RAE proceeding with legislative steps for energy storage

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is examining a further step in legislative preparations for energy storage’s induction into the country’s grid, the authority’s president Athanasios Dagoumas has told an IENE (Institute of Energy for Southeast Europe) conference on “Electricity storage and grid management for maximum RES penetration”.

The authority is looking to proceed with an energy storage formula for distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and power grid operator IPTO, concerning energy storage services such as ancillary services and congestion management.

Up until July this year, RAE had issued a total of 337 licenses representing a capacity of 23.5 GW, concerning storage projects, purely, as well as hybrid projects – combining storage with RES – and pumped storage units.

The vast majority of these RAE licenses concern pure storage units and were issued between January, 2021 and July, 2022.

Investors behind the projects have, as a result of newer legislation, been requested to resubmit supporting documents for older licenses in order to have them renewed.

Many of these investors have already provided the necessary documents and are awaiting license renewals, while RAE is believed to be preparing a great percentage of these, sources informed.

Monthly auctions for industrial energy-saving compensation

Industrial consumers – high and medium-voltage – will be offered energy-saving incentives through monthly auctions offering compensation for bids with the lowest compensation levels, it has been decided at an extraordinary meeting yesterday involving the energy ministry, RAE (Regulatory Authority for Energy), distribution network operator HEDNO/DEDDIE and power grid operator IPTO.

The session was staged ahead of tomorrow’s meeting of EU energy ministers, whose agenda will include talks for the establishment of a formula reducing electricity usage.

The European Commission has prepared a plan for 5 percent reduction of electricity consumption during peak hours, but, following negotiations over the past few days, this reduction rate could be cut to 3 percent. Member states are expected to seek flexible terms.

Electricity consumption restrictions, in Greece, between 6pm and 9pm are seen as a certainty following yesterday’s meeting of Greek officials. Also, an additional hour during non-peak hours will most likely be introduced, but it remains unclear whether this hour will be set in the morning, from 9am to 10am, or in the evening, from 9pm to 10pm.

Electricity demand down 13% in August, third month in a row

Electricity demand dropped for a third successive month in August, falling by 13.1 percent, overall, compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, power grid operator IPTO’s monthly report has shown.

Households and businesses were the biggest contributors to this reduction, cutting their usage by 13.94 percent, according to the operator’s report.

High-voltage consumers reduced their electricity consumption by 3.24 percent in August, compared to the same month in 2021, the IPTO data showed.

Electricity demand fell 11.24 percent in July, year-on-year. Electricity demand actually rose in June, but only marginally, 1.28 percent, a slowdown compared to May’s increase of 3.37 percent.

 

IPTO set to join EuroAsia Interconnector by year’s end

Power grid operator IPTO is expected to join EuroAsia Interconnector, a Cypriot company established to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids, by the end of the year.

IPTO’s anticipated board approval of the company’s agreement with EuroAsia Interconnector is the next step in IPTO’s process of acquiring a stake in the company, expected to be at least 25 percent.

EuroAsia Interconnector accepted an official proposal submitted by IPTO in late July. Speaking at the recent Thessaloniki International Fair, IPTO president Manos Manousakis noted EuroAsia Interconnector’s acceptance of the Greek power grid operator’s terms ensures IPTO’s participation in the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grid interconnection, a project of strategic importance.

Once the IPTO board approves the agreement, the operator will need to conduct due diligence, expected to take place within the next month or two.

The deal for IPTO’s acquisition of a stake in EuroAsia Interconnector is expected to include terms for a further stake increase in the Cypriot company.

The agreement’s technical and financial details promise to propel the development of the Crete-Cyprus segment of the overall project, the most mature of all segments.

The Crete-Cyprus segment will end the electricity isolation of Cyprus, the EU’s only remaining member state still disconnected from fellow member states, and also boost Greece’s role as an electricity transmission hub in southeast Europe.

A total of 898 kilometers of subsea cables are planned to be installed at a depth of up to 3,000 meters for the Crete-Cyprus grid link.

 

Static RES projects occupying grid capacity to be cancelled

The energy ministry plans to stop granting free-handed connection term extensions to RES projects that have not made licensing progress over considerable periods, the objective being to reserve as much grid capacity as possible for renewable energy investors determined to push ahead with their project plans.

Ministry action is expected to lead to the termination of RES project plans that have secured connection terms but remained stagnant for no apparent reason. The resulting free space will be made available to investors keen to push ahead with green energy projects.

However, in taking action to make rules stricter for RES investors, the energy ministry will tread carefully to establish a formula that will avoid cancelling out projects that have been delayed for reasons beyond the control of their investors.

For example, development of some RES projects has been held back by legal wrangles. The ministry does not intend to cancel such projects.

However, the energy ministry believes a considerable number of RES projects have no reason to be stagnant. The focus will be on such cases.

Power grid operator IPTO has granted RES connection terms totaling approximately 11 GW, of which 3 GW, sources informed, concern projects not making any progress.

 

IPTO proceeds with priority list for pending RES applications

Power grid operator IPTO is proceeding with a grading system for pending grid space applications submitted by investors behind renewable energy and combined cooling, heat and power (CCHP) projects, which will result in a prioritization list for these applications.

The procedure, resulting from a recent ministerial decision concerning pending applications, will include all applications submitted from the start of 2021 to August 10. An initial round is expected to be completed imminently.

Investors of projects making the upper section of this list will receive letters from IPTO notifying them of finalized connection terms offers.

The investors will be requested, by the operator, to inform if they accept these terms, while the overwhelming majority will also be asked to give their consent to a 20 percent project capacity cut, based on details included in the ministerial decision.

Agreeing to 20 percent project capacity cuts is not compulsory for investors. However, if they do not accept the finalized connection terms offered by IPTO, their applications will be automatically cancelled.

 

 

 

 

Greek-Italian grid link repair work subduing power prices

The Greek-Italian grid interconnection’s temporary disruption for repair work is offering partial protection against wholesale electricity price increases in Greece.

The temporary-closure period for the grid interconnection, which has been sidelined towards both directions since August 19, has just been extended until September 3 following a request made by Italy’s power grid operator Terna, according to an announcement made by IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator.

Last Friday and Saturday, the wholesale electricity price was 300 euros per MWh higher in Italy compared to Greece.

Under normal conditions, price differences between neighboring markets prompts electricity export activity towards the lower-priced country.

Greek electricity exports were considerable in July, reaching 500 GWh, data provided by IPTO showed. Of this total, 351 GWh was exported to Italy, 253 GWh to Albania, 184 GWh to North Macedonia and 90 GWh to Bulgaria.

Electricity export figures will be subdued in August as a result of the disruption of the Greek-Italian grid interconnection. The link has been closed down for repairs on numerous occasions in recent years.

 

 

Western corridor grid project’s final expropriations announced

Power grid operator IPTO’s “western corridor” grid project, to link the Peloponnese with the ultra high voltage network, has reached its final stretch following the energy ministry’s announcement of an additional expropriation procedure concerning private land needed for the development of the network from Patras to Megaloupoli.

The expropriations will enable the completion of an alternative route for an overhead transmission line that detours Agioi Theodoroi, a monastery in the Kalavrtyta area, northern Peloponnese, following its objections, three years ago, to the project running by the monastery.

The project’s completion will enable power utility PPC’s Megalopoli V power station, a 400-kV capacity unit, to help cover the country’s electricity demand.

The additional expropriation plan concerns two expanses, one measuring a total of 5,577 square meters, the other 915 square meters.

The first expanse, comprising a total of 30 plots in a wider area of Patras, northwestern Peloponnese, is planned to host a transmission line running a total length of 6.77 km.

The second expanse, made up of eight plots in the Kalavryta area is planned to host a transmission line running a length of 1.98 km.

The energy ministry decision also paves the way for the development of a transmission line from Patras to Megalopoli, in central Peloponnese, on land covering 13,077.37 square metres in the wider Kalavryta area.

 

Ariadne Interconnection 20% tender a draw for funds, SGCC

A tender just launched by power grid operator IPTO to offer a 20 percent stake in subsidiary firm Ariadne Interconnection, established specifically for the development of the Crete-Athens grid interconnection, anticipates investment interest from funds, which would contribute to the infrastructure project’s financing and benefit from subsequent earnings.

Besides funds, which typically invest in infrastructure projects, State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), IPTO’s strategic partner with a 24 percent stake, is also expected to express interest in the tender offering a 20 percent stake of Ariadne Interconnection.

A September 28 deadline has been set for non-bindings bids, it was announced yesterday. Participation by Greek energy companies is also likely, sources informed.

Participants are entitled to take part either alone or collectively as consortium members, the tender’s terms have specified. Also, bidders must meet own capital criteria of at least 750 million euros, annually, to be eligible for entry.

Ariadne Interconnection has already ensured one billion euros worth of capital for the project, it noted in the tender’s announcement, the sources being: 200 million euros of company capital; 400 million euros from the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF); a 200 million-euro Eurobank bond loan; and 200 million euros from the European Investment Bank.

 

Power exports up over 800% in June, domestic demand lower

Greece’s electricity exports increased by over 800 percent in June, year-to-year, a development that has been attributed to delayed pricing in the country, which follows the course of the TTF index with a one-month delay, a latest monthly report released by power grid operator IPTO has shown.

The country’s electricity exports to Balkan markets through grid interconnections grew by 805.86 percent in June, reaching 351 GWh from just 39 GWh in the equivalent month a year earlier.

Trading companies took full advantage of the country’s pricing latency to offer highly competitive electricity prices in neighboring markets.

Despite the sharp increase in electricity exports, Greece remains a bigger importer. The country’s electricity imports in June totaled 509 GWh, roughly 25 percent lower than the amount recorded in the previous month.

Greece’s electricity imports exceeded exports by 158 GWh in June, well below the 490 GWh figure recorded in June, 2021.

This trend explains why domestic electricity production rose sharply, to 4,154 GWh, up 15.02 percent compared to a year earlier. This figure is almost at par with total domestic demand, at 4,313 GWh.

Electricity demand in Greece fell for a third month running in June, down 1.22 percent, year-to-year, a development attributed to higher prices.

 

Households cut back on power use, overall demand higher

Electricity demand in the household and business low-voltage category fell for a second consecutive month in May, as consumers seek to limit their energy costs, data in a latest monthly report announced by power grid operator IPTO have shown.

However, overall electricity demand increased by 2.68 percent in May, compared to April, a development attributed to a rebound in consumption in the hospitality and entertainment sectors following the lifting of lockdown restrictions, as well as higher temperatures, the IPTO data showed.

As for retail market shares, power utility PPC remained dominant in May, maintaining a share of approximately 64 percent share, held since the beginning of the year, according to the IPTO figures.

Mytilineos registered a 7.19 percent share in May, Heron’s share was 6.57 percent and Elpedison’s captured a 6.26 percent share. They were followed by NRG (4.23%), Volterra (2.08%), Fysiko Aerio (2.05%), Watt & Volt (2.01%), Zenith (1.73%) and Volton (1.35%).

New prioritization formula for RES projects in the making

The energy ministry is examining and preparing the details of a new formula to prioritize RES investor applications for power grid operator IPTO’s binding connection terms concerning new projects and, by extension, grid capacity reservations.

RES project prioritization is expected to be determined by the appraisal of various factors, including financial credibility and technical competence of investors, as well as their commercial operation plans for RES units.

The ministry intends to deliver a related ministerial decision as soon as a draft bill for a second round of RES licensing simplification measures and an energy-storage framework has been ratified in parliament. This draft bill has already been submitted to parliament.

A ministerial decision on the RES project prioritization formula is expected in the first week of July.

The RES project prioritization list to result from the application of the new formula will concern applications submitted from the beginning of 2021 until now.

RAE delivers grid emergency action plan, listing 16 dangers

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has forwarded, for consultation, an emergency action plan for Greece’s electricity sector, listing a total of 16 possible danger scenarios, two of which, a disruption of Russian natural gas supply and cyberattacks at crucial energy infrastructure, are regarded as highly probable and intolerable.

The aforementioned dangers, along with natural disasters, such as extreme weather conditions, would prompt extended outages, putting lives at risk and resulting in a leakage of information crucial for national security, according to the action plan, which RAE prepared with support from power grid operator IPTO.

Other dangers included in this list include equipment failure, floods, heat waves, snow storms, forest fires and human error.

The action plan’s proposed responses, to avoid grid collapse or even destruction, include load reductions, pumped storage station and electricity export disruptions, activation of reserve solutions and consumption-reduction mechanisms, and, as a last resort, electricity supply disruptions for businesses and households.

Israeli power grid operator officials in Athens for grid link

The energy ministry and power grid operator IPTO seem determined to press ahead with two major grid interconnection projects, one to link Greece with Cyprus and Israel, the other Greece and Egypt, REPowerEU, Europe’s strategic plan aiming to end the continent’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels through energy-source diversification, being the driving force behind this action.

IPTO, according to sources, is just about ready to forward a proposal for participation in EuroAsia Interconnector, a consortium established for the development of the Israel-Cyprus-Greece grid interconnection.

Highlighting the activity concerning the project, officials of Israel’s power grid operator are in Athens for talks today with IPTO’s chief executive Manos Manousakis and other company officials.

The Israeli officials will also take part in an ensuing meeting with Greek energy minister Kostas Skrekas.

Israeli interest in the grid interconnection has grown following the European Commission’s decision to make available 657 million euros for the project’s Cyprus-Greece section.

The Israel-Cyprus-Greece grid interconnection will facilitate RES development in Israel, promising to contribute to the EU-27 aim for an end of Europe’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels.

The grid link, to measure 1,208 kilometers and offer a 1-GW capacity, will also end Cyprus’ energy isolation and offer energy security to Israel.

It is budgeted at 2.5 billion euros with completion slated for the end of 2025, if procedures go according to plan.

Manousakis, the IPTO chief executive, plans to visit Cairo during June for talks with officials at Egypt’s power grid operator, EETC. Progress on the prospective Greek-Egyptian grid link has been smooth. The two sides are now preparing for a feasibility study.

Skrekas, the energy minister, is expected to be in Egypt sooner, to take part in the East Med Gas Forum, scheduled for June 14 and 15. He is expected to meet with Egyptian energy ministry officials on the sidelines of this event, for talks on the Greek-Egyptian grid link.

This project, based on a proposal from the Copelouzos group, entails a subsea cable from Egypt to the Greek capital.

It is budgeted at 3.5 billion euros and will offer a 3-GW capacity for renewable energy, which will also be exported to other EU member states through grid interconnections linking Greece with neighboring countries.

Tender for 20% stake in IPTO subsidiary Ariadne imminent

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has approved the terms of a tender to offer a 20 percent stake in power grid operator IPTO’s subsidiary firm Ariadne Interconnection, established specifically for the development of the Crete-Athens interconnection.

The authority’s approval, offered after IPTO met observations made by RAE, paves the way for the tender’s announcement, expected imminently. Roadshows pitching the tender and also gauging the level of interest of prospective buyers will precede the sale procedure’s announcement.

IPTO had originally planned to offer a 40 percent stake in Ariadne Interconnection before halving this offering.

State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), IPTO’s strategic partner with a 24 percent stake, which had expressed early interest in the upcoming Ariadne Interconnection tender, is believed to remain very keen.

SGCC’s existing involvement in IPTO prompted a series of obstacles that required RAE to turn to the European Commission for its approval before giving the green light for the tender.

The Crete-Athens interconnection, budgeted at one billion euros, is planned to be launched in 2024.

 

 

Household, business electricity demand down 6.7% in April

Higher energy prices prompted a 6.7 percent decrease in electricity demand among households and enterprises in April, compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, according to a monthly report released by power grid operator IPTO.

Overall electricity demand fell at a smaller rate of 3.79 percent as demand for high-voltage electricity supplied to the industrial sector rose by 3.3 percent, the IPTO data showed.

Higher electricity demand in the industrial sector has been linked to export activity as well as pre-determined electricity tariff agreements, protecting producers from the steep energy price rises of late.

High-priced electricity and, by extension, more expensive products, has impacted the purchasing power of consumers, forcing many shops to restrict their business hours.

Output at natural gas-fueled power stations fell 48.8 percent in April, compared to the same month a year earlier, while lignite-fired power stations increased their production by 57.2 percent, the IPTO report showed. Overall, electricity production fell 19.9 percent in April compared to a year earlier, the data showed.

RES production rose, favorable weather conditions being a key factor, to take green energy’s share of the country’s energy mix to 57.34 percent, the IPTO figures showed.

IPTO given permission to revise Cyclades grid link budget

Power grid operator IPTO has received permission to revise its budget concerning the fourth phase of the Cyclades islands grid interconnection following approval of a request submitted to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

IPTO needs to revise the project’s budget as a result of sharp construction-cost increases brought about by higher prices of materials, equipment and energy.

According to Manos Manousakis, IPTO’s chief executive, the infrastructure cost for three remaining island grid interconnections has now reached 399 million euros (345 million euros for the project’s subsea cables and 54 million euros for three substations to be constructed on each of the three islands).

The updated budget’s finalization will enable the completion of the final round of tenders, already announced by IPTO, concerning the fourth phase of the Cyclades islands grid interconnection.

IPTO is expected to inform participants about a new and final deadline extension for binding bids, to be set for June 7, according to sources.

Supreme Court ruling vindicates IPTO in €120m payment dispute

The Supreme Court of Greece has issued a verdict in favor of power grid operator IPTO, sparing the operator of the need to proceed with a delayed payment of a 120 million-euro sum concerning older clearances, made by the operator and sought by independent electricity suppliers, who have not been able to receive this money as power utility PPC, the market’s biggest player and contributor, has yet to deliver its related share to the operator.

IPTO is neither a buyer nor seller of electricity and cannot be embroiled in financial differences involving energy companies, according to the court decision. This legal development promises to trigger new cases pitting energy-company creditors and debtors against each other.

The country’s three independent electricity producers, Elpedison, Mytilineos and Heron, stand to receive the majority of the pending 120 million-euro sum, while smaller non-vertically integrated suppliers are also entitled to smaller shares.

Paradoxically, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has been pressuring electricity suppliers and issuing fines for amounts they owe to the operators, even though IPTO has not been able to deliver the 120 million-euro amount to suppliers as a result of PPC’s failure to contribute its share.

SPEF: PV costs up 30-75%, tariff reduction thoughts must be abandoned

Solar panel prices were up 30 percent for orders placed in March compared to a year earlier, while prices for AC cables, also used for solar panel installations, are as much as 75 percent higher compared to levels in 2019 and 2020, Dr. Stelios Loumakis, president of SPEF, the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Energy Producers, has pointed out.

In response to these higher costs, the SPEF president called on authorities to abandon any thoughts of reduced tariffs for new solar energy projects currently being developed.

Installation costs for XT/MT substations have also risen considerably, up by 20 percent over the past year, according to Dr. Loumakis.

In addition, power grid operator IPTO’s connection term costs have also risen to levels double those of a few years earlier.

These connection term increases are not exclusively linked to higher-priced equipment but also to network upgrades being carried out by IPTO in order to boost capacity, projects whose cost is passed on to investors.

Egyptian grid operator team in Athens for Greek grid link talks

A team of highly ranked officials from the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC), headed by president and CEO Sabah Mashali, is in Athens for two days of talks, beginning today, on the development of the Greek-Egyptian grid interconnection.

The EETC officials are scheduled to meet today with a team of Greek power grid operator IPTO officials, headed by president and CEO Manos Manousakis, for a discussion on technical details concerning the grid interconnection.

Tomorrow, the EETC team is scheduled to meet with Greece’s energy minister Kostas Skrekas as well as development and investment minister Adonis Georgiadis.

A first step for the project was taken last October when the Greek and Egyptian energy ministers signed a related Memorandum of Understanding. As part of the agreement, the power grid operators of both countries have assembled a working group to conduct necessary preliminary work.

The group’s responsibilities, according to the MoU, include technical coordination to ensure the grid interconnection’s compatibility; facilitating the project’s licensing matters; as well as providing support for the project’s classification as an EU Project of Common Interest, which would ensure EU funding support.

The Greek-Egyptian grid interconnection is planned to exclusively transmit green energy from Egypt to Greece as a means of increasing the energy-mix share of renewables in Greece and the wider region and also bolstering energy security in Europe, prioritized following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, during a recent meeting with European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, stressed the importance of the Greek-Egyptian grid link, noting it should receive European backing.

 

Reduced supplier guarantees to operators being examined

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, looking for ways to ease the cashflow pressure felt by electricity suppliers in the energy crisis, is considering to reduce the level of guarantees they need to forward to the country’s operators – power grid operator IPTO, RES market operator DAPEEP, and distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO – by revising a formula that determines these guarantee amounts.

However, certain independent, non-vertically integrated electricity suppliers remain apprehensive, fearing such a move could ultimately further increase the market strength of bigger rivals and push smaller players further aside.

At this stage, RAE is involved in talks with the market operators in an effort to determine if leeway exists for a reduction of the guarantees provided by suppliers.

RAE’s Aggeliki Mourtzikou, Director of the Wholesale Energy Markets Department, told the recent energypress Power and Gas Forum that the authority is moving carefully so that any intervention does not result in the creation of deficit figures whose side effects in the market could outweigh any short-term benefits concerning supplier cashflows.

The number of consumers seeking installment-based payment arrangements for energy bills has risen sharply, severely impacting the cashflow of suppliers.

Greece, Cyprus, Israel look to push ahead with key projects

The prospective East Med gas pipeline and a subsea electricity grid interconnection, projects that would link Israel with Cyprus and Greece and which are being heavily promoted as a result of the EU’s new energy policy, aiming to end the continent’s reliance on Russian gas as soon as possible, are expected to dominate the agenda of today’s trilateral meeting in Jerusalem between the energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

Energy company representatives will, for the first time, also be participating in a trilateral meeting of energy ministers involving the three countries, highlighting the determination of all three countries, and the EU, for swift progress on projects and agreements that would contribute to greater energy diversification for Europe.

Greek energy minister Kostas Skrekas will be accompanied by Kostas Xifaras, chief executive of gas company DEPA Commercial; Mathios Rigas, CEO of upstream company Energean; and Manos Manousakis, CEO of Greek power grid operator IPTO.

Representatives of corresponding Cypriot and Israeli companies will also be taking part in today’s trilateral meeting.

Prospects for the development of the EuroAsia electricity grid link promising to connect the three countries have grown considerably as Israel appears to have swept aside previous reservations. Israel has wanted the completion of the Crete-Cyprus link as a prerequisite ahead of further development.

 

 

Updated NECP raises RES capacity target to 25 GW by 2030

The updated National Energy and Climate Plan is expected to increase the country’s RES installation target for 2030 to 25 GW, up from the existing edition’s 18.9 GW.

The NECP’s greater ambition for increased RES installations and a bigger green-energy share of the country’s energy mix is based on the Fit for 55 agreement reached by the EU last April for a carbon emissions reduction of at least 55 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, revised from the previous reduction target of 40 percent.

Given the latest developments concerning Russia’s war on Ukraine, the EU is now determined to achieve even faster RES development to greatly reduce its reliance on Russian gas imports long before 2030.

The Repower EU plan, recently designed for this purpose, is aiming for an average 20 percent increase in new green projects that would cut natural gas consumption by a further 3 bcm. The Repower EU plan has also raised green hydrogen targets.

Greece’s RES units operating in 2020 totaled 10.1 GW, a capacity that will need to be increased by a further 10 GW by 2030, if the Fit for 55 target is to be met. This ambitious target increases the urgency of the energy ministry’s plan for further RES project licensing simplification.

Network upgrades already planned more than cover the country’s ambitious green targets. Power grid operator IPTO estimates that planned transmission network upgrades will enable RES units with a total capacity of 28.5 GW to operate by 2030.

Fast-track transmission project licensing to slash time needed

The energy ministry is preparing a new set of rules for fast-track licensing of grid transmission projects, the aim being to slash, by 75 percent, the overall time required for issuance of licenses concerning transmission projects deemed essential for the updated National Energy and Climate Plan, sources have informed.

The revisions, adopting proposals forwarded by power grid operator IPTO, promise to accelerate and simplify licensing procedures for grid transmission projects that have remained complex and too long for many decades. Under the current rules, licenses take as long as five years to be issued.

Environmental permits, just part of the overall licensing procedure, take at least 24 months to be completed. This time period is expected to be restricted to a maximum of seven months once the licensing procedure for grid transmission projects is simplified.

Also, the time needed for related building permits will be reduced from six months, at present, to just 15 days, sources informed.

The new licensing framework for grid transmission projects will serve as an integral part of the national plan for RES management, IPTO sources noted.

 

Operators coordinate for swifter RES connection terms

Power grid operator IPTO and distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO have begun coordinating by exchanging information on available grid transmission and distribution network capacities, respectively, in an effort to accelerate connection terms offered to RES facilities.

At present, IPTO and DEDDIE/HEDNO are struggling to keep up with a flood of applications submitted by RES investors for connection terms.

The two operators have formed a working group which has already held one session involving the participation of RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

It was agreed that the two operators need to establish better pictures of available capacities concerning the grid transmission and distribution networks.

Taking into account all grid expansion projects included in the ten-year investment plans of IPTO and DEDDIE/HEDNO, as well as national and transboundary grid interconnection plans, plus anticipated energy storage projects, the country’s RES capacity will reach a maximum of 28.5 GW in 2030. RES investor applications submitted so far are estimated to already exceed this sum by 10 GW.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

RES project applications over 2030 limit, halt considered

RES investor applications submitted to power grid operator IPTO for connection terms concerning wind and solar energy facilities already greatly exceed the grid’s planned capacity for 2030, by 10 GW, taking into account prospective grid infrastructure upgrades.

This excess capacity has prompted the energy ministry to consider suspending the submission of any new applications until authorities have found solutions to manage the accumulation of project applications already submitted.

IPTO has completed its assessment of applications concerning 2020 and has offered connection terms to successfully applicants.

The operator is now preparing to process applications lodged in 2021 and during the first quarter of 2022.

The current total capacity of RES projects, either already operating or which have received connection terms up until the end of 2020, is 19.6 GW.

Applications submitted in 2021 and so far in 2022, all of which need to be evaluated, represent a total capacity of 19 GW.

Greece’s updated National Energy and Climate Plan has projected an installed RES capacity of 25 GW by 2030.

Taking into account all grid expansion projects included in the ten-year investment plans of IPTO and DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator, as well as national and transboundary grid interconnection plans, plus anticipated energy storage projects, the country’s RES capacity will reach a maximum of 28.5 GW in 2030.

 

Strategic reserve procedure for PPC lignite units hastened

The energy ministry, driven by the EU’s decision to end its reliance on Russian natural gas as soon as possible, is striving to hasten procedures aiming for European Commission approval of a strategic reserve mechanism concerning power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations.

The ministry is now completing certain required studies and pending procedures in preparation for Athens’ official application to Brussels.

Even so, government officials remain adamant that Athens’ decision to end all lignite-based electricity generation by the end of 2028 does not need to change, and must not change, even though the EU now appears more tolerant towards the use of coal.

The government officials also believe that no revisions are needed for an even more ambitious lignite phase-out plan set by PPC, according to which all the utility’s lignite facilities will be withdrawn by 2023, except for a new unit, Ptolemaida V, planned to switch from lignite to natural gas in 2025.

Power grid operator IPTO plans to deliver an energy sufficiency study to the energy ministry within the next ten days, while the ministry may be ready to submit its package of prerequisites to Brussels by the end of the month.

This would pave the way for Athens to lodge an official application for a strategic reserve mechanism, as well as a capacity remuneration mechanism.

No need for lignite schedule revisions, officials determine

The country’s decarbonization plan, not responsible for the sharp rise in electricity prices, does not require any revisions, lignite continuing to contribute to the energy mix in accordance with the grid’s needs, government officials have determined following a weekend meeting during which the country’s energy mix was examined.

Lignite has played a bigger role in the country’s energy mix over the past few days, covering more than 20 percent of electricity generation needs, up from 10.5 percent in January.

According to data provided by power grid operator IPTO, six of power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations will operate today. Agios Dimitrios I, II, IV and V, Megalopoli IV and Meliti will all contribute to the grid, according to IPTO.

Officials participating at the weekend meeting also examined the progress of the country’s hydrocarbons sectors. EU member states are looking for ways to reduce their dependence on Russian gas.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) recently conducted seismic surveys at its ‘Ionio’ license, an Ionian Sea block southwest of Corfu. EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, is now awaiting the investor’s next steps.

Subsidy returns to power, gas suppliers currently trapped

A sum estimated at one billion euros, which should, by now, have been transferred by the Greek State to energy suppliers as compensation for subsidies they have offered to households and businesses on its behalf, remains trapped in the coffers of DAPEEP, the RES market operator, as a result of rule ambiguities and errors, sources have claimed in comments to energypress.

This amount, planned to cover subsidy-related payments made by electricity and natural gas suppliers for January, February as well as March, is stuck at DAPEEP as three ministerial decisions issued last month, which define the framework for electricity and gas bill subsidies offered to household consumers, businesses and farmers, as well as subsidy clearance procedures enabling payments to suppliers, contain ambiguities and mistakes, the sources told energypress following its related report on payment delays faced by energy suppliers.

As a result of these ministerial decisions, DAPEEP has been called upon to check whether subsidy amounts covered by suppliers from their own funds on behalf of the Greek State are correct, the sources said.

In essence, the operator has been asked to cross-examine whether consumers who were subsidized were eligible for the support, restricted to primary residence only, and whether other eligible parties ended up not receiving subsidies.

DAPEEP is not in a position to perform this task alone as the RES market operator needs to cross-examine its figures with those of DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator, and IPTO, the power grid operator, for which it does not have access, the sources explained.