Decarbonization strategy’s spatial planning enters crucial stage

The country’s decarbonization master plan is entering one of its most crucial stages, the establishment of spatial planning for a just transition, or establishment of new commercial activity in regions to be financially impacted by the country’s withdrawal of lignite units, now underway.

These spatial plans, which will need to be submitted to the European Commission for approval, will determine the speed and success of the overall effort as just transition mechanism funding approval will be based on them.

A just transition mechanism sum of 5 billion euros is expected to be utilized. However, Greek officials will need to present analytical spatial plans detailing the transitions in accordance with the National Energy and Climate Plan. These plans will be incorporated into the EU’s National Strategic Reference Framework funding program.

Power utility PPC, monopolizing the country’s lignite facilities, will obviously be involved in the process. The utility will keep some of the land hosting lignite mines to develop its own investment plans, including solar energy parks.

The lignite-dependent economies of west Macedonia, in the country’s north, and Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese, will need to be completely redeveloped as part of the decarbonization plan.

It remains unclear when Greece’s spatial redevelopment plans will be ready to be submitted to the European Commission. They are not expected to be ready any time before the new year.

NECP and efforts on the right track, Brussels report notes

The country’s efforts to reach objectives set in the National Energy and Climate Plan, shaped by long-term European climate and energy goals, as well as the domestic plan itself, have been favorably reviewed by the European Commission in a related report released yesterday as an appraisal of the finalized NECP submitted to Brussels by the Greek government.

The European Commission, which has reviewed the NECPs of EU member states and how they stand in connection with Europe’s energy and climate objectives, described the Greek plan and its progress as “satisfactory” and “sufficient”.

The Brussels review, however, pointed out that the country’s reforms concerning competition in the retail and wholesale electricity and gas markets, among other domains, require strengthening.

The report also called for an enhancement of Greece’s just transition plan concerning the post-lignite era. Greater detail in the assessment of the social and employment repercussions, as well as retraining requirements, in lignite-dependent areas where the lignite-fired power stations are planned to be withdrawn over the next three years is needed, it noted.

As for measures concerning the Greek economy’s pandemic-related recovery, at least 37 percent of recovery funds to be made available should be invested in climate-linked initiatives so that mid-term emission reduction targets are met, the report noted.

RAE issues undermining DEPA Infrastructure privatization

Delays, instability and flawed intervention by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, on important operating issues concerning gas utility DEPA’s subsidiaries EDA Attiki, EDA Thess and DEDA – the three distributors covering the wider Athens area, Thessaloniki-Thessaly and rest of Greece, respectively – are undermining the privatization procedure for DEPA Infrastructure, a new DEPA entity placed for sale, DEPA Infrastructure has warned in a letter to the authority.

In the letter, also forwarded to privatization fund TAIPED and the energy ministry, DEPA Infrastructure complains of a RAE delay in endorsing EDA tariffs for 2019 to 2022, which has consequently placed the gas company’s development plan in turmoil.

Besides not having reached a decision on gas distribution pricing policy, the authority has changed the WACC level three times since last year, including recently, which has negatively impacted the yields of DEPA subsidiary investments, sources noted.

Also, RAE regards initiatives taken by the three gas distributors to attract more consumers to the natural gas market as a form of state aid, DEPA Infrastructure protests in the letter, referring to distribution network connection fee discounts offered by the distributors, as well as subsidy support for natural gas system installations.

Any moves to curb these initiatives promoting gas usage would derail the natural gas sector’s energy-mix penetration target for 2030, as specified in the National Energy and Climate Plan, DEPA Infrastructure contends.

These unfavorable conditions threaten to delay the DEPA Infrastructure privatization, company sources stressed.

The sale procedure’s video data room is still lacking vital information for prospective bidders, who could begin seeing the DEPA Infrastructure privatization as a high-risk investment, the sources noted, adding that WACC level reductions will ultimately reduce the market value of DEPA Infrastructure and the subsidiaries.

GEK TERNA, Elpedison close to decisions on gas-fueled units

GEK TERNA and Elpedison are expected to announce finalized investment decisions for new gas-fueled power stations with total capacity over 1,400 MW within the next two months, energypress sources informed.

GEK TERNA plans to develop a 660-MW power station at the industrial zone of Komotini, northeastern Greece, while Elpedison, a joint venture involving Hellenic Petroleum ELPE and Italy’s Edison, intends to construct units with a total capacity of 826 MW at the ELPE facilities in Thessaloniki.

These project plans are estimated to be worth a total of at least 600 million euros.

The energy companies have already received energy production licenses as well as other licensing requirements, including environmental permits, for these prospective units, regarded as mature investment plans.

Both companies are awaiting new CAT mechanism details for gas-fueled power stations before finalizing their investment plans. The economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, plus the anticipation of a second wave, are also crucial factors influencing the thinking behind these investment decisions.

Market capacity exists for new combined-cycle gas-fueled power stations during the energy transition over the next ten to 15 years, electricity market officials insist.

The planned withdrawal of power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations over the next three or so years combined with a lack of development in RES energy storage systems offers gas-fueled power generation an opportunity to cover capacity to be lost by lignite-fired power station closures.

A recent BloombergNEF report noted big natural gas-fueled power stations are not necessary. However, market officials point to the National Energy and Climate Plan as proof of the need for such units.

The Mytilineos group is developing an 826-MW CCGT in the Agios Nikolaos area of Boetia, northwest of Athens, with the aim of a launch in late-2021.

EC calls for CO2 cuts; NECP revisions, RES boost ahead

The European Commission has announced a new European Climate Law proposal for even more ambitious CO2 emission cuts in the EU, calling for reductions of 55 percent by 2030, instead of the present goal of 40 percent. If adopted, this proposal will prompt further revisions of National Energy and Climate Plans and RES installation increases by EU member states.

Compared to previous NECP objectives, RES facilities in most parts of the EU will need to increase by levels of between 20 and 30 percent by 2030, while energy consumption must drop further, between 15 and 20 percent, if the new Brussels proposal is adopted, reliable sources have informed.

Adoption of the proposal will require greater green-policy effort by member states and much bigger investments.

CO2 emissions produced by vehicles and buildings could be taxed, while more generous subsidy programs could be offered for energy efficiency upgrades.

In Greece, a 55 percent CO2 emissions cut by 2030 would require a further increase in RES installations so that a 19-GW target, by 2030, included in the country’s current NECP may be exceeded.

This more ambitious objective will enable the actualization of a greater number of possible projects on stand-by, currently representing a capacity of 76 GW. However, bigger investments for network reinforcement, increased interconnections and energy storage facility installations will be needed.

 

Expanded energy efficiency upgrade program planned

A new subsidy program for domestic energy efficiency upgrades, to replace a preceding Saving at Home model in autumn, will feature more ambitious objectives than those set in the National Energy and Climate Plan, be constantly open for applicants, carry greater capital, and apply for a wider range of energy efficiency interventions, including smart home technology installations, deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas has pointed out in an interview with Greek daily to Ethnos.

Over the past decade, some 130,000 homes were upgraded at a cost of 1.3 billion euros, but a swifter rate will be sought through the new subsidy program, the minister noted.

The achievement of national energy policy objectives will require some 60,000 domestic energy efficiency upgrades per year and approximately 8 billion euros in funds until 2030, Thomas explained, adding that Greece will seek greater capital amounts through the EU recovery fund.

“Due to the requirements created in the context of the recent macroeconomic conditions and forecasts, we are working on a modern and much more ambitious framework to reinforce household energy upgrades for a transition to a support system offering energy upgrades and autonomy,” Thomas noted. “The new program is a direct government response to the post-pandemic era, the aim being to boost economic activity in domestic value-added sectors such as construction, manufacturing of building materials and solar systems, and also strengthen households by reducing energy costs.”

An even wider base of households will be eligible for the new subsidy program, while increased subsidy rates will be offered if predetermined energy efficiency targets are achieved by interventions, he added.

 

Monitoring mechanism ‘needed prior to target model markets’

A monitoring mechanism enabling RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to protect target model electricity markets from abusive, non-competitive behavior by electricity producers, must be ready before target model markets are launched, the European Commission has stressed in its latest post-bailout report on the Greek economy.

Legislation ratified by the Greek government late in 2019 strengthened RAE’s powers by giving it authority to raid company offices and impose fines for abusive behavior.

The crucial role of the monitoring mechanism has also been pointed out in Greece’s revised National Energy and Climate Plan.

The monitoring mechanism, to collect data from power grid operator IPTO and the Greek stock exchange, will be able to identify wholesale trade irregularities.

The European Commission report projects Greece’s target model will be launched in the third quarter of this year, beyond a June 30 target date. The pandemic has negatively impacted the delivery date of a trading platform by General Electric.

Earlier this week, market officials contended that a launch of spot markets at the Greek energy exchange is not possible until September, rejecting IPTO claims of an earlier target model start within August.

Electric vehicles market growth plan includes €5,000 subsidies

A draft bill promoting electric vehicle market growth is close to being finalized for consultation following preparations and processing by related ministries over the past six months.

The plan’s details include 5,000-euro subsidies for electric car purchases as well as financial support, as a percentage of the buying price, for electric bicycle and scooter purchases, according to sources.

More crucially, besides subsidies, the government plan also includes a strategy for this technology’s increased share of the auto market.

Tax incentives as well as other motives, including free-parking rights for electric vehicles, are also believed to be included in the package of measures.

Support for increased usage of electric vehicles was a key item on Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ pre-election agenda and has since developed into a priority in the government’s new green energy plan.

The plan will be forwarded for consultation next month, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has announced.

Electric vehicle market growth also represents an important part of the new National Energy and Climate Plan.

The NECP includes a target for one in every three vehicles to be electric by 2030. If achieved, this target would introduce a total of 350,000 electric vehicles to Greek roads within the next decade and subsequently increase electricity consumption by 4 percent.

Energy storage discussed at RAE teleconference next week

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is hosting a teleconference May 15 for discussion on energy storage needs and a support framework.

The findings of a related simulation study commissioned to the National Technical University of Athens, examining grid performance amid high RES penetration levels and energy storage needs, will be presented and analyzed during the event. Public agencies, market officials as well as citizens will be participating.

Energy storage stations are needed, while their usage promises benefits concerning wholesale electricity prices, the NTUA study has determined, sources informed.

The need for energy storage systems (pumped storage, batteries etc) is stressed in the revised National Energy and Climate Plan, noting development of such facilities is required if ambitious RES installation targets are to be achieved.

RAE has examined support systems used in other countries. Energy storage projects cannot be sustainable if totally dependent on market earnings, comparisons have indicated.

 

Ministry seeking to reignite stalled energy sector initiatives

The energy ministry is seeking to resume coronavirus-interrupted actions on a number of fronts, which, prior to the crisis, were expected to lead to major energy sector changes in 2020. These include the decarbonization effort, privatizations, green-energy infrastructure investments and a launch of the energy exchange.

The ministry’s strategic plan aiming to inject new impetus into these initiatives includes market liquidity protection through support mechanisms and bank loans for operators and key market players such as power utility PPC.

Efforts will also be made to accelerate decarbonization initiatives and keep alive pending energy sector privatizations, including those of gas utility DEPA’s two new entities, DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade; the prospective sale of a 49 percent stake of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a PPC subsidiary; as well as an underground gas storage facility at a depleted offshore gas field south of Kavala.

Green energy investments, a key party of Greece’s revised and more ambitious National Energy Climate Plan, are expected to regain dynamic momentum as of 2021, following this year’s pandemic-induced disruption.

This is also the case for major infrastructure projects such as power grid operator IPTO’s grid interconnections for Crete, the south, west and north Cyclades and other areas. These interconnection projects require investments totaling more than 4 billion euros. These are expected to be completed by 2030.

Grid interconnection projects are also being worked on for the gas sector. Gas grid operator DESFA is looking to expand its network to cover 39 cities.

RES plan official processing prioritized in 5 categories

A ministerial decision prioritizing RES investment plan processing by authorities has just been signed by deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas.

The decision prioritizes processing of RES investment plans – applications and provision of connection terms – in five categories. Priority levels are determined by EU regulations and the contribution potential of investment plans to the National Energy and Climate Plan.

Green energy investments facilitating network utilization, such as self production, are promised top-priority categorization. This also applies for investments concerning energy efficiency, waste management and biogas.

Energy community investment applications will be given a one-month advantage in the waiting line. In other words, such applications will be examined as if submitted a month earlier.

Energy community plans involving local government organizations or over 60 members are promised an even bigger time advantage of four months.

Priority processing will also be offered to investment plans in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, whose lignite-dependent local economy must be restructured as a result of the government’s decarbonization effort.

Energy community bids to lose priority, biogas plans supported

A ministerial decision revising RES application processing priorities for various categories is set to be finalized, possibly even today, a key feature being the cancellation of priority rights for new applications concerning energy communities.

The number of energy community applications has snowballed as a result of this prioritization, leaving unattended thousands of applications submitted by investors pursuing individual renewable energy projects.

Besides the termination of priority processing rights for energy communities – some cases will be exempted – the ministerial decision will also introduce a transitional formula for older energy community applications and offer priority status to certain technologies that have been neglected until now.

Investment plans are being prioritized according to their potential to contribute to the country’s updated and more ambitious National Energy and Climate Plan.

Green energy investments facilitating network utilization, such as self production, will be grouped into a priority-status category.

Biogas investments will also be supported under the new plan.

PPC’s lignite withdrawal plan also requires IPTO approval

Power utility PPC’s lignite withdrawal plan, involving an exit of lignite-fired units with an overall capacity of roughly 3.4 GW by 2023, has already been included in the National Energy and Climate Plan, subject to EU approval, but will also need to be endorsed by the country’s power grid operator IPTO.

The operator will make its decision after having fully assessed the grid’s needs to ensure energy sufficiency.

According to energypress sources, state-controlled PPC, whose lignite withdrawal plan is fundamental to the government’s decarbonization objectives, has already submitted its withdrawal schedule proposal to IPTO for endorsement.

It begins with an exit of PPC’s Amynteo I and II units this coming April. Next on the schedule are Kardia III and IV in 2021, once these units have clocked up 32,000 hours of operating time. Then, in 2022, PPC plans to withdraw Megalopoli III and Agios Dimitrios I, II, III and IV. PPC intends to complete the withdrawal plan in 2023 with the withdrawals of Megalopoli IV, Meliti I and Agios Dimitrios V.

Ptolemaida V, a prospective power station now under construction, is planned to enter the system as a lignite-fired unit in 2022 and operate as such until 2028 before being converted to run on an alternate fuel source. Various options, including biomass, natural gas, waste-to-energy, as well as combinations of these, are being examined at present.

PPC chief executive Giorgos Stassis, who last weekend visited northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, a lignite-dependent local economy, explained that the gradual withdrawal plan would facilitate finding solutions for company staff, regional telethermal needs and grid stability. PPC lignite-fired units are incurring losses, primarily as a result of rising CO2 emission right costs.

German players eyeing NECP opportunities ahead of Berlin forum

Greece’s major energy market opportunities, from the auto vehicle growth to decarbonization, renewable energy development, ambitious network investments and underwater cable interconnections are being eyed by German energy groups, preparing to participate at a high-level German-Hellenic Economic Forum next month.

The event, scheduled for March 9 in Berlin, is expected to be attended by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as a follow-up to a previous meeting between the two leaders in the German capital last August.

Greece’s new green agenda was tabled for the first time at that summer meeting, along with the idea to stage next month’s investment forum.

The Greek government, looking to execute an ambitious 44 billion-euro National Energy and Climate Plan by 2030, will gauge the level of German investor interest at the upcoming Berlin forum.

Leading German groups expected to participate at next month’s event include RWE, among the companies believed to be interested in supporting power utility PPC’s decarbonization effort, EON, eyeing opportunities at distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO; as well as Enercon, seeking wind energy partnership. Prospective partnerships with Greek players such as PPC, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), Mytilineos and Terna Energy are expected to be discussed.

 

Terna

Network operator’s privatization may offer less than 49% limit

The government has set a 49 percent limit for the planned privatization of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO but the stake to be offered may end up being smaller.

A DEDDIE/HEDNO stake of up to 49 percent and increased rights for investors will be placed for sale, while the operator’s majority and management will remain under the control of power utility PPC, the operator’s parent company, the group’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis noted in an interview published by Greek daily Ta Nea over the weekend.

The size of the DEDDIE/HEDNO stake to be offered to investors will, on the one hand, depend on the amount of cash required by PPC to resolve financial matters for a path towards recovery, and, on the other, the ability of potential buyers to meet the price-tag demands of a major privatization.

DEDDIE/HEDNO’s assets are estimated to be worth 3.2 billion euros, meaning a 49 percent stake should cost potential buyers over 1.5 billion euros.

PPC has commissioned Goldman Sachs and Eurobank as the privatization’s consultants. The power utility’s administration would like to find a DEDDIE/HEDNO buyer by the end of the year.

An ambitious ten-year business plan for DEDDIE/HEDNO, one reflecting the lofty demands of the National Energy and Climate Plan, is being prepared for presentation to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, in about two months’ time.

DEDDIE/HEDNO will face the challenge of developing projects worth billions by 2030, including new interconnections and nationwide installation of smart meters.

 

DEDDIE preparing 10-year plan for longer-term approach

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, headed for privatization, is preparing a new and ambitious 10-year business plan reflecting the lofty goals set of the National Energy and Climate Plan, energypress sources have informed.

The operator will seek a long-term WACC figure from RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, the body responsible for approving this constituent.

The operator’s multi-billion ten-year plan will include urgently needed  network upgrade projects, network expansions, digitization, as well as electric vehicle sector initiatives.

A favorable revision of the regulatory framework and the WACC level, set by RAE on an annual basis, will be a crucial factor for the operator’s plan. DEDDIE’s current WACC level is at 7 percent.

WACC level clarity over a ten-year period will be sought for the operator’s prospective new shareholders, as is the case with many other European network operators. This is crucial for planning and execution of projects.

Until now, DEDDIE’s business plans have had a five-year duration. The most recent of these, worth 1.37 billion euros, was approved by RAE just last November. However, the lofty demands of the new NECP require a longer-term approach.

The operator’s new business plan is expected to be ready for presentation in two months, the energypress sources informed.

 

 

Operator DESFA seeks role in Greek infrastructure projects

Greek gas grid operator DESFA, driven by the three-member consortium of Snam, Enagas and Fluxys now controlling the company with a 66 percent stake, appears determined to stretch beyond its operator role and become one of the biggest and most pivotal players in the domestic energy market, judging by its interest in major Greek-related natural gas projects now in progress.

According to energypress sources, DESFA’s administration is looking to acquire stakes in three key energy infrastructure projects: the prospective floating LNG terminal (FSRU) in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece; the planned underground gas storage facility at a depleted natural gas field in the offshore south Kavala region; and DEPA Infrastructure, one of gas utility DEPA’s two new corporate entities heading for privatization.

The chief executives of Snam, Enagas and Fluxys, major European operators also holding respective stakes in the TAP project, met yesterday with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

The officials requested first-hand information on the government’s energy market decisions following the delivery of a new and more ambitious National Energy and Climate Plan and the signing of a trilateral agreement between Greece, Cyprus and Israel for the East Med gas pipeline.

The Greek operator’s controlling consortium also presented investment plans supporting the country’s decarbonization strategy and aspirations to become a regional energy hub.

RES licensing simplification to face environmental resistance

The head official of a special committee assembled by the government to simplify RES licensing procedures is seeking bold steps leading to major progress but the body’s task could be troubled by firm resistance from environmental groups.

The energy and environment ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou, who heads the special committee, is expected to push for decisive action and real results at the group’s second meeting, planned for next Monday.

Sdoukou wants more than just a reduction of supporting documents and digitization of existing procedures, her objective being to truly revolutionize licensing procedures for swift results and an increase in green energy investments.

Simpler RES licensing procedures are crucially important if ambitious targets included in the new National Energy and Climate Plan are to be achieved. A large number of RES projects will need to be developed over the next decade if NECP targets are to be met.

However, the path is not expected to be obstacle-free. Energy ministry officials are very much aware of the constant threat of amendments being legally challenged at the Council of State, Greece’s supreme administrative court, over environmental concerns.

Signs of resistance have already begun emerging within the ministry’s environmental division as a result of conflicting views on matters such as avifauna, biodiversity and NATURA-area protection.

The country’s new spatial plan for the renewable energy sector, currently being prepared, will play an instrumental role in generating sufficient RES growth for the achievement of NECP targets. Two leading figures at the ministry’s environmental section hold key positions for the spatial plan’s shaping.

 

Analytical lignite withdrawal plan among NECP revisions

Full details on the withdrawal schedule of power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations as well as slightly more ambitious targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions and renewable energy production represent some of the key changes included in the government’s finalized National Energy and Climate Plan, delivered to Brussels just days ago, energypress sources have informed.

More ambitious projections on cleaner electricity generation by 2030 through hydropower, wind and solar sources feature as the most significant changes compared to the initial NECP version forwarded for public consultation.

Projections for significant PV development cost reductions are included in the plan.

The environment and energy ministry has provided further details on its ambitious 38 percent energy savings target, primarily through energy efficiency improvements at buildings, after the initial NECP was criticized for lacking specifics in this domain.

Installed capacity increases for hydropower generation, including pumped storage, from 2025 onward, stand as the only change in renewable energy generation. Installed capacity targets for all other RES technologies remain the same.

RES electricity generation target increases for hydropower and wind facilities have been included, while PV generation targets have been lowered, keeping the overall total unchanged.

Challenges of revised NECP, sent to Brussels, ‘will be met’

The lofty challenges of Greece’s revised National Energy and Climate Plan, delivered to the European Commission yesterday following its endorsement late last week by KYSOIP, the Government Council for Economic Policy, will be met, the government’s energy deputy has stressed.

“The preparation of the plan has been done and the challenge of achieving the ambitious goals it envisages stands before us,” noted Deputy Energy Minister Gerassimos Thomas. “We are ready to respond to this challenge and contribute to the extent needed for us to achieve European objectives for a major reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and their elimination by 2050,” he added.

New aspects related to matters including spatial, bioclimatic and urban planning, were incorporated to the finalized NECP version following 168 comments submitted to the OpenGov.gr website during public consultation as well as proposals and observations submitted to the energy ministry, it announced in a statement.

The NECP, establishing decarbonization as a top priority, includes a detailed schedule on the planned withdrawal of power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations. All existing lignite units are planned to be withdrawn by 2023.

In its renewable energy section, the NECP highlights the significant role to be played by hydropower energy and, especially, projects with reservoirs, as well as the importance of implementing pilot projects that will lead to RES sector coupling.

Hydropower objectives elevated slightly for finalized NECP

Greece’s finalized new National Energy and Climate Plan, whose final touches are being added today at the energy ministry ahead of an inspection tomorrow by KYSOIP, the Government Council for Economic Policy, will feature slightly increased objectives for the hydropower and pumped storage sectors, sources have informed.

Certain revisions to the NECP’s details on geothermal production, other RES technologies, the decarbonization plan, and networks will also be made, the sources added.

The mass withdrawal, by 2023, of all existing lignite-fired power stations, exclusively operated by the power utility PPC, is a key feature of the new NECP.

So, too, is a decision to offer investors a solid minority stake in distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a PPC subsidiary, instead of a majority stake, as was previously contemplated.

On the hydropower target revisions, the NECP will set an installed capacity target of 3.4 GW by 2020 and 3.7 GW by 2030.

Once past KYSOIP tomorrow, Greece’s new NECP will immediately be forwarded to the European Commission.

Energy savings, primarily concerning a reduction of the environmental impact of buildings and vehicles, will be crucial if the NECP’s ambitious RES targets are to be achieved.

 

Local committees to discuss NECP ahead of its finalization

The new National Energy and Climate Plan will be presented to two parliamentary committees this Friday as part of wider consultation being staged by the energy ministry, including a recent presentation to energy sector officials at an event hosted by the Bank of Greece and ongoing public consultation, ending December 16.

The two committees, the Standing Committee on Production and Trade and the Special Permanent Committee on Environmental Protection, will discuss the NECP this Friday as part of preparations ahead of the plan’s upcoming delivery to the European Commission.

Certain interventions made so far have been deemed constructive by the energy ministry and will be incorporated into the plan.

A finalized NECP could be forwarded to the European Commission before Christmas. If not, Brussels will definitely receive the plan before the end of the year.

Last week, deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas presented the key objectives of Greece’s new NECP to peers in Brussels. He emphasized that many of the Greek plan’s goals will seek to exceed targets that will soon be announced by the European Commission’s new administration.

Gas supply for post-lignite west Macedonia added to grid plan

A natural gas outlet – stemming from the TAP project – for supply to Greece’s west Macedonian region intended to help cover the region’s energy needs in the post-lignite era is one of the few new features added to a gas grid operator DESFA ten-year development plan covering 2020 to 2029, slightly revised compared to its previous version.

The aim is to supply natural gas through pipelines to the region’s provincial cities of Kozani, Ptolemaida, Florina and Amynteo for use at telethermal facilities, currently operating through heat produced at power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations.

These PPC units, however, will soon be withdrawn as part of the government’s plan for a decarbonized Greece by 2028, incorporated into a new National Energy and Climate Plan.

The national gas grid’s 10-year development plan, prepared by DESFA, is undergoing public consultation for the second time since August for feedback on its minor changes, including the gas supply plan for west Macedonia.

The first round of public consultation was staged by DESFA while the second round is being held by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

A total of 49 projects budgeted at over 2.5 billion euros, overall, are included in the ten-year plan. Responses to the latest public consultation procedure face a January 10 deadline.

Energy deputy in Berlin Thursday for new round of bilateral talks

Moving on from his participation at this year’s Greek-themed Capital Link Forum in New York, deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas will be in Berlin Thursday for the third round of a Greek-German Action Plan on Bilateral Cooperation.

Greek and German officials will have an opportunity to discuss ensuing steps for energy-sector projects.

Germany’s energy minister is already familiar with Greece’s new National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), presented by the Greek energy deputy last week at an EU council of energy ministers.

The Greek government has already shown an interest to utilize German decarbonization know-how following the fellow EU member state’s initiatives taken in this domain. The matter was discussed in October by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis with the head of RWE.

Germany’s investment interest, consistently firm, has grown even stronger following the Greek government’s recent announcement of a plan aiming for a swifter withdrawal of power utility PPC’s coal generators.

Bilateral energy-sector cooperation was also keenly discussed at a Berlin meeting in August between the Greek leader and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Strong German interest exists for all of Greece’s forthcoming energy-sector privatizations. E.on, for example, is among the firms interested in a sale, announced yesterday, offering 100 percent of DEPA Infrastructure, a new entity that has emerged from a split at gas utility DEPA.

Energy deputy presenting NECP in Brussels, Paris, NYC

The country’s newly unveiled National Energy and Climate Plan will also be presented in Brussels today by deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas at the council of EU energy ministers, the first stop in a series of presentations abroad.

Over the next few days, Thomas will also be taking the plan to Paris and New York for official presentations.

In Brussels, today, the Greek energy deputy will present the NECP’s ambitious targets to peers and intends to highlight that many of these goals will seek to exceed the expectations of the new European Commission.

The initial response to the NECP’s objectives, by Brussels and investors, has been extremely encouraging. The Greek plan is seen as far more ambitious than those of many other EU member states.

All EU member states will be presenting the key aspects of their respective NECPs at today’s council meeting.

The European Commission will then determine whether proposals made by Brussels last June have been adopted by member states for their NECPs, all revised.

The Greek energy deputy’s Paris sessions, later this week, include an International Energy Agency (IEA) event on the climate.

In New York, Thomas is scheduled to attend an annual Capital Link forum on Monday, whose latest edition is focused on Greece, for contact with investors, major investment banks and energy sector experts closely monitoring the Greek market’s developments.

Besides Thomas, a host of other Greek ministers and deputies, as well as leading officials of the country’s four main banks, are expected to participate at the New York event, titled “21st Annual Capital Link Invest in Greece Forum – Greece is Back”.

 

NECP lacks detail on network upgrade for RES penetration, producers note

The new National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), presented yesterday at an energy ministry event hosted by the Bank of Greece, is not clear enough on details concerning the development of networks and interconnections for further RES penetration, electricity producers have noted.

Network upgrades will be pivotal in the country’s effort to achieve RES targets concerning the replacement of conventional power stations with clean-energy units, producers have stressed.

More details on technical matters and scheduling for network upgrades are necessary, industry officials believe.

Giorgos Peristeris, the chief official at ESIAPE, the Greek Association of Renewable Energy Source Electricity Producers, and Dinos Benroubi, president of ESAI/HAIPP, the Hellenic Association of Independent Power Producers, both noted procedures concerning the development of electricity transmission projects, especially licensing, need to be accelerated.

Greece’s installed RES capacity in 2030 has been set at 15 GW, up from approximately 6 GW at present.

Power grid operator IPTO has repeatedly assured it is pushing ahead with studies assessing the needs of the grid based on the NECP’s ambitious RES targets, noting all required projects will be included in its ten-year investment plan covering 2021 to 2030.

IPTO possesses both the technical and financial requirements to develop projects needed, the operator’s administration has stressed.

Major changes to RES licensing procedure sought by ministry

Ambitious renewable energy targets included in Greece’s new National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) have energy ministry officials looking to overhaul current RES licensing procedures for a swifter, simplified process, currently far too slow and detrimental for investors.

A big number of RES project installations will need to be made over the next decade if the lofty NECP targets are to be achieved.

The installed RES capacity will need to be more than doubled, meaning emphasis will need to be placed on simplifying current licensing procedures, slowed down by bureaucracy and excessive laws, the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou noted during yesterday’s presentation of the new National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP).

The energy ministry is looking for radical solutions that stretch beyond just cutting back on the excessive number of documents and procedures now needed, or digitizing procedures.

On the contrary, the ministry believes the entire RES licensing process needs to be reexamined and revamped. Some sub-permits that are currently needed amid the overall procedure, taking years to cover, may be scrapped if their elimination would not cause any dangers.

Any revisions deemed extremely urgent could be rushed into an energy ministry draft bill on the environment, now being prepared for parliament in January.

Other ministry priorities include developing legal framework for energy storage; a pricing framework for hybrid stations on the islands; further support for RES installations at buildings through net metering; as well as the establishment of legal framework for alternative RES systems, such as offshore wind farms, Sdoukou told the NECP event.

PPC in talks with over 10 local, foreign firms for RES ventures

Power utility PPC is considering renewable energy joint venture proposals by over ten companies, domestic and foreign.

The pool of firms interested in doing business with PPC includes Germany’s RWE, Italian companies such as Enel, French enterprises associated with the Greek power utility in the past, among them EDF, scores of Chinese companies, as was confirmed at a Shanghai forum early November, as well as numerous Greek companies.

PPC’s involvement in RES joint ventures will have an important place in the power utility’s new business plan, to be announced within the next 10 to 15 days, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis told a National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) event yesterday.

The forthcoming business plan will officially signal the Greek power utility’s turn to the renewable energy sector, listing specific objectives.

Any partnership announcements should not be expected before the business plan’s presentation.

Plans for a PPC bond issue to finance the company’s expansion into the renewable energy sector are also in the making.

PPC’s favorable corporate image in Greece’s provincial areas, where renewable energy investments will be made, is a key factor drawing both local and foreign RES players towards prospective partnerships with the Greek power utility.

 

Energy savings a key factor for new NECP’s ambitious objectives

Energy savings, or, more specifically, a reduction of the environmental footprint of buildings and vehicles, will be a key factor in the government’s ambitious objectives included in the new National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP).

The plan, to be presented to market officials today at a Bank of Greece event, reduces a 2030 energy consumption reduction target set in 2007 by 38.5 percent.

The country’s previous Syriza-led administration had initially set a reduction target of 27 percent before revising this figure to a more aggressive – yet non-binding – 30 percent and finally accepting a European Commission decision last year for 32.5 percent. This was the target officially adopted for the previous NECP by former energy minister Giorgos Stathakis.

Seen, at the time, as highly ambitious for the standards of a country such as Greece, the NECP’s energy consumption reduction target has now been pushed even higher, by six percentage points.

Approximately 600,000 buildings will need to be made more energy efficient by 2030 if the target is to be achieved. Also, at least 82,000 new electric cars must enter the country’s fleet by 2030, from a mere 315 last year. Generous incentives will need to be offered if these numbers are to be reached.