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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minister urges target model readiness for smooth launch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EuroAsia project moving again, Egypt present with EuroAfrica

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

IPTO’s Ariadne Interconnection minority share offer resurfaces

Power grid operator IPTO has reopened the prospect of making available to investors a minority stake in its subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection, established for the development of the Crete-Athens interconnection.

The possible sale essentially remained stagnant during a recent period of administrative changes at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

Ariadne Interconnection has been commissioned the project’s construction IPTO but will cease to be involved in any way once the project is delivered to the operator for operation.

IPTO’s administration reminded RAE, in a letter forwarded just days ago, about a concession agreement it has signed with Ariadne Interconnection, offering a detailed description of the relations between the two companies for the Crete-Athens grid interconnection project.

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

IPTO has noted a minority partner in Ariadne Interconnection could be offered a stake of up to 40 percent.

China’s SGCC, a strategic partner of IPTO holding a 24 percent stake, informed, some time ago, that it wants to acquire a 20 percent stake of Ariadne Interconnection. European operators such as Belgium’s Elia and France’s RTE, as well as major investment groups have also indicated they would be interested.

 

IPTO moves to develop links for private RES projects on islands

Power grid operator IPTO has submitted a request to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for a grid management rule revision that would enable the operator to take on the planning and development of new subsea interconnections for private RES projects whose licenses include cable installations.

The operator’s proposal includes a formula through which IPTO would assume the entire cost of subsea cable installations for private projects and recover these costs via network surcharges.

This formula mainly concerns bigger projects, over 250 MW, while the cable interconnections could, according to the operator’s proposal, remain independent or serve as capacity boosts for projects already included in IPTO’s ten-year development plan. They include the fourth stage of the Cyclades interconnection and links in the northern Aegean and the Dodecanese.

This is, after all, one of the advantages possessed by the operator, able to offer a complete plan, ensure equal treatment of investment plans, and utilize projects in a uniform way to achieve economies of scale and ultimately provide benefits for the electricity market as a whole.

In addition, IPTO, like other European operators, is seeking a key role in the development of offshore energy transmission infrastructure, promising  links for offshore wind farms, either floating or fixed.

PPC improves payment rate for operator debt, down to €650m

Power utility PPC has increased its rate of payments for debt to operators, reducing the total amount owed from 900 million euros in July, 2019 to approximately 650 million euros at the end of last July, energypress sources have informed.

This debt, owed to power grid operator IPTO, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and RES market operator DAPEEP, has fallen at an average of between 22 to 24 million euros per month.

PPC aims to reduce its debt to these operators by a further 100 million euros by the end of the year, which would reduce the figure to 550 million euros.

If the current payment rate is maintained, PPC’s debt to operators may drop to a level of between 260 and 270 million euros by the end of 2021.

The power utility’s improved operator-related debt performance, a turnaround compared to a year earlier, when company officials had warned better days along this front were a long way off, has, by extension, helped DAPEEP improve its payment record to RES producers for their output.

PPC’s annual deficit was at a level of approximately 900 million euros last year.

Cost-reduction initiatives and a suppression of energy commodity prices during the pandemic have helped PPC stabilize its finances.

The utility’s outlays for liquid fuels, natural gas, CO2 rights and electricity purchases fell by 33.7 percent, or 561.3 million euros, in the first half this year compared to the equivalent period a year earlier.

 

Target model ‘dangerous without monitoring mechanism’

The launch of target model markets without a fully functional market monitoring mechanism from the very first day, if not sooner, threatens to undermine the entire effort, two industry associations, ESAI/HAIPP, the Hellenic Association of Independent Power Producers, and ESEPIE, the Hellenic Association of Electricity Trading & Supply Companies, have reiterated in warnings to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

RAE is currently preparing a market monitoring mechanism, with support from a specialized consultant from abroad, for the target model markets, but the project is still a long way off, energypress sources have informed. RAE is believed to have received an initial draft of the monitoring mechanism plan now being processed in detail for a finalized version.

The market monitoring mechanism, needed to ensure healthy electricity market competition, will accumulate data from power grid operator IPTO and the Greek energy exchange to identify possible market manipulation practices.

The target model, aiming to harmonize Greece’s electricity market with wholesale electricity markets in the EU, faces a delay of a few weeks. Authorities identified pending issues in the lead-up to the previous launch date, scheduled for September 17.

Even the smallest of flaws in a market as limited in size and depth as the Greek market can prompt major financial consequences for participants, ESEPIE warned in its letter to RAE.

The implementation of an effective monitoring mechanism can prevent such setbacks and is essential for creating a climate of confidence in the new markets, the association stressed, adding the mechanism should have been applied during dry testing staged in the lead-up to the target model launch.

Excessive cost, for PPC, of running lignite-fired units hastening exit plan

The financial burden on power utility PPC as a result of its continued use of lignite-fired power stations at a time when the EU is racing towards climate neutrality has prompted the utility to revise its lignite unit phase-out plan for power stations in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region and Megalopoli in the Peloponnese.

According to latest information, PPC’s administration is planning further premature withdrawals of lignite-fired power stations after announcing a precipitated exit of its Megalopoli III unit, as was reported by energypress yesterday.

The Megalopoli III unit will be shut down six months sooner, in mid-2021, instead of early 2022. This 250-MW lignite-fired facility has operated for just six hours since April.

The average variable cost of lignite-based energy generation is €0.80 per MWh, well over the System Marginal Price of €0.45 per MWh, according to data presented by energy minister Costis Hatzidakis.

According to some sources, PPC has once again raised, to the European Commission, a compensation claim for being required to keep operating high-cost power stations in order to secure grid sufficiency and security.

PPC will be forced to proceed with swifter lignite unit exits if this compensation request is not satisfied, pundits said.

Power grid operator IPTO has the final say on the assessment of energy security matters.

PPC’s lignite-fired power stations covered just 36.8 percent of the country’s overall electricity demand in the first half, its lignite units playing a diminished role.

 

Crete-Peloponnese subsea cable installation to start soon

Power grid operator IPTO plans to begin installing a 135-km subsea cable for the Peloponnese-Crete grid interconnection, part of a larger project to ultimately extend this line to Athens, within the next few weeks. The installation’s exact starting date will depend on the weather conditions.

Also, a subsea cable interconnecting the islands Naxos and Syros, the final step in the third phase of the Cyclades grid interconnection, is expected to be electrified next month, according to the operator.

The Peloponnese-Crete project, in particular, is pivotal in the effort to reduce public service compensation (YKO) surcharges for consumers. The interconnections will also help utilize the renewable energy potential of islands.

The Peloponnese-Crete subsea cable installation, made challenging by deep waters reaching 1,000 meters, will require about two months to complete, IPTO sources noted. It will be the world’s longest subsea cable grid interconnection.

Installation work for a second subsea cable (107 km, 150 kV) between Syros and seaside Lavrio, on the southeastern tip of the wider Athens area, was completed last month in preparation for the electrification of the Naxos-Syros line, expected early October. High-voltage testing, over a 24-hour period, will precede the line’s electrification.

Pending issues to delay target model launch by a few weeks

The target model’s scheduled September 17 launch date is expected to be postponed by a few weeks following the identification, by authorities, of crucial unresolved issues, even at regulatory level, as well as discrepancies between dry-run market testing results and actual market conditions.

The energy ministry is believed to be preparing to announce the postponement over the next few days. A delay of at least four weeks is expected.

Officials identified the biggest discrepancies in the balancing market, one of the four market systems of the target model, also including day-ahead, intraday and forward markets.

Power grid operator IPTO forwarded a technical decision on balancing market clearing matters for public consultation last Friday, inviting market participants to comment by September 16, just one day ahead of the target model’s scheduled launch.

Other pending issues, sources noted, include a procedure for the selection of reserve power stations; a regulatory framework determining offers by participating units; as well as mechanisms enabling RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to monitor the behavior of market participants.

Extra week for dry-run tests ahead of target model launch

A dry run procedure offering simulated testing of all market systems and resolving any glitches ahead of the target model launch, scheduled for September 17, has been extended for another week until September 6.

Authorities met last Friday for a latest review of dry-run results. ESAI/HAIPP, the Hellenic Association of Independent Power Producers, in its observations, primarily focused on the balancing market.

The association also objected to integrated programming process revisions proposed by power grid operator IPTO, as well as the timing of these proposals, just days ahead of the official launch of markets.

ESAI/HAIPP is expected to forward its views on the issue, in writing, to the energy ministry, later today or tomorrow. The matter essentially concerns the calculation of reserves to be covered by the system for its security.

The Energy Exchange, to operate the day-ahead, intraday and forward markets, and IPTO, operating the balancing market, are both scheduled – based on a ministerial decision – to deliver an interim report this week for the energy ministry and RAE on the progress and level of readiness of market systems.

These systems have been undergoing continual testing since August 3. The number of dry-run participants has increased in recent days, while price levels are now at far more rational levels, especially in the day-ahead market.

All market participants, approximately 60 in total, have until September 4 to submit required supporting documents to the Energy Exchange in order to receive membership registration certificates by September 11.

 

Supplier guarantees proposed by IPTO ‘needless, excessive’

Electricity suppliers have expressed reservations about a power grid operator IPTO report calling for the payment of guarantees by all parties registered with ESMIE, Greece’s electricity transmission system, to fulfill obligations, describing these guarantees as needless and excessive.

The operator’s report was put forth for consultation by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, prompting responses from ESEPIE, the Hellenic Association of Electricity Trading and Supply Companies, and three energy suppliers, the power utility PPC, Heron and Protergia.

The IPTO call for guarantees would excessively burden ESMIE members and create serious cashflow problems in the mid to long term, the association and suppliers noted in their responses.

Contrary to formulas used for IPTO and the Energy Exchange, a financial danger coefficient was not applied to the calculations determining the ESMIE member guarantees, the association and suppliers pointed out.

In addition, the IPTO report also calls for a monthly system-use charge imposed on suppliers to be doubled and paid in advance.

The report also proposes a revision to the formula determining penalties for delayed guarantee payments. ESEPIE described the IPTO proposal for a penalty charge of 1,000 euros per month as erroneous, instead offering its support for the current formula, increasing penalty payments for delays by 0.1 percent per day.

RAE has yet to take a position on the IPTO report’s proposals.

Southeast Europe network coordination center working on launch

The Southeast Electricity Network Coordination Center (SEleNe CC), established in Thessaloniki to support regional network security in southeast Europe, is currently recruiting personnel and installing technical equipment required for its operations.

All necessary equipment is expected to be installed at the center’s Thessaloniki headquarters by the end of September, energypress sources have informed. The objective is to have prepared the center as a fully operational unit by the end of the year.

The new regional center was established following years of efforts by the power grid operators of Greece (IPTO), Italy (TERNA SpA), Romania (Transelectrica), and Bulgaria (ESO-EAD), each holding equal shares.

It is managed by a four-member board comprising Ioannis Kabouris (IPTO), the chief executive, and three members, Angelin Tsachev (ESO-EAD), Enrico Maria Carlini (TERNA SpA), and Adrian Suta (Transelectrica).

The coupling of respective markets, expected soon, will represent a next step in the region’s harmonization and incorporation into Europe’s unified electricity market, promising major benefits for consumers, Kabouris, the chief executive, has noted.

Flexibility surcharge improper, suppliers complain to Brussels

A CAT surcharge imposed on electricity suppliers to support the flexibility mechanism was adopted without proper consultation via a procedure that was not fully substantiated, ESEPIE, the Hellenic Association of Electricity Trading and Supply Companies, has charged in a letter forwarded to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition and Directorate-General for Energy.

Consultation on the matter lacked a detailed study by power grid operator IPTO on current flexibility needs, the association protested in the letter, forwarded to the Brussels authorities just weeks ahead of the launch of target model markets in Greece.

The flexibility mechanism’s details are based on a study conducted years ago but current flexibility needs concerning production and demand have since changed drastically, the association noted.

A transitional mechanism is not needed given the current conditions in Greece’s energy market, especially if the pandemic-related drop in electricity demand is taken into consideration, ESEPIE noted. State aid or any other form of support for energy producers offering flexibility is unnecessary, the association stressed.

Suppliers have been asked to cover flexibility-related surcharges, beginning August 15, at a rate of approximately 3 euros per MWh. This is burdening their finances, especially in the mid-voltage market, where heightened competition has severely narrowed profit margins.

Flexibility CATs, it should be noted, do not impact independent, vertically integrated suppliers as the corporate groups they belong to collect the flexibility surcharge payments for their production.

Energy companies actually benefit from the surcharge if their retail electricity market shares are smaller than their shares of production. This is not the case for PPC, whose retail market share is considerably bigger than its share of electricity generation.

 

Safety mechanism to limit energy exchange fluctuations

Sizeable electricity price discrepancies – compared to day-ahead scheduling market levels – observed by officials in ongoing dry-run testing of Energy Exchange markets ahead of the target model launch scheduled for September 17 and attributed to unrealistic offers made by participants, are expected to narrow as more participants become involved.

Even so, officials supervising the simulated testing of all four Energy Exchange markets – day-ahead, intraday, forward, balancing markets – plan to introduce a safety mechanism enabling participants to make improved follow-up offers if price levels fluctuate beyond upper and lower limits.

Officials at related agencies and the energy ministry are confident the dry run will be completed on time despite being up against a very tight schedule.

The head officials of RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, the energy exchange, and power grid operator IPTO held a summit meeting yesterday with energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and the ministry’s secretary-general, Alexandra Sdoukou, to discuss the progress of the dry run. Other officials meet on a weekly basis to discuss the effort.

To date, any technical issues that have arisen have been resolved. Both the Energy Exchange and IPTO appear ready for the real-life launch. Market systems have been undergoing continual testing since August 3.

However, a shortage in the number of dry-run participants, especially traders, has been observed. This is concerning as current evaluations of the market system performances cannot be considered entirely accurate. All key players – gas-based electricity producers, suppliers, traders, RES producers and aggregators – must be involved in the simulated testing for a dependable picture.

Once the Energy Exchange and IPTO have declared their readiness, RAE will need to offer its approval of the dry run on September 11, a week before the target model’s scheduled September 17 launch.

The aim is for all players to have entered the market systems on September 15 to prepare their orders for the launch two days later.

Crucial week for target model’s dry-run tests of market systems

Though any glitches that have emerged during ongoing simulated testing of all energy exchange market systems ahead of a target model launch scheduled for September 17 have been quickly resolved, officials remain concerned about the venture’s level of readiness.

The number of participants for the dry run’s virtual transactions, especially traders, has been insufficient, while participants are submitting unrealistic offers, officials have observed.

This has prompted major fluctuations as well as sizable electricity price discrepancies compared to day-ahead scheduling market levels.

Market systems at the Energy Exchange, to operate the day-ahead, intraday and forward markets, and at the power grid operator IPTO, operating the balancing market, have been undergoing continual testing since August 3.

This week will be crucial as an increase in the number of participants is anticipated, while heightened maturity in bidding methods is also expected, all of which should result in safer conclusions.

For the time being, a deferral of the target model’s September 17 launch date is not being considered. All operators must declare complete readiness to RAE by September 11 if this launch date is to be maintained.

Electricity price levels, once the target model is launched, cannot be forecast at present. This could be possible within the next few days.

Officials at the energy ministry, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, the energy exchange and IPTO, all monitoring the effort, are scheduled to stage their next weekly meeting tomorrow.

Suppliers want IPTO to take on part of €45m retroactive charge

Electricity suppliers, reacting to a 45 million-euro retroactive charge handed out by power grid operator IPTO for account discrepancies between November, 2019 and May, 2020, want the operator to accept responsibility for part of this cost and also expect the energy ministry to intervene.

Suppliers have asked for legislative and regulatory initiatives to offer greater transparency in calculations of various market-related accounts.

The operator has already delivered the resulting charges to suppliers, prompting their irritation.

The share of the 45 million-euro total cost for suppliers is proportional to their retail electricity market shares, meaning power utility PPC, the dominant player, has been asked to cover the greatest amount.

IPTO’s retroactive charge resulted from account miscalculations, by the operator, that did not factor in a part of RES output, specifically PV production in the low-voltage category.

The issue has also caused accounting confusion for suppliers, whose financial results for the months of November and December, 2019 – both included in IPTO’s discrepancy calculations – have already been finalized and published.

Entities such as IPTO ought to provide reassurances and solutions, not create ambiguities and problems, suppliers, bracing for further pandemic-related challenges as of September, have complained.

The ministry should intervene and offer market stability if the operator is unable to do so, suppliers asserted.

PPC secures 3 of 4.5 GW offered at last week’s flexibility auction

Power utility PPC secured the largest quantities at last Friday’s flexibility remuneration auction, obtaining 3 GW of a total of 4.5 GW made available to bidders, early data has shown.

Also, Mytilineos-Protergia secured 630 MW, followed by Elpedison with 469 MW and Heron with 339 MW.

The August 14 auction, staged by power grid operator IPTO, offered bidders flexibility remuneration rights for a period covering August 15 to October 31 this year.

A total flexibility capacity of 4,500 MW was offered at a starting price of 39,000 euros per MW, annually.

IPTO set to stage flexibility remuneration auction this Friday

Power grid operator IPTO has invited interested parties to register for an inaugural flexibility remuneration auction scheduled to take place this Friday.

The August 14 auction will offer bidders flexibility remuneration rights for a period covering August 15 to October 31 this year.

A total flexibility capacity of 4,500 MW will be offered at Friday’s auction at a starting price of 39,000 euros per MW, annually.

 

Athens-Crete interconnection work commences at both ends

Work at both ends of the Athens-Crete grid interconnection, Greece’s biggest infrastructure project at present, has begun in earnest, power grid operator IPTO sources have informed.

In the lead-up, IPTO subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection, developing the project, and contractors signed contracts totaling approximately one billion euros last month.

Various preliminary studies and construction work are now underway. A high-voltage subsea cable is planned to run from Heraklion, Crete to Megara, slightly west of Athens.

Also, a converter station will be built close to the Cretan village Damasta.

A converter station will not be needed at Megara, on the Athenian side of the project. Instead, the interconnection’s line will run through an underground passage to reach a central unit, where the converter station will be installed.

IPTO has discussed the project with local communities to minimize any inconveniences. Requests made by locals, determined to conceal any visual impact, were taken into consideration by authorities when planning the project’s route.

Revisions were made to an environmental impact study approved by the energy ministry last April.

IPTO made significant changes for the Megara end of the interconnection, significantly increasing the operator’s budget for the project. Changes included the adoption of subterranean line passages. Similar-minded revisions have also been agreed to for the Cretan end’s Korakia area.

Once launched, the Athens-Crete grid interconnection promises to offer electricity consumers overall annual savings of 400 million euros in Public Service Compensation (YKO) surcharges, included in electricity bills.

The project will also offer major environmental benefits as CO2 emissions resulting from the overall electricity supply effort for Crete will be reduced by 60 percent once the Athens-Crete interconnection is fully launched.

This project represents Crete’s major-scale link. A preceding smaller-scale link from Crete to the Peloponnese has also been incorporated into the effort.

Energy exchange dry run starts, target model launch nearing

Simulated testing of all energy exchange market systems, the dry run, began yesterday, as officially scheduled, putting the launch of the target model on the final stretch.

Market systems linked to power grid operator IPTO, the Greek energy exchange, as well as EnexClear, an energy exchange subsidiary tasked with clearing transactions, are now operating under conditions of virtual reality, signaling the beginning of final-stage testing to be completed at the end of this month.

During the dry run, participating producers and buyers will be making simulated offers and purchases, the objective being to identify possible operational faults or insufficiencies for correction ahead of the official launch of the target model, scheduled for September 17.

All four energy exchange markets – the day-ahead, intraday, forward and balancing markets – are being tested. The energy exchange is in charge of the first three while IPTO is operator of the fourth.

Following August 11, EnexClear will take on a more active role for transaction clearances, a procedure to be performed on a weekly basis.

The overall procedure’s schedule was formalized by a ministerial decision signed on July 10.

Gas, renewables cover 76% of electricity demand in June

Natural gas and renewable energy sources covered 76 percent of electricity demand in June, limiting lignite’s contribution to a mere 5 percent, latest figures provided by power grid operator IPTO have shown.

The development highlights the fast-approaching end of the lignite era in Greece, currently in transition towards green energy.

Natural gas-fueled generation in June covered 37 percent of electricity demand, plus 2 percent contributed by cooling, heating and power (CCHP) generation, while renewables contributed 37 percent, including hydropower input of 9 percent.

Highlighting lignite’s severely diminished role in generation, PPC restricted its lignite-fired generation last month by 75 percent compared to the equivalent month a year earlier.

During this same one-year period, renewable energy source generation increased by 7.6 percent, while natural gas-based electricity production was up by a milder 1.2 percent, the IPTO data showed.

In another noteworthy statistic, all of the country’s lignite units were switched off for 40 hours, continuously, for the first time in June.

Remaining energy utility sales, DEDDIE and IPTO, nearing

The time is nearing for Greece’s two remaining energy utility  privatizations, those of electricity distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and power grid operator IPTO.

An energy ministry official yesterday updated journalists on the progress of both sales at a presentation of gas distributor DEDA’s five-year investment plan.

All details concerning the sale of a 49 percent stake in DEDDIE/HEDNO, a fully owned power utility PPC subsidiary, will be ready and finalized in September, enabling the announcement of a tender that month, according to the ministry official.

Preparations for this sale include the evaluation and transfer of assets used by DEDDIE/HEDNO from PPC to the operator.

As for the IPTO sale, talks between the operator and China’s SGCC – already holding a 24 percent stake in IPTO and first-offer rights in the event of the sale of a further stake in the operator – are still at an early stage.

The energy ministry is moving carefully in an effort to comply with fine details of EU directives concerning the entry of non-EU members into European enterprises and infrastructure.

Norton Rose Fulbright Athens team advises on largest interconnection project

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has advised IPTO/ADMIE, the owner and operator of the Greek electricity transmission grid, on the concession of the Crete – Attica HVDC interconnection project, to ADMIE’s subsidiary, Ariadne Interconnection. It is the largest electricity grid infrastructure project ever developed in the country and one of the longest subsea electricity links (328kms) developed so far globally.

The project includes the construction of a bipolar high voltage direct current (HVDC) cable, linking the island of Crete with the transmission grid in the Athens metropolitan area (Attica), with a rated power of 1 GW (2 x 500 MW), as well as the construction of electrode stations, AC/DC converter stations and onshore (underground) high voltage lines in Crete and Attica. The project is expected to be commissioned in 2022 and its estimated budget is €1 billion.

Advice included the drafting of the concession agreement and also extended to the consultation of the concession agreement with the national regulatory authority for energy (RAE) and credit institutions which are interested in financing the implementation of the project.

The Norton Rose Fulbright team was led by Athens-based partner Vassilis Koroxenidis with assistance from senior associate Sergios Karotsieris. Dimitris Assimakis, head of the firm’s Greek energy practice, assisted the team on the national and EU regulatory and public procurement issues relevant to the project.

Dimitris Assimakis commented: “We are delighted to have assisted ADMIE, the Greek electricity TSO, with the implementation of this emblematic electricity interconnection project. This project illustrates ADMIE’s strong commitment to the further expansion of the transmission grid to the Aegean Sea islands. This contributes not only to the improvement of a reliable power supply and the economic growth of these regions but, most importantly, helps combat their environmental degradation and enables the addition of new renewable capacity from the islands into the national grid.”

Solar energy sector country’s biggest RES player since 2014

Solar energy systems have played a key part in the RES sector’s increased share of the country’s energy mix since 2014, data provided by power grid operator IPTO has shown.

RES and combined cooling, heat and power (CCHP) units in operation at the end of 2019 totaled 6,373 MW, of which 3,301 MW concern wind energy parks and 2,640 MW concern photovoltaic systems.

The number of RES licenses granted until the end of 2019 totaled a capacity of 30.3 GW, according to IPTO data included in the operator’s ten-year development plan covering 2020 to 2029, forwarded for consultation.

These licenses mainly concern wind and solar energy projects, with hydropower stations as well as biomass and biogas units playing a smaller role.

 

Suppliers retroactively charged €45m for IPTO discrepancies

Power grid operator IPTO has retroactively charged electricity suppliers a total amount of approximately 45 million euros for account discrepancies between November, 2019 and April, 2020.

These retroactive charges have annoyed suppliers who have informed the energy ministry’s leadership about the issue and are expecting its intervention for a solution, sources said.

The retroactive charges for each supplier have been calculated in accordance with market shares, meaning power utility PPC, still the dominant retail player, is responsible for the lion’s share of the 45 million-euro amount.

Suppliers and sector associations are preparing to challenge IPTO’s retroactive charges for the six-month period by contending they result from miscalculations that have not factored in RES production, specifically that of roof-mounted solar panels.

The additional retroactive charges are particularly burdensome for medium-voltage traders as profit margins in this sector are extremely narrow and the competition is intense.

The development has caused confusion as financial results for November and December, 2019, two of the six months included in IPTO’s discrepancy calculations, have already been finalized and published.

“Such practices deprive companies of the ability to plan policies and also create business uncertainties in a sector that needs to operate with absolute reliability as it is directly related to millions of consumers,” a top official at one of the independent suppliers told energypress.

 

 

First demand response auction in July, TFRM validity to get extra month

The energy ministry, anticipating the European Commission’s imminent approval of Greek government proposals for a demand response mechanism and a transitory flexibility remuneration mechanism (TFRM), has signed related ministerial decisions so that the mechanisms, vital tools for industrial energy costs, can be implemented immediately once Brussels has given the green light.

Official approval of the plans by the European Commission is expected within the next few days.

Power grid operator IPTO has been informed by the ministry so that it can prepare the first demand response auction, seen taking place within July. IPTO announced a registration procedure yesterday, setting a July 23 deadline for applicants.

The TFRM’s validity is expected to run for an additional month, compared to the initial term agreed to by Athens and Brussels, to make up for its delayed delivery.

Over the past few days, Greek authorities have needed to respond to numerous questions forwarded by Brussels officials, seeking explanations and clarification on both the demand response and flexibility mechanisms.

 

IPTO, Ariadne agreement details partnership for Crete link

Power grid operator IPTO has signed a concession agreement with its fully owned subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection detailing their relationship for the Athens-Crete grid interconnection project, energypress sources have informed.

The agreement was prepared with assistance from legal and consulting firms to overcome concerns raised by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, following a decision by Greek authorities to develop this interconnection as a national project and not as part of the wider EuroAsia project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids.

RAE will now assess the concession agreement’s details and make observations, if needed, before procedures commence to bring investors into Ariadne Interconnection for a minority share.

The details of this entry procedure still remain unclear but the energy minister is expected to clarify through related legislation.

One of the ambiguities concerns whether large-scale RES projects on islands will be able to reserve IPTO interconnection capacities.

The Copelouzos group and Terna, for instance, maintain investment plans for Crete. If given the green light by the energy ministry, they will reserve capacities for the Athens-Crete interconnection, provide funds accordingly and be given corresponding stakes in Ariadne Interconnection.

Investors are expected to acquire up to 40 percent of Ariadne Interconnection, according to the IPTO board.

Chinese company SGCC, IPTO’s strategic partner with a 24 percent, has already expressed an interest to acquire a 20 percent stake in Ariadne Interconnection. Other interested parties include European operators, among them Belgium’s Elia and France’s RTE, as well as prominent financial groups possessing major investment portfolios.

IPTO launches tender for Athens area substation upgrade

Power grid operator IPTO has announced a tender for the reconstruction and modernization of the 400-kV Koumoundourou substation serving the wider Athens area, a project budgeted at 46 million euros (57 million euros including VAT).

This facility was constructed in the 1970s, along with four other units, to transmit electricity to the wider Athens area.

The Koumoundourou substation upgrade, one of the projects included in the so-called Eastern Corridor, is expected to be completed in 2024. This corridor also includes the Megalopoli and Corinthos substations, both undergoing upgrades at present.

Interested parties face an August 10 deadline to submit their offers to IPTO, expecting turn-key, ready-to-use delivery.