed capacity increases for hydropower generation, including pumped storage, from 2025 onward, stand as the only change in renewable energy generation. Installed capacity targets for all other RES technologies remain the same.

RES electricity generation target increases for hydropower and wind facilities have been included, while PV generation targets have been lowered, keeping the overall total unchanged.

Challenges of revised NECP, sent to Brussels, ‘will be met’

The lofty challenges of Greece’s revised National Energy and Climate Plan, delivered to the European Commission yesterday following its endorsement late last week by KYSOIP, the Government Council for Economic Policy, will be met, the government’s energy deputy has stressed.

“The preparation of the plan has been done and the challenge of achieving the ambitious goals it envisages stands before us,” noted Deputy Energy Minister Gerassimos Thomas. “We are ready to respond to this challenge and contribute to the extent needed for us to achieve European objectives for a major reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and their elimination by 2050,” he added.

New aspects related to matters including spatial, bioclimatic and urban planning, were incorporated to the finalized NECP version following 168 comments submitted to the OpenGov.gr website during public consultation as well as proposals and observations submitted to the energy ministry, it announced in a statement.

The NECP, establishing decarbonization as a top priority, includes a detailed schedule on the planned withdrawal of power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations. All existing lignite units are planned to be withdrawn by 2023.

In its renewable energy section, the NECP highlights the significant role to be played by hydropower energy and, especially, projects with reservoirs, as well as the importance of implementing pilot projects that will lead to RES sector coupling.

Hydropower objectives elevated slightly for finalized NECP

Greece’s finalized new National Energy and Climate Plan, whose final touches are being added today at the energy ministry ahead of an inspection tomorrow by KYSOIP, the Government Council for Economic Policy, will feature slightly increased objectives for the hydropower and pumped storage sectors, sources have informed.

Certain revisions to the NECP’s details on geothermal production, other RES technologies, the decarbonization plan, and networks will also be made, the sources added.

The mass withdrawal, by 2023, of all existing lignite-fired power stations, exclusively operated by the power utility PPC, is a key feature of the new NECP.

So, too, is a decision to offer investors a solid minority stake in distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a PPC subsidiary, instead of a majority stake, as was previously contemplated.

On the hydropower target revisions, the NECP will set an installed capacity target of 3.4 GW by 2020 and 3.7 GW by 2030.

Once past KYSOIP tomorrow, Greece’s new NECP will immediately be forwarded to the European Commission.

Energy savings, primarily concerning a reduction of the environmental impact of buildings and vehicles, will be crucial if the NECP’s ambitious RES targets are to be achieved.

 

Hydropower development a key part of PPC’s RES growth plans

Power utility PPC is determined to partner with private-sector companies for the development of new hydropower projects, both small and large-scale, as it also seeks to do with other investments, both in the renewable energy domain and beyond.

A critical question that arises, however, is whether PPC – currently holding talks with over ten private companies, according to chief executive Giorgos Stassis – also intends to contribute existing hydropower plants, not just new hydropower projects, to SPVs planned to be formed for renewable energy collaborations.

Stassis remained vague on this matter during his presentation of PPC’s new business plan earlier this week.

However, highly-ranked PPC officials, in comments to energypress, have ruled out the inclusion of any existing hydropower plants owned by the utility in any prospective SPVs to be co-founded with private-sector partners.

Whatever the outcome, PPC, for a number of key reasons, is looking deep into prospective hydropower collaborations.

The power utility wants to sharply increase its RES market share over the next few years, to offset its planned withdrawal of all existing lignite-fired power stations by the end of 2023. A RES market share of at least 10 percent, even 20 percent, up from a current level of 2.5 percent, by 2024, is being looked at.

PPC also wants to avoid European Commission pressure that could force a sale of hydropower units or lead to a compulsory surrender of hydropower production.

Georgian energy market opportunities to be discussed at Tbilisi event

Georgian energy market opportunities will be discussed at the upcoming Energy Week Georgia 2020, a high-level event scheduled for January  28-30 in Tbilisi with the support of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia.

Investors, EPC and engineering companies as well as international contractors will be participating.

The energy sector of Georgia is very attractive in terms of its untapped potential, developing infrastructure and increasing local and regional demand. In particular, investors and developers are seeing increasing renewable energy opportunities in the country.

RE Market Opportunities Appealing

Domestic demand is expected to almost double by 2030 from current consumption of 13.4 TWh. Georgia’s generation capacity will not be enough to meet domestic demand in the long term without additional generation sources. The estimated deficit by 2025 is more than 3 TWh.

Starting from 2008, Georgia has liberalized and deregulated the energy market. The State Program Renewable Energy 2008 stipulates the rules and procedures regarding construction of new renewable energy projects. The electricity may be sold to any buyer in Georgia, based on freely negotiated prices, and/or to the electricity market operator (ESCO) based on the guaranteed power purchase agreement.

Georgia has well-developed transmission grid infrastructure. The whole territory of the country is covered with over 3,000 km of high, medium and low voltage lines and about 100 substations. In 2013, a new 400 KV line with HVDC back-to-back substation connecting Georgia with Turkey was commissioned, adding to already significant transmission capacity with all neighboring countries.

Major Potential for Hydropower

Georgia is one of the top countries in terms of water resources per capita and more than 80% of total electricity in the country is generated by HPPs. At the same time, only 25% of economically feasible hydro potential is exploited today.

There are 118 ongoing HPP projects, divided by the following categories:

  • 74 projects up to 13 MW – total installed capacity 363 MW and about $ 400 million investment;
  • 44 projects from 13 MW – total installed capacity 2 986 MW and about $ 5.7 billion  investment.

Wind and Solar Considerations

Georgia has significant wind potential through which average annual electricity generation is evaluated at 4 bln. KWh and installed capacity of 1,500 MW. There are 18 wind energy projects on feasibility study stage with a total installed capacity of 462 MW. Among largest projects are Imereti 1 Wind Farm (300 MW), Central Wind Farms (120 MW), Pirveli Wind Farm (110 MW) and Kartli 2 Wind Farm (100 MW).

There are 6 solar projects at feasibility and construction stages with a total installed capacity of 93 MW. Among largest projects is a 50 MW AE Power Tbilisi Solar Farm.

For further information on Energy Week Georgia 2020, visit www.geenergyweek.com 

 

Hydropower Balkans 2019 event in Belgrade a major attraction

The 3rd Annual International Investment Summit and Exhibition “Hydropower Balkans 2019”, held November 7-8 in Belgrade, brought together participants from 20 countries and featured presentations of HPP greenfield and brownfield projects in Greece, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Republike, Serbia, Slovenia and Srpska.

Participating companies included JS Elektroprivreda Srbije, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Albanian Power Corporation (KESH), Bulgarian Energy Holding, Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske, European Investment Bank, Hidroelektrarne na Spodnji Savi, International Finance Corporation,  Power Plants of North Macedonia, Montenegrin Electric Enterprise (EPCG), Hydro Power Plants at Vrbas,  PPC S.A., PPC Albania, Holding Slovenske elektrarne, Government of Republic of North Macedonia, EcoEnergy Consulting and Elektroprivreda BiH.

Plenary session participants concluded that the decarbonization process requires a significant increase of investments in clean generation and storage as well as additional grid and infrastructure investments.

Political risks, regulatory complexities, social and environmental issues are the most significant challenges for developers and investors, participants agreed.   

A round table dedicated to engineering aspects of HPP construction and renovation concluded the first day of the summit. International engineering companies and equipment suppliers discussed all project details directly with CTOs.

Decision makers at major financial institutions such as International Finance Corporation, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, as well as the European Investment Bank, informed participants on investment opportunities in the regional hydropower industry, challenges for developers and investors and risk mitigation.

At this year’s event, special attention was paid to small-scale hydropower potential in the Balkans.

Two round tables devoted to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina concluded the Summit.

In addition, a specialized exhibition on industry technology took place as part of the summit. Market leaders presented their technical, technological and service solutions for the region. They included ABB Italy, Sevinc Machine Industry and Trade, Emerson Process Management, Stucky, Tor Services, Zollern, Rakurs Engineering, Polyar Steel Construction, AUMA, Alpiq AG, Tractebel Engineering, AF Сonsult, and Landsvirkjun Power.

More than 150 business meetings were held during the summit.

The event was organised by Vostock Capital, officially supported by JS Elektroprivreda Srbije and sponsored by ABB Italy, Sevinc Machine Industry and Trade, as well as Emerson Process Management.

DG Comp summons ministry officials over PPC dominance

A team of energy ministry officials has been summoned by the DG Comp for a meeting in Brussels this week to be dominated by power utility PPC’s ongoing electricity market dominance as well as the state-controlled corporation’s intended position in the new-look electricity market being shaped as part of the target model.

PPC’s role remains a concern in Brussels following last July’s collapse of a sale effort that had been intended to offer investors lignite-fired power stations belonging to the utility.

Greece’s next Enhanced Surveillance Report is expected late in November.

In Brussels, the energy ministry officials will be looking to ease a PPC retail electricity market share contraction target of 50 percent, included in the country’s third bailout agreement, to 65 percent, seen as feasible.

The DG Comp is expected to remain firm on the original target unless the Greek officials table an offsetting measure of equivalent worth.

Brussels officials also want further information on the forward market, including the duration and technical details of contracts, planned to be launched in February, 2020.

The energy ministry is seeking to convince concerned independent electricity suppliers that the forward market will compensate for a planned termination of NOME auctions.

The DG Comp’s position on the country’s hydropower market is also eagerly anticipated. Early in 2017, Brussels officials had raided the headquarters of PPC and power grid operator IPTO as part of an alleged market-abuse investigation. Findings have yet to be reported.

 

 

DG Comp lists Greek electricity market issues needing action

Greece has been handed a list of pending electricity market issues, old and recent, requiring urgent government action at a meeting between the country’s finance minister Hristos Staikouras and European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager in Athens just over a week ago, sources informed.

The delay of a market coupling plan for the Greek and Bulgarian electricity markets, as well as uncertainty surrounding Greece’s operating schedule for lignite-fired power stations this coming winter and, by extension, its impact on natural gas-fueled units and the market’s liberalization, are among the urgent matters listed by Vestager.

The Danish politician will continue to head the DG Comp following last May’s European Parliament election.

In February, 2017, DG Comp officials had ambushed the Athens headquarters of power utility PPC and power grid operator IPTO to collect data for a market abuse investigation.

Brussels officials are continuing their probe with further questioning, it is believed. No findings have been released, but these will undoubtedly be published once Brussels deems the time is right.

The DG Comp moves methodically when dealing with such matters. In France, for example, the authority last week ordered Paris to open up the country’s hydropower production to competition after launching an investigation into French energy utility EDF’s market dominance back in 2015.

 

RES interest high in September, applications total 2.1 GW

Investor interest for the development of new RES units, especially solar energy projects, as well as wind energy farms, remained high in September.

A total of 114 applications representing an overall capacity of 2,093 MW were submitted to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, during the month.

Solar energy project applications represent the bulk of this interest, numbering 82 for a capacity at 1,642 MW, compared to 406 MW for wind energy applications.

A smaller number of applications concerning small-scale hydropower projects totaling 10 MW were also submitted in September. The authority also received one application for a 2-MW biomass unit, three applications for hybrid projects on Lesvos totaling 14 MW, and one bid for a 20-MW telethermal project in Megalopoli.

Cantreva led the way with solar energy project applications totaling 413 MW. Terna Energy submitted solar project applications representing an overall capacity of approximately 372 MW.

Sizeable moves were also made by Portugal’s EDPR, submitting 185 MW in solar energy project applications and 90 MW for wind energy installations, as well as Germany’s ABO, which applied for solar energy projects totaling 107 MW.

Other noteworthy applications were forwarded by Maximus Terra (106 MW, solar), SPDGR (95 MW, solar), Iliothema (70 MW, solar) and Erimia (114 MW, wind).

 

 

Serbian hydropower opportunities the focus at upcoming Belgrade summit

This year’s 3rd Hydropower Balkans Summit is scheduled to take place November 7 and 8 in Belgrade with official support from the national power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS), owner of a major part of generating capacities in the country.

Major investment projects will be discussed at the summit, a professional platform bringing together chief ministers, major investors, decision-makers of power utilities, leading hydropower plants, project initiators and regulators, with the aim to consolidate efforts focused on efficient development of key projects for construction and modernisation of HPPs across the Balkan region.

Investing in Serbian hydropower projects offers numerous advantages, the summit’s organizers have noted, listing industry data.

Serbia has the highest installed hydropower capacity in southeast Europe. Current installed capacity totals 2,835 MW.

Hydropower plants represent 21.2 percent of Serbia’s energy mix 21.2%, installed capacity amounting to 2,831 MW.

Hydropower plants generate 29 percent of the total amount of electricity produced in Serbia.

A total of 500 million euros is expected to be invested in the modernization of hydropower plants by 2025, the objective being to ensure their services for the next 30 years.

Serbia plans to install 438 MW of new hydropower capacities in order to achieve an energy target gross final energy consumption through the use of renewable energy to 27 percent.

A total of 39 small HPPs with a total capacity of 49 MW currently operate in Serbia. Moreover, 856 potential locations for SHPPs have been identified around Serbia.

The most promising big, medium and small investment projects include construction of three hydropower plants on the upper Drina river, construction of SHPP Celije and SHPP Rovni, as well as an overhaul of the Djerdap 1 and 2 HPPs.

At the end of 2017, EPS announced its intention to overhaul ten units at HPP Đerdap 2 over 10 years to help extend the plant’s lifespan and boost its capacity by 50 MW.

EPS and Siloviye Mashiny are cooperating on the overhaul of HPP Đerdap 1. The overhaul began in 2009. In July 2018, the two companies signed a contract on the modernization of the A2 and A3 units in order to complete a revamp of the entire HPP in 2021. 

For summit details: 

Contact person: Olga Zhogal, Forum Director

Email: OZhogal@vostockcapital.com

Tel. +44 207 394 3090

Website: http://www.hydropowerbalkans.com/

Balkan hydropower projects the focus of upcoming Belgrade forum

Leading authorities, including ministers, major investors, flagship hydropower plan decision-makers, investment project initiators, as well as regulators, will focus on Balkan hydropower projects at the 3rd Annual International Investment Summit and Exhibition “Hydropower Balkans 2019”, scheduled to be held in Belgrade on November 7 and 8.

Prospective hydropower projects in the Balkan region include Serbia’s Buk Bijela HPP, with a capacity of over 180 MW, budgeted at 193 million euros; as well as the Vrilo pumped-storage hydropower plant planned for Bosnia and Herzegovina, an 89 million-euro investment with a 66-MW capacity planned to start operating in 2023.

For event details, contact Olga Zhogal, Forum Director

Email: OZhogal@vostockcapital.com

Tel. +44 207 394 3090

Website: http://www.hydropowerbalkans.com/

PPC union expecting further details on DEDDIE sale plan

Genop, the power utility PPC’s main main workers’ union, has not rejected a government plan aiming for the sale of a 49 percent minority stake of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a power utility subsidiary, but is demanding further details, including the sale procedure’s terms, so that it can position itself on the matter.

The newly elected conservative New Democracy government has included the sale, to a strategic investor, of a minority stake of DEDDIE in a PPC rescue plan aiming to inject roughly 500 million euros into the power utility.

Genop has insisted PPC’s financial position is not worrisome, attributing, along with the state-controlled power corporation’s outgoing administration, the power utility’s poor results of late to external factors.

The union will face the dilemma of accepting a DEDDIE sale over the disinvestment of PPC hydropower units. The latter was seen as the most probable scenario up until the July 7 elections that brought the ND party into power.

Genop union representatives met with energy minister Costis Hatzidakis last week but were not given details on the PPC rescue and restructuring plan.

According to sources, the union will set two conditions before discussing further the PPC plan with the government. One condition will restrict the DEDDIE sale to a minority stake and demand the maintenance of a majority stake for PPC, not the Greek State. The second condition will call for the Greek government to reach a competition-related agreement with the European Commission that would keep PPC’s hydropower units out of the picture.

 

New minister set to present PPC recovery plan details

Hydropower units belonging to the power utility PPC will not be sold; NOME auctions will be abandoned; and electricity costs for consumers will not rise, the newly appointed energy minister Costis Hatzidakis is expected to announce later today when the New Democracy party presents its wider  policy program.

The minister is also expected to present details of a plan to seek strategic investment into distribution network DEDDIE once control of the network is transferred from PPC to the subsidiary with the permission of creditor banks.

Prime Minister-elect Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to make a general announcement on this network sale plan before his energy minister follows up with further details. The procedure will offer full protection for PPC’s interests, including compensation for the sale, the government officials are expected to stress.

The minister’s plan for an end of NOME auctions, launched about three years ago to offer independent parties access to the power utility’s lower-priced lignite and hydropower sources, was approved by the country’s lenders last week at a meeting between the two sides in Athens.

A transition plan leading to the launch of the target model, to offer market coupling, or harmonization of EU wholesale markets, is expected to be reached between the minister and the lenders when they next return to Athens for official talks in September. The transition plan will be designed to ensure that supply markets remain fully operational ahead of the target model’s launch.

The energy minister’s promise of no electricity cost increases for consumers will be accompanied by details of the state-controlled power utility’s more ruthless handling of unpaid receivables owed by consumers believed to be able, even affluent, but unwilling to cover their power bill debts. PPC is under financial pressure.

The government intends to reshape PPC along the lines of the transformation of telecommunications company OTE, a corporation in which the Greek State now holds just 5 percent, Deutsche Telekom being the main shareholder with a 45 percent stake.

Besides preventing a systemic crisis posed by PPC’s current financial woes, a rebound by the power utility would also send out a positive message for the Greek market to domestic and foreign institutional investors.

 

 

 

RES applications continue at steady rate, 2.5 GW in June

Production license applications concerning new RES projects have continued at a steady rate, while the balance between various technologies has remained unchanged, industry figures for June have shown.

Solar energy production license applications, numbering 126 of the overall 215 submitted in June, continued to hold the lion’s share and represented 2.1 GW of the 2.5 GW total.

As for wind energy, license applications for 76 projects with a total capacity of 384.71 MW were submitted in June. A total of 12 small-scale hydropower applications were made for a capacity of 10.03 MW. One cogeneration, or combined heat and power (CHP), application representing a capacity of 2 MW was made.

A total of 14 companies submitted multiple applications representing 119 projects with a capacity of 1,757.5 MW, of which 196.9 concern wind energy stations.

The 14 multiple applicants were: Juwi Hellas, New Solar Developments, Hellenic Petroleum Renewable Energy Sources, Egnatia Group, European Solar Farms Greece, Thessaloniki Energy Solar, Serres Power, Verde, Terna Energy, Siemens Gamesa, ABO Wind Hellas, Rensol Energy PV, Karatzis and Peloponnisiakos Anemos.

Applications submitted to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, between December, 2018 and June represent a total capacity of 8 GW. They number over 1,000, placing pressure on the processing demands at RAE, authority official Dionysis Papahristou noted.

PPC lignite sale is over, overall market solution to be sought

The newly elected center-right New Democracy government, appearing determined for major energy sector changes, will begin new negotiations with the European Commission in search of an overall solution for the country’s electricity market and the role and place in it for the power utility PPC, currently struggling.

The long-running disinvestment effort offering investors PPC lignite units has just about collapsed. A binding-offers deadline for a package that includes PPC’s Megalopoli and Meliti units expires on July 15, following an extension. Investors have not shown any interest, while, given the flatness, an additional extension could not reinvigorate the sale.

The next NOME auction, the year’s third, scheduled for July 17 and planned to offer independent energy firms 500 MW/h of PPC’s lower-cost lignite and hydropower production, appears likely to be the last under existing terms agreed to by Greece and the country’s lenders. Changes are also expected along this front as part of the intention for an overall electricity market solution.

Initial contact between Brussels and officials of Greece’s new administration has already been made. Meetings are soon expected to become more regular once the government has set out the specifics of its rescue plan for PPC.

Any resulting solution will need to satisfy Greek bailout terms including the need for PPC to have reduced its retail electricity market share to less than 50 percent by the end of this year. The power utility’s share is currently at 73.5 percent, meaning PPC will need to surrender even greater low-cost electricity amounts to competitors through the NOME auctions.

Fair competition in the electricity market also needs to be assured. Hydropower sources, currently exclusively controlled by PPC, may be brought into the negotiating picture. The European Commission is currently conducting a related study on PPC’s management of hydropower generation. Findings have yet to be released.

 

 

Surge of RES investments expected in the Peloponnese

A decision by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to make available over 400 MW for wind, solar and other RES installations in the Peloponnese is expected to generate heightened RES investment activity for the region.

The power grid operator IPTO is expected to have completed a 400-KV transmission line linking Megalopoli, Patras and Acheloos by the end of the year.

This stretch, from Megalopoli to Acheloos, along with a submarine grid interconnection linking the mainland with the Peloponnese, from Rio to Antirrio, makes up the western corridor of a grid expansion towards the Peloponnese.

These links will enable the development of new wind, solar, small-scale hydropower, biomass and biomass units following a seven-year period of complete stagnancy.

According to sources, the RAE decision is expected to offer 100 MW for wind energy installations; 100 MW for solar projects, not including roof-mounted PV systems, which are not subject to limits; 100 MW for small-scale hydropower units; 80 MW for biomass, biogas and combined heat and power (CHP) units; and 30 MW for energy community projects.

 

 

Sharp rise in NOME starting price, to €55 per MWh from €36, forecast

The new starting price for the country’s NOME auctions, currently being worked on by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, based on various data being collected, will increase considerably to a level of about 55 euros per MWh, up from the current price of 36.34 euros per MWh, primarily as a result of the sharp rise in CO2 emission right costs, market sources have projected.

The authority has requested cost-related data from the power utility PPC, to be factored into its NOME starting-price calculations.

RAE takes into account the variable costs of PPC’s lignite-fired power stations and hydropower units as well as the production mix of these two.

The new starting price, expected to be announced within the next few days, will be applied to a NOME auction scheduled for July 17, offering 500 MWh, followed by a session on October 16, to offer 767 MWh.

NOME auctions were introduced about three years ago as a means of offering independent players access to the main power utility PPC’s lower-cost lignite and hydropower sources for more competitive pricing policies.

New evaluation of PPC lignite units crucial for follow-up sale

Legal framework provisions enabling lower evaluations of lignite units offered in the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required disinvestment will play a crucial role in the success of a follow-up sale just launched after an initial effort failed to produce results.

Much will depend on how state-controlled PPC’s board will decide to use the evaluation-related framework. The utility’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis has warned that investors looking to buy for quick profit within a year or two should look elsewhere.

Despite this tough stance, PPC officials know well that a failure of the latest lignite sale effort to produce a result will increase the likelihood of eventual European Commission pressure for the inclusion of hydropower units into the sale package or lead to greater electricity amounts for independent players through NOME auction, offering access to PPC’s lower-priced hydropower and lignite sources.

The energy ministry is well aware of these dangers and appears determined to push ahead with the current lignite-only disinvestment plan for PPC.

PPC lignite control, market shares, EC hydropower probe an explosive mix

When the Syriza party, as chief partner of the country’s coalition government formed early in 2015, decided to nullify legislation ratified by a previous administration for the establishment and sale of “Small PPC”, a new company that was to be carved out of the power utility to represent 30 percent of its production capacity – including lignite and hydropower units – customers and debt commitments, it trumpeted a political victory for nullifying, in an unprecedented move, a bailout-related law, but, at the same time, was taking on a big risk.

This PPC initiative now appears to be backfiring as the EU’s ensuing decarbonization policies – the basic reason behind last week’s failure of Syriza’s alternative plan, a sale offering PPC lignite units – progressed at a more rapid pace than the government had anticipated.

A successful sale by PPC of Meliti and Megalopoli power station units included in its disinvestment package was crucial for the prevention of further measures by the European Commission.

Instead, the current combination of three pivotal factors in Greece’s electricity market makes for an explosive mix.

PPC’s ongoing monopoly of the country’s lignite resources, offering the utility unfair advantages over rivals in the wholesale and retail electricity markets; the power utility’s stubbornly high electricity market shares; as well as a developing Brussels investigation of PPC over suspicions it has abused its market dominance and manipulated Greece’s energy market through its hydropower units could prompt major developments.