RAE upper limit on balancing market offers still possible

A decision by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, on whether to intervene further following yesterday’s decisions to suspend negative prices for balancing energy market offers and limit them in accordance with minimum production levels that are technically possible will depend on how balancing market prices unfold, authority officials have pointed out.

The possibility of an upper limit for balancing energy market offers cannot be ruled out, the RAE officials explained.

Commenting on yesterday’s initiatives by RAE, electricity producers, on the one hand, and non-vertically integrated suppliers, traders and major-scale consumers, on the other, offered conflicting opinions.

The imposition of a zero-level threshold for offers was not necessary as extreme prices, or behavior, no longer exist in the balancing market to justify the measure, electricity producers contended, warning that it could prompt new market distortions.

The producers also expressed concern over RAE’s preference to not set a specific time period for the negative-price suspension’s validity.

At the other end, Antonis Kontoleon, the head official of EVIKEN, Greece’s Association of Industrial Energy Consumers, noted that RAE has taken a step back from its own proposal for an upper limit on balancing energy market offers as well as upper and lower limits for balancing capacity market offers.

Industrial energy consumers will remain dependent on whether balancing market participants exercise restraint, the EVIKEN chief underlined.

Suppliers and traders described the two RAE measures implemented yesterday as a first step in the right direction.

The impact of the measure limiting offers in accordance with minimum production levels that are technically possible cannot be quantified, they noted, adding the zero-level threshold measure will prevent sharp price rises but would prove insufficient if, for any reason, self-restraint stops being observed in the balancing market.

One trader noted that the zero-level threshold, to prove effective, must be maintained until power grid operator IPTO completes the “western corridor” grid in the Peloponnese.

Chinese firms barred from distribution operator sale

Conflict of interest, including in grid energy storage, a fast-growing market, has prompted power utility PPC to stop two Chinese firms interested in the prospective sale of a 49 percent stake in distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a PPC subsidiary, from taking part.

State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), a strategic partner of Greek power grid operator IPTO with a 24 percent stake, and another Chinese company, still undisclosed, both participated in a market test for the DEDDIE/HEDNO privatization, indicating an interest to submit bids.

A total of 19 firms reportedly expressed preliminary interest in the sale’s market test, conducted by the procedure’s consultants.

The DEDDIE/HEDNO partial privatization’s conditions include a term barring the participation of any firms directly or indirectly related to IPTO.

The conflict-of-interest term was included in the sale’s rules as electricity network companies, whether involved in high voltage, such as IPTO, or mid and low voltage, such as DEDDIE/HEDNO, are expected to find themselves competing in various electricity market services, including energy storage.

The grid energy storage market – offering large-scale storage systems that store electrical energy during times of abundance, low prices, or low demand before returning it to the grid when demand is high and electricity prices tend to be higher – is experiencing rapid growth on a global scale.

Greece still lacks a legal framework covering this domain. The energy ministry is working on this pending issue, crucial for the country’s effort to achieve National Energy and Climate Plan objectives through greater RES penetration.

This legal framework will, amongst other matters, determine market participation and remuneration terms for energy storage units, as well as related services to be traded on the energy exchange.

PPC anticipates first-round expressions of interest from four to six consortiums for the DEDDIE/HEDNO sale of a 49 percent stake.

 

Preliminary talks for 9th post-bailout review begin today

Power utility PPC’s lignite monopoly ordeal, the effort to ensure proper functioning of target model markets, the progress of privatization plans, and Greece’s decarbonization master plan for the lignite-dependent local economies of west Macedonia, in the country’s north, and Megalopoli, Peloponnese, are the key issues on the agenda of the ninth post-bailout review set to be conducted by the European Commission.

Preliminary review talks are scheduled to commence today between energy ministry officials and Brussels technocrats. These will be followed by higher-level talks involving technocrat chiefs and Greece’s newly appointed energy minister Kostas Skrekas.

Though his predecessors faced plenty of pressure, especially over PPC’s dominance, the new minister could be in for a hard time if pending energy-sector issues are not directly dealt with.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, and power grid operator IPTO are still seeking solutions to tackle problems faced by the target model’s new markets. They got off to a problem-laden start in November, prompting a sharp rise in balancing market costs during the first few weeks.

As for energy-sector privatizations, the plan to offer a 49 percent stake in distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO appears to be making sound progress and attracting strong interest, as exemplified by the participation of 19 participants in December’s market test.

On the contrary, the privatization plan for gas supplier DEPA Commercial could be destabilized by the company’s ongoing legal battle with ELFE (Hellenic Fertilizers and Chemicals) over an overcharging claim made by the latter. This battle could delay and affect the DEPA Commercial sale.

The Just Transition Plan for Greece’s decarbonization effort is now beginning to make some progress, but this unprecedented endeavor’s degree of complexity cannot be overlooked. Vast amounts of land controlled by PPC need to be repurposed, Brussels must approve investment incentives, and licensing matters need to be resolved, amongst other matters.

Balancing market costs subdued for second consecutive week

Balancing market costs remained subdued for a second consecutive week, the total cost of three uplift accounts, according to official data provided by power grid operator IPTO, registering 5.87 euros per MWh in the tenth week since the November 1 launch of the target model. Its introduction prompted sharp balancing cost increases in the first few weeks.

More specifically, the uplift 1 account reached €1.39 per MWh, uplift 2 was €0.79 per MWh, and uplift 3 registered €3.69 per MWh.

According to IPTO data on the three uplift accounts during the first ten weeks of the target model, their total cost was €8.37 per MWh in the first week, climbed to €15.68, €19.45 and €20.06 per MWh in the second, third and fourth weeks, respectively, before peaking at €43.37 per MWh in the fifth week. The uplift total then plunged to €8.08 per MWh in the sixth week, before eventually falling further to levels of €5.74 and €5.87 per MWh in the ninth and tenth weeks, respectively.

Day-ahead market prices have also been low over the past two weeks of subdued balancing market costs, meaning the overall cost in the wholesale market has dropped.

Low electricity demand as a result of the mild winter weather, so far; the lockdown measures, even if not absolute; more accurate electricity demand forecasts by power grid operator IPTO; as well as increased output by RES and hydropower units, have all been cited as factors in the reduced cost of wholesale electricity.

In addition, more rational offers by producers have also contributed to the normalization of balancing market prices.

Operators disagree on Crete network responsibility shift

Power grid operator IPTO and distribution network operator DEDDIE are locked in a dispute over the point in time at which management responsibility of Crete’s small-scale grid interconnection, to reach the Peloponnese, should be transferred from DEDDIE, currently responsible for Crete’s network as the island is classified as a non-interconnected island, to IPTO.

DEDDIE contends that IPTO must take on the responsibility of managing the island’s network with the launch of the small-scale interconnection, anticipated in March, and not in 2023, when Crete’s full-scale interconnection, all the way to Athens, is expected to begin operating.

Crete should be considered an interconnected island as soon as the small-scale grid interconnection to the Peloponnese is launched, even though this infrastructure’s capacity will be able to cover about 30 percent of the island’s energy needs, DEDDIE contends.

Normally, the grid status of islands is automatically revised from non-interconnected to interconnected when grid interconnections serving their energy needs are launched. However, Crete, Greece’s biggest and most populous island, represents a much bigger interconnection project that is being developed over two stages.

DEDDIE, backing its case, has cited an older opinion forwarded by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to the energy ministry, through which the authority supported that Crete’s network must be considered a part of the national grid, ending its non-interconnected island status, once the small-scale interconnection begins operating.

Also citing technical reasons to support its view, DEDDIE has pointed out that IPTO will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the small-scale grid link, infrastructure directly influencing the Cretan network’s performance. Therefore, the island’s high-voltage network and the Crete-Peloponnese interconnection must be managed by the one operator, DEDDIE contends.

IPTO does not reject the prospect of eventually becoming responsible for Crete’s network, but the power grid operator does oppose the idea of assuming responsibility for a fixed asset that does not belong to the company. Crete’s high-voltage network is owned by power utility PPC.

At present, PPC does not appear ready to sell. As a result, IPTO believes DEDDIE must be responsible for the network’s management until this asset is transferred to the power grid operator.

Crete-Athens grid interconnection 10% complete, small-scale link in March

Power grid operator IPTO has left unchanged its completion target for the Crete-Athens grid interconnection, keeping it at June, 2023, in its new 10-year development plan covering 2022 to 2031, an update on the 2021-2030 plan delivered last March.

Preliminary work on the project began last summer, now 10 percent completed.

IPTO’s updated 10-year development plan, prepared in December, is soon expected to be forwarded for public consultation.

Significant steps have been made for the project’s environmental licensing requirements, a procedure expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

Expropriation procedures, including property purchases, needed for the installation of converter stations and overhead cables, are also anticipated to have been completed by the end of this year. Sound progress has been reported along this front.

A small-scale grid interconnection to link Crete with the Peloponnese is scheduled for completion at the end of March, according to IPTO’s updated ten-year development plan.

Balancing market prices down for third successive week

Balancing market price levels have fallen considerably for a third consecutive week, between December 21 and 27, latest figures published by power grid operator IPTO have shown.

According to this data, the balancing market price averaged 7.18 euros per MWh for the seven-day period, considerably lower than levels of about 10.5 euros per MWh registered a week earlier.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is making an effort to normalize the target model’s new markets, launched two months ago.

Balancing market prices rose sharply during the first few weeks of the launch, especially troubling non-vertically integrated suppliers and forcing the authority to prepare a price ceiling for producer offers.

The recent downward trajectory in balancing market prices has been interpreted as an effort for price restraint by producers.

RAE now considers that it should wait before imposing tough restrictions on producer offers.

 

 

Wholesale electricity soared to over €83/MWh in November

The average cost of wholesale electricity in November was 50.1 percent higher than the average for the year, official market data just released by power grid operator IPTO has shown.

Wholesale electricity prices averaged 83.095 euros per MWh in November, well over the current year’s average of 55.332 euros per MWh, the data showed.

Of November’s 83.095-euro average, 57.284 euros concerns the day-ahead and intraday markets.

Surcharge costs in November were also well over the average level for 2021, reaching 16.456 euros per MWh last month compared to this year’s average of 5.665 euros per MWh.

The year’s lowest average wholesale electricity cost, over a month, was recorded in June, at 38.677 euros per MWh. The second-highest monthly average, below November’s peak, was recorded in January, at 67.326 euros per MWh.

Electricity consumption fell to levels below 4 million MWh for five months this year, in April, May, June, October and November, according to the IPTO data.

 

IPTO to cover balancing costs if its discrepancies are hefty

The projection of required system reserves has been identified as one of the problems increasing balancing market costs, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, seeking to resolve the issue for properly functioning target model markets, and power grid operator IPTO, responsible for the balancing market, have both determined.

The reserve amount is directly linked to IPTO forecasts on the grid’s needs, at high and low levels. Either way, producers are compensated for adding or removing energy from the system.

Responding to the sharp rise in balancing costs since the target model launch of new markets several weeks ago, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is preparing to make a change to the current framework by adopting a formula that would offer IPTO an incentive for forecasts that are as accurate as possible so as to avoid large discrepancies.

The authority is looking to impose a discrepancy limit, which, if exceeded, either at low or high levels, will require IPTO, not electricity suppliers, to cover resulting costs.

RAE has also forwarded for public consultation another revision entailing special discrepancy charges for the Peloponnesian grid until a 400-KV transmission line begins operating in the area.

 

 

Santorini-Naxos grid link tender set to be announced by IPTO

Power grid operator IPTO’s plan for a subsea cable interconnection to link Santorini’s grid with Naxos, and, by extension, the mainland system, a project promising to resolve Santorini’s electricity supply shortages confronted every summer as a result of the island’s immense tourism appeal, has just been published, as a preliminary announcement, in the Official Journal of the EU.

The tender for this project, part of the fourth phase of the Cyclades interconnection, will most probably be officially announced within the first few days of January.

The fourth phase of the project will also include ensuing interconnections with the islands Folegandros, Milos and Serifos. Respective tenders for these projects are scheduled to be announced within the first half of 2021, energypress sources have informed.

The Naxos-Santorini grid interconnection, a project valued at 100 million euros (plus 24% VAT), is scheduled to be completed in 2023, while the links for the three other islands are planned for delivery in 2024.

The tender for the Naxos-Santorini grid link is scheduled to take place on January 29 as an online procedure through the company cosmoONE’s sourceONE digital auction system.

Bids submitted will be opened on the same day.

Cretan small-scale grid link tested, launch by year’s end

Power grid operator IPTO has begun electrification procedures at Crete’s small-scale grid interconnection with the mainland, to the Peloponnese – ahead of a bigger link to reach Athens – and is now preparing to conduct trial tests ahead of the project’s official launch by the end of the year.

The small-scale interconnection, covering a total distance of 132 kilometers, from Hania in Crete to Lakonia’s Neapoli area, is an investment worth 356 million euros.

Its development, including subsea cable installations at depths of 1,000 meters, has remained on schedule despite the pandemic’s obstacles.

The project’s imminent launch will enable the transmission of electricity from the mainland to Crete, high-voltage loads of 150kV, for the first time.

Crete’s large-scale grid interconnection with Athens, scheduled for completion in 2023, will secure exclusive supply to the island from the mainland, ensuring quality electricity supply for the island’s residents and visitors, IPTO has noted.

The overall project’s completion is expected to reduce public service compensation (YKO) surcharge costs imposed on electricity bills to fund island-based power-generating facilities by 300 to 400 million euros per year, while CO2 emissions on Crete will be reduced by 60 percent.

 

 

Demand response service’s activation more probable, conditions tight

Power grid operator IPTO’s two final demand response auctions for the year, scheduled for December 29 and 30 and to concern the time period between January 1 and March 31, 2021, will be staged amid tight market conditions that resemble those of the country’s supply security crisis in 2017, making the operator’s activation of the demand-response mechanism, a key energy-saving tool for the industrial sector, more probable.

Major-scale electricity consumers such as industrial enterprises are compensated when the TSO (IPTO) asks them to shift their energy usage (lower or stop consumption) during high-demand peak hours, so as to balance the electricity system’s needs.

Capacities totaling 800 MW will be offered at the two upcoming demand response auctions, equally divided into 400-MW amounts for the two sessions.

 

 

RAE discusses balancing market ceiling with producers

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is staging a series of meetings today with major-scale electricity producers to discuss its proposal, forwarded for public consultation last Thursday, for the imposition of a price ceiling on offers made by producers in the balancing market. Its price levels have risen sharply since a launch several weeks ago as part of the target model’s new markets.

Representatives of three electricity producers, power utility PPC, Protergia and Elpedison, all vertically integrated, have been invited by the authority to separately present their views on its price-ceiling proposal before they submit their official views to the matter’s public consultation procedure by tomorrow morning’s 11am deadline.

Producers operating gas-fueled power stations are generally believed to oppose the prospect of a price ceiling on their offers, as they consider the balancing market to be a useful tool measuring supply and demand in the electricity market, as is the case around Europe.

RAE has attached a three-month limit on the duration of its price-ceiling proposal. Restrictive measures such as the authority’s proposal are generally not embraced by the European Commission, as RAE chief executive Thanassis Dagoumas has admitted.

Non vertically integrated electricity suppliers, hit hard by price rises in the wholesale electricity market, of which the balancing market is a component, have called for the restrictive measure to take retroactive effect. This is considered an unlikely prospect by market officials.

Many critics of the target model preparation procedure had warned that its new markets should not begin operating unless a RAE monitoring mechanism is in full working order.

Latest market data published by power grid operator IPTO showed a mild de-escalation of balancing market price levels to between 12 and 13 euros per MWh for December 7 to 13, the new target model’s sixth week, but these levels are still regarded as being excessive.

RAE awaits Brussels response to Ariadne minority sale plan

RAE, the Regulatory Authority of Energy, is awaiting a response from the European Commission before approving a plan by power grid operator IPTO to sell up to a 40 percent stake in its subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection, established specifically for the development of the Crete-Athens interconnection.

RAE has consulted Brussels as the authority wants clarification on what the corporate structure of parent company IPTO and its subsidiary permits, based on EU law.

The Crete-Athens grid link was originally planned as a segment of EuroAsia, a wider interconnection plan of PCI status to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli electricity grids, with EuroAsia, a consortium of Cypriot interests, at the helm. Eventually, IPTO withdrew the Crete-Athens section for its development as a national project.

Ariadne Interconnection’s role will be strictly limited to the construction of the Crete-Athens interconnection, a concession agreement between IPTO and its subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection has specified. Once completed, IPTO will assume the project’s management.

Last October, IPTO forwarded a detailed plan to RAE concerning the sale of a minority stake in Ariadne Interconnection.

China’s SGCC, a strategic partner of IPTO holding a 24 percent stake, informed, some time ago, that it would be interested in acquiring a 20 percent stake of Ariadne Interconnection. European operators such as Italy’s Terna and Belgium’s Elia, as well as major investment groups, have also expressed interest.

The acquisition by investors of a minority stake in Ariadne Interconnection is linked to the development of major-scale RES projects on Crete.

Suppliers, alarmed by higher balancing market cost, respond

Non-vertically integrated electricity suppliers, badly hit by sharply increased balancing market prices, as much as five times higher than pre-target model levels, will hold a virtual meeting today with officials at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition to point out the target model’s negative impact on electricity market competition.

Power grid operator IPTO and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, have taken action and market officials are awaiting results.

Last Friday, RAE’s leadership held a series of meetings with supply company representatives.

Some non-vertically integrated suppliers have already taken legal action while others are expected to follow suit.

RAE had initially received requests by suppliers for temporary measures entailing an immediate suspension of their balancing market financial obligations. The authority did not respond, prompting suppliers to lodge a complaint with RAE against IPTO for a breach of obligations.

Suppliers, through their complaint, are demanding revisions from IPTO, with retroactive effect, as well as the imposition of a fine on the operator that corresponds to the losses incurred by non-vertically integrated suppliers since the target model’s launch of new markets over a month ago.

 

PPC wants compensation for island support, tax exemption

Power utility PPC has raised a compensation claim for its maintenance of high-cost diesel-fueled power stations on islands – both interconnected and now in the process of being interconnected – as back-up, while also calling for an exemption from a special consumption tax (EFK) on the diesel it uses to run these facilities.

The two requests were expressed by PPC through public consultation held by power grid operator IPTO for its ten-year development plan covering 2021 to 2030.

To this very day, the power utility has fully met the grid operator’s requests concerning provision of back-up services to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply to consumers on the Cyclades, yet, despite the corporation’s initiatives and the costs it has shouldered, which are growing, an appropriate regulatory framework ensuring sustainability for this service has not been established, PPC noted in the public consultation procedure.

IPTO, Terna plan Greek-Italian link boost of up to 1,000 MW

Power grid operator IPTO is taking initiatives to upgrade Greece’s interconnections with neighboring countries, acknowledging transboundary grid link insufficiencies are having a negative impact whose consequences include market functional disorders and higher electricity prices.

The operator has formed working groups with all of Greece’s neighboring countries to examine the prospect of constructing or reinforcing existing interconnections.

These associations include cooperation with Italian operator Terna. The two sides, prepared to consider both an upgrade of the existing system or the development of a new one, estimate that the Greek-Italian grid interconnection requires a capacity increase of between 500 and 1,000 MW.

According to sources, IPTO and Terna have agreed to proceed with related studies for an optimal solution as soon as possible. The operators intend to reach a decision within the next few months. Any selection will need to be approved by the Greek and Italian regulatory authorities of energy.

IPTO intends to include this project in its ten-year development plan covering 2022 to 2031, expected to be presented at the end of the year.

The existing Greek-Italian electricity grid interconnection, a 163km subsea cable with a 500-MW capacity in operation since 2002, will be used to facilitate the target model’s next stage, market coupling, beginning on December 15 with the aim of harmonizing the energy markets of the two countries.

ENTSO-E, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, has pointed out that a Greek-Italian grid interconnection boost will be needed for an effective bridging of prices between the two countries.

PPC debt to end year at €600m, down from €900m last year

Power utility PPC’s debt owed to energy market operators as well as project contractors has continued to fall, quelling fears of a debt-reduction slowdown during the country’s second lockdown.

The power utility’s total debt figure is projected to end the year at approximately 600 million euros, down from 900 million euros in July, 2019, a 35 percent drop in a year and a half, according to sources.

The company’s debt reduction is declining at an average rate of 18 million euros per month, driven by an improved collection record for unpaid receivables and better operating profit figures.

PPC’s payments to RES market operator DAPEEP, power grid operator IPTO and distribution network operator DEDDIE have all improved for a complete turnaround compared to a year earlier.

The power utility’s outlay for liquid fuels, natural gas, solid fuels, CO2 emission rights and electricity purchases, down by 678.1 million euros during this year’s nine-month period compared to the equivalent period a year earlier, has been a favorable factor in PPC’s improved results and debt-reduction effort.

PPC aims to further reduce its total debt to a level of between 250 and 300 million euros by the end of 2021.

 

Lignite unit output up, target model overpricing a factor

Power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations, temporarily covering for gas-fueled plants undergoing maintenance work and also favored by power grid operator IPTO as a result of excessive target model market prices demanded by independent producers, have made somewhat of a production comeback despite the urgency of the government and state-owned utility to withdraw these high-cost units as soon as possible.

On December 3, eight of the country’s ten remaining lignite-fired power stations operated throughout the day, most close to full capacity.

Agios Dimitrios I, III, IV and V, Kardia III and IV, Meliti and Megalopoli IV covered almost one third of the country’s total electricity demand, supplying over 40,000 MWh of the day’s 139,000 MWh to the grid.

In recent days, between six and seven lignite-fired power stations have been called into action.

Heron’s two gas-fueled power stations are currently sidelined for service work as are two such units respectively operated by Elpedison and PPC in Thessaloniki and Lavrio, close to Athens. Furthermore, overpricing in the day-ahead market by independent producers has prompted IPTO to seek lignite unit coverage.

PPC is still operating at least four lignite-fired power stations on a daily basis, despite related losses, to cover telethermal needs in cities of the west Macedonia and Megalopoli regions.

The power utility intends to hasten the withdrawal of its Megalopoli III, Kardia III and IV lignite-fired units, all set to close in 2021, according to an updated PPC business plan announced earlier this month.

Western corridor transmission line work blocked again by monastery

A small fraction of remaining work on a strategically important western-corridor expansion plan for a 400 kV transmission system reaching Megalopoli, central Peloponnese, needed to facilitate green energy investments in the wider region, has once again been stopped as a result of objections raised by nuns at a nearby monastery in the Kalavryta area.

Completion of this project, budgeted at 110 million euros and being developed by power grid operator IPTO, would unlock green-energy investments worth millions.

However, the installation of two remaining transmission towers, at a 500-meter distance from the monastery, has essentially been blocked for 14 months by its nuns, citing construction of the towers, requiring between 60 to 80 days, would visually harass and impact the monastery’s tranquility. The project is 98-percent complete.

IPTO construction crews went back to work on November 25, only to swiftly prompt the reemergence of the monastery nuns, who used vehicles to block bulldozers from performing their tasks. The project contractor filed a law suit against the nuns on the very same day.

Two days later, the nuns retaliated with legal action of their own, which resulted in a temporary order from a local Court of First Instance requiring all work to stop until December 16, when the issue will be examined.

Small fraction of PV connection term applications making cut

Just a fraction of RES connection term applications result in installed capacity as one in three applications for small-to-medium solar energy projects are being approved, on average, according to unofficial data provided by regional authorities of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO.

RES market players are well aware of this high percentage of rejections, and, as such, consider recent energy ministry measures affecting 500-KW PV projects and energy community projects to be unacceptable.

Worse still, the lockdown’s impact on public services has made it more difficult for RES investors to obtain necessary supporting documents from regional services, forestry authorities and other agencies in order to submit complete connection term applications to DEDDIE/HEDNO as well as power grid operator IPTO by an approaching December 31 deadline.

The combined effect of the aforementioned factors is causing a significant contraction of the small-to-medium solar energy market, sector officials have noted.

DEDDIE/HEDNO has requested more flexible operating terms, in terms of geographical jurisdiction, from the energy ministry to hasten its processing ability. At present, the operator examines connection term applications on a broad regional level but also wants more control at a narrower provincial level.

This would effectively enable swifter approval of connection term applications by RES investors in provinces where capacity is available. Investors would be spared of bureaucratic processing at a regional level.

Speaking at a recent energypress conference, a DEDDIE/HEDNO official noted the operator estimates all connection term applications it has received will have been processed by next summer.

 

Crete interconnection to require new energy control center

Crete’s grid interconnection with the mainland will require the development of a new, upgraded regional energy control center on the island, according to power grid operator IPTO’s ten-year development plan covering 2021 to 2030.

The new center will be needed to ensure effective management of new energy market data, not achievable through the existing center’s means and infrastructure, as these would not be able to incorporate new technologies, IPTO stresses in its ten-year development plan.

Also, the existing energy control center’s maintenance has become extremely difficult and costly due to the unavailability of spare parts and experienced technicians for its type of technologies, the operator added.

Energy companies, including PPC, look to reinforce ahead of tough winter

Energy sector companies, including power utility PPC, are looking to financially reinforce ahead of what is likely to be a challenging winter in terms of cash flow.

Though overall market activity is clearly better compared to last March, when lockdown measures were introduced in Greece, persisting four-digit figures for new domestic coronavirus cases and hints of tougher pandemic measures in Athens, as is already the case in Thessaloniki, leave no room for complacency.

PPC, fearing stricter lockdown measures could last a while, is working intensively to collect some 500 million euros stemming from two securitization packages for unpaid receivables by late November or early December. The company is also intensifying its hunt for payments from consumers regarded as able but unwilling to service electricity bill arrears.

The power utility has a number of fronts to cover financially. Firstly, the company has offered employees voluntary exit packages as part of its decarbonization drive to phase out lignite-fired power stations. PPC is also preparing to make the first of a number of major RES investments. The utility is also in the midst of a successful and fast-moving effort to reduce debt owed to operators – power grid operator IPTO; distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO; and RES market operator DAPEEP; as well as sub-contractors.

PPC’s total debt to third parties, which was at a level of 900 million euros in July, 2019, was reduced to approximately 650 million euros in June and fell further to 580 million in a latest measure.

The company aims to reduce this debt figure to 550 million euros by the end of the year. However, tougher lockdown measures would probably slow down this debt-reduction effort.

IPTO, handling target model’s balancing market, set for launch

Power grid operator IPTO has declared being fully prepared for its imminent target model role of managing the balancing market, one of the new market systems to come into effect this coming Monday, when the target model is set to be launched.

Besides being tasked with managing the target model’s balancing market, IPTO, in a widely unknown role, will also be responsible for measuring overall operations of the target model.

The balancing market, an extremely complex market system requiring fundamental changes compared to current practices, will perform real-time balancing of demand against available offers.

The energy exchange will be responsible for the target model’s day-ahead and intraday markets.

In the lead-up to the forthcoming launch, IPTO, challenged by pandemic-related obstacles such as travel and staff restrictions, needed to make a series of coordinated efforts. These have included development of information systems and corresponding interface systems with the energy exchange (BMMS, MSS, XBMS and MODESTO), plus staff training.

The target model, representing the Greek electricity market’s most significant reform, is essential for market coupling with equivalent European markets.

The target model promises to reinforce the country’s energy security, offer consumers greater financial benefits through transboundary competition, lead to fair and competitive pricing in the wholesale market, while also facilitating further RES penetration, and, by extension, hastening greenhouse gas emission reductions and the decarbonization effort.

IPTO awaiting approval of 20% Ariadne sale for €40m minimum

Power grid operator IPTO’s needed approval from RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, of its sale plan offering a 20 percent stake in subsidiary firm Ariadne Interconnection, tasked with the development of the Crete-Athens grid interconnection, is now in the hands of the authority, sources informed.

A condition setting a minimum sale price of 40 million euros, or 20 percent of the nominal value of Ariadne’s equity capital, totaling 200 million euros, has been included in the plan, the sources added.

It also includes criteria that will need to be met by prospective bidders, as well as the tender’s steps all the way to the final round, when qualifiers will be given access to the sale’s video data room.

The VDR will offer candidates financial, technical and legal details concerning the Crete-Athens grid interconnection, a project budgeted at one billion euros and slated for completion within 2023.

IPTO has already secured a 400 million-euro loan from Eurobank, an additional 200 million euros will stem from own capital, while the other 40 percent is expected to be provided in the form of EU subsidies, now close to approval.

China’s SGCC, IPTO’s strategic partner with a 24 percent stake, as well as European operators, among them Italy’s Terna and Belgium’s Elia, have all expressed interest ahead of the Ariadne Interconnection tender.

Importantly, IPTO is still awaiting RAE’s approval of WACC levels for the Cretan interconnection project – permitted revenue (2018-2021) and required revenue (2019-2021).

Projects categorized as projects of major significance are legally entitled to additional returns beyond the asset-based yield.

Minister urges target model readiness for smooth launch

Energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has urged all target model officials – including RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy; power grid operator IPTO; the energy exchange and EnExClear – to have resolved any pending issues so that a smooth launch of the model may be achieved on November 1.

Describing the upcoming date as historic for Greece’s energy sector, the minister was essentially conveying concerns of energy producers, traders and suppliers, not yet fully convinced that all market systems will be in full working order for the imminent launch.

The balancing market, in particular, remains a concern. The energy exchange is overseeing the day-ahead and intraday markets and IPTO will manage the balancing market.

Simulated dry-run testing of these markets, conducted for a period of over two months to test their limits and operating ability ahead of the target model launch, was completed about a fortnight ago.

Greece’s lead-up to the EU target model has been affected by a series of delays. Hatzidakis, the energy minister, is clearly determined to see the target model procedure through, not only because it is an EU commitment but also because of its prospective market and consumer benefits.

The target model will result in market coupling, or harmonization of EU wholesale markets, the intention being to eliminate market distortions and intensify competition.

A final full-scale test of all market systems is scheduled for October 27 while all is anticipated to be ready on October 30 ahead of the November 1 launch.

EuroAsia project moving again, Egypt present with EuroAfrica

Development of the wider region’s two major electricity grid interconnections, the EuroAsia Interconnector, to link Greece, from Crete, with Cyprus and Israel, and EuroAfrica Interconnector, a complementary project to link Cyprus with the African continent via Egypt, was discussed at a meeting in Nicosia yesterday between Greece’s energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and his Cypriot counterpart Natasa Pilides.

Progress at EuroAsia Interconnector, whose launch is scheduled for late in 2023, was held back by a Greek-Cypriot dispute prompted by Greek power grid operator IPTO’s withdrawal of the wider project’s Crete-Athens segment from EuroAsia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests.

The Crete-Athens segment is now being developed as a national project by IPTO and subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection.

EuroAsia Interconnector and EuroAfrica Interconnector promise to develop Cyprus into an electricity hub. A 310-km cable from Israel and a 498-km line from Egypt will converge at coastal Kofinou, in Cyprus’ south. From this hub, an 898-km cable is planned to link Cyprus with Crete before reaching Athens.

At yesterday’s meeting, the Greek and Cypriot energy ministers primarily focused on EuroAsia Interconnector, the Crete-Cyprus-Israel project, at a more mature stage.

Budgeted at 2.5 billion euros, this project, regarded as an EU Project of Common Interest, will promote regional energy security and further RES penetration in all three participating countries, Hatzidakis noted. The EU, it is estimated, will need to contribute at least half the project’s value.

Cyprus is the only EU member state without electricity grid interconnections.

Germany’s Siemens was awarded a procurement contract last May for EuroAsia Interconnector’s HVDC converter stations, budgeted at 623 million euros.

EuroAsia Interconnector was initially planned to offer 2 GW but this capacity has been halved, for the time being, as the other 1 GW will be used for the Crete-Athens grid interconnection.

EuroAsia Interconnector’s Israel-Cyprus segment is budgeted at 900 million euros while the cost of the bigger Cyprus-Crete section is estimated between 1.6 and 1.8 billion euros.

 

New market dry-run testing to end this week, target model launch on Nov. 1

The dry-run testing procedure for market systems ahead of the forthcoming target model launch, scheduled for November 1, will be finalized at the end of this week, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, the energy exchange and power grid operator IPTO have jointly decided.

Dry-run testing of the day-ahead, intraday and balancing markets began on August 3 to test their limits and operating ability ahead of the target model’s launch, aiming for market coupling, or harmonization of EU wholesale markets.

Market coupling, to increase competition and lower wholesale energy prices, will ultimately lead to energy union, the EU strategy seeking to offer consumers secure, sustainable, competitive and lower-cost energy.

All domestic parties involved, as well as the energy ministry, have ascertained the Greek launch will take place on November 1 following previous delays.

Even during these final days of simulated testing, day-ahead market prices have, at times, continued to display discrepancies with Day-Ahead Schedule price levels.

This has been attributed to the absence, from dry-run testing, of many traders who participate in the Day-Ahead Schedule, meaning the price levels of the two situations are based on different data.

Though balancing market prices have improved considerably as the simulated testing has progressed, following discrepancies, conclusions cannot be made until actual market conditions come into effect.

Meanwhile, public consultation by RAE on a market monitoring mechanism and a market surveillance mechanism for the new markets is due to be completed next Monday.

The market monitoring mechanism will seek, through structural and performance indicators, to evaluate levels of concentration and the market power of each participant, while the market surveillance mechanism will focus on identifying and combating strategies detrimental to competition.

The next step, once the new markets are launched, will be to market couple, initially with the Italian market, by the end of the year, followed by the Bulgarian market, in the first quarter of 2021, Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis recently informed.