Wholesale electricity cost up 8% in 1Q, surcharges double

The cost of wholesale electricity averaged 65.412 euros per MWh in the first quarter of 2021, up 8 percent compared to the equivalent period a year earlier, when the level averaged 60.67 euros per MWh, data provided by power grid operator IPTO has shown.

It should be pointed out that a direct price comparison of all components making up wholesale cost during these two quarters is not possible as, during this time, the structure of the wholesale electricity market changed from a mandatory pool system to the target model.

For example, a minimum RES-supporting surcharge burdening wholesale costs by an average of 3.4 euros per MWh during the first quarter last year has since been abolished. Also, the market-clearing price fell to 0.72 euros per MWh in the first quarter from 2.11 euros per MWh in the equivalent period a year earlier.

Even so, the reduction in these costs was outweighed by the increase in wholesale electricity prices. The total cost in the day-ahead and intraday markets averaged 55.17 euros per MWh in the first quarter this year, compared to last year’s average cost of 50.39 euros per MWh in the mandatory pool.

Surcharge costs also increased, averaging 9.53 euros per MWh in the first quarter this year, double the level of 4.78 euros per MWh a year earlier.

Particularly high prices registered late in 2020, during the early days of the target model launch, have eased so far this year. Last November and December, surcharge costs reached 17 and 16.09 euros, respectively.

Electricity consumption fell by 6 percent in the first quarter this year, compared to a year earlier, to 12.39 TWh from 13.175 TWh, as a result of lockdown measures amid the pandemic.

IPTO preparing new formula for grid capacity availability

Power grid operator IPTO is preparing revisions to a framework for incoming RES project applications, including, as the first major change, a new formula calculating available grid capacity, the operator’s deputy director Giannis Margaris (photo) has noted during an online update.

This new formula will factor in all offers made by the operator in the market as well as new RES projects, both in development and at the planning stage, Margaris pointed out.

IPTO expects to have finalized the formula within April, before presenting it to the energy ministry and then the market.

The operator is also preparing a tracking system that will enable investors to be updated, at any given moment, on the progress of their connection term applications, the IPTO deputy informed.

These upcoming changes come in the wake of a flood of group applications for small-scale RES projects, seeking direct links to the grid, as well as complaints by ABO Wind over IPTO’s delay in examining the company’s connection term applications.

Such objections serve as an opportunity for a reexamination of the grid entry framework, Margaris noted.

The problems that need to addressed concern the licensing and grid entry frameworks, not grid capacity, neither now nor until 2030, the IPTO deputy stressed.

Authorities gearing up for intraday market entry of traders

Authorities are picking up the pace on moves needed to also enable traders to begin participating in Greece’s intraday electricity market, one of the new wholesale markets emerging with the target model’s recent introduction.

The Greek energy exchange will forward its proposal for necessary market regulation amendments to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, within the next two months, energypress sources informed.

These revisions will take finalized shape through ongoing discussions between the energy exchange, as operator of the intraday market, power grid operator IPTO, managing international grid interconnections, and RAE.

The authorities are seeking to establish an optimal formula for the intraday market entry of electricity traders.

The talks, until now, have indicated that intraday day interconnection rights will not be required for transboundary trade between intraday markets that have not undergone coupling.

Therefore, traders will be able to participate in the intraday market by utilizing the amount of daily interconnection rights they have secured and not used for transboundary transactions in the day-ahead market.

The addition of traders to the intraday market promises to boost its liquidity, currently low. This will help liberate market players by offering them greater flexibility, limiting the pressure on the balancing market.

Transitional plan for Cretan small-scale link sent to Brussels

Technical and other preparations are now being made to enable Crete’s imminent small-scale power grid interconnection, to the Peloponnese, to cover, for the time being, approximately 30 percent of the island’s electricity needs.

The energy ministry has forwarded to the European Commission its proposal for a transitional model concerning Crete’s participation in the target model’s new wholesale markets.

Also, the energy ministry has prepared a draft bill needed for the transfer, to power grid operator IPTO, of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO’s assets on Crete. This will enable IPTO to assume responsibility for the island’s small-scale interconnection.

Normally, when grid links for non-interconnected islands are carried out, IPTO takes on the responsibility of their electricity networks. However, Crete, Greece’s biggest and most populous island, represents a much bigger interconnection project that is being developed over two stages. The project’s second stage, to reach Athens, is anticipated in 2023.

The transitional plan, shaped with the assistance of consultant Reed Smith, includes the sale, by power utility PPC, DEDDIE/HEDNO’s parent company, to IPTO, of a 150-kV transmission line on Crete, running from Hania to Lasithi, based on decisions reached by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, concerning management of Crete’s grid for the island’s small-scale interconnection.

The transitional model, to expire once the island’s full-scale interconnection has been completed, will allow Crete to purchase electricity transmitted through the small-scale interconnection at the target model’s new wholesale markets.

IPTO seeking active role in Cyprus, Israel, Egypt grid interconnections

Power grid operator IPTO is seeking an active role in the grid interconnections to link Greece with Cyprus and Israel, as well as Egypt, the company’s chief executive Manos Manousakis told yesterday’s Power and Gas Supply Forum, an online event staged by energypress.

Responding to questions as to whether IPTO is considering to acquire an equity stake in these projects, Manousakis noted that the operator’s role is to ensure the interoperability of the Athens-Crete and Crete-Cyprus power grid interconnections, a commitment made by the Greek government back in October, 2019.

The European Commission, engaged in ongoing exchange with IPTO in an effort to understand the level of maturity of these grid interconnection projects and, primarily, the interoperability of its systems, has mentioned that Brussels would be interested in the equity involvement of a European TSO, Manousakis informed.

Other priorities at IPTO include upgrading and expanding Greece’s grid interconnections with neighboring countries, which would boost cash flow in the domestic energy market through electricity exports, the chief executive noted.

A tender for the development of the local segment of a second transboundary grid interconnection linking Greece and Bulgaria, from Nea Santa, northeastern Greece, to Bulgaria’s Maritsa area in the south, will be completed this year, Manousakis informed.

New interconnections with Albania and North Macedonia are also being examined at present, he noted.

In addition, IPTO is close to signing a cooperation agreement with Italian operator TERNA for the development of a second Greek-Italian grid interconnection.

Furthermore, plans for an upgrade of the Greek-Turkish interconnection, a project linking the European and Turkish transmission systems, are also maturing, the IPTO chief informed.

 

 

IPTO warns PPC against Megalopoli III closure this year

Power utility PPC’s Megalopoli III lignite-fired power station must not be withdrawn within 2021 – let alone about now, as the utility had initially planned – for reasons of grid sufficiency, the power grid operator IPTO has advised in a letter forwarded to PPC and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

IPTO, in its letter, warns against the consequences of two PPC plans, the first, an intention to shut down Megalopoli III by the end of March, and, the second, premature withdrawal of its entire portfolio of lignite-fired power stations by the end of this coming August, or to the extent that is feasible, given grid sufficiency requirements.

Premature withdrawal, this summer, of all the lignite units would result in a capacity shortage measuring approximately 1,000 MW, which would need to be covered by electricity imports, IPTO has warned.

PPC’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis refenced the IPTO letter during yesterday’s Power and Gas Supply Forum, an online event staged by energypress, while commenting on the need to maintain lignite-fired power stations for grid stability, even if these units are now loss-incurring because of elevated CO2 emission right costs.

IPTO does not consent to any lignite unit withdrawals that would be ahead of schedule – based on a PPC plan for 2021 to 2023 – the power utility’s boss stressed during yesterday’s forum.

As a result, Stassis added, PPC will need to be compensated by the European Commission, through a support mechanism proposed by Greek officials, for needing to maintain loss-incurring units.

IPTO, in its letter, reiterated the findings of recent grid sufficiency study, noting that the two-year period from 2021 to 2022, especially the current year, will be crucial. The grid would be particularly exposed to deficiencies if generating capacity is reduced without replacement, the operator warned.

The Mytilineos group plans to launch a new 826-MW combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant next year. Testing is expected to begin in the fourth quarter this year. Also next year, PPC plans to launch its Ptolemaida V unit, initially as a lignite-fired power station.

Greek market coupling with Bulgaria scheduled for May 11

Greece’s next market-coupling step, a day-ahead market link with Bulgaria, following an equivalent step with Italy in December, is scheduled to take place on May 11 as part of a wider effort by Europe’s Nominated Electricity Market Operators and Transmission System Operators for a single European day-ahead market.

Preceding trial runs, started on March 16 and planned to take place until April 30, must be successfully completed before the Greek-Bulgarian day-ahead market link is given the green light for its launch.

Automatic energy flow from the more expensive to the less expensive electricity market is expected to initially prompt a slight reduction in domestic wholesale electricity prices.

Greater price convergence between the Greek and Bulgarian markets is expected to be achieved with the introduction of a second transmission line running from Nea Santa, northeastern Greece, to Bulgaria’s Maritsa area in the south. This second line promises to greatly boost transmission potential between the two countries.

The additional transmission line was originally slated for launch in 2023, but swift progress from the Bulgarian side has increased the likelihood of an earlier delivery, mid-way through 2022, according to Greek power grid operator IPTO’s ten-year development plan (2022-2031), forwarded for public consultation at the beginning of this year.

Until now, Bulgaria has clearly been the dominant electricity exporter in trading with Greece, but this role is expected to be reversed as of 2023 because Greek electricity prices will be relatively lower, according to ICIS, a specialized news portal covering energy and related domains.

DG Comp motives for restart of older PPC probe unclear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Crete’s small-scale grid link headed for April completion

A second subsea cable needed for the grid interconnection to link Crete and the Peloponnese has been installed, with just a trial run by power grid operator IPTO now required for the completion and launch of the project, to cover approximately 30 percent of the island’s electricity transmission needs.

IPTO is aiming to conduct its trial run by the end of April. The Cretan interconnection project will eventually be complemented by a larger-scale link to Athens.

A trial run of the Crete-Peloponnese project’s first subsea cable has already been completed with success.

Despite various obstacles raised by the pandemic, work on this project has progressed swiftly, promising to soon end Crete’s energy isolation.

A variety of records have been set along the way. The Crete-Peloponnese subsea link, covering a 174km distance, is now the world’s longest subsea AC power connection, as well as the longest underwater high-voltage cable connection. Reaching up to 1,000 meters in depth, this subsea installation is also the world’s deepest high-voltage link.

A transitional hybrid model for Crete’s participation in target model energy markets – covering production and consumption and to be applied until the island’s full-scale grid interconnection to Athens is completed – is expected to be approved by the European Commission’s Directorate for Energy. The hybrid model’s regulatory framework is now ready and will soon be delivered to Brussels by the energy ministry.

RES spatial plan to be delivered within 2021, Action Plan notes

The completion of a RES sector spatial plan within the current year has been included in an energy ministry Action Plan for 2021, just published along with the respective action plans of all other ministries.

The energy ministry’s action plan lists interventions planned for 2021 in nine areas under its authority, including energy-sector privatizations, energy market reforms, support for decarbonization and recycling, adoption of circular economic principles, greenhouse gas emission reduction, the tackling of climate change effects, as well as green energy transition.

RES sector measures this year will help cut down the time needed by new RES projects for licensing procedures to two years, the ministry anticipates in its action plan.

It also expects the installation, by the end of the year, of at least 2,000 recharging units for electric vehicles in public areas, including along highways, and at private properties, including domestic and commercial.

On the privatization front, the energy ministry expects all seven energy privatization plans to have been completed or reached an advanced stage by the end of the year.

On energy market reforms, the adoption of a remuneration mechanism for grid sufficiency, to replace a transitional mechanism remunerating flexibility, is a standout feature.

The energy ministry also intends to adopt, as Greek law, an EU directive promoting energy storage and demand response systems.

The ministry’s action plan also anticipates the signing of agreements this year for distribution network development and RES penetration support. It also expects DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator, to announce a tender for the installation of smart power meters within the current year.

Taking into account plans by DEDDIE/HEDNO and power grid operator IPTO, the ministry expects investments in distribution and transmission networks to reach one billion euros this year.

Investments for gas network upgrades and expansion are expected to reach at least 300 million euros, primarily driven by projects planned by gas distributor DEDA, covering all areas around the country except for the wider Athens, Thessaloniki and Thessaly areas.

On international projects, the action plan notes that a Greek-Bulgarian gas pipeline project, the IGB, promising to significantly diversify Greece’s gas sources, will be completed by the end of 2021.

A latest edition of the Saving at Home program subsidizing energy efficiency upgrades of properties, budgeted at one billion euros, will stimulate work on 80,000 buildings in 2021, according the energy ministry’s action plan.

This activity will contribute to a National Energy and Climate Plan objective for an improvement, by 2030, of energy efficiency at buildings by 38 percent, reducing energy consumption to levels below those registered in 2007, the action plan notes.

 

IPTO study backing PPC lignite compensation bid soon to EC

The energy ministry is preparing to forward to the European Commission a power grid operator IPTO study that underlines the ongoing necessity of the country’s lignite-fired power stations for grid sufficiency.

The IPTO study was requested by energy minister Kostas Skrekas to bolster a compensation request submitted to Brussels by state-controlled power utility PPC as a result of the grid’s ongoing need for lignite units, nowadays loss-incurring facilities due to elevated CO2 emission right costs.

PPC, Greece’s sole operator of lignite units, plans to phase out its lignite units over the next three years as part of the country’s decarbonization strategy.

The energy ministry expects to forward the IPTO study to the European Commission within the next fortnight. Greece is seeking compensation for PPC through a support mechanism for as long as these lignite units remain in use.

Last week, the European Commission began examining whether a similar German compensation request complies with EU rules and should be approved.

European Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager suggested that the German plan theoretically complies with Europe’s green energy agreement and its goals.

“Within this context, our role is to safeguard competition by ensuring that compensation for premature withdrawal [of lignite units] is kept to a minimum,” Vestager commented. “The information available at this point is not sufficient to judge.”

EU hesitation to the German plan concerns a number of aspects, including the duration of the compensation period.

Foreign firms seeking local demand response service roles

Major European companies with considerable interests in energy exchanges abroad are now seeking to represent local industrial producers for demand response services in Greece’s balancing market.

Two major international players, currently assembling new related divisions in Greece, have already approached Greek producers to take on their representation.

Demand response system entry into Greece’s new balancing market is expected to begin within 2021, barring unexpected developments.

Once launched, foreign representatives will be able to assume demand-response, green-aggregator roles in Greece, offering balancing services to the system.

Power grid operator IPTO, in its effort to ensure grid stability, will be able to utilize the flexibility major-scale electricity consumers are capable of offering.

PPC seeks IPTO support for EC lignite compensation request

Power utility PPC wants power grid operator IPTO to provide a statement declaring whether the power utility’s lignite-fired power stations, nowadays loss-incurring units as a result of elevated carbon emission right costs, are still necessary for the achievement of grid sufficiency, the utility’s objective being to gain support for a lignite compensation request submitted to the European Commission, not to immediately shut down its lignite units, sources have informed.

Brussels has been examining the PPC compensation request for months, initially as part of a package incorporating the European Commission’s lignite antitrust case against Greece, and more recently, following settlement of the latter, as a separate issue that has dragged on.

Throughout the entire period, officials in Greece have needed to respond to extensive Brussels questioning over PPC’s compensation request. Most recently, the European Commission is reported to have informed PPC, by email, that it would deliver a decision as soon as possible, once all information has been processed.

PPC, in its letter to IPTO, informs that it would be prepared to shut down the lignite units now if the operator considers them unnecessary for grid sufficiency as they are the cause of losses on a daily basis.

The power utility has planned a phaseout of its lignite facilities over the next three years, as part of the country’s decarbonization effort.

IPTO, in a grid-sufficiency study covering 2020 to 2030, conducted within the framework of the National Energy and Climate Plan, has stressed the period between 2021 and 2024 will be crucial as a result of PPC’s planned phaseout of lignite-fired power stations.

Subsequently, the grid’s sufficiency will depend on how soon three new gas-fueled power stations with a capacity totaling 2,150 MW – PPC’s Ptolemaida V, and units being developed by Mytilineos and TERNA – will be ready for launch, IPTO’s NECP-linked study noted.

Electricity demand falls 9.5% in January amid stricter lockdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Balancing market cost falls to €10.99/MWh a week into measures

Balancing market measures recently introduced by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, have produced tangible results for market participants, judging by clearance price figures between February 15 to 21, the first full week since the measures were imposed.

However, market players were quick to point out that last week’s market conditions were shaped by unusual factors not making possible a safe assessment of the results produced by the measures. They were launched on February 13.

Extreme snowstorms affected electricity supply in many parts of the country and a technical breakdown at the Koumoundourou substation serving the wider Athens area required a full-scale response from the country’s electricity production units.

Between February 15 and 21, the balancing market cost registered 10.99 euros per MWh, down from 12.36 euros per MWh a week earlier, according to data provided by IPTO, the power grid operator.

The regulatory authority needed to intervene following a sharp rise in balancing market costs since November’s launch of the target model’s new markets.

IPTO, Sunlight to sign MoU for energy storage unit in Thiva

Greek firm Sunlight, a member of the Olympia Group and one of the world’s leaders in the development and production of batteries for various commercial energy-storage applications, will partner with power grid operator IPTO for the installation of a pilot energy storage unit at a substation in Thiva, northwest of Athens.

The two sides are expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for the installation within the next few days. The energy storage facility is planned to have total power of 20 MW and a capacity of 20 MWh.

This project has been included in IPTO’s latest ten-year plan for the electricity transmission system’s development, covering 2022 to 2031.

IPTO has underlined the importance of exploring the prospects of central storage systems in order to manage localized congestion and offer support to the grid in view of the RES sector’s further penetration of the energy mix.

The operator’s chief executive Manos Manousakis had recently informed the operator would soon be signing an MoU with a major company active in energy storage.

Sunlight has distinguished itself for innovative, eco-friendly energy storage solutions, which it has marketed in more than 100 countries around the world over the past 30 years or so.

 

Offshore wind farm framework within first half, auction in ‘22

A legal framework for offshore wind farms will be ready within the next few months, no later than the end of the year’s first half, enabling investments in this sector to begin in Greece, the energy ministry has assured.

The energy ministry’s leadership is expected to reiterate this stance, without offering further scheduling details, at an event to be staged today by ELETAEN, the Greek Wind Energy Association. Energy minister Kostas Skrekas and the ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou will be participating.

Norway, a country with extensive offshore wind farm knowhow, will be strongly represented at the ELETAEN event. The Norwegian Ambassador to Greece, Frode Overland Andersen, and Daniel Willoch, a representative of NORWEA, the Norwegian Wind Energy Association, will take part.

So, too, will Giles Dickson, CEO at Brussels-based WindEurope, promoting the use of wind power in Europe.

If all goes as planned with efforts being made by the energy ministry, as well as ELETAEN, a first auction for offshore wind farms in Greece could be staged within the first half of 2022.

Considerable progress has been made in recent months, but pending issues on important details concerning spatial and licensing matters, connectivity with power grid operator IPTO’s network, as well as a remuneration formula for investors, all still need to be settled. The overall effort is complex and involves a number of ministries.

Investor interest in offshore wind farms is high as studies project electricity costs concerning floating units in Greece will experience a 40 percent decline by 2050. This cost, according to an older European Commission study, was estimated to drop from 76 euros per MWh in 2030 to 46 euros per MWh in 2050.

The same study estimated Greece’s offshore wind farm capacity would reach 263 GW, a prospect promising investors sustainability for the development of such projects.

Norway’s Equinor has already expressed the strongest interest for offshore wind energy development in Greece. Denmark’s Copenhagen Offshore Partners, also a major global player, has also shown some signs of interest.

As for Greek companies, TERNA Energy, the Copelouzos Group, and RF Energy have, in the past, submitted applications for offshore wind energy parks to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

 

Weather effects lend credibility to PPC lignite compensation bid

The impact of last week’s heavy snowfall around Greece, prompting power outages in various areas, northern parts of Athens being hardest hit, has added credibility to state-controlled power utility PPC’s compensation bid to the European Commission for its need to keep using lignite-fired power stations.

Had IPTO, the power grid operator, not ordered the grid entry of PPC’s lignite-fired power stations, nowadays a high-cost option, widespread blackouts amid the adverse weather conditions would have been inevitable, making matters far worse, including at economic and political levels.

IPTO officials have stressed the country continues to need PPC’s lignite-fired power stations until their production capacity is gradually replaced by cleaner gas-fueled power stations. These are: PPC’s Ptolemaida V; a unit being developed by the Mytilineos Group in Viotia, northwest of Athens; and Terna’s prospective unit in Komotini, northeastern Greece, still at the planning stage.

The period between 2021 and 2024 will be crucial for the country’s power generating sufficiency as a result of the planned withdrawal of existing lignite-fired power stations, a related IPTO study has shown. The system’s sufficiency will depend on how swiftly the aforementioned gas-fueled power stations, totaling 2,150 MW, can be up and running.

If the planned completion dates for these three projects are maintained then there will be no reason to delay the withdrawal schedule of lignite-fired power stations, sources pointed out. The grid entry of PPC’s Ptolemaida V and Mytilineos’ Viotia unit, without the Terna unit, would suffice to cover the capacity gap to be left by the withdrawn lignite units, these sources added.

However, any delays in the completion of the new power stations could prompt Greek officials to request more time from the European Commission for the withdrawal of lignite-fired units, the sources said.

Redispatching formula RAE’s next balancing market step

After imposing balancing-market restrictions for producer offers, as of February 13, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is now planning further measures needed to fully rectify this market’s irregularities, including, most imminently, a formula to remunerate units for redispatching activities.

Redispatching, or unit loading changes made for security or grid sufficiency reasons during the Integrated Scheduling Process (ISP) stage, has often been implemented by power grid operator IPTO at units belonging to the Peloponnese system, as energy restrictions exist concerning the maximum amount of energy injections permitted for these units, due to the existing 150-kV system’s transmission capacity limitations, combined with increased penetration of RES units in the area.

However, a formula has yet to be established to distinguish between energy activated for balancing purposes and energy activated for other purposes.

RAE is seeking a complete and permanent formula to deal with issues concerning system restrictions, especially a mechanism under which units participating in dispatching will be remunerated.

As part of the effort, the authority, on the one hand, has asked power grid operator IPTO to propose a formula distinguishing energy activated for balancing purposes and energy activated for other reasons, and, on the other, offer recommendations for effective integration and application of these provisions in the balancing market code.

RAE is aiming to adopt the new measures as soon as possible. For the time being, a measure suspending the ability of players to submit negative-price offers for energy balancing is in place until a 400-kV line linking Megalopoli, Peloponnese with the main grid is launched.

Balancing market costs remained slightly elevated for a four successive week, IPTO data showed.

Lignite-unit grid input rises, re-electrification a challenge

Virtually all of the country’s power generating facilities will be called into action today, even if below full capacity, to help meet grid needs and cover greater demand anticipated as areas disconnected during heavy snowfall over the past couple of days are gradually re-electrified, putting the system to the test.

Officials are confident the country’s power generating facilities will not have problems covering the day’s electricity demand.

According to power grid operator IPTO’s grid schedule, a significant number of lignite-fired power stations – Agios Dimitrios III and IV, Kardia III and IV, and Meliti – will operate today.

Also, given heightened electricity demand levels, expected to reach 8,190 MW, natural gas-fired power stations will be on stand-by for grid entry.

Power utility PPC’s Aliveri V, Lavrio IV and V, Komotini and Megalopoli V, plus a number of independent gas-fuelled units, Heron III, Elpedison’s units in Thessaloniki and Thisvi, and Protergia and Korinthos Power units, will be ready to contribute if needed.

RES output is expected to reach 27.185 GWh, while hydropower output is planned to total 36.132 GWh.

Overall production for the day is expected to reach 166.685 GWh, a lower level compared to yesterday.

Network distribution operator DEDDIE/HEDNO crews are working overtime to repair transmission lines that were damaged by hundreds of collapsing trees during heavy snowfall around the country over the past couple of days. This repair effort could require days to complete.

Some 400 DEDDIE/HEDNO technicians in Athens, bolstered by colleagues brought in from other parts of Greece, are currently working to re-electrify affected areas in the capital.

Blackout threat remains, operator staff shortage exposed

The country’s power transmission and generation systems have met heightened electricity demand prompted by extreme weather conditions, including heavy snowfall around the country over the past couple of days, but the threat of power outages still remains.

The weather system, bringing some of the heaviest snow seen in Greece in years, exposed a personnel shortage at distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, whose medium and low-voltage networks suffered extensive damages caused by collapsing trees.

The operator’s personnel have struggled to cope with the challenge of repairing numerous damaged transmission lines. Approximately 1,000 trees reportedly collapsed onto power lines in Athens, causing power cuts at thousands of homes in the city’s north and east.

Between 500 and 600 experienced technical staff members have left IPTO over the past three years without being replaced, which has left the operator vulnerable to extreme conditions, union members have pointed out.

IPTO crews are currently working around the clock to meet repair demands, while 60 of the company’s technicians stationed in other parts of Greece have been brought into Athens to reinforce crews covering the capital.

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas yesterday visited power grid operator IPTO’s national control center where he was updated on the transmission system’s current situation, electricity generation levels, as well as the operator’s projections for the next few days.

“So far, the transmission system has responded well to the challenges of the Medea storm front,” IPTO’s chief executive Manos Manousakis informed the minister. “But the duration of the extreme weather conditions carries dangers,” he added.

Grid sufficiency ensured despite today’s heightened demand

Virtually all of the country’s power generating facilities, including RES units, have been called into action today by power grid operator IPTO to cover heightened demand, expected to peak at 8,978 MW at 6.30pm, as a result of the sharp temperature drop around the country.

Power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations Agios Dimitrios III and IV, Kardia III and IV, and Meliti, will operate as the fundamental generation facilities.

Natural gas-fired power stations – PPC’s Aliveri V and Megalopoli V; Elpedison’s units in Thessaloniki and Thisvi; as well as Protergia and Korinthos Power units – will be on stand-by to contribute if demand fluctuations require their grid input.

RES output, expected to reach 58.135 GWh, will cover approximately 34 percent of the day’s overall demand.

As for prices, the grid entry of many lignite-fired power stations has pushed up clearing prices at the energy exchange, anticipated to reach €62.24/MWh today from €53.58/MWh yesterday and €41.70/MWh two days ago.

IPTO has asked energy-intensive producers to limit their energy consumption until the extreme weather conditions have elapsed, unofficially bringing into play the demand response mechanism. Cement and steel producers are among the energy-intensive producers voluntarily cutting back on energy consumption to help prevent any grid insufficiencies.

Transitional hybrid plan for Cretan participation in markets

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has decided on a transitional hybrid model for Crete’s participation in target model energy markets, covering production and consumption, once the island’s small-scale grid interconnection to the Peloponnese is soon launched.

The fundamentals of the transitional model – to be applied until Crete’s full-scale grid interconnection, all the way to Athens, is completed – have been agreed on by the participating market operators. But details still need to be worked out.

Power grid operator IPTO, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and the energy exchange are currently shaping the finer details of the transitional plan, expected to be finalized over the next few days.

Under the transitional hybrid solution, Crete – whose grid will continue being managed by DEDDIE/HEDNO until IPTO takes on the responsibility when power utility PPC, DEDDIE/HEDNO’s parent company, has transferred its network ownership on the island to IPTO – will purchase electricity transmitted through the small-scale grid link at target model energy markets.

As for electricity flowing in the opposite direction, production of Cretan units will be represented by IPTO.

The transitional model, when ready, will be forwarded for public consultation. European Commission approval will be needed for the finalized plan. RAE has already briefed Brussels officials on its proposed transitional model.

Finding a solution for Crete has proven to be a challenge as the small-scale grid link to the Peloponnese will not fully cover the island’s energy needs, meaning it will not automatically cease to be a non-interconnected island once the small-scale grid link begins operating. However, a considerable part of Crete’s energy needs, approximately 30 percent, will be served by the small-scale interconnection.

Normally, when grid links for non-interconnected islands are completed, IPTO assumes responsibility of their electricity networks. However, Crete, Greece’s biggest and most populous island, represents a much bigger interconnection project that is being developed over two stages. The project’s second stage, to reach Athens, is anticipated in 2023.

Failure to find a transitional solution would threaten to leave the small-scale link unutilized.

Four teams, backed by funds, display strong DEDDIE interest

Prospective bidders considering power utility PPC’s sale of a 49 percent stake in subsidiary firm DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator, have flooded the seller with a stream of enquiries ahead of a February 19 deadline for non-binding expressions of interest.

Interested parties had until February 5 to make enquiries before they can officially express interest in the sale later this month.

Interest in the distribution network operator is definitely strong. Questions received at PPC indicate that four investment teams, with the involvement of major funds, are maintaining the strongest interest in the DEDDIE/HEDNO sale.

Prospective buyers lodged enquiries on a range of issues, including the sale’s rules for funds, whether participating funds will need to submit their equity line-ups in full detail, and if supporting documents can be submitted in languages other than English.

A market test for the upcoming partial privatization staged by Goldman Sachs in December disclosed that interested parties include New York-based Blackrock, the world’s biggest investment fund managing capital worth 7.8 trillion dollars, US giant KKR, backed by capital worth 220 billion euros, as well as French fund Ardian, one of Europe’s strongest, linked with over 150 enterprises and capital management worth more than 100 billion dollars.

In an attempt to strengthen the sale’s appeal, PPC will guarantee the strategic investor holding a 49 percent stake in DEDDIE/HEDNO no obstacles in decisions concerning crucial matters.

However, the minority rights for DEDDIE/HEDNO’s prospective 49 percent stakeholder will not be as strong as they are for power grid operator IPTO’s Chinese strategic partner SGCC. DEDDIE/HEDNO will retain the operator’s managerial control.

Authorities had considered a two-stage sale of DEDDIE/HEDNO’s 49 percent, beginning with a stake of about 30 percent and a further 19 percent at a latter date, when market conditions may have improved, before opting for a one-off procedure.

RAE wants measure of balancing market distortion cost

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has requested power grid operator IPTO to calculate the financial impact of balancing market distortion costs since November’s launch of new target model markets.

RAE has since decided to impose restrictions on balancing market offers. These are expected to be published in the government gazette today or tomorrow, enabling their implementation three days after the date of publication.

RAE estimates it will have implemented the balancing market restrictions by the end of this week.

It remains to be seen if RAE’s request towards IPTO for a measure of the higher balancing market costs incurred by suppliers will result in retroactive returns for affected parties dating back to the early-November launch of the target model.

Non-vertically integrated electricity suppliers, severely impacted by the increased balancing market costs that resulted in higher wholesale market prices, are demanding retroactive rebates.

Athens, Peloponnese power supply reinstated after fire damage

Power supply to Athens and Peloponnese areas affected late last night by a fire that broke out at a key grid facility west of Athens, in the Aspropyrgos area, was swiftly reinstated after power grid operator IPTO technicians along with distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO crews took action to repair damages at the grid facility.

Earlier today, the ministry assured that the environment had not been impacted after a team of environmental authorities visited the fire-damaged facility in Aspropyrgos to measure the amount of pollution in the air.

Electricity supply to Athens areas was mostly reinstated within 40 minutes while power transmission to the Peloponnese was back within 55 minutes.

The cause of the fire at the Aspropyrgos power facility is still being investigated.

Central Athens, suburbs in the west and south, as well as areas on the capital’s western outskirts, all experienced blackouts late Sunday night. In the Peloponnese, Corinth, Nafplio, Tripoli, Sparta and Kalamata were all affected. Three islands close to Athens, Aegina, Poros and Agistri, also had their electricity supply cut.

DEDDIE/HEDNO crews are still working intensively to reinstate medium-voltage supply at isolated locations in the areas that were affected.

 

 

Balancing costs still elevated, suppliers insist on full returns

Balancing market costs remained elevated last week despite the introduction of a first round of balancing market restrictions decided on by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The total balancing cost was 9.82 euros per MWh between January 25 and 31, slightly lower than the level of 10.82 euros per MWh registered between January 18 and 24, according to data provided by IPTO, the power grid operator.

Non-vertically integrated electricity suppliers, impacted by wholesale electricity price increases resulting from higher balancing costs since November’s launch of new target model markets, insist that decisions eventual taken by RAE for returns to suppliers of excessive balancing costs need to be retroactively enforced.

RAE has promised to examine this demand but the decision it could take remains unclear.

It should be pointed out that the recently appointed energy minister Kostas Skrekas generally does not favor retroactive enforcement of energy-sector decisions.

At least one non-vertically integrated supplier appears to have taken extrajudicial action against IPTO, overseeing the balancing market, making note of this market’s distortions and the operator’s responsibility.

 

Suppliers summoned to explain overdue surcharge transfers

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has summoned power utility PPC and six independent electricity suppliers to hearings for explanations on overdue surcharge amounts they have yet to transfer to three market operators.

The authority had initially requested related data and explanations from suppliers and has now taken a further step by deciding to stage hearings for PPC and two other suppliers, followed by supplementary hearings involving a further four suppliers.

The three market operators, power grid operator IPTO, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and RES market operator DAPEEP, will also be called upon by the authority to offer data on the overdue surcharge transfers by suppliers.

According to sources, RAE authorities are examining a variety of surcharges, including network transmission, distribution network and RES-supporting ETMEAR surcharges, up until October, 2020.

These surcharges, included in electricity bills and paid by consumers as part of their electricity bills, must then be handed over by suppliers to respective operators within a specific time period.

Conditions have recently deteriorated for electricity suppliers, primarily as a result of considerably higher wholesale costs since November’s launch of the target model’s new markets.

Electricity suppliers contend that amounts owed to them by the operators outweigh their unpaid surcharges and, as a result, want accounts offset. RAE has rejected this request.

IPTO shifts tender deadlines for Santorini grid projects

Power grid operator IPTO has shifted to latter dates the bidding deadlines of tenders for two contracts concerning the development of Santorini’s grid interconnection, kicking off work for the Cyclades interconnection’s fourth stage.

The deadline of a tender offering bidders an EPC contract for 150-kV AC cables, has been reset for February 19, while the new date for a tender covering the installation of a substation has been delayed until March 19.

The operator has also altered the competition procedure for the cables project, opting for a single-offer online competition instead of an online auction.

All work under the cables’ EPC contract, estimated at 100 million euros, not including VAT, will need to be completed within a 16-month period from the date a contract is signed.

The project’s substation installation of a GIS 150-kV/MT system budgeted at 26.2 million euros, not including VAT, will need to be delivered within 20 months.

Financial support is being sought for both projects through the Recovery and Resilience Facility mechanism.

IPTO expects a smaller turnout than initially anticipated for the project’s cables, according to sources. Two bidders are now seen lodging bids for this EPC contract.

The fourth phase of the Cyclades grid interconnection also includes the islands Folegandros, Milos and Serifos.

This project’s Naxos-Santorini segment is expected to be completed by 2023, while the interconnections for the three aforementioned islands are expected to be delivered in 2024.