IPTO in advanced talks for EuroAsia Interconnector helm

Power grid operator IPTO appears set to assume the role of project promoter at EuroAsia Interconnector, the Cyprus-headquartered consortium established to develop a grid interconnection project linking the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli electricity networks.

Questions have recently abounded about the consortium’s financial and technical ability to develop such a complex project.

Negotiations between IPTO and EuroAsia Interconnector, headed by Cypriot CEO Nasos Ktorides, have reached an advanced stage, sources informed.

IPTO, which recently acquired a 25 percent stake in the EuroAsia Interconnector, has submitted an offer that would give the Greek operator majority control of the consortium. The offer, sources informed, has been accepted, but still requires the European Commission’s approval.

Though the consortium has achieved noteworthy progress by securing, among other things, 657 million euros in funding from the Connecting Europe Facility and establishing an agreement for the project’s cable with Norwegian company Nexans, the overall endeavor has now reached a critical pre-construction stage, leading to greater needs, especially financial, which the Cypriot company appears to have found challenging.

IPTO’s assumption of the project promoter’s role at EuroAsia Interconnector is seen, by all parties involved, as the best solution for the smooth implementation of the project, as the Greek operator possesses the necessary financial strength, technical capacity and expertise to develop an HVDC interconnector of such magnitude and technical complexity.

The Cypriot government is taking this interconnection project very seriously, while cooperation between IPTO and the Cypriot energy ministry is excellent at all levels, IPTO officials informed energypress, in response to questions.

Talks for Green Aegean link, from Greece to Germany, gain momentum

A prospective Green Aegean grid interconnection project, planned to run from Greece to Germany’s south, facilitating exports of significant amounts of green energy as part of a wider effort to transport energy from Europe’s south to north, is gaining momentum through ongoing communication between Greek power grid operator IPTO and four German electricity transmission operators. Additionally, the international policy offices of the Greek and German energy ministries are becoming more actively involved in the project.

Though, quite clearly, the green transition stands no chance of succeeding without the development of major international interconnections for exports of colossal green energy quantities from south to north, coordinating such a transboundary project is a highly complex task, as efforts to date have shown.

From a technical point of view, an initial Greek proposal envisions a cable with a total transmission capacity of approximately 3 GW. This capacity would be boosted to 6 GW through a second round of work and eventually be further upgraded to 9 GW, according to the Greek proposal.

IPTO has worked on two alternative cable routes, both involving Albania. One proposal concerns an overland route across Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria before concluding in Germany’s south. The Greek power grid operator’s other proposed route, which includes an underwater crossing, would run alongside the Albanian coast to Slovenia and then follow a n overland route to Austria and southern Germany.

IPTO is currently engaged in talks with each of Germany’s four transmission system operators (TSOs) – Transnet, Tenne, Amprion and 50 Hertz – covering separate German regions, to determine the extent of Berlin’s support for the Green Aegean project.

Greece and Germany, Europe’s biggest consumer of green energy, will need to reach an agreement on the project before an application can be lodged to the European Commission. If the effort moves ahead, PCI/PMI status will be sought for the project.

At present, there is no clarity on the project’s financing plan. Last March, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told an EU Summit that the project would require funding from a variety of European programs. A European Grid Facility needs to be established to fund new multi-billion budget networks that will be able to support additional green energy, he noted.

As yet, no moves been made to modernize outdated grid infrastructure, especially in the western Balkans, lying between Europe’s south and north. This infrastructure will require a revamp in order to carry enormous amounts of green electricity stemming from the east Mediterranean, Egypt and Africa’s north.

Greece is now at a critical crossroads in terms of its green production potential, which will increasingly exceed domestic demand. On September 10, a new record of green electricity production was set, renewables covering up to 140 percent of domestic demand. Surplus amounts were exported, indicating what lies ahead and highlighting the need for solutions.


Delayed operator settlements troubling power suppliers

Payment delays by distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and power grid operator IPTO to electricity suppliers for finalized amounts regarding transactions between them, and which cannot be recovered through customer billing, are developing into a major concern that has sparked a response.

ESPEN, the Greek Energy Suppliers Association, intends to soon forward a letter of protest concerning these payment delays to RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Waste, Energy and Water, and the energy ministry.

Apart from the payment delays, charges suppliers end up needing to cover are significantly higher than amounts calculated by them based on preliminary figures.

ESPEN, in its letter, is also expected to highlight the need for an improvement of formulas applied by IPTO and DEDDIE/HEDNO, so that such discrepancies can be restricted.

Due to long periods that have elapsed, delayed finalized amounts anticipated by suppliers cannot be recovered through customers who have consumed corresponding amounts of energy and, in addition, may have switched suppliers in the process.

Ariadne Interconnection tender 2nd round starting next week

The second round of a tender offering a 20 percent stake in Ariadne Interconnection, a subsidiary founded by power grid operator IPTO to develop the Crete-Athens grid interconnection, will get underway next week with the opening of a Virtual Data Room for participants, energypress sources have informed.

All four first-round entrants have qualified for the procedure’s next stage following approval by RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, Environment, and Water. They are GEK-TERNA; a partnership involving Macquarie Super Core Infrastructure Fund and Phaethon Holdings (Copelouzos group); Italian operator Terna SpA; and StateGrid International Development Belgium.

The VDR will include all required information – including a shareholders’ agreement and business plan – needed by the bidders to shape their second-round binding offers, which, according to the energypress sources, will face an end-of-2023 deadline.

IPTO tasked RAAEY with the responsibility of approving the tender’s second-round qualifiers in order to offer maximum protect to the procedure and avoid any legal ordeals.

Issues checked by the authority before approving the suitability of suitors included whether investors with stakes in any domestic power producer are eligible to enter Ariadne Interconnection, the concern here being conflict of interest.

RAAEY also examined whether China’s SGCC could participate through its StateGrid International Development Belgium subsidiary, as the Chinese company holds a 24 percent stake in IPTO.


EuroAsia Interconnector fails to make first Nexans payment

The beleaguered EuroAsia Interconnector project, aspiring to interconnect the electricity networks of Greece, Cyprus and Israel, has run into further trouble following its Cyprus-headquartered consortium’s failure to meet yesterday’s deadline for a 50 million-euro payment to Norwegian company Nexans as a first installment for cable supply.

This deadline was widely viewed as a crash test for the credibility of the consortium, spearheaded by Cypriot entrepreneur Nasos Ktorides, its chief executive officer.

The payment failure has given rise to various scenarios concerning the project’s future. Without a doubt, the Cypriot government wants this geostrategically important project to go ahead, while the European Commission, which has offered funding support worth 657 million euros, through the Connecting Europe Facility, can be expected to become more actively involved in an attempt to push the project forward.

Given its commitment to the EuroAsia Interconnector project, Greek power grid operator IPTO could also intensify its efforts to keep the grid interconnection project afloat.

IPTO has pledged to contribute 33 percent of the investment if legal due diligence is successfully completed, while an Israeli fund that has expressed interest could provide an equivalent amount. Under such a scenario, IPTO and the Israeli fund would hold 66.66 percent of the EuroAsia Interconnector project’s equity capital.

It remains unclear as to why the EuroAsia Interconnector consortium failed to meet yesterday’s payment deadline, despite having recently received the required 50 million-euro amount from the CEF. According to one resulting scenario, a new consortium could now be sought for the project’s development.

A growing number of Cypriot government officials have been distancing themselves from the Euroasia Interconnector project ever since Brussels’ recent warning that the 657 million-euro CEF sum secured for it would be reexamined if the project’s schedule is not maintained.

Cyprus’ energy minister Giorgos Papanastasiou recently noted the project is still 1.1 billion short of its 1.9 billion-euro budget, which was revised upwards from a previous total of 1.57 billion euros.

Euroasia Interconnector, short of €1.1bn, faces payment test

The moment of truth is approaching for the promising yet troubled Euroasia Interconnector project, aspiring to interconnect the electricity networks of Greece, Cyprus and Israel but facing challenges in terms of its schedule and funding.

European Commission warnings over the project’s insufficient financing plan have raised concerns among authorities in Cyprus, where the Euroasia Interconnector consortium is headquartered. The consortium faces a September 7 deadline for a 50 million-euro payment to Norwegian company Nexans, for the construction of a cable. Tomorrow’s deadline represents a crash test for the consortium’s credibility.

A growing number of Cypriot government officials have been distancing themselves from the Euroasia Interconnector project since Brussels’ recent warning that EU funds worth 657 million euros secured by the project would be reexamined if the project’s schedule is not maintained.

The project’s challenges have been highlighted by the very statements of Cypriot government ministers and officials. Asked, just days ago, about Euroasia Interconnector, government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis replied that the Cypriot government would first wait for a rating agency’s assessment of the project’s feasibility and geostrategic value before taking any decisions on its involvement.

Also, Cyprus’ energy minister Giorgos Papanastasiou has downplayed the significance of Greek power grid operator IPTO’s recent preliminary agreement with an Israeli fund for the latter’s entry into the equity capital of Euroasia Interconnector with a share of up to 33 percent.

This agreement would contribute roughly 100 million euros to the project, just a fraction of the Euroasia Interconnector’s budget, which has risen sharply to 1.9 billion euros from a previous estimate of 1.57 billion euros, Papanastasiou noted, when asked to comment on IPTO’s agreement with the Israeli fund.

This agreement’s anticipated 100 million euros, along with the Connecting Europe Facility’s 657 million euros, and a further 100 million euros from the Cypriot recovery fund, all totaling 857 million euros, still leaves the project’s required funding short of 1.1 billion euros, Papanastasiou pointed out.

External investor interest for Greece-Cyprus-Israel grid link

A preliminary agreement between Greek power grid operator IPTO and an Israeli fund that would facilitate the fund’s entry into the equity capital of Euroasia Interconnector, the developer of the Greece-Cyprus-Israel grid interconnection, with a share of up to 33 percent, has ignited considerable investment enthusiasm in the project among external investors.

News of this strong investment interest was revealed by Cypriot Minister of Energy, Trade and Industry Giorgos Papanastasiou during a Parliamentary Energy Committee meeting held yesterday for a discussion on the project’s progress.

The parliamentary session took place just hours after IPTO’s preliminary agreement with the Israeli fund had been disclosed.

IPTO has already reached an agreement of its own with Euroasia Interconnector for a stake of at least 25 percent in the consortium, with an option to increase this stake to 33 percent.

Papanastasiou, the Cypriot minister, noted IPTO’s entry into the Euroasia Interconnector consortium serves as a vehicle for the Greek State’s involvement in the project. For the time being, the Cypriot State officially remains absent from the project.

“For us, it is inconceivable that the Republic of Cyprus should not be involved in such a project,” Papanastasiou noted.

Nevertheless, he emphasized that the Cypriot government is diligently assessing the matter. Given the project’s significant expenses, any decisions will be made after a comprehensive evaluation of the project’s technical and financial aspects.

The minister rejected claims suggesting the project would result in significant electricity tariff increases for Cypriot consumers, noting preliminary calculations indicate a cost increase of approximately 0.7 cents per KWh, which is just a fraction of Cyprus’s current retail electricity prices, reaching 35 cents per KWh.

IPTO in deal with Israeli fund for Euroasia Interconnector

Power grid operator IPTO has reached a preliminary agreement with an Israeli fund facilitating its entry into the equity capital of Euroasia Interconnector, the developer of the Crete-Cyprus grid interconnection, with a share of up to 33 percent, according to confirmed information.

This development seems to have injected new life into the project, which has encountered notable challenges in recent times, namely strict warnings by the European Commission over schedule delays and, even more crucially, the developer’s inability to produce a sound financial plan, an issue that has prompted the Cypriot State to seriously reassess its participation in the project.

Highlighting the urgency of the matter, it should be noted that, on the basis of a contract signed recently by Euroasia Interconnector with Norwegian company Nexans for the construction of a cable for the Crete-Cyprus interconnection, Euroasia Interconnector faces a September 7 deadline for a 50 million-euro payment.

If IPTO’s agreement with the Israeli fund goes ahead, it confirms, on the one hand, Israel’s increased interest in the project, which will potentially interconnect the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids, and, on the other hand, it should provide a solution to the existing financial gap that has generated doubts over the project.

IPTO and the Israeli fund’s equity participation in Euroasia Interconnector promises sufficient equity capital for the project, which in turn could facilitate project borrowing from the European Investment Bank, while also formulating a comprehensive financing plan for the project.


Framework to offer investors RES grid-injection cut support

The energy ministry is preparing to form a working group that will be tasked with establishing a sustainable framework to support essential reductions in renewable energy source (RES) grid injections, for the prevention of grid overloads.

This working group will also shape incentives for ongoing RES projects, so that batteries may be integrated into these investments.

Energy ministry officials as well as representatives of all the country’s market operators – Regulatory Authority for Energy, Environment, and Water; power grid operator IPTO; distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO; RES market operator DAPEEP – are expected to participate in the working group.

In addition, market players will be invited to offer regular views on the work being carried out by the working group, to ensure that the investment community’s positions have also been taken into consideration.

The working group’s interventions are planned to mitigate the impact of RES grid-injection cuts on investors, and also to ensure that investments in new RES plants will possess the required predictability in terms of project cash inflow.

ESIAPE: IPTO’s RES grid injection cut plan deviates from EU rules

A set of rules proposed by power grid operator IPTO on RES unit injection cuts concerning the Greek electricity system deviates from European regulations and practices followed in other European countries, according to ESIAPE, the Greek Association of Renewable Energy Source Electricity Producers.

Expressing its views in related consultation staged by RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Waste, Energy and Water, ESIAPE noted that Greece’s regulatory framework does not provide for any compensation when RES unit grid injection cuts are ordered, which runs contrary to regulations and practices followed by other European countries.

The current regulatory framework in Greece creates conditions that lead to potential distortions of competition, ESIAPE noted.

In its intervention, ESIAPE offered, as a comparison, detailed presentations of practices followed by five other European countries – France, Germany, UK, Spain and Italy – all offering compensation for RES unit grid injection cuts, when requested by authorities, to prevent grid overloading.

Electricity demand drops for 13th successive month in June

Overall electricity demand in Greece fell for a thirteenth successive month in June, dropping 10.6 percent, compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, a latest monthly report published by power grid operator IPTO has shown.

Electricity demand fell by 8.84 percent in the first half of 2023 compared to the equivalent period last year, the IPTO report showed.

The latest data highlights the savings-minded behavioral changes of small and large-scale consumers following the outbreak of the energy crisis.

Electricity demand in June totaled 3,866 GWh, down from 4,312 GWh in June, 2022.

Subsequently, electricity production was cut back, dropping by 15.1 percent to 3,541 GWh last month, according to the IPTO report.

RES and hydropower generation dominated the country’s energy mix last month, capturing a combined 54.37 percent share.

More specifically, the RES sector’s share was 43.89 percent and hydropower’s contribution represented 10.48 percent.

Gas-fueled power stations captured a 45.63 percent share of the energy mix in June.

RAAEY reaches decisions on WACC levels for IPTO, HEDNO

Following months of deliberation, RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Waste, Energy and Water, has reached decisions on WACC levels for power grid operator IPTO and distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, setting the former’s at 7.51 percent, for 2023 to 2025, and the latter’s at 7.66 percent for 2023 and 2024, energypress sources have confirmed.

Based on these decisions, IPTO’s average WACC level for the four-year regulatory period, covering 2024 to 2027, works out to 7.16 percent, while the four-year regulatory period average for DEDDIE/HEDNO is 7.11 percent.

The discrepancy in WACC levels resulted from different borrowing-cost coefficients applied to a WACC formula used by RAEEY. All other factors that were taken into account, including country risk and cost of capital, were identical.

IPTO initially sought a higher WACC rate, pushing for its cause from as far back as last year, citing unfavorable changes in the economic environment, including inflation and interest rate increases.

Just recently, RAAEY set a WACC rate of 7.85 percent for gas grid operator DESFA, covering the entire four-year regulatory period (2024-2027), and an 8.57 percent WACC rate for DEPA Infrastructure, limited to 2023.

Demand to reach 10 GW today, officials confident on grid

Domestic electricity demand could reach 10 GW today, a record level for 2023, amid heatwave temperatures, but sector authorities are confident the grid is well prepared and equipped to handle the challenge.

Overall, the grid is in sound state, while any issues that may have emerged at some locations, especially areas affected by fires that have broken out in recent days, have been swiftly resolved to prevent a spread of grid problems in wider areas, sources at power grid operator IPTO have informed.

However, given the extensive fire fronts and high risk of new outbreaks in coming days, combined with elevated, heatwave-related electricity demand, IPTO officials are remaining vigilant, monitoring events for swift action if necessary.

According to an IPTO schedule for today, electricity demand is projected to peak at 1 pm, reaching 9,956 MW, over the highest level reached so far this year, 9,950 MW, recorded on July 14.

Solar panels are expected to cover over 40 percent of demand, delivering 4,300 MW, during today’s midday hours, when electricity demand will be highest.

Higher electricity demand will push prices higher on the energy exchange today, the average wholesale electricity price expected to rise by 6.62 percent to 135.58 euros per MWh, up from yesterday’s level of 127.17 euros per MWh.


EuroAsia Interconnector funds threatened by project delays

EU authorities appear to have issued a strict warning to Cyprus over major delays in binding scheduling terms for EuroAsia Interconnector, a project of strategic importance planned to interconnect the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids.

According to sources, the EU has warned the Cypriot government that if appropriate decisions are not taken immediately to ensure that the project can be put back on track, then a decision offering 657 million euros worth of Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funding for the PCI-listed project would need to be reviewed.

In response, Cypriot president Nikos Christodoulides held an emergency meeting last Friday with Nasos Ktorides, CEO of the EuroAsia Interconnector consortium, and the country’s energy minister George Papanastasiou.

Though no official announcements have been made, Cypriot press has reported that the government intends to engage directly and vigorously at the highest political level to secure the planned funding for the project.

Delays include Greek power grid operator IPTO’s entry into the EuroAsia Interconnector consortium with a 25 percent stake. A strategic agreement was announced at the end of June but the matter has not progressed further as due diligence remains unfinished.

The EU has insisted on IPTO’s participation as, on the one hand, the project will be connected to the Greek operator’s networks in Crete, and on the other, IPTO, it is believed, would ensure the project’s technical integrity and operational viability.

EuroAsia Interconnector has also been held back by the consortium’s delay in signing a contract with Norwegian company Nexans, to manufacture the project’s subsea cable.

This delay threatens to deprive EuroAsia Interconnector of its intended production slot at Nexans because the manufacturer faces high demand for cables from countries such as Germany and the Baltic countries as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine.




New minister outlines sector issues ahead of policy speech

The reelected conservative New Democracy party government’s newly appointed energy minister Theodoros Skylakakis has, in recent days, been preparing a list of energy market problems and pending matters, with emphasis on major issues, such as new tariffs, RES production cuts – needed during periods of low demand to avoid grid overloading – as well as development plans for offshore wind farms and hydrocarbon exploration, ahead of his parliamentary speech in Parliament tomorrow, when key policies by the new government will be outlined by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his associates.

In the lead-up, Skylakakis has held meetings with top officials representing key market players such as RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Waste, Energy and Water; power utility PPC; power grid operator IPTO; distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO; gas grid operator DESFA; RES market operator DAPEEP; and EDEYEP, the Hellenic Hydrocarbons and Energy Resources Management Company, to discuss and take note of energy-sector problems and pending issues ahead of tomorrow’s speech in parliament.

The energy minister has also noted views expressed by RES sector officials on the new National Energy and Climate Plan. According to sources, Skylakakis’ predecessor, Pantelis Kapros – who served a short stint as energy minister in the caretaker government that held office between two rounds of voting, in May and June – has passed on a RES mix plan entailing a 60-40 share between wind and solar energy units, respectively.

Also, the new energy minister prefers to stick to a schedule that would terminate energy-crisis support measures at the end of September, rather than offer extensions, sources added.


RES investors renew interest for 8 in 10 stagnant projects

Roughly eight in ten investors with RES projects that had stagnated after receiving final connection offers from power grid operator IPTO as they failed to submit, as a follow-up action, connection applications, have now responded to a deadline set by the energy ministry, determined to clear away any backlog of abandoned projects occupying valuable prospective grid capacity.

Investors behind stagnant RES projects that had received final connection offers until December 31, 2020 were given until June 30 to submit connection applications.

This wave of bogged down RES projects concerned a portfolio totaling roughly 900 MW.

According to energypress sources, investors behind projects totaling approximately 700 MW met the June 30 deadline connection applications, meaning that projects representing about 200 MW will now be withdrawn to free up some grid capacity.


IPTO: New Greece-Bulgaria electrical interconnection completed

Athens, July 3 2023

IPTO and the Operator of the Bulgarian Electricity Transmission System ESO EAD energized the new, international ultra-high voltage 400 kV electrical interconnection between Greece and Bulgaria. Energy transmission through the new Line commenced on Friday, June 30th, after the close cooperation of the competent personnel of the Transmission System Operators of the two countries for the start of the trial operation.

This is the second Transmission Line connecting the two countries, which significantly increases the margin for energy exchanges between the neighboring systems of Greece and Bulgaria, respectively upgrading the possibilities of cross-border trade and energy security in SE Europe and the Balkan Peninsula. In the following period, a permanent working group staffed by all Operators in the region, will determine the new, gradually increasing, available amounts of transmission capacity on the Greece-Bulgaria border and from the end of the summer season the new Line is expected to start contributing to the cross-border trade.

The total length of the international interconnection, which starts from Nea Santa EHVC in Rodopi and ends at Maritsa East Substation in Bulgaria amounts to 151 km, out of which approximately 30 km extend within the Greek Territory.

The second interconnection between Greece and Bulgaria, the domestic part of which cost 11.3 million euros, is a project of pan-European interest that was included since the beginning of its planning in the Ten-Year Development Program (TYNDP) of ENTSO-E as well as in the list of Projects of Common Interest (PCI) of the European Union.

On the occasion of the new international interconnection’s electrification, the Minister of Environment and Energy, Mr. Theodoros Skylakakis, stated:

The second, international ultra-high voltage electrical interconnection of Greece-Bulgaria, is an important energy project of pan-European interest. The immediate benefits of this cooperation include: enhancing cross-border trade and strengthening energy security in Southeast Europe and the Balkan Peninsula. More international interconnections will follow, which will further upgrade our country on the European energy map“.

The Chairman and CEO of IPTO Mr. Manos Manousakis, stated:

IPTO in cooperation with the Bulgarian Operator have completed an important energy project that greatly increases the interconnectivity of the two countries and strengthens adequacy on a regional level. The second international interconnection between Greece and Bulgaria will allow us to better utilize the green energy produced in the region and will contribute to the reinforcement of the European electricity market. With a strategic goal to upgrade the country’s position on the European energy map, over the coming years IPTO is launching new international interconnections with all neighboring states while at the same time supports major intercontinental interconnection projects in the Eastern Mediterranean, with Greece being the main hub“.

RAAEY decides on WACC levels for DESFA, DEPA Infrastructure

RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Waste, Energy and Water, has decided, after lengthy consideration, on WACC levels for two gas companies, DESFA, Greece’s gas grid operator, and DEPA Infrastructure.

The WACC level set for DESFA, 7.85 percent, will apply for a four-year period covering 2024 to 2027, while DEPA Infrastructure’s rate, 8.57 percent, applies for 2023.

The discrepancy between the two WACC levels resulted from different borrowing-cost coefficients applied to a WACC formula used by RAEEY. All other factors that were taken into account, including country risk and cost of capital, were identical.

DESFA is now expected to set tariffs ahead of tenders for three grid interconnection projects.

As for DEPA Infrastructure, the company’s new owner, Italgas, Europe’s second largest gas distributor, was expecting a WACC level of between 8 and 9 percent over the next four-year regulatory period in order to carry out its Greek investment plan through DEPA Infrastructure and its three gas distribution subsidiaries, EDA Attiki, EDA Thess and DEDA.

Decisions on WACC levels for power grid operator IPTO and distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO are expected by the end of July.

IPTO has requested a revised WACC level for the regulatory period covering 2022 to 2025, while DEDDIE/HEDNO is awaiting a revision for 2023 and 2024.

Electricity demand falls for 11th consecutive month, IPTO reports

Electricity demand in Greece fell for an eleventh consecutive month in May, while RES and hydropower plants dominated the energy mix, capturing a record 64.66 percent share, a latest monthly report released by power grid operator IPTO has shown.

Electricity demand fell by 7.01 percent last month compared to May, 2022, according to the latest IPTO data.

High-voltage consumers recorded the biggest drop last month, reducing their electricity usage by 7.2 percent, while households and businesses reduced their usage by 6.9 percent, the IPTO data showed. Electricity demand last month totaled 3,610 GWh, the operator noted.

The energy crisis’ significant price increases and energy sufficiency concerns have brought about a drastic change in consumer behavior regarding energy usage, both by households and businesses.

This more apprehensive approach towards energy consumption has prevailed among consumers since last July.

Favorable weather conditions, including generally mild weather before, during and after last winter, have also contributed to the downward trajectory in electricity demand.


Changes needed to incorporate direct lines into grid

Officials at RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Waste, Energy and Water, and power grid operator IPTO are examining adjustments and changes needed to the existing legal framework so that direct-line operations can be incorporated into the country’s grid.

Direct lines are electricity lines that connect individual power plants with individual customers, or electricity lines that connect individual power producers with individual power suppliers directly supplying their own facilities, subsidiaries or selected customers.

At present, direct lines are not incorporated into transmission systems or distribution networks.

Direct lines, according to experts in this domain, can contribute to the decongestion of the grid and, to a certain extent, be part of the solution to the problem of RES grid-injection cuts as they bypass already saturated electricity networks either for transmission or distribution purposes.


IPTO formula for RES grid-injection cuts up for consultation

Power grid operator IPTO has offered a description of its temporary RES grid input-curtailing formula it applies, whenever necessary, to ensure grid stability by preventing overloading during periods of lower electricity demand, for consultation on the matter staged by RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Waste, Energy and Water.

Based on the operator’s formula, RES output cuts are currently conducted across the board and proportionately. The operator issues orders for RES grid-injection cuts to individual units, groups of units, as well as to private medium-voltage networks through which green-energy plants are connected to medium and high-voltage substations.

The IPTO formula forwarded for consultation is essentially serving as a transitional framework until a permanent set of rules are established. They are expected to feature criteria prioritizing the order of RES units curtailing their grid injections.

IPTO, according to its formula, is also entitled to issue orders to distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO so that the latter may curtail grid injections at projects linked to the distribution network. The two operators have signed a Memorandum of Understanding concerning this matter.

The IPTO text forwarded for consultation also describes an inspection procedure for RES units as well as a penalty system for units not adhering to curtailment orders.


IPTO regulatory framework for RES output cuts in the pipeline

Power grid operator IPTO plans to soon work on a regulatory framework intended to configurate RES output cuts, the operator’s CEO Manos Manousakis has told an annual event staged by the Greek Wind Energy Association (ELETAEN).

IPTO will establish a working group with ELETAEN to examine RES grid injection restrictions that will need to be applied whenever necessary to ensure grid stability, the IPTO chief noted.

The prospective regulatory framework is intended to eventually replace a formula already being applied by IPTO for universal and proportional cuts in RES production.

The framework’s criteria will be fashioned in accordance with the grid’s features and needs, essentially meaning RES cuts will vary depending on RES unit technology.

Until the regulatory framework is drafted, IPTO, as a transitional solution, will continue cutting RES grid injections based on the production capacity of respective RES units.

RES investors have underlined the regulatory framework for RES output cuts will affect projected revenues of RES units and, as a result, is already impacting their negotiations with banks for loans concerning new projects.

Cuts on small-scale and large-scale RES units will need to be proportional, rather than based on the operator’s technical capabilities, investors have noted.



IPTO forwarding RES cut formula for consultation

Energy sector authorities are close to announcing a formula already being applied unofficially for emergency RES output cuts as a means of preventing grid overload risks and ensuring stability when domestic electricity demand is low and green-energy production is high.

Power grid operator IPTO intends to forward its formula to RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Waste, Energy and Water, this week for consultation before it is officially adopted, energypress sources have informed.

IPTO’s current formula is being applied across the board and proportionally, effectively meaning RES output cuts are based on generation capacity at the time of intervention rather than the respective installed capacities of facilities.

If, for example, RES output has reached a total of 5,000 MW and authorities determine that it needs to be cut by 500 MW, then production of all operating RES units would be cut by 10 percent.

IPTO’s proposal for the consultation procedure will also include provisions ensuring transparency when RES cuts are made.

April power usage falls 3.11%, down for 11th month in a row

Electricity usage in Greece fell for an eleventh successive month in April, down by 3.11 percent compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, a latest monthly report by power grid operator IPTO has shown.

Electricity usage over the eleven-month period fell by 15.09 percent, a record drop for such a time span, the operator noted.

The contraction in demand has been attributed to two factors, the efforts by consumers, small and large-scale, to restrict electricity expenses, as well as mild weather conditions.

Households and low and mid-voltage businesses reduced their electricity usage by 2.8 percent in April, while energy-intensive industries cut back on consumption by 6.4 percent.

Over the year’s first four-month period, overall electricity demand fell by 9 percent, the IPTO report showed.

Crete set for hybrid RES station installations offering 120 MW

An energy ministry decision, either imminent or already signed, will pave the way for the installation of hybrid RES stations on Crete offering a total capacity of 120 MW, energypress sources have been informed.

This ministerial decision comes as a follow-up to legislation for a support framework concerning the development of RES facilities equipped with energy storage units on the Greek islands, a plan endorsed by the European Commission.

It is divided into three sections. Crete belongs to the framework’s second section, while the plan’s first section includes small islands, such as Gavdos, not planned to be incorporated with the mainland grid through power grid operator IPTO’s interconnection program. The third section of the plan concerns islands now undergoing interconnection procedures.

The 120 MW in hybrid stations to be installed on Crete will receive tariffs determined administratively rather than through auctions, as the island needs to secure energy sufficiency as soon as possible, leaving no time for competitive procedures.

Of Crete’s 120 MW in prospective hybrid stations, four projects offering a total capacity of 84.45 MW lead the race for securing tariffs, as their licensing procedures have reached an advanced stage.

Five areas selected for first stage of offshore wind farms

Five areas marked out to host Greece’s first phase of offshore wind farms, planned to offer a total capacity of 2.1 GW, are located in the north and central Aegean, as well as off Crete.

The area in the north is situated off Alexandroupoli, three areas are close to mainland Greece and the wider Dodecanese area, while a fifth spot is off eastern Crete, at an area between Sitia and Xerokampos.

The area off Alexandroupoli is planned to host pilot projects offering a total capacity of 600 MW. The Copelouzos group secured a 216-MW production license for offshore parks in this area back in 2012. Contracts for their development will not undergo any competitive procedures as these projects have been classified as pilot projects.

The three areas chosen to host offshore wind farms in the central Aegean will each host wind farms with respective capacities of 300 MW for a total of 900 MW.  It has not yet been determined if these offshore wind farms will be located close to the mainland or in the wider Dodecanese area.

The wind farm off Crete, near the northeastern shoreline, is planned to offer a total capacity of 600 MW.

Environmental, spatial, social, economic and geopolitical criteria, along with wind intensity, a decisive factor determining the degree of return on investment, were taken into consideration when selecting the aforementioned areas.

Power grid operator IPTO has already delivered precise data on the grid absorption potential at each of these clusters. However, the plan still needs to be approved by the Hellenic National Defence General Staff.

RAE, IPTO pushing ahead to integrate traders into intraday market

Intraday electricity market participation by traders engaged in transactions concerning the country and non-coupled neighbors – Albania, Turkey and North Macedonia – a complex matter that has remained pending for years, is now on track to be approved by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, and power grid operator IPTO.

One of the basic steps needed is the establishment of Daily Intraday Capacity Auctions, a step requiring the approval of all respective operators involved. According to sources, all operators involved have expressed willingness to proceed, but the overall process will take time to complete.

IPTO has already declared its readiness, from a technical perspective, to implement these auctions, which, however, is not the case for other operators as they are active in markets still at early stages of development. These operators still need to make adjustments in order to accommodate Daily Intraday Capacity Auctions into their systems.

IPTO has been actively involved, underlining, to neighboring operators, its availability to contribute to their efforts.

The addition of traders to the intraday market promises to boost its liquidity as more participants become involved. This development will greatly improve the ability of market players to correct their positions and, as a result of this greater flexibility, limit their balancing market costs.

Also, the more precise activity of market players will create conditions limiting the volumes of electricity needed in the balancing market.

No changes to RES, energy storage grid injection limit plan

The energy ministry has completed work on a ministerial decision designed to restrict injections into the grid by new RES and energy storage units and plans to sign it off within the next few days as the matter is one of the energy sector’s pending issues the ministry wants to have settled ahead of the May 21 legislative election.

According to sources, formulas proposed by power grid operator IPTO and distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO have been maintained for the ministerial decision.

The ministry’s decision to impose grid injection restrictions was taken in order to make optimal use of available electrical capacity in the transmission and distribution system and ultimately maximize the number of green-energy power plants.

According to the legislative revision, the energy injection restrictions will not be able to exceed 5 percent of the respective annual capacities of units subject to the limit.

The measure will apply to all RES plants under development and possessing finalized connection offers, as well as to green-energy projects for which connection requests have been submitted to either DEDDIE/HEDNO or IPTO. Batteries will also be subject to the injection restriction, regardless of whether they have been incorporated into RES systems or not.

IPTO confident of energy sufficiency this coming summer

Greek power grid operator IPTO, contrary to officials in other parts of Europe fearing drought periods will affect their electricity sufficiency, is confident current local conditions are favorable enough to get the country through the high-demand summer season.

Reservoir water levels at Greek power utility PPC’s hydropower facilities have just about been maintained at last year’s levels, more RES units have been connected to the grid this year than ever before, while the country’s lignite stocks are also currently high, at three million tons, following a concerted energy-crisis effort made since last year.

In addition, Greece’s grid is set to be reinforced, within the next couple of months, by the addition of two new power stations – a Mytilineos group unit and PPC’s Ptolemaida V – to offer an extra generation capacity of 1,500 MW.

Reservoir water levels at PPC’s hydropower plants currently offer 2,720 MW and are expected, over the next few days, to rise to 2,850 MW, levels recorded last year, primarily as a result of increased flow at northern Greece’s Haliacmon river.

All 4 bidders seeking Ariadne Interconnection 20% advance

All four first-round entrants in a tender offering a 20 percent stake in Ariadne Interconnection, a subsidiary founded by power grid operator IPTO to specifically develop the Crete-Athens grid interconnection, have qualified for the procedure’s next stage following approval by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

GEK-TERNA; a partnership involving Macquarie Super Core Infrastructure Fund and Phaethon Holdings (Copelouzos group); Italian operator Terna SpA; and StateGrid International Development Belgium are the four entrants advancing to the tender’s second round.

IPTO tasked RAE with an appraisal of the tender’s first-round entrants to safeguard the overall procedure from any prospective legal challenges.

One matter inspected by RAE was whether participation by entrants active in electricity production could lead to conflict of interest.

The authority also decided that China’s SGCC, IPTO’s strategic partner with a 24 percent stake, is eligible to participate in this tender, through its Belgian subsidiary StateGrid International Development Belgium.