‘EC to announce separate support system for offshore windfarms in 1Q ‘22’

The European Commission will announce a separate support system for offshore windfarms in the first quarter of 2022, the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou has informed in a Euractiv interview, indicating this will facilitate Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ recently announced objective for an additional 2 GW in offshore wind farms by 2030.

Greece, which plans to withdraw all lignite facilities by 2028, will greatly depend on the addition of new RES units to replace the resulting capacity loss, Sdoukou noted.

The country plans to double its wind and solar energy capacity by 2030 so that the RES sector can represent 64 percent of Greece’s total electricity generation, the official pointed out.

A series of measures boosting the trust of local communities to host wind energy facilities will be needed, Sdoukou said, admitting resistance at local level has risen along with a growing recognition by the public of the advantages offered by wind turbines for eco-friendly energy.

PPC lignite reserves, stations ready for winter, official assures

Lignite reserves are sufficient to meet elevated demand this winter, while the country’s lignite-fired power stations, hydropower facilities and lignite mines are all set to operate, Dimitris Metikanis, general manager of power utility PPC’s lignite production division has noted in Parliament, in response to questions over energy sufficiency and the energy crisis.

PPC has done all that is possible to prepare the country’s lignite and hydropower units for possible energy demand increases during the winter, the PPC official noted.

Maintenance levels for the country’s lignite facilities have been relaxed in recent times as these units are headed for withdrawal by 2023, as part of Greece’s decarbonization effort. However, the energy crisis may require the lignite units to be brought back into play this winter.

Adequate lignite sources are expected to prevent a reliance on electricity exports, while PPC’s lignite-fired power station Agios Dimitrios V is expected to return by the end of the year after being sidelined for desulfurization work, the official informed.

Daily electricity demand in Greece is projected to reach between 180 and 190 GWh during colder weather conditions from December to February, according to power grid operator IPTO projections.

Such demand levels will require contributions from all available lignite-fired power stations, seven in total – Agios Dimitrios I, II, III, IV and V, Melitis and Megalopoli IV – offering a total capacity of 1,800 MW.

 

Slight relaxation of lignite withdrawal plan, ’28 a firm date

 

The government’s climate change rules concerning the country’s withdrawal plan for power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations appears headed for a slight relaxation by taking into account the difficulties brought about by the energy crisis, leaving 2028 as the only definite deadline for the withdrawal of the utility’s very last lignite facility, Ptolemaida V, a new facility yet to be launched.

A plan for an accelerated withdrawal of all existing lignite-fired power stations by 2023, announced by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at a UN Climate Action Summit in 2019, is now being reassessed and has been put through public consultation running until December 24, the objective being to ensure grid sufficiency in the face of changes.

The withdrawal of lignite-fired power stations, all operated by PPC, is a tricky equation as a swift procedure promising to curtail PPC’s lignite-related losses – these units are currently profitable, an energy crisis abnormality – needs to be balanced with grid sufficiency protection.

Minister calls meeting on winter energy sufficiency challenge

Energy authorities are expected to focus on the challenge of assuring energy sufficiency over the winter season at a meeting of today, called by energy minister Kostas Skrekas as a result of production capacity concerns at the country’s lignite facilities.

Maintenance level cutbacks at the country’s lignite-fired power facilities, in anticipation of their decarbonization-related withdrawals, may end up affecting the performance of some units, but their contribution to the grid could be crucial as a result of the wider impact of the energy crisis on the market.

The energy minister called today’s meeting in response to a letter forwarded by power utility PPC, controlling the country’s lignite facilities, to power grid operator IPTO, in which current problems faced by lignite-based electricity generation were stressed.

Lignite-based output up 7% in first nine months, data shows

Despite the decarbonization plan’s ongoing phase-out of the country’s existing lignite-fired power stations, lignite-based electricity output recorded a 7 percent increase in the first nine-month period, compared to the equivalent period a year earlier, according to official data released by power grid operator IPTO.

Also, lignite-based electricity generation represented 9 percent of the energy mix in September, contributing 358 GWh, the IPTO data showed.

Lignite-based electricity generation for the year’s first nine-month period represented 11 percent of the energy mix, resulting in the 7 percent year-on-year increase, the data showed.

Renewables represented 20 percent of the energy mix in September, according to the IPTO data.

 

Fossil fuel subsidies exceed amount for renewables in 2019, EC report shows

Greece spent one percent of GDP on fossil fuel subsidies in 2019, exceeding the 0.9 percent level allotted for renewable energy subsidies, a European Commission report published yesterday has shown.

However, fossil fuel subsidies in Greece are on a downward trajectory whereas subsidies for the RES sector and energy efficiency are steadily rising, the report added.

Of 1.6 billion euros made available for fossil fuel subsidies in 2019, the biggest percentage concerned diesel and petroleum products, the remainder going to the natural gas and lignite sectors.

Energy source subsidies in the EU totaled 176 billion euros in 2019, up 8 percent from 2015, the report noted.

Subsidies for energy efficiency increased during this period by 43 percent to 5 billion euros while subsidies for energy production increased by just 4 percent to 3 billion euros, primarily for renewables, the Brussels report showed.

 

 

 

Lignite-fired power stations still playing key grid sufficiency role

Lignite-fired power stations remain a vital contributor to the electricity market’s daily programing, despite energy demand being at normal levels of approximately 6,200 MW at present.

Yesterday, three lignite-fired power stations, Agios Dimitrios II, III and IV, were mobilized along with natural gas-fueled power stations, RES units, hydropower and electricity imports, to cover a demand level of 128.545 GWh.

Power grid operator IPTO has revised its grid sufficiency report for this coming winter, noting that all the country’s lignite-fired power stations will need to be mobilized during periods of high demand.

According to the IPTO report, the country’s grid will require capacities of up to 8.8-9.5 GW between December and February, during cold weather conditions.

Such levels will require input from all the country’s available lignite-fired power stations, seven in total, offering a total capacity of 1,800 MW, it has been estimated.

PPC lignite-fired electricity package sales to rivals for ’22 progressing fast

Power utility PPC is moving ahead at full speed with its offering of lignite-fired electricity packages to rival suppliers as part of a recent antitrust agreement reached between the energy ministry and the European Commission.

Lignite-fired electricity packages offered by PPC to rivals, covering all four quarters in 2022, have so far resulted in sales amounting to 1,740 GWh for next year.

PPC will need to sell, to rival suppliers, lignite-fired electricity packages estimated at a little over 2,100 GWh for the first, second and third quarters of 2022.

Sales have so far reached 475 GWh for the first quarter, 382 GWh for the second quarter, 386 for the third quarter and 497 GWh for the fourth quarter.

Transactions for most of the 1,740 GWh in lignite-fired electricity sales completed have taken place through the European energy exchange, reaching 1,697 GWh.

Transactions through the Greek energy exchange were limited to 43 GWh, for quantities concerning 1Q in 2022. PPC made available bigger quantities without attracting buyers.

Analysts partially attributed this reservation to the adverse conditions currently faced by domestic suppliers, who, as a result of exorbitantly higher wholesale electricity prices, are being forced to spend far greater proportions of cashflow on electricity purchases covering the current needs of customers, which has prevented them from considering futures contracts.

 

PPC lignite antitrust legislation forbids back-to-back agreements

The energy ministry is preparing a legislative revision for its recent antitrust agreement with the European Commission, requiring state-controlled power utility PPC to make available lignite-fired electricity packages to rival suppliers.

The antitrust agreement, already launched by PPC and designed to break its lignite monopoly, requires the utility to offer quarterly lignite-fired electricity packages from September 10, 2021 to December 31, 2024, if still needed.

Details in the plan forbid PPC to conduct back-to-back agreements with rival suppliers, or sale and repurchase of lignite quantities.

According to the plan, PPC, from the fourth quarter of 2021 until 3Q in 2022, must offer rival suppliers lignite-generated electricity quantities representing 50 percent of generation in the corresponding quarters a year earlier.

The upcoming legislative revision will spare PPC from needing to split away lignite divisions into two new companies for subsequent sale, as had been stipulated by legislation ratified by the country’s previous administration.

All existing lignite facilities in Greece are expected to have been withdrawn by the end of 2023, according to the country’s decarbonization plan.

 

 

PPC must market over 2,100 GWh in lignite-fired power by end of month

Power utility PPC needs to move fast this month with its offering of lignite-fired electricity packages to rival suppliers as part of a recent antitrust agreement reached between the energy ministry and the European Commission.

According to the agreement, PPC must market lignite-fired electricity packages for the first, second and third quarters of 2022 by October 31, either through the European or Greek energy exchange.

The three packages also face imminent sale deadlines. All transactions for electricity quantities offered to PPC’s rivals through the first package will need to be completed by the end of November, while transactions for the 2Q and 3Q packages must be done and dusted by December 31.

As for the quantities to be offered, PPC’s 1Q and 2Q lignite-fired packages must total 872 and 515 GWh, respectively. The power utility’s 3Q package will need to offer rivals 50 percent of the company’s lignite-fired power generated in the third quarter this year.

According to data provided by power grid operator IPTO, PPC’s lignite-fired power stations produced 1,081 GWh in July and August, while September’s output has been estimated at 370 GWh.

Given these figures, totaling 1,451 GWh, PPC will need to offer a lignite-fired package of 725 GWh for the third quarter next year, taking the total offering for 1Q, 2Q and 3Q in 2022 to just over 2,100 GWh in futures contracts that must be marketed through either of the two aforementioned exchanges by the end of this month.

 

PPC fulfils 4Q antitrust lignite obligation for supply to rivals

Power utility PPC has fulfilled its fourth quarter antitrust obligations concerning the supply of lignite-fired electricity packages to third parties by securing futures contracts through the Greek and European energy exchanges for an electricity amount that exceeds the quantity stipulated in the government’s agreement with the European Commission, energypress sources have informed.

According to the agreement, which has resolved a long-running antitrust case concerning PPC’s monopoly in the lignite sector, the power utility, in the fourth quarter, needed to offer third parties a total electricity amount representing at least 50 percent of lignite-fired generation recorded for the equivalent period last year.

PPC’s lignite-fired power stations generated 1,785 GWh in the fourth quarter last year, meaning the amount the utility was expected to provide for the corresponding period this year was approximately 893 GWh.

Until yesterday, a day ahead of today’s deadline of its futures contracts, PPC had already secured deals for electricity packages representing a total of 978 GWh.

A first package of futures contracts was exclusively offered through the European energy exchange in Leipzig on September 17 at an average price of 153.75 euros per MWh, followed by three more packages, on September 23, 24 and yesterday.

PPC Renewables, RWE set to finalize joint venture agreement

PPC Renewables, a power utility PPC subsidiary, and Germany’s RWE Renewables are expected to finalize a joint-venture agreement at the beginning of October for solar energy projects in Greece to offer a total capacity of nearly 2 GW.

PPC Renewables plans to contribute to the joint venture 940 MW in solar energy projects at Amynteo, the northern Greece location hosting 4,360 hectares in company lignite fields to be repurposed as part of the decarbonization effort. The Greek company has already received a first round of environmental permits.

RWE Renewables is at the final stage of its search for solar energy projects to total 1 GW.

The two partners will begin their collaboration with the Amynteo project. They plan to begin its development in the first half of 2022. PPC Renewables has established nine special purpose vehicles for these projects.

RWE Renewables, holding a 51 percent stake in the joint venture, has already established a Greek subsidiary, RWE Greece, currently being staffed.

Talks between PPC Renewables and RWE Renewables have intensified since early summer. The respective company heads, Konstantinos Mavros and Katja Wünschel, discussed the prospective partnership at the recent 5th Greek-German Economic Forum, while RWE officials have also visited Athens for negotiations.

PPC chooses Greek energy exchange for lignite-fired electricity packages

Power utility PPC has chosen to offer lignite-fired electricity packages to third parties through the Greek energy exchange, not the European energy exchange, as it was also entitled to, sources have informed.

This main reason behind this decision, part of an imminent mechanism to be implemented as a remedy to a long-running antitrust case concerning PPC’s monopoly in the lignite sector, is that PPC sees the forthcoming mechanism as a good opportunity for the domestic futures market to gain momentum and, by extension, help improve the utility’s cash flow.

The mechanism’s launch, coming at a time of elevated wholesale electricity prices, will help PPC’s rivals offset the period’s price volatility, which is crucial support that will enable independent players to compete more effectively in the retail electricity market and offer stable prices to consumers, the European Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, also Brussel’s Commissioner for Competition, noted in an official announcement.

A legislative revision for the mechanism offering lignite-fired electricity packages to third parties is likely to be submitted to parliament today by the energy ministry.

The plan is expected to begin offering lignite-fired electricity packages to third parties by the fourth quarter.

 

PPC local, European exchange option for lignite packages

Power utility PPC will be entitled to choose whether to offer lignite-fired electricity packages to third parties through the Greek energy exchange or European energy exchange, according to details of an upcoming mechanism to be implemented as a remedy to a long-running antitrust case concerning PPC’s monopoly in the lignite sector.

PPC preference for the domestic energy exchange would keep open the option of physical delivery of these lignite electricity packages and ensure the company greater flexibility in its portfolio management. Opting for the European energy exchange would not permit physical delivery, making the deals purely financial transactions.

All that remains for the implementation of the mechanism, whose details have been agreed to by the government and European Commission, is a decision by the energy ministry on when to submit a related legislative revision to parliament, according to sources.

The legislative revision has been completed and the ministry is believed to be on standby for an appropriate date, the objective being to make a first round of lignite-fired electricity packages available to third parties by the fourth quarter this year.

All electricity suppliers will be entitled to purchase these packages, to have three-month durations.

As previously reported by energypress, the electricity quantity planned to be offered to suppliers through the mechanism in the fourth quarter this year will represent 50 percent of lignite-fired output in the equivalent period of 2020.

Then, for every quarter in 2022 and 2023, lignite-fired electricity packages to be offered to PPC’s rivals will represent 40 percent of lignite-based production in equivalent quarters of the respective previous years.

According to the country’s decarbonization plan, all existing lignite-fired power stations will cease operating by the end of 2023.

 

Lignite-fired electricity packages to PPC rivals by fourth quarter

The energy ministry plans to soon submit to Parliament a legislative revision for a mechanism offering third parties access to power utility PPC’s lignite-fired electricity production. This move will enable the implementation of an agreement on the matter between the government and the European Commission as a remedy to a long-running antitrust case concerning PPC’s monopoly in the lignite sector.

Officials are aiming for a first round of lignite-produced electricity packages to become available to third parties imminently, by the fourth quarter of this year.

All electricity suppliers will be entitled to purchase these packages, to have three-month durations.

Electricity quantities planned to be offered to suppliers through the mechanism in the fourth quarter this year will be calculated to represent 50 percent of lignite-fired output in the equivalent period of 2020. Then, for every quarter in 2022 and 2023, lignite-fired packages to be offered to PPC’s rivals will represent 40 percent of lignite-based production in equivalent quarters of the respective previous years.

According to the country’s decarbonization plan, all existing lignite-fired power stations will cease operating and no longer participate in the electricity market by the end of 2023.

A prospective PPC facility, Ptolemaida V, is planned to be launched as a lignite-fired power station early in 2023 before it is withdrawn in December, 2024 for a fuel conversion and reintroduction.

 

 

Lignite area €5bn upgrade plan presented at cabinet meeting

The planned upgrade of Greece’s lignite-dependent areas – an effort of unprecedented domestic ambition budgeted at 5 billion euros that includes emblematic projects such as a hydrogen-producing facility, the country’s first; major-scale telethermal units; a 155-km natural gas pipeline in the north;  major-scale solar farms, including a 200-MW solar farm in Kozani being developed by Mytilineos for PPC Renewables; and the norther section of the E65 highway – will be presented at a cabinet meeting today.

A related draft bill includes provisions for the establishment of a special purpose vehicle for the overall effort, named Metavasi SA, meaning transition. The SPV will take over 16,400 hectares of power utility PPC’s lignite-related land, including fixed assets, except for property to be kept by the utility for its own green investments.

This transfer of 16,400 hectares represents 66 percent of PPC’s total land assets, currently measuring 24,700 hectares.

The Metavasi SPV will assume responsibility for the upgrade of the 16,400 hectares of land, currently hosting PPC lignite mines and lignite-fired power stations.

 

Technical chamber wants lignite maintenance in energy mix

TEE, the Technical Chamber of Greece, favors the continued use of the country’s modern lignite-fired power stations for an energy-mix representation of between 10 and 12 percent over the next few years, as a means of securing electricity sufficiency and strategic reserves.

The chamber’s administration has officially approved an internal vote adopting this position. Its scientific committee, comprised of metallurgical engineers, expressed strong reservations over a government decision to prematurely terminate lignite-fired electricity production as part of the country’s decarbonization plan.

Extensive public debate and a detailed study, essential for a matter of such strategic importance for Greece, should have preceded the premature lignite withdrawal decision, the TEE scientific committee pointed out.

An approved master plan for the lignite withdrawals was rejected by regional authorities in Greece’s two lignite-dependent regions, western Macedonia, in the north, and Peloponnese’s Megalopoli, as proposals forwarded by local authorities and citizens were not considered or discussed, the committee noted.

A total of 19 months have elapsed and over 2,500 jobs lost since the government’s decision to prematurely withdraw lignite-fired units in the two areas, but the administration’s master plan for a fair transition, intended to restructure these lignite-dependent local economies, continues to lack clarity, the committee stressed.

EU funds made available for the restructuring of the two lignite-dependent economies, just over 700 million euros and well under a five billion-euro amount initially announced, are very limited for a proper and fair transition, the chamber added.

 

Strategic reserve necessary, exchange reacts satisfactorily

The end of the Greek energy system’s reliance on lignite, being phased out to help the global climate change effort, needs to be accompanied by a strategic reserve mechanism, which would maintain certain generation capacities outside the electricity market for operation during emergency cases until the ongoing transition to cleaner energy sources has been completed, the extreme heatwave conditions around the country over the past few days have highlighted.

Record-level electricity consumption, combined with power line damages caused by major fires, pushed the grid to the limit, raising fears of widespread power outages.

The government, currently seeking the establishment of a strategic reserve mechanism as part of a Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM), needing European Commission approval, will need to highlight the heatwave-related events that have occurred in Greece over the past ten days.

Sidelined lignite-fired power stations needed to be brought back into action to help the grid meet electricity demand. They offered crucial production contributions representing between 14 and 18 percent of the energy mix.

Lignite-generated output also played a key part in the effort to maintain energy sufficiency last winter, in February, during heavy snowfall that damaged power infrastructure.

The energy exchange has performed rationally during the heatwave conditions, proving its ability to respond to the market’s demand and supply. Day-ahead market price levels rose sharply during the heatwave’s peak and are now subsiding.

 

 

Consumption record expected, industry on switch-off standby

Electricity consumption today is expected to exceed yesterday’s level of 10,700 MWh, a ten-year high, and reach close to 11,000 MWh, which would represent an all-time high, as the prolonged heatwave peaks.

Industrial consumers are awaiting switch-off orders from power grid operator IPTO. Up until yesterday, they had yet to receive such instructions, but a number of industrial enterprises have already switched off voluntarily, while Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has urged consumers to exercise restraint in electricity consumption.

Authorities are placing their hopes for grid sufficiency in strong summer breezes forecast for Thursday that should cool temperatures and significantly boost generation through the country’s wind energy facilities.

Though still too early to judge, the grid appears to have stood up to the heatwave’s challenge so far. Minor technical issues and brief outages in various parts of the wider Athens area, Larissa, central Greece, and Agrinio, in the northwest, have been reported.

Authorities remain on edge as the resilience of a largely outdated grid remains uncertain amid daily consumption levels of 9,000 to 10,000 MWh for days on end.

Lignite-generated input is playing a crucial role. It covered between 16 and 18 percent of consumption yesterday. Power utility PPC’s lignite-fired Megalopoli III power station, which has been sidelined for months as part of the country’s decarbonization phase-out plan, operated most of the day yesterday.

 

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.

Authorities on alert, heatwave leads to record price levels

The country’s latest prolonged heatwave conditions have made huge impact on the energy market, driving up today’s wholesale electricity average price to 136 euros per MWh and the price of natural gas to a 16-year high, once again testing the grid’s limits, as well as those of suppliers and their household and business customers.

Today’s wholesale price ascent to 136 euros per MWh adds to the steady rise of recent days, which began the week at 93 euros per MWh on Monday, following an average level of 75 euros per MWh last week. The increase represents an 83 percent wholesale electricity price increase in a week.

Continual use of air condition systems over the next few days of extreme hot weather, that has been forecast, is expected to further increase electricity demand and price levels, placing on high alert market players and officials, from the operators to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, the energy ministry, power utility PPC and independent energy producers.

Despite the increased pressure, grid sufficiency, for the time being, appears to be under control. No power station damages have been reported, while PPC’s lignite-fired power stations, nowadays representing a high-cost option, along with big RES units, have been mobilized, creating safe conditions for the challenging evening hours, from 7pm until midnight.

At present, supply is exceeding demand, typically reaching levels of approximately 9.5 GW in recent days, all hot.

 

 

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.

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.

Wholesale prices driven higher by heatwave, lignite units enter

The heightened electricity demand prompted by the country’s ongoing heatwave is applying intense pressure on wholesale price levels. Given today’s grid requirements, expected to exceed 8 GW, the clearing price at the energy exchange is seen rising to over 100 euros for 16 hours, peaking at 9pm at a price level of €127.82/MWh.

According to a power grid operator IPTO forecast, the system’s demand peak is expected to exceed 8 GW for a three-hour period, reaching as high as 8,108 MW. Overall demand today is seen totaling 156,115 MWh.

In order to cover the grid’s electricity needs for today, IPTO, in addition to the natural gas-fired power stations operated by power utility PPC and independent players, has also recruited four PPC lignite-fired power stations, these being Agios Dimitrios I, II and IV and Meliti.

The RES sector is expected to cover 27,540 MWh of total demand, while natural gas-fired power stations and hydropower units are seen contributing 99,651 MWh and 10,449 MWh, respectively.

As for the natural gas-fired power stations recruited for today’s grid needs, the list is comprised of 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.

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.

PPC Renewables expecting KAS nod for Ptolemaida solar farm projects

PPC Renewables is anticipating approval, today, by Greece’s Central Archaeological Council (KAS) for a large-scale cluster of solar farm projects totaling nearly 1 GW in the Ptolemaida plains of northern Greece, until now mined for their lignite deposits by parent company PPC, the power utility.

KAS has received an application from PPC Renewables for the solar energy projects Pteleonas 1, Pteleonas 2, Kardia 1, Exohi 8 and PPC Ptolemaida Mine A, B, C, D and E.

These projects, promising a total capacity of 960 MW, will be developed over a total land mass measuring 1,830 hectares.

PPC crews and sub-contractors have mined this land for decades, extracting lignite under the surveillance of KAS officials, watchful in the event of any archaeological discoveries.

Given PPC’s preceding mining activities in the region, PPC Renewables’ application for solar farm projects should not encounter any problems with KAS authorities.

Overall, PPC has submitted applications for solar farms in the area totaling 2.5 GW, which, if combined with applications lodged for solar farms in Megalopoli, Peloponnese, total 3 GW.

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.

PPC aims for EBITDA repeat of €900m, carbon cut ‘on track’

Power utility PPC is aiming for a repeat of last year’s EBITDA performance in 2021, a level of between 800 and 900 million euros, an objective to be supported by the corporation’s declining lignite-based electricity generation, both in terms of volume and energy-mix percentage, the company’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis has told analysts.

As part of its decarbonization effort, PPC plans to withdraw its Megalopoli III lignite-fired power station within the current year.

PPC managed to restrict its lignite-fired generation to 22 percent of total output in the first quarter this year, down from 44 percent a year earlier.

The utility needed to spend 138.5 million euros on CO2 emission rights in the first quarter, up from 119.7 million euros during the equivalent period last year, at an average cost of 31.7 euros per ton.

CO2 emission right prices have since risen further and currently register between 51 and 52 euros per ton.

Assuming CO2 emission right prices average 47 euros per ton in 2Q – this level could end up being be far higher – and PPC’s lignite-based generation remains at the current level, then the corporation’s carbon-cost outlay for this quarter will reach approximately 205 million euros, a 48 percent increase.

PPC, which recently borrowed through sustainability-linked bonds, committing itself to a carbon emission reduction of 40 percent by 2022, is confident this target will be achieved, the corporation’s administration told analysts.

 

Strategic reserve milestones set for next two months

A series of milestones have been set until autumn in preparation for Greece’s prospective Strategic Reserve Mechanism, which, if achieved, will enable its launch towards the end of the year.

The timeline and milestones leading to the possible launch of a Strategic reserve mechanism, keeping certain generation capacities outside the electricity market for operation only in emergencies, was discussed in detail during an online meeting yesterday between energy minister Kostas Skrekas and European Commission authorities.

Strategic reserves can be necessary to ensure security of electricity supply when electricity markets are undergoing transitions and reforms and are meant to insure against the risk of a severe supply crisis during such transitions.

Three main prerequisites will need to be satisfied by the end of July, the first being the completion of a market reform plan, intended to intensify competition in the wholesale electricity market.

The plan’s preparations will include the involvement of Pantelis Kapros, Professor of Energy Economics at the National Technical University of Athens, according to sources.

A new adequacy report, or updated study on grid sufficiency proving the need for the introduction of a Strategic Reserve mechanism, will also be needed.

Thirdly, the energy ministry will need to have fully responded, within the next month, to an extensive set of questions forwarded by European Commission officials on the prospective mechanism.

If these steps go well, an indefinite prospect at present, then a clearer picture on the mechanism’s details should have emerged by early autumn.

Any Strategic Reserve formula reached will need to be applied for a brief period so that an ensuing Capacity Remuneration Mechanism, to support new natural gas-fueled power stations, can immediately follow, the European Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, also Brussel’s Commissioner for Competition, appears to have made clear to Skrekas, the energy minister, at a recent meeting.

Meanwhile, power utility PPC’s updated decarbonization plan is aiming for a withdrawal of all its lignite-fired power stations by 2025, at the very latest.