Revythoussa truck loading station soon, LNG jetty in 2022

The development of a truck loading station at the Revythoussa islet LNG terminal just off Athens will be completed and launched by the end of the year, energypress sources have informed.

Also, a new small-scale LNG jetty to serve the truck loading station, and, amongst other things, contribute to LNG bunkering at the nearby Piraeus port, will be ready in autumn next year, the sources added.

The truck loading station is part of gas grid operator DESFA’s ten-year development plan that includes a category for small-scale LNG project installations, worth 40.5 million euros.

According to the ten-year development plan, the new small-scale LNG jetty, budgeted at 20.4 million euros, will be installed at the northeastern section of Revythoussa.

DESFA has already applied for funding support through the National Strategic Reference Framework (2014-2020) that would cover 50.42 percent of the small-scale LNG jetty’s cost.

 

 

Fast-track procedures in place for power line undergrounding

The energy ministry, striving to replace overhead power lines with underground networks for the infrastructure’s protection following recent fire-related damages, preceded by snowstorm damages last winter, has taken measures to clear the way of any possible bureaucratic delays and is also seeking to secure additional funds for the undergrounding work.

Legislative revisions recently ratified in Parliament include a measure facilitating fast-track power line undergrounding by operators through forest land without them having to wait for approval from forestry officials, which has been customary practice.

As a result, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and power grid operator IPTO can now proceed with power line undergrounding projects without delay or cancellation risks. This applies for both new power line networks and replacement of older ones.

The country has, at its disposal, EU Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) money totaling 187 million euros for power line projects.

However, given the average cost of power line network undergrounding, estimated at 85,000 euros per kilometer, the aforementioned RRF amount would suffice for the development of about 2,200 kilometers, just a tiny fraction of the country’s existing overhead power lines.

Besides the RRF, the energy ministry is also considering to exhaust funding support possibilities through the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) for the power line undergrounding expansion projects, now regarded as essential due to the growing impact of the climate change crisis.

NSRF possibilities considered for power line undergrounding

Energy ministry officials intend to examine National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funding possibilities for power line network undergrounding, triple the cost of overhead power lines, following the recent destructive fires around the country.

The country has specific EU Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) money, totaling 187 million euros, at its disposal for power line projects.

Given the average cost for power line network undergrounding, at 85,000 euros per kilometer, factoring in low and medium-voltage prices, the aforementioned RRF amount would be enough to develop about 2,200 kilometers, just a tiny fraction of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO’s total network. Undergrounding the country’s entire network would require an estimated 18.3 billion euros.

The high cost has limited the country’s power line undergrounding plans for the next five years to approximately 2,150 kilometers.

The operator has already undergrounded 10 percent of its 240,000-kilometer network, leaving a further 216,000 kilometers for potential undergrounding.

Overhead medium-voltage power line development costs approximately 30,000 euros per kilometer. Overhead low-voltage lines cost 25,000 euros per kilometer, compared to 70,000 euros for undergrounding.

Given the increased threat of forest fires brought about by hotter temperatures attributed to the climate change crisis, power line network undergrounding would provide protection to the network.

NSRF offering €5.2bn for green transition, decarbonization

Nearly one quarter, or 5.2 billion euros, of the new National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) amount allotted to Greece, covering 2021 to 2027, will be used to support the country’s green-energy transition and decarbonization efforts.

The funding will be divided into two programs, one for Environment, Energy and Climate Change, worth 3.61 billion euros, and the other for Fair Developmental Transition, worth 1.63 billion euros.

The two programs will offer support for investments promoting RES penetration, environmental protection, a circular economy, the climate change defense, while also supporting the decarbonization effort in the western Macedonia and Megalopoli regions, both lignite-dependent local economies, as well as the islands.

The Environment, Energy and Climate Change section of the NSRF funding package, presented in Athens yesterday, has been designed to lead to: “A greener and more resilient Europe with low carbon emissions, through the promotion of clean energy, green and blue investments, a circular economy, climate change mitigation and adjustment, risk prevention and management, and sustainable urban mobility.”

 

Crete-Athens grid link omitted from Greek RRF proposal

A grid interconnection to link Crete with Athens has been omitted from a national plan containing 112 projects for which financial support will be sought through the European Commission’s Recovery and Resilience Facility.

It was the energy sector’s only surprise omission from the government’s plan for RRF support, to be submitted to Greek Parliament within the next few days for ratification before being forwarded to the European Commission.

Even so, progress of the Crete-Athens grid interconnection project, vital for Crete’s energy sufficiency without reliance on high-cost local power stations, will not be affected by the decision as a number of other financing options remain available, authorities have stressed.

These include the National Strategic Reference Framework and the Just Transition Fund.

The national RRF plan was discussed at a cabinet meeting yesterday ahead of its presentation, planned for tomorrow.

A proposal for a 200 million-euro injection into the RES special account, facing deficit territory, has been included in the national plan.

Other key features of the plans are: the country’s energy efficiency upgrade program for homes, businesses and public buildings; the decarbonization plan; installation of smart meters; upgrade and undergrounding of transmission lines; as well as development of electric vehicle recharging infrastructure.

Ministry seeks recovery fund aid for west Macedonia gas pipeline

Development of a high-pressure gas pipeline in west Macedonia, in the country’s north, which would enable the country’s gas grid to be extended to the area, is among the energy ministry’s proposals for EU recovery fund inclusion.

Though still too early to tell if this project will become eligible for financial support through this fund, it should be pointed out that the European Commission is generally hesitant about backing natural gas-related projects.

The project’s inclusion, or not, in a national recovery and resilience plan being prepared by a special energy-ministry committee, currently filtering proposals by this ministry and other ministries, stands as a crucial test that could determine whether the west Macedonia gas pipeline project will become eligible for EU recovery fund support.

A national plan’s finalized list is expected within the next few days before it is forwarded, by early April, to the European Commission, whose approval will be needed.

The energy ministry is also seeking 300 million euros through the recovery fund for the redevelopment of the power utility PPC’s mining areas in west Macedonia, a lignite-dependent economy.

Regardless of whether the west Macedonia high-pressure gas pipeline plan will qualify for EU recovery fund support, gas grid operator DESFA appears determined to move ahead with the project, budgeted at 110 million euros and constituting part of the country’s decarbonization strategy.

The new National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) could serve as an alternative financing source, while DESFA will also consider company cash reserves and a bank loan if necessary.

 

DESFA to push ahead with west Macedonia gas pipeline

Gas grid operator DESFA is determined to push ahead with the development of a natural gas pipeline in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, a project budgeted at 110 million euros, either with financial support from the EU’s current National Strategic Reference Framework or other financing solutions, including bank loans, if the project is ultimately excluded from EU recovery fund support.

Though a finalized decision on the list of projects to receive EU recovery fund support has not been reached, DESFA, according to energypress sources, will proceed with this pipeline project, part of the operator’s ten-year development plan for 2021 to 2030, totaling 545.5 million euros.

In examining its financing options for this gas pipeline project, DESFA will take decisions based on containing network usage fees to be paid by consumers.

The European Commission and European Investment Bank (EIB) no longer finance conventional gas-based infrastructure projects, unless eco-friendly hydrogen is incorporated into their plans. Even so, the west Macedonia gas pipeline has been included in the recovery fund catalogue as the project is linked to the post-lignite era.

Possessing a clearly developmental role with multiple benefits for the wider region, the pipeline represents part of the energy transition plan for west Macedonia, a lignite-dependent local economy, as it will help replace lignite-based energy, contribute to growth, and support the region’s industry.

The pipeline, to stretch 130 km, could be swiftly licensed, DESFA officials believe, as long as its financing plan is settled and municipal and regional authorities acknowledge the region’s gas penetration need. The pipeline’s delivery was forecast for within 2023 before questions concerning the project’s financing emerged.

DESFA focusing on gas pipeline for west Macedonia network

Gas grid operator DESFA and energy ministry officials are currently discussing financing options that could be sought for the operator’s plan to develop a gas pipeline needed to facilitate a gas network expansion in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, energypress sources have informed.

DESFA is awaiting approval by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for its ten-year development plan, worth more than 545 million euros, including the gas pipeline project.

The talks between DESFA and the energy ministry officials are focused on public funding possibilities, primarily European, to cover part of the cost of the gas pipeline, which would ultimately help contain the level of network usage tariffs to be covered by consumers.

Local officials anticipate this network expansion plan should qualify for EU development fund support, even though EU policy generally does not favor gas projects, as it clearly represents a development project that promises multiple regional benefits, including replacement of lignite-based energy, on the way out as a result of the country’s decarbonization strategy.

Besides the EU recovery fund, officials in Greece are also considering the prospects of financial support from the EU’s National Strategic Reference Framework or a number of regional development programs.

The gas network expansion plan in the country’s west Macedonia region will require the development of a 130-km gas pipeline from Trikala, in the mainland’s mid-north, a project budgeted at 110 million euros.

According to sources, DESFA has revised an original pipeline route plan, bringing the pipeline closer to cities where medium and low-pressure networks for households and businesses are to be developed by gas distributor DEDA.

DESFA to develop small-scale LNG jetty at terminal by late ‘22

Gas grid operator DESFA has reached a finalized investment decision to develop a new small-scale LNG jetty at its LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, paving the way for the establishment of a small-scale LNG supply chain in Greece.

This new infrastructure, to be developed at the northeastern flank of the islet, will come as an addition to the facility’s LNG truck loading station, contributing, amongst other things, to the emergence of LNG bunkering at the nearby Piraeus port.

The new small-scale LNG jetty, budgeted at 20.4 million euros, is planned to begin operating in autumn, 2022, according to the gas grid operator’s ten-year development plan covering 2021 to 2030.

DESFA has applied for subsidized financing support through the National Strategic Reference Framework (2014-2020), which would cover 50.42 percent of the project’s cost. The operator will either use cash reserves or take out a loan for the remainder of the project’s cost.

LNG bunkering at Piraeus port will begin with supply to small-size gas-fueled vessels.

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.

Roads, buildings, telethermal units among post-lignite ideas

Crucial road and building projects, as well as telethermal units for the Florina, Amynteo, Eordea and Kozani areas in northern Greece are among 116 project investment proposals worth 1.14 billion euros that have been submitted by municipalities, regional authorities and universities to the government’s special transition program for the decarbonization effort.

It is understood that out of the 116 proposals, only those corresponding to objectives set by the government plan, aiming to support employment, social cohesion, entrepreneurship and green energy, among other domains, and which can be completed within the next three years, will be approved.

Energy minister Costis Hatzidakis made reference to the number of investment proposals forwarded and their total worth at a conference last Friday, the Athens Investment Forum, without going into great detail.

The special transition program, scheduled for 2021 to 2023, is being assembled based on the capabilities of the EU’s National Strategic Reference Framework (2014-2020); REACT-EU (Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe), contributing to a green, digital and resilient recovery of the economy; as well as other funds.

Projects worth a total of 250 million euros could be inducted into the special transition program, according to an initial estimate.

NSRF help for decarbonization until recovery fund is launched

Greece’s decarbonization effort will, for the time being, need to rely on the National Strategic Reference Framework for EU subsidy support until member state objections and disagreements over the pandemic-related Recovery Fund are resolved to enable its launch.

The European Commission and certain member states from eastern Europe, including Hungary and Poland, appear set for a new round of recovery fund negotiations following objections raised over terms set in July.

More affluent member states such as the Netherlands and Finland have made milder complaints, noting the summer agreement’s handout plan is too lenient.

A January 1 start for the recovery plan appears increasingly unlikely as a result of these disputes.

A delay would impact anticipated recovery-fund financial support for pivotal decarbonization efforts in Greece, including related public road projects. Company-funded projects such as solar energy farms to be developed by power utility PPC and Hellenic Petroleum ELPE will not be impacted.

In a worst-case scenario concerning the recovery fund’s date of launch, projects will need to entirely depend on the new National Strategic Reference Framework for subsidy support through a transitional program covering 2021 to 2023, well-informed sources told energypress.

Projects that would be eligible for subsidy support through this transitional program are budgeted at a total of 250 million euros, according to an initial estimate.

They include PPC and ELPE solar energy farm plans; PPC’s Ptolemaida V power station, currently under construction; as well as PPC’s post-lignite investments.

 

IPTO in talks with investors, operators for Crete interconnection

Investors – funds and major operators – are believed to be expressing strong interest for a minority stake in power grid operator IPTO’s subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection, the project developer of the Athens-Crete electricity grid interconnection.

Talks with parties interested in an Ariadne Interconnection stake have commenced, the power grid operator’s deputy chief Yiannis Margaris informed media during a press call for a presentation of the company’s annual financial results.

Prospective Ariadne shareholders must be financially robust, well acquainted with energy-sector matters, and focused on long-term investments, Margaris pointed out, setting terms and conditions.

The operator is focusing its search on big groups with portfolios carrying major investments, the deputy said.

IPTO’s administration is already engaged in talks with European operators such as Belgium’s Elia and French operator RTE, Margaris indicated.

IPTO expects to sign a bank loan agreement this month for an amount between 400 and 500 million euros to help finance the Athens-Crete interconnection. A sum stemming from Ariadne’s cash reserves worth 200 million euros and National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds of between 300 and 400 million euros are also expected to contribute.

The Athens-Crete link project is set to start and all the funds must be in place, IPTO officials said.

The possible involvement in Ariadne of investors will help achieve better borrowing terms, the officials added, while stressing the two procedures – search for a minority shareholder and capital – are moving ahead independently of each other.

Talks are also in progress with investors for island interconnections to facilitate RES projects, Margaris said.

Decarbonization an independent business plan linked to NSRF

The decarbonization master plan for the west Macedonian region in Greece’s north and Megalopoli in the Peloponnese, both lignite dependent local economies, will be an independent business plan linked to the new National Strategic Reference Framework, running from 2021 to 2027, exclusively funded and based on four main axes, sources have informed energypress.

A draft of the master plan has already been prepared and endorsed by the development ministry, while a competitive procedure will be staged for the shaping of the finalized plan.

A special advisory committee will present its opinion to the privatization fund, involved in the process, for the hiring of a consultant and development of the decarbonization master plan.

Its four main axes will be comprised of industry, the primary sector, tourism-culture and differentiation of lignite area energy identities, the sources said.

Though specific plans have yet to be set out as to how the country’s two main lignite zones will be restored, a tendency towards industrial development is already emerging.

The decarbonization project’s progress to date, procedural matters and its four axes will be discussed by the coordinating committee of the fair development plan at its next meeting, scheduled for this Friday.

Work on Crete-Athens grid link nears launch after approvals

The Court of Auditors has approved contracts offered to winning bidders for installation of the Crete-Athens grid interconnection’s four cable segments, enabling the signing of contracts for the one billion-euro project’s biggest stage, budgeted at 615 million euros, probably within the month, energypress sources have informed. Work will then be able to commence.

Prysmian, Nexans and Hellenic Cables-NKT were awarded contracts for the project’s four cable segments. Prysmian secured two of these four contracts.

On another front, the Court of Auditors is expected to approve a contract for the project’s other key stage, the design, supply and installation of two converters and a substation, in June, according to sources.

Siemens – Terna, a member of the GEK TERNA group, submitted an improved bid of 370 million euros late last month to be awarded this contract by power grid operator IPTO’s fully-owned subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection, the project promoter.

The Court of Auditors’ approval of contracts for the project’s four cable segments follows a recent decision by the environment and energy ministry endorsing the 1,000-MW project’s environmental terms.

EU funding for the project through the NSRF (2014 – 2020) is expected to be approved within the next week to ten days, according to reliable sources. This would subsequently also offer IPTO access to bank financing.

Siemens-Terna awarded converter stations contract for Crete-Athens link

Power grid operator IPTO’s fully-owned subsidiary Ariadne
Interconnection has successfully completed a tender process for the Converter Stations of the Crete-Athens Interconnection, awarding the contract to Siemens – Terna, a member of the GEK TERNA group, ADMIE (IPTO) Holding has announced. 

After the submission of an improved bid on March 26, the contract price was set at 370 million euros, of which 358.6 million euros concern the construction of the converter stations. The remaining 11.4 million euros concern maintenance of these stations.

The contract calls for a 36-month implementation period and will be signed after approval by the Court of Auditors.

The project will be included in the list of the Operational Program “Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation” of the NSRF 2014 – 2020.

Τhe tendering procedure for the design, supply and installation of two Converters and a Substation for the DC Electrical Interconnection between Crete and Athens was launched on May 24, 2019.

The tender attracted the interest of world leaders in the industry and on November 1, 2019 the GE-Nari-Mytilineos and Siemens-Terna consortiums submitted binding offers.

The evaluation of the offers submitted by the consortiums, both of which possess strong technical backgrounds and specialized experience in similar projects abroad, required more than four months due to the project’s elevated technical demands. 

The technical evaluation was completed on March 13 and the Siemens-Terna consortium’s offer qualified, taking into account all relevant issues related to the interconnection.

Commenting on the tender, the IPTO group’s CEO Manos Manousakis noted: “During these challenging times, the tender process for our
flagship project, amounting to 1 billion euros, was successfully completed without problems.
IPTO will continue to focus all its efforts in order to protect the timely implementation of the project and ensure the safe and reliable power supply of Crete through the mainland system by 2023. Apart from the economic benefits of the interconnection of Crete for all Greek consumers, through the decline of Public Service Obligations (PSO), the implementation of this
project paves the way for accelerated RES integration on the island based on the principles of sustainable development.”

Energy suppliers to receive Development Bank support

Electricity and gas supply firms, pressured by the financial repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, are among the country’s enterprises to be offered liquidity support by a prospective Development Bank that will operate as a guarantee fund.

The Ministry of Development and Investment intends to soon establish this new bank using EU National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds.

Talks are in progress for the establishment of a “guarantee mechanism, for electricity companies, providing working capital,” energy minister Costis Hatzidakis noted just days ago.

The plan was also discussed at a meeting between Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiadis, CEOs of Greek banks and the secretary-general of the Hellenic Bank Association.

The bank association is now expected to submit its observations on the plan’s draft law. According to the plan, Greek State guarantees will cover 80 percent of each loan granted, while banks will cover the remaining 20 percent.

New NSRF funds for decarbanization effort to reach at least €600m

EU funds to be made available to Greece through the new National Strategic Reference Framework (2021-2027) for the country’s decarbonization effort are estimated to reach at least 600 million euros, sources have informed.

The NSRF amount is expected to be double the 300 million euros to be received by Greece through the Just Transition Fund, also for decarbonization projects.

The national contribution, expected to range between 10 and 20 percent, or roughly 150 million euros, will take the overall decarbonization amount to about one or 1.1 billion euros.

These funds will be used to fund a smooth post-lignite transition for Greece’s west Macedonia region in the country’s north and Megalopoli in the Peloponnese, both lignite-dependent local economies.

Two or three major foreign investments are expected to also draw private capital.

A change of mentality will be needed in both regions for sufficient post-lignite project development enabling full absorption of the support funds.

NSRF absorption in the entire west Macedonia region has been limited to just 200 million euros over the past few years.

 

IPTO in talks with financial institutions for Crete link loan

Power grid operator IPTO is currently involved in talks with local and foreign financial institutions for a loan concerning Crete’s major-scale electricity grid interconnection with Athens, a project budgeted at around one billion euros.

IPTO chief executive Manos Manousakis is looking for a project loan of roughly 400 million euros. Talks, so far, with financial institutions, including the EBRD, according to sources, are believed to have made good progress.

Financial institutions contacted so far appear positive on the prospect of  providing financing for the Crete-Athens interconnection but want WACC level and cost-benefit study assurances.

IPTO anticipates financing for the project from three sources, including the 400 million-euro bank loan.

The operator has already allotted 200 million euros for subsidiary firm Ariadne Interconnector, the project promoter. IPTO also expects between 350 and 400 million euros to come from the EU’s National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF).

A new regulatory framework for the grid interconnection as a national project rather than a PCI project is a significant pending issue that also needs to be resolved.

NSRF funds for gas network at €111m, Alexandroupoli FSRU on the cards

Gas network development projects for the expansion and upgrade of transmission and distribution infrastructure are included in the EU’s National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funding program for a total of 111.2 million euros, a local authority has noted.

In addition, an NSRF funding application is now also being prepared for a prospective FSRU facility in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, according to Panagiotis Korkolis, the secretary-general for public investments and NSRF funding.

Gas grid expansion and upgrade projects are being planned for central Greece, northern Greece’s central Macedonia and west Macedonia regions, eastern Macedonia and Thrace in the country’s northeast; as well as western Greece.

The country’s gas networks are an integral part of the country’s energy system, now headed towards digitization and an expansion of interconnections both within and beyond Greece, according to energy minister Giorgos Stathakis, in response to a related question in parliament from MPs of the centrist Movement for Change (KINAL).

 

EU subsidies of up to 40% for energy communities, minister reveals

A development plan for energy communities, promising decentralized, locally generated energy solutions, will, for the first time, be supported by EU subsidies covering up to 40 percent of investments, energy minister Giorgos Stathakis has revealed.

An initial sum of 25 million euros will be made available for these subsidies through the National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA), the minister informed.

Stathakis was responding to appeals by solar energy producer representatives and farmers using PV systems for RES output tariff increases.

Stathakis urged farmers to create energy communities and benefit from the EU subsidies. The minister left open the possibility of talks that could lead to improved terms for energy communities.

Energy communities enable electricity consumers to also become producers through renewable energy output, while municipalities and regional authorities can establish localized energy policies.

DEDA starts gas network links in Serres, Halkida, Lamia

The response to a pilot program staged by the recently established gas distributor DEDA, offering gas network connections to consumers in the provincial cities of Serres, Halkida and Lami, has proven positive.

According to energypress sources, at least 1,200 applications have already been submitted and DEDA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of DEPA, the public gas corporation, is now proceeding with connections.

Contractors tasked with maintaining the network are handling these initial connections while a tender offering the task to additional sub-contractors is expected to be held within the next three months.

DEDA is also working on developing the gas networks in central Greece, central Macedonia and eastern Macedonia-Thrace.

A loan from the European Bank, DEDA company capital worth 19.6 million euros, as well as EU funds, through the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), will finance these network development projects.

They are planned to cover a total distance of 1,215 kilometers, offer an annual gas transmission capacity of 6.2 TWh, and serve the natural gas needs of 124,000 buildings.

DEDA also plans to follow up with network development work in the west Macedonia region. The gas supplier will seek European Investment Bank (EIB) funding for this stage.

Development of the west Macedonian region’s gas network has been made possible following negotiations with the TAP consortium, which led to an agreement offering DEDA gas supply via three points along the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, now being developed and planned to run across northern Greece. Two of these supply points will cover needs in the west Macedonia, Ptolemaida and Kastoria regions.

DEDA was founded at the beginning of 2017 and charged with operating most of the country’s natural gas network, except for the wider Athens area, Thessaly and Thessaloniki.