Natural gas charge introduced for generation quantities

The energy ministry has announced a 10-euro per thermal MWh charge on natural gas used by natural gas-fueled power stations, a key reason behind the initiative being the need to reduce gas demand as part of the country’s wider effort for less gas consumption, ministry sources explained.

In addition, the measure’s implementation serves as preparation for a possible decision by EU member states to impose a price cap on all electricity generation technologies other than gas, the ministry sources noted.

Independent electricity producers admitted being caught by surprise, noting they found out about the new measure through the media.

“We are unaware of the reason why the ministry is proceeding with such a move given the fact that the revenue recovery mechanism (price cap) collects funds for energy-bill support,” one representative noted.

Electricity production company sources estimated the measure is worth roughly 400 million euros per year.

PPC, DEPA Commercial in PPP talks for gas-fueled facility

Power utility PPC and gas company DEPA Commercial, both state-controlled, are involved in advanced talks with private energy groups for a joint investment concerning the development of a gas-fueled power station.

PPC and DEPA Commercial have already agreed to join forces for this project and are now discussing the matter with private investors for the establishment of a public-private partnership (PPP), energypress sources informed.

More talks are necessary before the PPP’s formation can be considered a certainty, it is believed. Reports claiming that PPC and DEPA Commercial are holding talks with private companies that are either already developing or close to completing combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants remain unconfirmed.

Officials at PPC are interested in the CCGT plant as they believe natural gas prices will deescalate over the next few years, while DEPA Commercial has decided to enter the domain of electricity generation as part of a wider company plan to vertically integrate its operations.

 

 

Diesel totaling 500,000 cubic meters part of emergency plan

A total of approximately 500,000 cubic meters of diesel will be required by five natural gas-fueled power stations to run on diesel should Russian gas supply be totally disrupted, authorities involved in the country’s emergency energy plan have estimated.

The turn to diesel, along with lignite, is part of the country’s wider emergency plan. The strategy’s diesel refueling effort at the five power stations, a procedure to last 16 hours a day over a period of between 100 and 120 days, is feasible, officials representing the Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Motor Oil refineries informed an energy ministry meeting yesterday that also involved RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The refinery officials believe the emergency plan’s additional capacity required for a three-month period from January through March, 2023, seen is a crucial period, is feasible, despite heightened diesel demand expected in the industrial sector.

Logistical issues stand as the plan’s biggest challenge as the refineries will need to ensure uninterrupted overland diesel supply to power utility PPC’s power station in Komotini, northeastern Greece, and Elpedison’s facility in Thisvi, northwest of Athens, both geographically demanding as a fleet of fuel trucks will need to be assembled for overland supply to the two units. The number of trucks and this supply plan’s cost remain undetermined.

PPC’s power station in Lavrio, southeast of Athens, and Elpedison’s power station in Thessaloniki do not face such issues as both these facilities are situated close to ports.

 

 

 

Day-ahead market split for RES, thermal units requested

The Greek government has proposed target model structural changes, at a European level, that would split the day-ahead market into two entities, one for RES, hydropower and nuclear facilities, and another for natural gas and coal-fired power stations.

For the first of these two new day-ahead market entities, producers would forecast production quantities and be remunerated based on bilateral contracts, detached from the day-ahead market.

For the second of the two new entities, natural gas and coal-fired power station producers, covering remaining energy needs, would submit financial and volume offers based on existing rules.

The Greek proposal was presented by energy minister at an EU council meeting of energy ministers on July 26, energypress sources informed.

Preliminary talks on the Greek proposal have already been held. The European Commission plans to deliver alternative proposals for the target model’s functioning by September.

The day-ahead market determines clearing prices in the electricity market.

 

 

Electricity producer price cap mechanism launched Friday

A price-cap mechanism for electricity producer payments is set to be launched this Friday and is expected to generate approximately 580 million euros for the Energy Transition Fund in July, a sum to be utilized for subsidizing consumer electricity bills.

Of this sum, 150 million euros will be derived from natural gas and lignite-fired power stations as well as power utility PPC’s hydropower facilities, while the other 380 million euros will stem from the RES sector.

Most of July’s funds to be provided by the RES sector will not be newly generated money as RES units had already refunded money to the RES special account and its surpluses were then injected into the Energy Transition Fund. Under the new system, these amounts will be directly injected into the Energy Transition Fund.

Through the new mechanism, PPC’s hydropower facilities will be paid 112 euros per MWh and all RES units will be remunerated at a rate of 85 euros per MWh. The remuneration rates for natural gas and lignite-fueled power stations will be determined every month based on a series of factors. For the mechanism’s first month, natural gas-fueled power stations will receive 253.99 euros per MWh for their output and lignite-fired power stations will receive 206.72 euros per MWh.

 

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.

Major RES input lowers electricity price to near zero Sunday afternoon

Greatly increased renewable energy contributions – covering over 80 percent of demand – during yesterday’s weekend siesta hours of 2pm to 5pm pushed down the wholesale electricity price to virtually zero, or 0.09 euros per MWh.

RES input reached approximately 5 GW (wind and solar energy units), while demand was limited to just over 6 GW, enabling authorities to withdraw from the market lignite and gas-fired power stations.

On the same day, when RES input eventually fell and gas-fired power station contributions were brought back into the grid, the electricity price level rebounded to 283 euros per MWh by the evening.

The wholesale electricity price averaged 168.22 euros per MWh on Sunday, a 27 percent reduction compared to Saturday.

Similar price fluctuations were also recorded in other parts of Europe over the weekend. Negative prices were recorded in Germany and the Netherlands, at -2.49 euros per MWh, and they were even lower in Belgium, at -17.97 euros per MWh. These negative prices essentially mean that consumers are paid to use electricity.

Today, electricity market conditions are back to the ongoing energy crisis’ normal levels. The average wholesale electricity price is at 243.08 euros per MWh, up 44.5 percent compared to yesterday, despite RES input representing 51.1 percent of the energy mix.

Gas-fired generation up 72.3% in February, PPC holds ground

Natural gas-fueled electricity generation rose sharply, by 72.3 percent, or 622 GWh, in February compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, according to power grid operator IPTO’s monthly report.

This increased generation essentially filled a gap created by lower hydropower production, which dropped by 76.3 percent, or 659 GWh, during the aforementioned period.

Lignite-fired electricity generation fell by 20.3 percent, or 105 GWh, in February compared to the same month in 2021, the IPTO report showed.

These changes highlight the importance of natural gas-fueled power stations for the country’s energy mix, supply security, and grid flexibility, market authorities told energypress.

Overall electricity generation in February reached 3,506 GWh, down 2.61 percent compared to the equivalent month a year earlier.

Natural gas-fueled generation represented a 54.13 percent share of this total production, renewable energy sources generated 40.02 percent, while hydropower units contributed 5.85 percent of the month’s total.

Market shares in the country’s retail electricity market remained virtually unchanged in February, the IPTO report showed.

Power utility PPC did not give away any ground, capturing a 64.23 percent share of the retail electricity market in February, marginally up from January’s 64.1 percent.

Mytilineos was ranked second with a 6.92 percent share, followed by Heron (6.48%), Elpedison (5.78%), NRG (4.19%), Watt & Volt (2.35%), Fysiko Aerio (2.04%), Volterra (2.01%), Zenith (1.89%) and Volton (1.49%).

 

PPC’s Ptolemaida V test run in summer, gas conversion in ’25

Power utility PPC’s prospective Ptolemaida V power station in northern Greece, whose construction has almost been completed, is expected to undergo a test run this coming summer, as a lignite-fired facility, ahead of its launch late in the year or early 2022, while the unit will be converted into a natural gas-fired unit as of 2025, top-ranked company officials have informed.

The officials ruled out any possibility of a deviation away from the corporation’s natural gas conversion plan for the facility by 2025.

Any delay would be detrimental for PPC given the rising cost of carbon emission rights, currently at a level of approximately 90 euros per ton, leading to losses.

Carbon emission rights would need to drop to a level of no more than 45 euros per ton for Ptolemaida V to cover its operating costs as a lignite-fired facility, the PPC officials noted.

Meanwhile, a recent European Commission decision on its Taxonomy, essentially excluding ultra-modern power stations that are exclusively fueled by natural gas from its list of green investments, comes as a setback for the financing terms achievable for such facilities, the PPC officials pointed out.

The PPC officials admitted, however, that this Brussels decision will push investors to seek emission-reducing solutions, such as mixed natural gas and hydrogen solutions.

PPC is preparing such ventures following a recent announcement concerning a related collaboration with Motor Oil.

The European Commission’s Taxonomy is intended to serve as a guide for private and public-sector investments required to achieve climate neutrality over the next 30 years.

 

Taxonomy improvements for gas-fueled power stations

A number of improvements have been made to criteria concerning the entry of natural gas-fueled power stations to the “transitional activities” section of the European Commission’s Taxonomy, intended to serve as a guide for private and public-sector investments required to achieve climate neutrality over the next 30 years.

However, an emissions limit for natural gas-fueled power stations included in the initial plan has been maintained, despite being considered unfeasible by producers.

The elimination of intermediate objectives for green hydrogen incorporation at natural gas-fueled power stations has been embraced as an important improvement by electricity producers.

Initially, authorities had planned intermediate objectives that would have required hydrogen to represent 30 percent of generation at gas-fueled plants by 2026 and 55 percent by 2030. Under the revisions, green hydrogen will need to fully represent generation at these plants as of 2036.

Consultation on the Taxonomy has just been completed, while supplementary terms have been finalized.

Criteria concerning the entry of natural gas-fueled power stations to the EU’s Taxonomy are crucial for Greece, given the country’s number of investment plans for new natural gas-fueled power stations.

These units, according to the National Energy and Climate Plan, will be called on to play an important role in ensuring grid stability and supply sufficiency as the RES sector further penetrates the energy mix.

 

‘Higher CO2 limit for gas-fired units until hydrogen-based output is plentiful’

The Hellenic Association of Independent Power Producers (ESAI/HAIPP) has called for the establishment of a higher transitional CO2 emission limit of 340 grams per KWh produced for new natural gas-fired power stations until hydrogen-based electricity production is generated in abundance.

The association submitted its proposal to energy minister Kostas Skrekas ahead of the completion, this Friday, of ongoing consultation between the European Commission and the Greek government on a green energy framework, the Taxonomy Complementary Delegated Act.

ESAI/HAIPP has also proposed that the CO2 limit for existing low-polluting natural gas-fired power stations be raised to 450 grams per KWh produced from the present level of 380 grams.

The association is striving for the European Taxonomy to also cater to the needs of natural gas-fired power stations so that their loan obligations can be met without alarm.

ESAI/HAIPP has stressed that a 270-gram limit proposed by the European Commission for new natural gas-fired power stations is not feasible.

Gov’t utilizes EU terms to offer PPC lignite units more time

The government has utilized flexible terms in European law, expiring tomorrow, concerning high-polluting power stations to secure a further extension for power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations, through additional operating hours, which, in some cases, could stretch as far forward as 2025.

Even so, the power utility insists this initiative will not change the corporation’s withdrawal plan for its lignite-fired power stations, according to which all existing units will be withdrawn by the end of 2023.

PPC, in an announcement, has informed that the additional operating hours secured for lignite-fired power stations will be used within the time limits of respective withdrawal plans that exist for units.

The power utility has avoided using its lignite-fired power stations to full capacity, even though they have developed into lower-cost options than natural gas-fueled power stations.

Under the current market conditions, wholesale electricity prices may have been lower if PPC used its lignite-fired power stations more frequently.

Greater use has been avoided by PPC as these units remain loss-incurring for the power utility given the increasing prices of CO2 emission rights and a variety of technical difficulties, sources told energypress.

 

Grid insufficiency issues from 2022 to 2024, ENTSO-E warns

Greece is not expected to encounter grid insufficiency issues from 2025 to 2030 but the period between 2022 and 2024 could be a concern, ENTSO-E, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, has warned in a latest report covering Europe.

Greece has decided to withdraw most of the country’s lignite-fired power stations by 2023, ahead of the arrival of the new Ptolemaida V facility, for which finalized fuel decisions have yet to be taken, the ENTSO-E study pointed out.

The grid entry of new natural gas-fueled power stations in the second half of the decade is expected to offer equilibrium to any grid sufficiency issues, the report added.

Independent energy groups are currently planning and developing natural gas-fueled power stations, but, for the time being, a Mytilineos group unit is the only upcoming addition, planned for a launch in late 2022. All other investments are not expected to operate before 2024.

This could cause grid sufficiency issues between 2022 and 2024, if lignite-fired power stations are withdrawn without being replaced by natural gas-fueled power stations, the ENTSO-E report noted.

It also made note of Greece’s dependency on electricity imports during periods of shortages, highlighting the country’s grid is highly susceptible to extreme weather conditions. Greece will no longer be able to fully depend on electricity imports, the reported noted.

Also, the installation of batteries and pumped storage stations should not be considered a given as such investments will depend on regulatory framework conditions, ENTSO-E noted.

 

 

 

Crisis Management Committee to examine supply security

The Crisis Management Committee is expected to meet within the first fortnight of October to examine the overall situation in the energy market, driving price levels up to exorbitant levels for consumers of all categories.

The committee’s members will discuss the issue of supply adequacy and security for meeting electricity generation needs, primarily.

Electricity, natural gas and CO2 emission prices are skyrocketing, while natural gas shortages are now emerging in EU markets, all as a result of an extraordinary combination of developments in European markets.

For the time being, Greek energy sector authorities – RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy; DESFA, the gas grid operator; and IPTO, the power grid operator – have remained reassuring. Yesterday, RAE president Athanasios Dagoumas noted: “We are not in a state of alarm but are vigilant.”

Overall natural gas consumption is expected to increase in 2021. Consumption was 14 percent higher in the first half compared to the equivalent period a year earlier, DESFA data has shown.

Gas demand rose in July and August to meet increased electricity generation needs and is also expected to be elevated this coming winter.

In Greece, approximately 60 percent of natural gas consumption results from electricity generation. The ongoing withdrawal of coal-fired power stations and greater reliance on fluctuating RES output is expected to lead to a further increase in demand for natural gas.

Local authorities have pointed to Greece’s natural gas source diversification, made possible by the Revythoussa LNG terminal and TAP, both offering alternative solutions, as crucial in the effort to manage the current energy crisis.

Wholesale electricity prices ease as RES input increases

Wholesale electricity price levels are expected to drop to an average of 130 euros per MWh in the day-ahead market today, down 20 percent compared to yesterday, a de-escalation attributed to increased RES input, the energy exchange has informed.

Stronger winds have been forecast, increasing the generation potential of wind energy units.

The maximum price in the day-ahead market today is expected to reach 186 euros per MWh and the minimum price will be 92 euros per MWh.

Natural gas-fired power stations are scheduled to contribute the lion’s share, 40 percent, of the day’s electricity needs, renewable energy sources will contribute 24 percent, electricity imports and lignite-fired power stations will each provide 15 percent, while hydropower facilities will contribute 6 percent.

Electricity demand for the today is forecast to drop by 2.5 percent compared to yesterday.

 

 

Grid faces new challenge today as heatwave persists

The country’s grid stands to face yet another major challenge today as electricity demand could climb to a new record level, driven up by the sustained heatwave conditions, projected to reach levels of between 40 and 42 degrees Celsius.

Power grid operator IPTO projects electricity demand will reach 10,835 MW, which would be a new all-time high, following yesterday’s level of 10,662 MW.

Natural gas-fired power stations operated by power utility PPC and independent producers will once again contribute dominantly, exceeding 43 percent, according to energy exchange data.

PPC’s combined-cycle Lavrio IV will return to action today following the replacement of technical components at the unit, according to IPTO’s schedule for the day.

The overall input of renewable energy units is expected to rise marginally today, compared to previous days, and cover 16.5 percent of demand.

Electricity imports are also expected to cover 16.5 percent of demand today.

Lignite-fired power stations, including Megalopoli IV, back following repairs, are expected to represent 14.46 percent of the energy mix.

Major-scale hydropower facilities should cover a little over 9 percent of electricity demand.

The government’s crisis management team expects generation will reach required levels and, furthermore, could be boosted by greater output at wind-energy facilities as a result of stronger winds that have been forecast for today.

On the other hand, the prospect of stronger winds is unfavorable for firefighters seeking to subdue a number of fire fronts. Also, the risk of new fires is also higher. In such an event, the grid, under extreme pressure over the past ten days amid the sustained heatwave, would surely suffer further damages.

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO crews are continuing efforts to restore power supply in fire-hit Varybobi, north of Athens. The northern section of Evia, northeast of Athens, and Pyrgos, northwest Peloponnese, have also been affected by power supply cuts as a result of fires in the regions.

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.

GEK TERNA building vertically integrated energy group

Listed GEK TERNA construction and energy group has further reinforced its position in the energy market following its acquisition of stakes held by Engie and Qatar Petroleum in the Heron energy group.

As a result, GEK TERNA has now gained control of Heron’s energy production and supply activities.

The group’s objectives for an increased installed capacity in RES and conventional electricity generation promise to make GEK TERNA the country’s second biggest energy group, following PPC, the power utility.

Group member Terna Energy aims to increase its installed RES capacity to 3 GW by 2025, while, during the same period, or possibly one year earlier, the group intends to boost its conventional energy production capacity to 1.5 GW.

Heron is equipped with two gas-fueled power stations offering a total capacity of 600 MW, while the company has also announced it will co-develop an 877-MW power station in Komotini, northern Greece, with Motor Oil.

The GEK Terna group, with its subsidiaries Terna Energy in renewable energy, and Heron, for conventional energy production and supply, has created a 4.5-GW portfolio capable of providing electricity products through decarbonized operations.

The listed group has taken a big step into the new era of energy supply through power and purchase agreements (PPAs) as Heron will be able to offer major-scale energy consumers bilateral supply contracts for green and conventional energy.

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.

Damco Energy CCGT boost to 840 MW approved by RAE

A plan by Damco Energy, a Copelouzos group subsidiary, to increase the capacity of its prospective natural gas-fired power station in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, from 662 MW to 840 MW has been approved by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The energy company now needs to make an investment decision, expected within the summer, before work on the project commences, sources informed. Its licensing procedure has been completed.

According to the sources, ESM, North Macedonia’s state electricity company, set to acquire a 25 percent in the Alexandroupoli natural gas-fired power station, is now at the final of its preparations and is currently performing due diligence.

Damco Energy is one of a number of companies that have not only decided to develop natural gas-fired power stations but also to boost capacities of their respective projects to over 800 MW.

Mytilineos was the first to do so with its plan for an 826-MW combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT unit) in Agios Nikolaos, Viotia, northwest of Athens, a project already being developed.

Following suit, Elpedison upgraded a licensed natural gas-fired power station plan in Thessaloniki to 826 MW, while, just weeks ago, GEK Terna and Motor Oil also announced an upgrade for their natural gas-fired power station in Komotini, northeastern Greece, a joint venture, to 877 MW.

Power utility PPC has also announced a plan to convert its new lignite-fired power station, Ptolemaida V, to a natural gas unit, planned to ultimately offer a capacity of over 1,000 MW by 2025.

The prospective natural gas-fired power stations, totaling 4.3 GW, are planned to fill the capacity gap that will be left by PPC’s withdrawal of lignite-fired power stations, exiting as part of the country’s decarbonization effort.

These new gas-fired units are also expected to export electricity to Balkan countries through grid interconnections with neighboring markets.

Grid to rely on lignite units amid extreme weather for 2 more yrs

The country’s grid sufficiency will rely on power utility PPC’s high-polluting and high-cost, for the utility, lignite-fired power stations for at least a further two years whenever extreme temperature fluctuations are experienced, as was the case last week, on Friday, when the heatwave pushed demand up to 9,258 MW, as well as Wednesday, when demand rose to similar levels.

PPC’s group of old lignite-fired power stations will need to keep offering solutions until at least 2023 during extreme weather conditions, be they heatwaves or snowstorms, a situation that will need to be seriously taken into account by the committee responsible for the new National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP).

The committee will stage its first meeting today to begin preparing the new 2030 NECP. Many uncertain factors still remain.

According to the existing NECP, now being revised, new natural gas-fired power stations offering a total capacity of 1,650 MW, plus Ptolemaida V – a lignite-fired unit to be converted to a natural gas-fired unit in 2025 for an eventual capacity of 1,000 MW – will need to be launched by 2030.

The new NECP will anticipate greater RES penetration by 2030 than the existing NECP. The existing plan expects renewable energy sources to cover 62 percent of overall electricity demand by the end of the decade, whereas the new NECP will increase this level to 72 percent.

Clearing price hits record level, averaging €128.15/MWh

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Gas, CO2 costs, up over 50%, increasing electricity prices

The pandemic’s gradual remission and tougher climate-change policies have ushered in a period of elevated electricity price levels, both in Greece and internationally, expected to be prolonged, according to many analysts.

Suppliers, one after another, are increasing prices for household and business consumption, passing on to consumers additional costs encountered in the wholesale market through the activation of price-related clauses.

According to Greek energy exchange data, day-ahead market prices currently range between 78 and 80 euros per MWh, nearly double the level of 45 euros per MWh at the beginning of the year.

Similar price increases of about 50 percent have also been recorded in markets abroad during the first half of the year.

Electricity producers operating natural-gas fueled power stations have been impacted by higher gas prices, data provided by the Dutch trading platform TTF has highlighted.

Electricity producers also face considerably higher CO2 emission right prices, currently ranging between 52 and 55 euros per ton from 32 to 34 euros per MWh early this year.

According to many analysts, CO2 emission right prices will continue rising in the years to come and may have doubled by 2030.

Higher natural gas and CO2 emission right prices are impacting electricity producers generating through natural gas-fired power stations. They are required to pay for CO2 emission rights, one-third of levels imposed on lignite-based producers.

Experts agree that toughening EU climate-change measures, to be followed by corresponding US polices, will keep driving energy commodities higher, noting that oil and gas price rises will be subdued as low-cost, cleaner forms of energy further penetrate markets.

 

Vertical integration, diversification, FSRU behind MOH Komotini plant role

Petroleum group Motor Oil Hellas’ intent to further bolster its position in the electricity market is highlighted by its decision to participate, with a 50 percent stake, in a new natural gas-fired power station being jointly developed with GEK Terna in Komotini, northeastern Greece.

More specifically, MOH’s involvement in this project can be linked to three key strategic reasons: vertical integration; market diversification beyond the refining sector; and the market role of the group’s planned FSRU in Korinthos, the Dioryga Gas project.

MOH’s participation in the Komotini natural gas-fired power station, coming as an addition to another such unit, Korinthos Power, in which the petroleum group holds a 35 percent stake, is expected to further bolster its vertical integration in the electricity market.

MOH, in the retail electricity market, is represented by supplier NRG, a company displaying dynamic growth with market share gains.

The group’s acquisition of a 50 percent stake in the Komotini power plant, to offer an 877-MW capacity, will boost its presence in electricity production and creates further opportunities for trade synergies.

The group’s Dioryga Gas project in Korinthos promises to supply large LNG quantities to the Komotini power station.

According to some sources, MOH is also discussing a possible entry, as a stakeholder, into other natural gas-fired power stations that are currently being developed, so that these, too, may be supplied with LNG by the group.

Ptolemaida V gas conversion board decision end of June

Power utility PPC is moving swiftly towards a finalized investment decision on a fuel-conversion plan for its prospective Ptolemaida V facility in northern Greece, to begin operating as a lignite-fired power station in 2022 before converting, a few years later, to a natural gas-fired facility equipped with infrastructure also enabling the use of hydrogen.

PPC’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis will present the plan to the company board at a meeting scheduled for the end of June, when it is expected to be approved, sources informed.

The plan will include schedules and financial studies for the conversion of Ptolemaida V, Greece’s last lignite-fired power station in development.

The PPC board is expected to stick to its plan of operating Ptolemaida V as a lignite-fired power station until 2025, instead of 2028, as was initially planned, before making the fuel switch to natural gas.

The country’s ambitious decarbonization targets and rallying CO2 emission right prices, currently at lofty levels ranging between 40 and 44 euros per ton, prompted Stassis, the CEO, to hasten PPC’s withdrawal of lignite units.

Ptolemaida V will be loss-incurring as a lignite-fired facility, the chief executive told analysts, responding to questions, during a recent presentation of the company’s financial results.

PPC also plans to increase the production capacity of Ptolemaida V to 1,000 MW from 660 MW. The facility will be flexible, possessing the ability to swiftly increase output from 300 to 1,000 MW within 30 minutes to an hour.

The facility’s fuel conversion cost is estimated at 250 million euros, sources have informed.

Stassis told analysts Ptolemaida V will be competitive even without support from the Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM), being sought by the government from the European Commission as support for flexibility.

 

Mytilineos considering new gas-fired power units in Balkans

The Mytilineos group is examining the prospect of developing natural gas-fired power stations in Bulgaria and North Macedonia, seeing investment opportunities, like Greece’s other major energy players, in the Balkan region.

EU members Bulgaria and Romania, as well as non-EU members in the Balkan region, such as Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia, are announcing closures of old coal-fired power stations.

This development is creating investment opportunities as older units being withdrawn will, over the next few years, need to be replaced by new facilities, including natural gas-fired power stations.

A month ago, after receiving equipment for a new gas-fired power station unit in Agios Nikolaos, Viotia, northwest of Athens, Mytilineos informed that the company is examining the prospect of developing a similar combined cycle unit in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria, like Greece, is withdrawing its coal-fired power stations and aims to have completed the country’s decarbonization effort by 2025. The neighboring country will need to replace lost capacity through the introduction of natural gas-fired power stations and RES unit investments.

Extremely higher carbon emission right costs have made the withdrawal of coal-fired power stations a priority for Bulgaria and the wider region, one of Europe’s most lignite-dependent areas.

Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, combined, represent nearly ten percent of the EU’s total lignite electricity generation capacity.

Carbon emission right prices relaxed to 49.26 euros per ton yesterday after peaking at 56.65 euros per ton last Friday, following a months-long rally.

Last week, during a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, North Macedonian leader Zoran Zaev disclosed that his government is discussing the prospect of a new gas-fired power station, in the neighboring country, with Mytilineos.

In Romania, projections for 2030 estimate the installation of 5.2 GW in wind energy units and approximately 5 MW in solar energy units.

Serbia, possibly offering even bigger green energy investment opportunities, aims to replace 4.4 GW of coal-fired generation by 2050. The country is now making plans for 8-10 GW in RES investments.

North Macedonia energy business opportunities for local players

Greek companies stand a great chance of gaining further presence in North Macedonia’s energy market through participation in projects and investments promising to contribute to the country’s diversification of energy sources and capture a bigger energy-mix share for green energy, the neighboring country’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev made clear during comments in Athens yesterday.

North Macedonia appears determined to reduce its dependence on Russian fossil fuels and also cut back on carbon emissions, objectives offering investment opportunities for Greek energy groups, currently eyeing the neighboring market as part of plans to increase their business interests abroad.

The North Macedonian leader said yesterday that an agreement concerning the relaunch of Hellenic Petroleum ELPE’s Thessaloniki-Skopje oil pipeline is nearing finalization.

“The idea is to have reached an agreement with them by the end of May so that this important pipeline can begin operating,” Zaev remarked.

The oil pipeline’s reopening would be combined with the conversion of ELPE’s North Macedonian OKTA refinery into a petroleum products distribution hub covering the western Balkan region.

ELPE currently operates 27 petrol stations in North Macedonia through its OKTA subsidiary. Also active in Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, the Greek petroleum group operates over 200 petrol stations in the wider region.

Zaev added that North Macedonia is involved in negotiations with a Greek company, presumed to be Mytilineos, for the development of a natural gas-fueled power station in the capital, Skopje. These talks, however, still appear to be at an early stage.

Also this week, Greek energy minister Kostas Skrekas told participants of the Delphi Economic Forum that a bilateral agreement for a Greek-North Macedonian gas pipeline interconnection is virtually ready and awaiting the approval of European authorities.

For North Macedonia, this gas pipeline project would end Russia’s monopoly in the country’s gas market, enabling more competitive gas prices and reinforced supply security, while for Greece, the gas pipeline’s development would represent a further step in the country’s objective to transform into a regional gas hub.

PPC power plant in northeast to rely on new Bulgaria, Turkey grid links

New transboundary grid interconnections with Bulgaria and Turkey will seemingly play a pivotal role in the sustainability of a new 665-MW gas-fueled power station planned by power utility PPC in Komotini, northeastern Greece, judging by estimates at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The authority has already issued a production license for this unit, which PPC aims to launch by the end of 2024, despite the fact that five other investments plans for new gas-fueled power stations, promising additional total capacity of 3.2 GW, already exist, including a Mytilineos group unit already under construction.

According to a related report submitted by RAE to Greek Parliament, the National Energy and Climate Plan foresees an increase in installed natural gas-fueled power stations from 5.2 GW in 2020 to 6.9 GW by 2025, a 1.7 GW increase.

Given these figures, RAE presumably considers that the development of all planned units will not be possible. Instead, market forces will determine which of the investors will be able to proceed with their plans, based on individual company feasibility studies.

Power grid operator IPTO’s ten-year development plan covering 2021 to 2030, expected to soon be approved by RAE, includes projects designed to bolster the grid in the east Macedonia and Thrace regions of northeastern Greece, and also reinforce the grid interconnections of these regions with the North Aegean islands, Bulgaria and Turkey.

Energy investment activity rising, focus on RES projects, energy transition

Investment activity in the domestic energy sector is rising with major deals being negotiated, the main focus being on renewables and the energy transition, participants at yesterday’s Delphi Economic Forum made clear.

This activity promises significant growth for all RES technologies, even the more innovative, such as offshore wind farms and energy storage units.

Major energy players are moving to capitalize on opportunities that are emerging as the country pushes ahead with its decarbonization effort. Also, investor talks concerning domestic and international partnerships, the latter promising to secure expertise in sectors such as offshore wind farms, are in progress.

Power utility PPC, moving ahead with RES investments, aims to have launched projects with a total capacity of 1.5 GW by 2023. The utility’s redevelopment plan for the country’s two lignite-dependent regions, Ptolemaida, in the north, and Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese, is in progress.

PPC plans to invest 3.4 billion euros on RES project development in these regions, and an upgrade of their distribution networks, Konstantinos Mavros, chief executive of PPC Renewables, a PPC subsidiary, told the forum.

PPC is also expected to establish partnerships facilitating its entry into the offshore wind market. In addition, the company also aims to have formed a joint venture with German power company RWE by the end of summer for development of RES projects totaling 2 GW.

Elsewhere, energy company Mytilineos is also preparing a strategic alliance with a major international group for its entry into the offshore wind farm sector.

Mytilineos is also close to completing, this year, a major post-lignite investment in natural gas-fueled electricity generation. In addition, the company plans to develop 300 MW in wind farms and 1.5 GW in solar farms over the next two years.

Furthermore, Mytilineos plans to develop 20 energy storage projects, each with 50 MW capacity, by utilizing its immense knowhow gained in this field through involvement in such projects abroad.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) is preparing RES and digital transition projects and will concurrently focus efforts to reduce carbon emissions and develop more eco-friendly products, including biofuels and hydrogen.

The Copelouzos group is nearing an investment decision on the development of a natural gas-fueled power station in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece. A decision is expected this summer. The group is currently engaged in talks with neighboring North Macedonia’s power utility for its possible entry into this project as a minority partner.

As for networks, power grid operator IPTO has planned numerous projects as part of a ten-year investment plan worth five billion euros. The operator anticipates new RES project penetration of 17 GW, a forecast exceeding the National Energy and Climate Plan’s goals.

DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator, has put together a 3 billion-euro investment plan for the two next regulatory periods, each four years long. Projects include network undergrounding, service upgrades and improvement, new technologies, as well as grid digitalization projects.