Energy minister calls emergency meeting, heatwave set to peak

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas is due to visit power grid operator IPTO’s control center in Athens today for an emergency meeting he has ordered to deal with grid sufficiency issues raised by the prolonged heatwave conditions, expected to become even more acute during the week.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will participate in the emergency meeting along with the head officials of RAE, the Regulatory Authority of Energy, power grid operator IPTO, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, and power utility PPC.

The grid is expected to face unprecedented conditions in coming days as electricity demand peaks to reach record levels, prompted by the extreme weather conditions.

The energy ministry has already urged the public to exercise restraint in electricity consumption over the next few days as a means of helping the pressured grid cope with the heatwave’s demands.

The energy minister also staged an emergency meeting yesterday morning with officials of the aforementioned energy sector companies.

Electricity demand today is expected to peak at 9,600 MW, at around 9pm, well over the average peak of 8,115 MW in the first half of 2021.

Imports, lignite, technical issue avoidance key to grid stability

The role of electricity imports, mobilization of power utility PPC lignite-fired power stations that have been sidelined for months, such as Megalopoli III, and unexpected technical failures at grid infrastructure and power stations are three key factors that will determine the performance of the country’s grid over the next few days, during which the ongoing heatwave conditions are forecast to peak and reach temperatures of as high as 45 degrees Celsius.

Power grid operator IPTO has already asked PPC to mobilize the Megalopoli III power station, a 250-MW unit headed for withdrawal and out of action over the past nine months as a result of grid saturation at the network in the Peloponnese.

But the extreme electricity demand has forced this unit’s return, highlighting the grid’s continuing dependence on lignite-fired generation during times of extreme need.

Over the past few days, lignite-based electricity has represented 16 percent of the country’s overall generation.

As for electricity imports, Greece, ideally, will need to import a few hundred MW from North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey. The import potential from these sources is limited to between 1,400 and 1,500 MW annually.

A new interconnection to link Nea Santa, northeastern Greece, with Bulgaria’s Maritsa area in the country’s south, designed to double the grid interconnection capacity between the two countries, will not be ready before mid-2022.

The demand response system, compensating industrial consumers when the TSO (IPTO) asks them to shift their energy usage (lower or stop consumption) during high-demand hours, so as to balance the electricity system’s needs, is another tool that could be activated to save and re-channel approximately 1,000 MW.

HEDNO’s Crete assets set for transfer to IPTO

An energy ministry legislative revision facilitating the transfer to power grid operator IPTO of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO’s assets on Crete, a pending issue needed for the launch of market activity concerning the island’s small-scale interconnection with the Peloponnese, has been submitted to Parliament for ratification, ending months of debate on the matter.

As of August 1, Crete’s entire package of high-voltage electricity grid assets will be transferred from power utility PPC, DEDDIE/HEDNO’s parent company, to IPTO, the new owner of these assets, taking on their operational management.

Until now, DEDDIE/HEDNO has been responsible for the management of Crete’s small-scale interconnection with the Peloponnese.

The price IPTO will need to pay for the acquisition of these Cretan grid assets will be determined by their market value, to be calculated over two stages.

The first will reflect the regulatory value of the assets. The second, to be calculated at a latter date, will concern the evaluation of the assets transferred to IPTO by an independent, specialized appraiser to be accepted by both IPTO and PPC.

 

Cable development obligations for island RES projects dropped

Older RES project plans whose licenses obligated holders to also develop related cable connections can now proceed with the installation of projects without needing to develop the cable connections, according to a legislative revision drafted by the energy ministry.

The revision concerns RES projects with electricity production licenses issued prior to January 1, 2016 and planned for development on islands or island complexes that have been interconnected with the mainland or are planned to be interconnected by December 31, 2024, based on power grid operator IPTO’s ten-year development plan.

 

 

Ministry bill for small-scale PVs without competition procedure

The energy ministry has submitted legislative revisions to Parliament facilitating the installation of small-scale PVs, up to 500 KW, without competitive procedures as long as interested parties do not already own two such units that have also been installed without competitive procedures.

The draft bill also includes a revision designed to rectify unfair terms of the past for small-scale PVs on non-interconnected islands by offering 10 percent tariff increases for their output.

Another article in the bill enables older RES projects with licenses including provisions for the installation of connecting cables to now be developed without cable links if the hosting island has been interconnected or is in the process of being interconnected.

The bill also transfers distribution network operator DEDDIE’s assets on Crete to power grid operator IPTO, a pending issue that must be resolved for the launch of market activity concerning the island’s small-scale interconnection with the Peloponnese.

Heatwave pushes up wholesale prices to over €100/MWh once again

The latest rise in temperatures, prompting further heatwave conditions around Greece, is impacting the wholesale electricity market as the average clearing price in the day-ahead market has risen again to levels of over 100 euros per MWh, following days of more subdued levels, according to energy exchange data.

The average clearing price for today is up to 103.8 euros per MWh, up from yesterday’s level of 93.47 euros per MWh and Sunday’s level of 75.34 euros per MWh.

According to the day-ahead market figures, overall electricity generation today is planned to reach 167,437,017 MWh, with lignite-fired power stations covering just 11,172 MWh, natural gas-fired power stations providing 86,541,739 MWh, hydropower facilities generating 11,829 MWh and all other RES units providing 57,894,278 MWh. Electricity imports are planned to reach 16,159,231 MWh.

Today’s electricity demand is expected to peak at 12.30pm, reaching 8,580 MW, according to data provided by IPTO, the power grid operator.

Three of power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations, Agios Dimitrios III, Megalopoli IV and Meliti, will be brought into action today, while five of the utility’s natural gas-fired power stations, Aliveri V, Lavrio IV and V, Komotini and Megalopoli V, will also be mobilized, along with gas-fired units operated by the independent players Heron, ENTHES, Elpedison (Thisvi), Protergia and Korinthos Power.

RES investors in rush to avoid €35,000/MWh guarantee cost

Thousands of RES investors already holding producer certificates are racing against time to avoid letter-of-guarantee payments of 35,000 euros per MW, which will be avoided if they manage to submit complete applications for finalized connection offers by a February 28, 2022 deadline to distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO or power grid operator IPTO.

This same deadline applies for imminent producer certificates to be issued through last month’s application cycle. RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has already begun processing these applications submitted in June. If these investors miss the February deadline for finalized connection offers, they too will also face letter of guarantee costs.

From the next cycle – in October – onwards, most applicants will need to submit letters of guarantee worth 35,000 euros per MW. Investors behind smaller projects with capacities of less than 1 MW, strategic investments, projects for public-benefit purposes, as well as projects developed by local authorities and foundations, will be exempted from the upcoming letter of guarantee requirement.

Its prospect is expected to increase the pressure on DEDDIE/HEDNO and IPTO, expected to face an increased inflow of applications over the next few months as investors scramble to meet the February 28 deadline.

The 35,000-euro per MWh letter of guarantee is being introduced to prevent saturation caused by applicants submitting bids but not following up with actual project development.

Target model revisions to enable new player entries, market coupling

The country’s Market Reform Plan, forwarded by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for publication consultation, includes a road map for target model interventions, designed, amongst other things, to facilitate the target model market entry of new players as well as ensuing market coupling steps with neighboring countries.

This road map also includes a plan to lift existing target model restrictions, including a 20 percent upper limit for PPAs that is currently valid without any expiry date.

Another revision included in the Market Reform Plan is intended to separate energy used for balancing purposes and energy used for unit loading revisions during re-dispatching procedures for grid security or sufficiency reasons.

This separation process is planned to be implemented as of December 1, beginning with flagging of quantities activated as a result of loading revisions.

A second stage is planned to be introduced March 31, 2022, when clearing procedures for these quantities will be launched.

Power grid operator IPTO is expected to submit, today, its proposal concerning the first stage.

As for the revisions to facilitate the target model entry of new players, a demand response mechanism concerning all markets, not just the balancing market, is planned to be implemented February 1, 2022.

Just over a month later, on March 8, RES market balancing services will also be introduced, according to the road map.

Intraday market coupling of the Greek, Italian and Slovenia intraday markets is planned for September 21, through complementary regional intraday auctions (CRIDAs), a further step towards full unification of the European electricity market.

 

Connection terms list topped by PPC Renewables, key projects

Power grid operator IPTO has released a list of pending finalized connection terms for RES and combined heat and power (CHP) projects, prioritizing strategic investments and RES projects planned for lignite-dependent areas being phased out as part of the country’s decarbonization effort.

At the top of the list is an application for a 40-MW solar energy park project in Larissa, central Greece, listed under the strategic investments category.

It is followed by applications submitted by PPC Renewables for RES units planned in northern Greece’s west Macedonia area, until now a lignite-based local economy.

These applications submitted by PPC Renewables, a subsidiary of power utility PPC, concern 19 projects promising a capacity of approximately 1.9 GW, planned for the provincial cities Kozani and Florina. They include a 550-MW solar energy park in lignite-dependent Ptolemaida.

Also on the list are a further 76 connection-term applications for RES projects representing a total capacity of approximately 2.5 GW.

Overall, the list includes 96 applications for projects totaling 4.5 GW. Of these, 92 are PV projects, 2 are wind-energy projects, one is a combined PV and wind energy project, while the remaining application is for a small-scale hydropower station.

 

IPTO, Terna to co-develop second Greece-Italy subsea link

Greek power grid operator IPTO and Italy’s Terna have agreed to join forces for the construction of a second subsea cable grid interconnection to reinforce the market coupling of the two countries.

The chief executives of the two operators, IPTO’s Manos Manousakis and Terna’s Stefano Donnarumma held talks in Rome earlier this week, reaching a decision to co-develop the project through a joint venture, sources informed.

Officials in Greece and Italy consider this project, a 200-km cable offering a transmission capacity of between 500 and 1000 MW, will contribute to further RES growth in both markets, while also boosting activity in their target-model energy exchange markets.

The EU has just revised its climate change targets, increasing its RES energy-mix target for 2030 to 40 percent from the previous goal of 32 percent.

HEDNO’s Crete assets transfer to IPTO based on market value

A legislative revision needed for the transfer to power grid operator IPTO of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO’s assets on Crete, a pending issue that must be resolved for the launch of market activity concerning the island’s small-scale interconnection with the Peloponnese, is close to being finalized, according to sources, informing that this transfer will be based on the commercial value, not book value, of assets.

The price of the transfer will be determined by the market value of DEDDIE/HEDNO, as shaped following offers by suitors in a privatization offering a 49 percent of the distribution network operator.

These offers are expected to be submitted very soon.

Asked yesterday on whether DEDDIE/HEDNO’s assets will be valued based on market price or book value, energy minister Kostas Skrekas said the matter is still being processed.

It is already considered certain that the fiber optics network will remain with DEDDIE/HEDNO, bolstering the capital base of parent company PPC, the power utility.

This essentially means that whichever consortium acquires a 49 percent stake in DEDDIE/HEDNO will not have control over the fiber optics PPC intends to install at its subsidiary’s networks, through deals such as one already established with telecommunication company Forthnet.

Operators react against RAE’s net profit deduction proposal

Market operators have disapproved a proposal by RAE, the Regulatory Authority of Energy, to deduct a percentage of their net profit from non-regulated activities, contending this would act as a growth disincentive.

Gas grid operator DESFA’s chief executive Maria Rita Galli expressed the company’s concerns earlier this week, during a press conference, following preceding disapproval by power grid operator IPTO just hours earlier in public consultation focused on a formula for the calculation of permitted and required ESMIE (electricity transmission system) revenue.

The DESFA chief executive told reporters the operator is currently in talks with RAE for an agreement that would satisfy both sides.

Deducting a percentage of net profit from operators represents an older approach that has generally been abandoned today, Galli pointed out. Subjecting DESFA to such a deduction would put the operator in a disadvantageous position compared to other companies.

RAE has informed this disputed deduction would be used for the benefit of electricity transmission system users.

IPTO has proposed that the authority’s deduction be limited to outlays made for non-regulated services.

Lignite units to exit in August, according to IPTO plan

The introduction of a demand response mechanism in the balancing market within 2021 is projected in a Market Reform Plan, according to a power grid operator IPTO document that has been forwarded for public consultation until Wednesday.

The document notes that a related grid sufficiency study takes into account structural interventions in wholesale markets. These interventions have been included in the Market Reform Plan.

According to the reform plan, the demand response’s participation in markets is expected to be feasible as of the fourth quarter this year.

The new grid sufficiency study will be attached to the Market Reform Plan, whose draft copy has already been forwarded to Brussels, as previously reported by energypress.

The purpose of the study, along with a road map for wholesale market revisions, will be to support the need for a Strategic Reserve, during a first phase, as well as a Capacity Reserve Mechanism (CRM), planned to succeed it.

Besides these two mechanisms, IPTO also intends to take into account a plan entailing a swifter withdrawal of the country’s lignite-fired power stations. This is based on a key assumption that the power utility PPC, as it has announced, will withdraw remaining lignite units within August due to the unfeasibility of operating these units, nowadays high-cost as a result of elevated CO2 emission right costs.

Megalopoli III was withdrawn in March, even though IPTO had not offered its consent due to grid sufficiency concerns, while Agios Dimitrios, Megalopoli IV and Meliti are expected to follow in August.

The introduction of new units is expected to commence in September, 2022, beginning with a new Mytilineos natural gas-fired power station, and followed by Ptolemaida V early in 2023, initially as a lignite-fired unit before it is converted to gas in early 2026, a change that will also offer a capacity boost to 1,000 MW.

Also, new PPC hydropower facilities are expected to begin emerging midway through the decade, these being Metsovitiko (29 MW) in 2025, Mesohora (160 MW) in 2026 and Avlaki (83 MW) in 2028.

Suppliers request revisions to alleviate cash-flow pressure

Electricity suppliers, facing steep and lasting wholesale electricity cost increases, which have resulted in cash-flow issues, are seeking revisions that could alleviate the pressure, in recommendations submitted to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

Rising wholesale electricity costs have created major cash flow problems for non-vertically integrated electricity suppliers as they are being forced to pay increasing amounts for electricity and related guarantees ahead of payments, to them, by consumers.

Consumers have also felt the pinch as suppliers, seeking protection against the rising wholesale prices, have activated wholesale cost-related clauses incorporated into their supply agreements.

Solutions for both sides seem elusive at present as market forecasts do not see any price de-escalation ahead, only further increases.

In one of the recommendations forwarded to RAE, suppliers called for their cash collateral payments made to the Hellenic Energy Exchange, as a form of guarantee, to be replaced by letters of guarantee representing equivalent amounts.

Suppliers have also requested a reexamination of the clearing price and payment formula in the day-ahead and intraday markets.

They also requested extensions for surcharge payments to power grid operator IPTO and the distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO.

 

Revision for Crete assets transfer to IPTO this week

The energy ministry is set to submit to Parliament a legislative revision needed for the transfer to power grid operator IPTO of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO’s assets on Crete, a pending issue that must be resolved for the launch of market activity concerning the island’s small-scale interconnection with the Peloponnese.

The transfer of DEDDIE/HEDNO’s assets on Crete to IPTO is essential for the latter to take on the responsibility of the small-scale interconnection. IPTO cannot take on this task until a 150-kV transmission line remains under the control of power utility PPC, DEDDIE/HEDNO’s parent company.

The legislative revision will be submitted to Parliament by the end of this week, barring unexpected developments, as an attachment to a draft bill concerning waste management, energypress sources informed.

In a concurrent development, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has approved an Energy Exchange proposal concerning the island’s entry into target model markets.

The authority and other agencies involved in this procedure presented a hybrid model that will remain valid until the completion of Crete’s major-scale interconnection with Athens.

 

Energy Exchange Group (EnEx) celebrates its 3-year anniversary

Founded in June 2018, EnEx is comprised of the Hellenic Energy Exchange S.A. (HEnEx) and the EnEx Clearing House S.A. (EnExClear). Since its designation by the Greek Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) as the Nominated Electricity Market Operator (NEMO), HEnEx has evolved in line with the European agenda for a single and integrated European energy market.

As a designated NEMO, HEnEx successfully performed the necessary market transformations for the preparedness and operation of the Greek power market under the new model. All changes were completed in time and by the 1st of November 2020, the Greek power market was integrated with the European Target Model for electricity markets. HEnEx now operates the Day-Ahead Market, the Intraday Market and an energy Derivatives Market.

A very important milestone for HEnEx was the market coupling of the Greek Day-Ahead market to the European markets – over the border between Greece and Italy on December 15th 2020. On May 11th 2021, HEnEx achieved its second market coupling with Bulgaria. These interconnections enable cross-border trading, optimal capacity allocation and congestion management – all of which, facilitate a European Union-wide market in electricity with optimal welfare and resource allocation.

EnExClear plays also an important role in the flawless operation of the spot electricity markets in Greece. It provides clearing, risk management and settlement services for the Day-Ahead Market and the Intraday Market, and is also responsible for the clearing, settlement and shipping of implicit cross border transactions with the coupled markets. Furthermore, EnExClear is also responsible for the risk management and the settlement of positions of the balancing market, which is run by the Greek Transmission System Operator (IPTO).

Both HEnEx and EnExClear are directing their efforts towards the next important steps:

The establishment of a gas trading platform is the next major milestone. In collaboration with the Greek Gas TSO (DESFA), RAE and the Ministry of Environment, EnEx is designing the model for the new gas trading platform which is expected to be operational in fall 2021.

This year, HEnEx will also start operating three Complementary Regional Intraday Auctions (CRIDAs) and foresees its inclusion in the European Cross-Border Intraday (XBID) initiative in Q1 2022. Furthermore, following the connection of the island of Crete to the mainland electricity network, HEnEx is also leading the integration of the island to the existing Day-Ahead and Intraday Markets of mainland Greece.

In this dynamic and evolving energy environment, EnEx is committed to contributing to sustainability and providing high quality, transparent and non-discriminatory services to its markets participants. With confidence, EnEx will continue developing with vision and determination, while learning from its positive experiences, and strengthening the relationship with its partners and stakeholders.

 

Usage rates revised, up 15.6% for medium-voltage consumers

New electricity transmission system usage fees, expected to be introduced in August or September, include a 15.6 percent increase for medium-voltage consumers, to 1,384 euros per MWh from 1,197 euros.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has endorsed the 2021 allowable earnings figure for power grid operator IPTO, increased to 211.6 million euros from 198.9 million euros in 2019.

However, IPTO officials have complained that the 211.6 million-euro figure will not be entirely collected this year as a result of bureaucratic procedures at RAE that have delayed the authority’s approval of revisions.

Based on a RAE decision reached on June 17, the system usage charge for high-voltage consumers has been set at 23,560 euros per MW, annually, from 24,062 euros, a 2 percent reduction.

The system usage rate for household consumers was increased by 3.3 percent to 0.56 euros per KWh from 0.542 euros per KWh in 2019 and 2020.

First stage of Greek-Italian grid link feasibility study completed

The final stage of a four-step feasibility study being conducted by power grid operator IPTO and Italy’s TERNA for a second subsea cable grid interconnection linking the Greek and Italian systems is expected to be ready at the end of this year, according to a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two operators. The first of the four feasibility study stages has been completed.

IPTO and TERNA, according to the MoU, are examining the prospect of developing yet another grid interconnection, via a subsea cable, for additional capacity of between 500 and 1,000 MW.

This range is also stated in the operator’s ten-year network development plan covering 2022-2031 as the capacity boost required for the Greek-Italian grid interconnection.

This need, as pointed out in IPTO’s ten-year network development plan, was pointed out in ENTSO-E studies looking into requirements for a reinforced European Transmission Network.

The grid link between Greece and Italy needs to be reinforced to enable electricity price convergence between the two countries, according to this study.

The positive impact of a second grid interconnection for further coupling of the two markets was highlighted by energy minister Kostas Skrekas in an article for Greek Energy 2021, an extensive energy-sector publication prepared by the energypress team for a tenth year in succession.

According to Skrekas, target model Greek electricity prices have equaled Italian-zone price levels for about half the time. This period would have been more extensive, but the existing infrastructure’s capacity limits  prevented further price convergence, the minister noted.

The remainder of hours showed grid-link saturation, highlighting the need for a new line, he added.

Clearing price hits record level, averaging €128.15/MWh

The clearing price at the energy exchange will exceed 130 euros per MWh for 15 hours today, pushing the average price to a record level of 128.15 euros per MWh.

Driven by the heatwave, electricity demand will climb to a 9,044-MW peak at 12.30pm, according to a forecast by power grid operator IPTO.

Four lignite-fired power stations, power utility PPC’s Agios Dimitrios I, II and IV and Meliti, have been recruited to support the grid’s needs today.

In addition, all of the country’s natural gas-fired power stations – PPC’s Aliveri V, Lavrio IV and V, Komotini and Megalopoli V, as well as the independent units Heron, Elpedison Thessaloniki, Elpedison Thisvi, Protergia and Korinthos Power – are expected to operate today.

Overall electricity demand is expected to reach 175,803 MWh. RES output is seen reaching 30,565 MWh, natural gas-fired power station generation should amount to 115,868 MWh, and hydropower production is expected to total 12,824 MWh.

Market Reform Plan draft at EC, strategic reserve by end of year

A draft of the country’s Market Reform Plan, whose finalized version will carry target model market revisions for Greece, has been forwarded, by the energy ministry, to the European Commission for consultation between the two sides, expected to begin without delay.

The energy ministry and Brussels have also agreed on a timeline concerning Athens’ submission and examination of a proposal for a Strategic Reserve Mechanism, needed to ensure electricity supply security through the market’s transition and reforms.

Based on this schedule, the two sides will strive to have finalized the Strategic Reserve Mechanism by the end of the year, so that it may be launched in early 2022.

Brussels’ Directorate-General for Competition plans to begin its consultation for the Market Reform Plan in July. The procedure is expected to last four months, before target model market revisions are implemented.

As part of the overall effort, Pantelis Kapros, Professor of Energy Economics at the National Technical University of Athens, conducted a study – commissioned by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy – serving as a road map for the Greek wholesale electricity market’s revisions, the objective being to fine-tune the target model.

Power grid operator IPTO will concurrently conduct a new adequacy report, including reliability standards, to accompany the Greek plan.

RRF funds of €195m for new Cyclades link, pivotal substation

Power grid operator IPTO’s grid interconnection plan to link the west and southern Cyclades islands with coastal Lavrio, southeast of Athens, as well as the operator’s upgrade project for its pivotal Koumoundourou high-voltage substation, including a new transmission line to Korinthos, all regarded as vitally important projects by the European Commission, stand to EU Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) funds totaling 195 million euros.

The RRF subsidies to be allocated to the west and southern Cyclades islands grid interconnection, seen reaching 165 million euros, will cover just under half of this project’s total cost, budgeted at 408 million euros.

The grid interconnection work will entail the development of five underground and subsea cable circuits measuring 370km in length as well as the installation of four GIS substations on the islands of Santorini, Serifos, Folegandros and Milos.

The Koumoundourou high-voltage substation upgrade stands to receive the other 30 million euros in RRF funds for the two projects.

The Koumoundourou upgrade, budgeted at 46 million euros, has been awarded to the Mytilineos group and is expected to be completed by September, 2023, according to an IPTO announcement.

Pivotal IPTO substation returning to full capacity after repair work

Power grid operator IPTO’s pivotal Koumoundourou high-voltage substation, serving the wider Athens area, will be ready to counter elevated electricity demand levels of the summer season as the installation of a new autotransformer, required following an explosion and fire at the unit in February, has been completed, enabling the facility to return to full capacity, expected within the next few days.

Since the accident, the substation has operated below full capacity, following temporary adjustments.

The Koumoundourou substation’s return to full capacity promises to reinforce the country’s grid security, especially in the Peloponnese, as the summer’s power-demand peaks draw nearer.

Besides the fire-related repair work, the Koumoundourou substation is also undergoing an overall revamp, budgeted at 46 million euros. Work on this upgrade, scheduled to require a total of two and a half years to complete, is expected to be completed in September, 2023.

Once completed, the upgrade will enable the substation to take on a significant proportion of the electricity load needed in the wider Athens area, while it will also serve as the connection point for the Crete-Athens grid interconnection, expected to be completed within 2023.

The substation will also serve as a terminal for the Eastern Corridor (400 kV) from the Peloponnese to the mainland, whose completion is expected in 2024.

 

IPTO set to offer connection terms for PV group applications

Power grid operator IPTO is set to start issuing finalized connection term offers to small-scale PV group applicants after recently completing its assessment of applications submitted.

Late last week, the operator announced a list of group applications that fulfilled requirements by December 31, 2020, in preparation, according to energypress sources, for the issuance of a first batch of finalized connection term offers towards the end of June or early July.

This will place small-scale PV group applicants in line for operator connections.

As was noted by IPTO deputy Giannis Margaris two months ago, over 3,000 small-scale PV group applications representing approximately 3 GW were submitted to the operator for appraisal, a procedure that includes inspections for overlapping property issues concerning project sites.

Revisions were introduced to enable small-scale PV investors to submit group applications as a means of sidestepping distribution network saturation issues through direct connections to the transmission network, made possible by the installation of new substations to be funded by investors.

Small-scale PV group applications must represent a total capacity of at least 8 MW in order to be submitted to IPTO, according to the rule revisions.

 

PPC reducing debt to operators, but court cases still pending

Power utility PPC’s accumulated debt owed to market operators, which, along with amounts owed to contractors, exceeded 900 million euros two years ago, is now being brought under control, reduced to between 40 and 60 percent of previous levels on the strength of solid operating profit figures and improved electricity-bill collection records.

PPC is achieving a continual reduction of debt owed to power grid operator IPTO, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, and RES market operator DAPEEP.

The power utility’s net debt owed to IPTO has now fallen to 50 million euros, from 140 million euros in December, 2019.

The corporation has been just as successful in its reduction of debt owed to DEDDIE/HEDNO, down 60 percent, but its reduction of debt owed to DAPEEP has been slightly milder, dropping nearly 40 percent, to 170 million euros from 270 million euros.

The debt figures may be improving but some time will be needed before the bigger picture is entirely cleared up as PPC faces a series of law suits filed by operators. The power utility has appealed many of these, but court hearings remain pending.

 

Wholesale prices up nearly 20% in first 5 months, retail levels impacted

Wholesale electricity market prices rose by nearly 20 percent in the first five months of the year, official market data provided by power grid operator IPTO has shown.

These wholesale price increases directly impact retail price levels for consumers who have opted for floating-tariff supply agreements linked to wholesale price-related clauses.

The overall cost of electricity in the wholesale market rose 19.1 percent between January and May, from 64.111 euros per MWh to 76.373 euros per MWh.

Electricity prices in the day-ahead and intraday markets rose by 14.1 percent between January and May, from 55.612 euros per MWh to 63.499 euros per MWh, the data showed.

Discrepancy cost nearly doubled during this period, rising from 0.836 euros per MWh to 1.643 euros per MWh.

Power utility PPC, which, until now, has incorporated CO2-price clauses into its electricity bills, has announced it will adopt wholesale price-related clauses in August.

IPTO factors Balkans into adequacy report calculations

IPTO is taking into account current and potential grid capacities of neighboring Balkan markets for its preparation of an updated adequacy report, a study to serve as a base for various new plans, including the shaping of Greece’s requests for a Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM) and Strategic Reserve, an updated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), and private-sector investment decisions for new natural gas-fired power stations.

IPTO is also factoring into its adequacy report calculations the heightened investment interest and activity in Greece’s RES sector, energy storage, now that this domain appears set for initiation, as well as the introduction of new elements to mechanisms and energy exchange markets, including the demand response system, remunerating major-scale electricity consumers when the operator asks them to shift their energy usage or stop consumption during high-demand peak hours, so as to balance the electricity system’s needs.

Electricity grids in the Balkans are being revamped, creating unprecedented electricity export opportunities for Greek exporters. The EU’s intention to impose a carbon border tax on electricity imports from non-EU countries adds to Greece’s export potential to the Balkans, as well as more new natural gas-fired power stations than the quantity included in the current NECP.

Given the developments, Greece now probably needs four new natural gas-fired power stations, including power utility PPC’s Ptolemaida V.

Private-sector firms are pushing ahead their plans for the development of such units, as was highlighted by a related joint announcement last Friday from GEK Terna and Motor Oil.

 

RAE scrutinizing greater lignite use, IPTO may need to clarify

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is considering to seek clarification from power grid operator IPTO on a series of electricity market issues, including differing formations adopted for the day-ahead and ISP markets.

A first presentation, last week, of the target model’s new wholesale market, energy exchange market results and the energy mix has shown an increase in the use of lignite-fired power stations, despite their higher cost.

Power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations are still deemed necessary for electricity supply security, even when capacity levels are sufficient, to counter instability issues at the grid’s northern section, where interconnections facilitate electricity exports.

The use of lignite-fired power stations, such as Agios Dimitrios, Megalopoli IV and Meliti, despite the higher cost of CO2 emission rights, has significantly increased energy costs for suppliers and industry.

Also, when IPTO issues grid distribution orders to lignite-fired power stations, the grid-contribution programs of other units are consequently canceled out and remunerated by the energy exchange, even for energy amounts not contributed to the grid.

Meanwhile, lignite-fired power stations are remunerated through the balancing market at price levels that usually exceed 100 euros per MWh.

RAE’s intervention is intended to ensure the electricity market’s smooth functioning and efficiency, for the benefit of participants and consumers.

Lignite-fired power stations still operating despite elevated cost

Despite their increased operational cost, power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations remain essential, on an occasional basis, to ensure electricity supply security by countering various concerns that may arise, including voltage instability at the grid’s northern section.

Power grid operator IPTO needed to bring into the system one or two lignite-fired power stations throughout most of May, despite the high cost entailed, which would normally keep these units sidelined.

No lignite-fired power stations needed to be used for grid sufficiency on May 13 and 16, as is also the case for today.

The northern section of the country’s grid can be susceptible to voltage instability as a result of the international grid interconnections in the wider area, facilitating exports.

Until recently, northern Greece’s west Macedonia region was the country’s energy epicenter, courtesy of PPC’s extensive lignite portfolio in the area.

Regular use of higher-cost lignite-fired generation has increased price levels in the day-ahead and balancing markets, which, by extension, is increasing costs for suppliers.

PPC’s increased CO2 emissions, when the utility’s lignite-fired power stations are brought into operation, is also directly impacting industrial consumers, who are burdened by the resulting additional cost, passed on by the utility.

CO2 costs have risen sharply of late as a result of rallying carbon emission right costs.

Electricity demand up 7.5% in April, PPC market share steady

Electricity demand registered a sharp 7.5 percent rise in April, compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, driven by the government’s recent decision to ease lockdown measures, power grid operator IPTO’s latest monthly report has shown.

The relaxation of lockdown measures in Greece prompted a milder 1.5 percent increase in electricity demand in March, year-on-year.

On the contrary, electricity demand fell by 2.5 percent over the four-month period covering January to April, compared to the equivalent period a year earlier, according to the IPTO report.

This decline in electricity demand was approximately half the 5.1 percent drop, year-on-year, for the three-month period between January and March.

Electricity generation rose by 24.6 percent in April, compared to the same month a year earlier, according to the IPTO report.

Natural gas-fired power stations led the way, boosting their production by 52.4 percent, followed by lignite-fired power stations, whose output rose by 21.8 percent, RES units, increasing their generation by 5.8 percent and hydropower stations, which registered a 3.1 percent increase.

In terms of energy-mix shares, the pivotal role of natural gas-fired generation was once again made clear. It captured a 43 percent share of the energy mix in April, followed by the RES sector, capturing 36 percent, lignite with 11 percent, hydropower with 6 percent and electricity imports at 5 percent.

Power utility PPC’s share of electricity demand remained virtually unchanged for a third successive month in April, registering 65 percent, following a 64.8 percent share in March and 65.1 percent share in February.

Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, the frontrunner among the independent suppliers, was the only company to increase its market share in April. It rose to 8.2 percent share from 7.95 percent a month earlier.

Heron’s share was steady at 6.3 percent from 6.29 percent in March. Elpedison’s share experienced a mild drop to 4.72 percent from 4.88 percent. NRG’s share in April was unchanged at 3.99 percent, while Watt & Volt’s share slipped marginally to 2.44 percent from 2.58 percent.

IPTO to challenge RAE’s €5m fine for west corridor line delay

Power grid operator IPTO will legally challenge a 5 million-euro fine imposed by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for delays in the development of a “west corridor” transmission line in the Peloponnese, from Patras to Megalopoli, operator sources have informed energypress.

The authority’s decision is legally baseless and does not serve interests for optimal functionality in the energy market, the sources noted.

The RAE fine imposed on IPTO encourages local reaction in general and is detrimental to the effort being made for swift development of infrastructure projects around Greece, the operator’s sources added.

IPTO has never kept concealed delays it has faced to develop a small fraction of work remaining for the west corridor’s completion as a result of resistance raised by a regional monastery in the Kalavryta area, the operator sources asserted.

As soon as legal action was taken, late last year, against this project’s completion, IPTO informed RAE in writing about the initiative’s repercussions on the development plan, the sources said.

Also, IPTO does not accept any responsibility for balancing market cost increases, which have risen since last November’s target model launch, and will support its position by providing facts and evidence to RAE as well as other Greek and European authorities, the sources told.