Achlada mine set to reopen, ministry revokes older decision

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas has revoked an older decision terminating the Greek State’s lease contract with Achlada Mining S.A. for the exploitation of a lignite mine in northern Greece’s Achlada area.

This decision will enable the mine’s reopening and ensure the nearby Meliti lignite-fired power station operates at full capacity to help the country secure energy sufficiency amidst the energy crisis.

Achlada Mining S.A. had had its Achlada mine license terminated after failing to meet lease contract payments.

In the lead-up to the minister’s decision to revoke the termination of Achlada Mining S.A.’s lease contract with the State, the company covered just over 10 percent of its 5.69 million-euro debt owed to the Greek State, making a payment of 659,867 euros in September.

The energy ministry has given Achlada Mining S.A. a 60-day period to deliver the rest of the amount, approximately 5 million euros. This debt concerns older lease amounts from 2017.

European effort for energy cost solutions well underway

European discussion for electricity market reforms that could lead to permanent solutions for lower-cost energy by detaching the cost of electricity from natural gas is well underway.

European Commission authorities, institutions, major enterprises and other electricity market players are currently putting forward proposals until December, when Brussels is expected to issue its own proposal for consultation, as has just been noted by Mechthild Wörsdörfer, deputy director general for the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy.

Discussion for longer-term reforms is planned to continue in February and March. Reforms will need to be approved by the European Parliament, as well as by the Energy Council of Ministers, in order to become binding.

The overall approach is based on a proposal forwarded by Pantelis Kapros, Professor of Energy Economics at the National Technical University of Athens, supporting the need for remuneration of renewable energy, as well as electricity production generated by other low-emission technologies, such as nuclear, to be based on actual cost through long-term agreements rather than through the day-ahead market, whose levels are determined by wholesale market prices.

According to Kapros’ proposal, wholesale market prices should be used to determine remuneration levels for fossil fuel-based energy production technologies (coal, lignite, natural gas) as well as hydropower facilities with water reserves and energy storage units.

RES output doubled, wholesale electricity price plunges 44%

Doubled RES production in recent days has been a key factor in a 44 percent decrease in the price of wholesale electricity over the past three days, down to levels last registered roughly a year ago.

Day-ahead market prices yesterday dropped to 166.12 euros per MWh, from 298.97 euros per MWh last Thursday.

Besides the doubled RES production, lower electricity demand over the weekend was cited as another factor in this price drop, according to the Hellenic Energy Exchange and power grid operator IPTO. Electricity demand dropped by roughly 20 percent over the weekend, compared to the preceding weekdays, IPTO figures showed.

On October 13, RES and hydropower facilities represented 34.4 percent of the energy mix, their participation rising to 68 percent yesterday.

As a result, natural gas and lignite-fired power stations played a lesser role over the past few days. Natural gas and lignite-fired power stations yesterday represented 8.55 percent and 4.74 percent of the energy mix, respectively, from 31.42 percent and 8.83 percent last Thursday.

Yesterday, between 12pm and 3pm, RES units covered 83 percent of the country’s energy mix.

 

PPC’s Ptolemaida V nearing full-scale test, lignite output up

The mechanical equipment of power utility PPC’s new, state-of-the-art Ptolemaida V power station is currently undergoing preliminary testing ahead of a full-scale trial run, expected towards the end of this month or early in November, before the facility is commercially launched and linked to the energy exchange in early January, PPC officials have told energypress.

The facility, whose testing began just a few days ago, will initially operate as a lignite-fired power station before eventually converting to natural gas.

A cross-party political decision to construct Ptolemaida V was reached nine years ago.

The launch of Ptolemaida V, a 610-MW capacity power station, promises to greatly contribute to the country’s energy security as its operation will enable significant amounts of natural gas to be saved for winter.

The new power station is a low-emitting facility with a high performance level able to rival natural gas-fueled power stations (CCGTs).

Greece’s lignite-fired electricity generation is being increased following a government decision reached in early July to boost lignite’s percentage of the energy mix. The objective is to double lignite-based output over the next 12 months, from 5 TWh to 10 TWh.

The country’s lignite-fired power production has been on the rise since early last summer, more-than-doubling in June, compared to the equivalent month in 2021, rising 61 percent, year-on-year, in July, and increasing 27 percent in August.

Lignite mine interest rekindled by PPC plan to boost reserves

Power utility PPC’s effort to boost lignite extraction for reinforced reserves, needed as this energy source has returned to the fore, at least temporarily, in the crisis, is helping to bring back into the picture the state-owned Ahlada and Vevi lignite mines, both sidelined, as the interest of private investors in these units has been revitalized.

Major energy and construction groups are expressing renewed interest in these lignite mines, both in northern Greece’s Florina region, sources informed. PPC’s lignite reserves stockpiled at power stations have reached 2.7 million tons but are still considered insufficient.

Lignitoryhia Ahladas SA, the company to which two lignite mines, Ahlada 1 and Ahlada 2, were leased by the Greek State, was declared defunct by the energy ministry in July as a result of its failure to meet agreement terms, primarily lease payments. The Ahlada mines have supplied lignite to PPC’s Meliti power station. Further back, Ahlada was operated by the AKTOR-TERNA partnership.

As for the Vevi mine, the country’s first lignite mine for which an attempt was made to transfer its operations to the private sector, three companies, Mytilineos, TERNA and Aktor, participated in a tender in 2008 before Aktor was eventually named the winning bidder in late 2014.

However, Aktor was not able to pursue the project as concessionaire after the left-wing Syriza party came into power shortly afterwards. The project agreement was never brought to parliament for approval during the Syriza government’s two tenures, from January, 2015 to July, 2019.

 

PPC holding back on lignite generation ahead of winter

Power utility PPC has gradually been switching off its lignite-fired power stations in order to build up on lignite reserves at these facility grounds ahead of the upcoming winter season.

PPC is aiming for a lignite accumulation of approximately 2.5 million tons. The power utility’s current lignite reserves total 2.15 million tons. If PPC’s 2.5 million-ton winter objective is to be reached, the company’s lignite mines will need to operate at full capacity over the coming weeks, extracting amounts of 35,000 to 40,000 tons per day.

All seven of PPC’s lignite-fired power stations were operating at full capacity during summer’s peak periods. Now, just two of these units are operating, Agios Dimitrios III and V.

Agios Dimitrios II is undergoing maintenance, while Agios Dimitrios I and IV are on stand-by. Melitis is currently sidelined by a technical fault but is expected to be become available again on October 3. Megalopoli was closed for days but has become available as of today, if needed.

PPC’s lignite reserves have dwindled following strong demand during the summer, when PPC’s lignite share of the energy mix reached as high as 25 percent.

 

 

 

Lignite boost target dependent on futures of sidelined mines

Power utility PPC’s target of boosting its monthly lignite extraction from one million tons to 1.5 million tons, an increase that would enable lignite-fired power station grounds to be fully stocked with lignite reserves ahead of winter, can only be achieved if the futures of two lignite mines, Ahlada and Vevi, both in northern Greece’s Florina region, are cleared up.

Lignitoryhia Ahladas SA, the company to which two lignite mines, Ahlada 1 and Ahlada 2, were leased by the Greek State, was declared defunct by the energy ministry in July as a result of its failure to meet agreement terms, primarily lease payments.

This company, alone, could have provided PPC’s Meliti lignite-fired power station with up to 2.5 million tons of lignite, annually, meaning 1.5 TWh in electricity generation, nearly double this unit’s current limit of 0.8 TWh.

PPC is believed to be close to reaching a new mining agreement with a major private-sector energy firm for the Ahlada lignite deposits.

Greece needs to bolster its lignite reserves as an energy security measure should Russia, in a worst-case scenario, disrupt gas supplies to Europe. Approximately 40 percent of Greece’s electricity generation is gas-fueled.

PPC’s Meliti power station is currently fed by two other lignite sources, one privately owned by METE and, the other, a PPC mine at Mavropigi, in northern Greece’s Kozani region.

There have been no developments concerning Vevi, the Florina region’s other lignite mine, which is owned by the Greek State and has been sidelined since 2001. Reopening the mine after so many years of inactivity would inevitably develop into a lengthy procedure, sector experts have warned.

 

Decarbonization plan delayed by 2 years, greater lignite focus

The government has asked power utility PPC to extend its lignite-fired electricity generation by two to three years, as a means of cutting back on the use of natural gas, now a high-cost energy source as a result of Russia’s greatly reduced supply to Europe.

The government request, representing one of several energy-crisis measures it has put forth, will delay the country’s decarbonization plan by at least two years.

Lignite currently represents over 10 percent of the country’s energy mix, double its 5 percent share not too long ago, which resulted in annual production of 2.5 TWH. The government is aiming for a lignite energy mix representation of between 17 and 20 percent, or 9 TWH of electricity production, annually.

Increasing lignite-fired generation by approximately 6 TWH will require a natural gas reduction of 12 TWH, which is double the gas cut requested by the European Commission.

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas believes lignite’s 20 percent energy-mix target can be achieved within the first half of 2023.

 

Lignite plants at the first line of defense against a Russian gas stoppage

In the case that Russian gas supplies are stopped to Greece the energy regulator plans to enhance power production through lignite plants, as part of its emergency plan, which has been submitted for consultation.
During a meeting with the prime minister last week, it was decided that lignite plants will double their production in that eventuality and reach 10 TWh in the following 12 months from 5 TWh today. These TWh are equal to 20% of Greece’s annual power consumption.
Furthermore, the plan includes the storing of natural gas in Italy, according to European guidelines included in the REPower EU plan. Quantities will reach 1.7-1.8 TWh from October and for a period of five months.
The regulator’s plan also includes fuel switching in the five natural gas plants that are able to do that. Another measure is to take advantage of the LNG terminal in Revythoussa, which has now another floating terminal.

Lignite-fired output to double, PPC sets conditions for return

State-controlled power utility PPC will double its lignite-fired electricity generation over the next 12 months for annual production of 10 TWh, from 5 TWh at present, an increase covering 20 percent of Greece’s annual electricity needs, energy authorities have agreed at an emergency meeting chaired by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

The overall effort, reversing the country’s decarbonization plan in order to make up for dwindling Russian natural gas exports and help counter skyrocketing gas costs, will include the development of new lignite mines.

The government’s recently introduced price caps for power generation, set at different levels for respective production technologies, will be applied to this emergency lignite plan.

A price cap of 208 euros per MWh has been imposed on lignite-fired electricity production, meaning the additional 5-TWh amount to be generated by PPC will be worth roughly one billion euros. This additional 5-TWh in production would have been worth 1.8 billion euros if current energy exchange price levels were applied. The wholesale cost of lignite-generated electricity at present is 341.17 euros per MWh.

PPC, controlling all the country’s lignite facilities, has set a series of conditions for the return of lignite-fired power stations, including the abolishment of a rule requiring the company to commit 50 percent of the previous year’s lignite-based output to the futures market.

The power utility has also demanded a 150 million-euro guarantee from the government  should Russia’s war on Ukraine end and energy prices deescalate, which would end the need for the emergency lignite-fired production boost. In setting this condition, PPC has taken into account investments it will need to make to double its lignite-fired generation over the next year.

The government appears to be willing to satisfy the conditions set by PPC, which has disinvested in lignite over the past couple of years.

 

Lignite units back in full force, 34% of energy mix in June

The country’s return to full-scale, lignite-fired electricity generation, an initiative taken to limit the use of natural gas, whose cost has surged amid the energy crisis, increased lignite’s share of the Greek energy mix to 34 percent in June, up from 19.9 percent in May.

Prior to the energy crisis, Greece’s existing lignite-fired power stations, environmentally unfriendly, were headed for withdrawal by 2023 as part of the country’s decarbonization effort.

The duration of their return will now depend on the length of the energy crisis. Ptolemaida V, a new lignite-fired power station planned to be converted to natural gas in the near future, will soon bolster the country’s lignite initiative. This facility’s launch is planned for October or November.

Many questions remain unanswered. The amount of lignite deposits available for extraction at mines is unclear. Also, Greece’s lignite mines and lignite-fired power stations could be short of personnel following the execution of voluntary retirement programs in recent years, as part of the decarbonization drive. In addition, the ability of these lignite units to operate continuously and fully cover a total disruption of Russian gas supply, including during winter, is questionable.

Continual use of the lignite-fired power stations could lead to technical problems. This, at present, is the biggest fear concerning their return.

Government officials contend current lignite deposits can cover the country’s needs until 2030, while new lignite mines could be created, if needed. Staff levels are also sufficient, the officials added.

 

PPC awaits Brussels energy strategy to decide on Ptolemaida V

Power utility PPC will wait for the European Commission’s finalized decisions on a strategic plan intended to end the EU’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels before it decides on the operating and conversion details of its prospective Ptolemaida V power station in northern Greece, to be launched as a lignite-fired facility before being converted to natural gas.

The PPC board is now expected to decide on Ptolemaida V’s conversion date towards the end of this year, according to sources.

Ptolemaida V, expected to undergo a trial run in the second half of the year before being launched late in the year or early in 2023, will be introduced as Greece’s last lignite-fired power station.

Early in April, prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced extensions to withdrawal dates for older lignite-fired power stations that were originally headed for closure prior to 2025. At the time, the prime minister also informed that Ptolemaida V could now operate as a lignite-fired unit until 2028.

Revisions to the country’s decarbonization plan have been prompted by energy security concerns following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the exacerbation of the preceding energy crisis as a result of this war.

The Greek government has decided to increase lignite mining output as a safety measure should Russia interrupt its natural gas supply.

A year ago, PPC had announced it intended to convert Ptolemaida V into a natural gas-fired facility as of 2025, but the latest energy security concerns froze this plan.

 

Household, business electricity demand down 6.7% in April

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lignite extraction boosted as part of emergency plan

Power utility PPC has boosted its lignite mining output by an additional 5,000 to 6,000 tons a day for its Meliti and Agios Dimitrios power stations in northern Greece and by an extra 7,000 to 8,000 tons a day for its Megalopoli power station in the Peloponnese, in response to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ call, early in April, for increased lignite reserves should Russia disrupt its natural gas supply to Europe.

The objective is to increase lignite extraction by 45 to 50 percent over a two-year period for reserves amounting to more than 15 million tons, up from the present quantity of 10.5 million tons, which would enable lignite-fired production to reach 6.5 TWh annually, up from 4.5 TWh projected in the current energy plan.

The majority of PPC’s seven lignite-fired power stations will need to be temporarily withdrawn if increased lignite quantities are to be accumulated at the yards of these power stations.

Of the country’s seven lignite-fired power stations, just one, Agios Dimitrios IV, is scheduled to operate today.

The additional 2 TWh of electricity generation that could be produced annually as a result of this initiative would still not suffice if Russia were to stop supplying natural gas to Europe.

Greece’s annual electricity consumption is estimated at 55 TWh. Last year, natural gas-fueled electricity generation covered 20 TWh of the country’s overall electricity demand, with 40 percent of the natural gas used supplied by Russia.

This means Russia’s natural gas was responsible for 8 TWh of Greece’s electricity generation last year. The Greek plan for an additional 2 TWh in generation through greater lignite production would only cover 25 percent of electricity currently produced using Russian natural gas.

Additional LNG shipments, accelerated development of RES projects, and an energy-saving policy for households, businesses and industry will also be needed to cover the gap.

Lignite re-emphasis temporary measure for security, PM says

A government decision for an increased lignite share of the country’s energy mix is purely temporary and driven by energy security concerns, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis clarified during a speech yesterday in Kozani, northern Greece.

The same goes for Athens’ thoughts about extending the lives of state-controlled power utility PPC’s two lignite-fired power stations, Meliti and Agios Dimitrios V. PPC plans to withdraw these units by the end of 2023, as part of the country’s decarbonization strategy, but this exit date may now be delayed.

The technical future of PPC’s Ptolemaida V, a new convertible power station, is unclear. During yesterday’s speech, the Greek prime minister informed that, if needed, this facility would operate as a lignite-fired facility until 2028, before switching to natural gas. This switch could be made at an earlier date if the war ends and natural gas prices fall significantly, seen as unlikely at present.

This overall change in direction is directly linked to the European Commission’s decision to significantly revise the EU’s Fit for 55 plan, originally setting a target for a 55 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Details of the Fit for 55 revisions, prompted by the impact on markets of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine and the EU’s resulting decision to drastically reduce its reliance on Russian natural gas, are expected to be announced by the European Commission in May.

The EU’s new energy strategy is expected to lead to an increase in the use of biomethane and green hydrogen, as well as reduced gas consumption, regardless of the supplier, be it Russia, the USA, Qatar or Algeria.

Authorities admit the international LNG market cannot increase production to a level that would fully replace Russian gas supply.

PPC capable of boosting lignite extraction by 43%, utility tells

Power utility PPC has the capacity to increase its lignite extraction to as much as 15 million tons annually, from 10.5 million tons at present, for a 43 percent increase to full-capacity lignite-fired generation, in the event of a Russian disruption of natural gas supply to Europe, according to an updated annual mining plan submitted by the utility to the energy ministry.

Even so, this increased production could still not be enough to fill the enormous gap that would be left by a Russian cut in natural gas supply.

The country’s lignite-fired electricity generation can increase to 6.5 TWh annually from the present plan of 4.5 TWh, according to the utility plan. However, PPC would need to hasten the development of a series of projects to boost productivity at its lignite mines and increase the amounts of lignite stocks at the yards of its seven lignite-fired power stations – five Agios Dimitrios units, as well as Meliti and Megalopoli.

The annual plan’s objective is to increase lignite stocks at each of the five Agios Dimitrios facilities to 1.75 million tons from 1.2 million, while also increasing the amount at Meliti to 300,000 tons from 220,000 tons this month, as well as the lignite stock at Megalopoli to 500,000 tons from 270,000 tons.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to comment on Greece’s lignite alternative, given the Russian threat, at the official launch, tomorrow, of a major-scale solar energy farm developed by Hellenic Petroleum ELPE at Livera, close to Kozani, northern Greece. Offering a 204-MW capacity, this facility is one of Europe’s biggest.

Excess energy group profits taxed 90% as crisis measure

The effectiveness of a government measure that will heavily tax excess profits of energy groups as an extraordinary energy-crisis measure remains to be seen and will be determined once groups have announced their financial results for 2021 and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has completed a related inspection.

Given the fact that the RES sector is returning surplus amounts to the Energy Transition Fund, supporting energy crisis measures, the tax measure will be directed at all other technologies, namely lignite, hydropower and natural gas.

The RAE check will compare the earnings of energy companies – in electricity production and supply – between the October-to-March periods of the past two years to determine if excess energy group profits exist, and if so, their size. Any increase in earnings will be taxed 90 percent, according to the extraordinary energy-crisis measure.

 

 

 

Strategic reserve procedure for PPC lignite units hastened

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

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

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

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

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

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

No need for lignite schedule revisions, officials determine

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

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

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

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

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

Brussels to propose windfall profit support for consumers

The European Commission, fearing the energy crisis will be prolonged, is moving towards adopting a French EU presidency proposal that would offer energy consumers support through redistribution of windfall profits earned by electricity producers in the RES, hydropower, nuclear and lignite sectors.

The European Commission strategy also includes a call for regulatory intervention to contain retail electricity prices.

The Brussels proposal, contrasting the European Commission’s energy-crisis stance until now, is included in a preliminary plan that was due to be officially announced next month but has been leaked by the EURACTIV media outlet.

Spain has already taken similar-minded action by taxing excessive earnings generated by nuclear power stations and large-scale RES facilities.

RES output high in ’21, demand back to pre-pandemic level

The RES sector set a new production record in 2021, reaching 17,193 GWh, up from 14,800 in 2020, a 16.2 increase, while, in another important development last year, electricity demand rebounded to pre-pandemic levels of 2019, totaling 52,322 GWh, up 4.7 percent compared to 2020, data provided in a latest monthly report from power grid operator IPTO has shown.

Another eco-friendly energy source, hydropower, also ended 2021 with a record production level of 5,293 GWh, 82.5 percent higher than the 2020 total of 2,900 GWh, the IPTO report showed.

The RES and hydropower sectors, combined, provided 46.1 percent of the country’s overall electricity production in 2022, which reached 48,721 GWh.

Lignite-fired generation fell by 7 percent, to 5,341 GWh, in 2021, reflecting this high-polluting and high-cost energy source’s continual retreat.

Power utility PPC has been regaining ground during the energy crisis of the past few months, increasing its retail electricity market share to 63.9 percent in December from 63.1 percent a month earlier, the IPTO data showed.

PPC’s retail electricity market share has increased by nearly two percentage points  since September, when the energy crisis hit.

‘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.