RAE incentives-based plan for IPTO as part of new policy for operators

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is set to forward a package of incentives for power grid operator IPTO designed to influence the operator’s annual earnings when specific objectives are achieved or missed.

This move by the authority comes as part of its wider effort offering incentives to electricity and gas market operators.

RAE, at its latest board meeting, approved a first set of incentives proposed for IPTO by an external consultant, energypress sources have informed. This set of incentives is expected to be forwarded to IPTO within the next few days for observations and comments.

The regulatory authority is aiming to forward the package of IPTO incentives for public consultation towards the end of this month, before it is endorsed by the board and published in the government gazette by the end of June, and implemented six months later.

The authority is essentially aiming for the package to be implemented by January 1, 2022, as part of a new framework covering 2022 to 2025.

The same external consultant was hired for a similar-minded set of incentives concerning the electricity distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO.

RAE’s chief executive Thanassis Dagoumas recently told a news conference that the authority intends to adopt an incentives-based strategy for all operators with the aim of improving their services.

The authority will intensify its monitoring of operator projects in development and ultimately hand out bonuses or penalties, depending on the degree of progress, he noted.

For the time being, the incentives-based strategy applies for DEDDIE/HEDNO, as well as the gas distribution operators (DEDA, EDA Attiki, EDA THESS), offering extra WACC for the achievement of objectives concerning gas market penetration and distribution cost reduction for consumers.

 

Abolition of non-binding grid connection offers proposed

The abolition of non-binding (preliminary) grid connection offers is among a list of legislative proposals made by the energy ministry’s RES licensing committee, the objective being to further simplify the RES licensing process.

As part of the overall effort, RES production licenses have been replaced by RES producer certificates, obtained through a simpler online process.

The proposal to abolish non-binding (preliminary) grid connection offers means that RES investors will be able to apply to the distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO (if projects are up to 8 MW) or the power grid operator IPTO for finalized grid connection offers once they have obtained producer certificates and environmental permits.

In another committee proposal, DEDDIE/HEDNO, during its examination of grid connection offers, will no longer be responsible for land title audits in cases where land to be used for RES project installations is privately owned. This task, according to the proposal, will be taken on by external lawyers.

Grant Thornton Hellas developing Greek offshore wind farm framework

Business adviser Grant Thornton Hellas, commissioned and funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, has taken on the development of an institutional, legal and regulatory framework for offshore wind farms in Greece, in support of an overall effort being made by the energy ministry, energypress sources have informed.

Grant Thornton Hellas has already received an assortment of proposals, including on spatial and licensing matters, from interested parties, among them ELETAEN (Greek Wind Energy Association), ESIAPE (Greek Association of Renewable Energy Source Electricity Producers), EDEY (Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company), and IPTO (power grid operator).

Grant Thornton Hellas intends to also examine frameworks developed by other countries for their offshore wind farm sectors.

The energy ministry is striving to finalize the Greek framework’s key sections by June, as has been announced by ministry officials, or, at the very latest, within the summer, ahead of legislative procedures by the government.

A high-level plan, the framework’s nucleus, is planned to be completed within May so that legislative procedures can take place in June, sources said.

To serve as a road map, the high-level plan will need to provide details on: the selection criteria to be applied when choosing offshore areas to host initial projects; licensing steps for investors; the agency to be given responsibility of the licensing and project maturity processes; and the timing of auctions for tariffs.

 

EVIKEN: Medium-voltage surcharge costs excessive

Formulas applied to calculate system usage and distribution network surcharges for medium-voltage industrial consumers are now outdated, resulting in disproportionate overcharging for this consumer category, EVIKEN, the Association of Industrial Energy Consumers, has pointed out in a letter forwarded to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The association called for medium-voltage industrial consumer charging formulas to be harmonized with those used for high-voltage consumers, which offer incentives preventing excessive demand peaks.

EVIKEN also forwarded the letter to power grid operator IPTO and distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO.

Public service compensation account deficit of €36m in 2020

The public service compensation account ended 2020 with a deficit of 35.96 million euros, according to latest data provided by distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO.

The account’s deficit was greatly restricted by the settlement of transactions concerning 2017, which led to an additional influx of 72 million euros.

At the other end, a settlement of payments concerning 2012-2016, plus an additional settlement for 2014-2016, led to respective account outflow of 21.9 and 21.7 million euros.

The public service compensation account received a 116.7 million-euro injection from the state budget in 2020.

An extensive investment plan being carried out by power grid operator IPTO will greatly reduce the public service compensation account’s financial needs over the next few years, according to Thanassis Dagoumas, chief executive of RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

Public service compensation account (YKO) surcharges included on electricity bills are used to primarily subsidize high-cost electricity generation on Greece’s non-interconnected islands.

RAE is expected to soon reach a decision on YKO surcharges concerning 2019.

EuroAsia taking on extra compatibility costs for Cyprus-Crete grid link

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has updated details of a Cross Border Cost Allocation (CBCA) agreement concerning the Cyprus-Crete electricity grid interconnection plan, committing the project’s promoter, EuroAsia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests, to assume any additional compatibility costs that may arise during the development of this segment.

The development eliminates the prospect of action by EuroAsia against Greece following a decision by the Greek government, over a year ago, to detach the Crete-Athens segment from EuroAsia’s wider project, planned to link Greece, from Crete, with Cyprus and Israel.

As a result of the withdrawal, the Crete-Athens segment is now being independently developed by IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator.

Project disagreements between Greek and Cypriot officials have persisted for years but escalated into legal threats and action when, during his recent tenure as energy minister, Costis Hatzidakis decided to withdraw the Crete-Athens segment for independent development.

Following more recent negotiations, EuroAsia appears to have fully accepted the removal of the Athens-Crete segment from the wider project it is spearheading.

Israel, for some time now, has made clear its interest to link the Cyprus-Israel grid interconnection with the Crete-Athens section.

RAE to intensify its operator monitoring, starting with gas

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is gearing up to intensify its monitoring of the Greek energy market’s gas and electricity operators with the aim of minimizing operator surcharges for consumers and helping improve operator services, the authority’s chief executive, Thanassis Dagoumas, has told a news conference, reiterating the intention, also stressed during a recent presentation of its annual report.

The regulatory authority’s plan includes commissioning certified auditors to inspect the financial data of market operators.

Gas grid operator DESFA, gas distributors EDA Attiki, EDA THESS and DEDA, as well as the power grid operator IPTO and electricity distribution network operator DEDDIE can, as a result, expected closer inspections.

The authority intends to commence its intensified monitoring effort with the natural gas sector, where numerous new projects are planned for development, in an effort to ensure fair surcharge costs for consumers.

Dagoumas, at the news conference, reiterated that the operators, whose revenues are regulated, cannot enjoy wider profit margins than other market players.

Operators will be offered incentives for swifter completion of projects, which, combined with the stricter monitoring effort, will result in either bonuses or penalties, depending on the degree of progress made, the RAE chief highlighted once again.

RAE intends to introduce incentive-based policies, standard practice around Europe, for all energy market operators active in transmission and distribution.

 

Prioritization for RES projects with producer certificates proposed

The energy ministry’s RES licensing committee has recommended a four-month prioritization period by power grid operator IPTO in its processing of connection term applications submitted by investors already holding producer certificates. This prioritization would be implemented at the expense of small-scale RES unit applications, which have swamped licensing system and caused problems.

The proposal, presented at a committee meeting yesterday, would effectively push forward, by four months, connection term applications submitted for projects already issued producer certificates.

The main topic of yesterday’s committee meeting concerned a presentation of this body’s proposal for RES licensing simplification procedures, during the latter stages, such as when finalized connection terms are offered and operating licenses are issued.

 

Target model non-compliance cost formula effective, IPTO notes

A new target model formula calculating discrepancy cost is proving effective as, in most cases, it is impacting the finances of electricity producers and suppliers when they deviate from distribution orders and loading plans, power grid operator IPTO has noted.

As a result, the discrepancy cost formula should, for the time being, continue to apply for both electricity producers and suppliers as it appears to be offering a balancing incentive, the operator has recommended.

IPTO’s proposal has been forwarded to public consultation, taking place until May 7, for a scheduled reassessment of factors concerning non-compliance charges following the target model’s recent launch.

RAE launches inquiry into ‘western corridor’ grid delay

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has launched an enquiry into the delay of Greece’s “western corridor” power grid project, now behind schedule and posing a serious threat to the national grid’s overall operating ability.

The corridor’s delayed delivery has been linked to objections raised by a small group of nuns at a monastery in the northern Peloponnese’s Kalavryta area, opposing the installation of several  remaining pylons needed for the project’s completion.

Power grid operator IPTO has provided RAE with an extensive report, hundreds of pages long, detailing the project’s entire course, following a request made by the regulatory authority.

The “western corridor” is now behind schedule as envisaged in the operator’s 10-year development plan.

RAE has also requested an explanation from IPTO as to why it did not promptly inform the regulatory authority on the project’s delay, given that it was full aware of the nearby monastery’s stance, so that possible alternative solutions could be explored.

IPTO contends all its actions, from the moment the monastery-related problem arose, have been carried out in accordance with energy ministry instructions, as is the case with all matters of strategic importance.

 

Peloponnese private RES limits to be lifted, 100 MW available

Current limits not permitting individuals to install new RES units in the Peloponnese, a region long regarded by authorities as saturated, can now be lifted according to power grid operator IPTO and distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO.

Both operators have determined that vacant grid space has become available for new RES units, estimating the free space at approximately 100 MW.

For quite some time, small and big-scale RES investors have expressed tremendous interest to install new RES units, mainly PVs, in the Peloponnese, but have been held back by the limits set for the region.

In response to the latest news from the two operators, the energy ministry appears set to proceed with a legislative amendment that will also offer grid access to individuals, not just energy communities, in the Peloponnese, as is the case at present.

This however will previously require an official proposal by the two operators to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, which, in turn, will need to set new limits concerning RES capacity absorption in the Peloponnese.

Once completed, these actions will have paved the way for the energy ministry to proceed with the required legislative revisions, to also specify the technical profiles of units that will be able to utilize the available grid capacity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IPTO preparing new formula for grid capacity availability

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authorities gearing up for intraday market entry of traders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transitional plan for Cretan small-scale link sent to Brussels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

IPTO warns PPC against Megalopoli III closure this year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greek market coupling with Bulgaria scheduled for May 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

DG Comp motives for restart of older PPC probe unclear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

IPTO study backing PPC lignite compensation bid soon to EC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foreign firms seeking local demand response service roles

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

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

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

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

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

PPC seeks IPTO support for EC lignite compensation request

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Electricity demand falls 9.5% in January amid stricter lockdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Weather effects lend credibility to PPC lignite compensation bid

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

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

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

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

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

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