Caretaker energy minister confident all is in place

The caretaker government’s energy minister Pantelis Kapros has assumed his post feeling confident that all has already been put into place by previous officials to ensure energy sufficiency as summer approaches.

His predecessor, Kostas Skrekas, the country’s market operators and power utility PPC have taken all necessary initiatives to ensure energy sufficiency, even under high temperatures.

Kapros, professor of energy economics and operational research at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), has made this confidence clear during a first round of talks with market operators and regulators.

He will remain in charge of Greece’s energy portfolio until a new government is sworn in following a second round of voting, possibly late next month.

Reservoir water levels at PPC’s dams have been maintained at levels comparable to last year, lignite reserves are high, while the number of new RES units connected to the grid this year has reached unprecedented heights.

The country’s hydropower facilities currently offer a capacity of 2,800 to 2,900 MW, lignite stocks measure 3 million tons, and more than 1 GW in new RES unit connections have been made.

Furthermore, two new power stations, a Mytilineos group facility and PPC’s Ptolemaida V, promising an overall capacity of 1,500 MW, are now close to being launched.

Even split in wind, solar systems optimal balance, studies show

An even split between prospective solar and wind energy installations in Greece is the perfect balance in terms of cost-effectiveness and investment, studies conducted by two Greek universities have shown.

Emphasis on the development of either of the two RES technologies is not optimal for RES growth in Greece, Panagiotis Papastamatiou, chief executive of ELETAEN, the Greek Wind Energy Association, told the recent Power & Gas Forum in Athens, citing the university studies.

Although solar energy installations are lower in cost, they require large storage capacities for energy transmission, coming at an increased cost, the ELETAEN official noted, adding that, on the other hand, investment costs for wind energy installations, especially offshore systems, are elevated.

This view raises questions about the National Energy and Climate (NECP) plan, envisaging greater development of solar energy installations, and whether this approach would maximize benefits for consumers, compared to a 50-50 split.

A study conducted by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) showed that a combination of 10 GW in solar energy systems and 10.5 GW in wind energy systems would reduce overall generation cost.

Another study, by the University of Piraeus, also showed that a 50 to 60 percent wind-energy share of prospective RES installations is the optimal combination that should be pursued.


‘Incentives for battery additions to PVs would free up grid space’

Power grid operator IPTO’s Deputy Chairman, Ioannis Margaris, participating in a panel discussion at yesterday’s second and final day of the Power & Gas Forum in Athens, proposed incentives for behind-the-meter energy storage unit additions to still-unelectrified solar panel installations as a means of making available extra grid capacity for new RES projects.

Efficient use of the grid’s limited capacity is crucial. Authorities have already warned that unless drastic action is taken, the country’s grid capacity is headed towards exhaustion in the coming years.

At present, occupied grid capacity totals 25 GW, 11 GW concerning RES projects already operating and 14 GW concerning active final connection offers, the IPTO deputy noted.

Margaris stressed that grid access in many parts of the country will soon become unavailable given the large number of RES project connection applications submitted by investors to IPTO.

Stricter terms limiting the duration of connection offers for stagnant projects, a measure that was recently ratified in Parliament as part of a multi-bill submitted by the energy ministry, will help free up valuable grid capacity, the IPTO deputy stressed.

Also taking part in the forum’s panel discussion, Dr. Stavros Papathanasiou, Professor at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), agreed that a solution concerning the addition of energy storage units to RES projects will, sooner or later, need to be adopted.

Adding behind-the-meter batteries to solar panel systems, either under development or already operating, is the only option to avoid big project cuts as the objective is to accommodate as many RES units as possible into the grid’s limited capacity, the professor stressed.

Battery additions will, of course, increase the cost of solar energy projects, but this increase should not add more than 15 to 20 euros per MWh to the cost of electricity produced by each project, assuming batteries with a duration of between 0.5 and one hour are installed, Papathanasiou informed.


‘Energy storage installations can wait for lower prices’

The National Technical University of Athens’ professor Stavros Papathanasiou, also head of the energy ministry’s committee for energy storage, has proposed, in an interview with energypress, a rational and careful approach to Greece’s storage needs.

A RES energy-mix share of 80 percent by 2030 will require more pumped-storage projects, while decisions on the prospective installation of 900 to 1,000 MW in energy storage systems – a capacity to soon become available through auction procedures – can be left for later on, when price levels for this technology will have fallen significantly, the NTUA professor noted.

The professor also offered a detailed analysis on how storage investments should be remunerated when they provide congestion relief services to the system.

He also stressed the role of storage stations in combination with RES stations (behind the meter) is absolutely crucial, adding that investors behind existing photovoltaic and wind energy facilities should be given incentives to install batteries as a part of their investments.

The professor also noted it is necessary to reform the existing net metering system so that production and consumption of energy could be synchronized instead of having energy injected into the grid at times of congestion.

‘EC intervention acceptance of energy market failure’

The European Commission has finally decided to adopt state intervention measures in energy markets, mainly electricity, after much delay, essentially accepting the failure of markets to produce desired results, Pantelis Kapros, Professor of Energy Economics at the National Technical University of Athens, has noted in an analysis.

Major energy price increases needed to spread throughout Europe for Brussels to decide to intervene, the energy expert noted.

Fixed price offers and price hedging contracts – which, in many countries, secured, over a considerable period, relatively stable retail electricity prices not reflecting rising electricity prices at energy exchanges – have become impossible to maintain as a result of the extended energy price crisis, the professor pointed out in his analysis.

Consumer prices are now skyrocketing virtually everywhere in Europe, increasing the risk of bankruptcies, a perilous situation that has prompted EU governments to push the European Commission for state intervention proposals, the professor underlined.

During this crisis, electricity markets have failed to achieve consumer prices at levels reflecting the true long-term average cost of electricity, as healthy competition would, the professor noted.

Given the exorbitant natural gas prices at present, green hydrogen would represent a lower-cost alternative, if infrastructure was in place, the professor noted, concluding green transition is the only positive way out of the problem, as has now been recognized by all.

Energy crisis prompts heating cost turnaround, gas most expensive

The intensity of the energy crisis has brought about radical change to the market, making natural gas, until recently regarded as a lower-cost heating option, more expensive, a study conducted by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and the Chemical Process Engineering Research Institute (EKETA) has confirmed.

Heating fuel, if taking into account subsidies offered by the Greek State, is the most affordable heating option under the current market conditions, the study found.

Pellet heating is also one of the most affordable options, the study noted.

NTUA study surveying energy price effect on green objectives

The European Commission has commissioned the National Technical University of Athens’ E3 Modelling department with the task of examining scenarios on the EU’s ability to achieve ambitious green energy goals in the event that natural gas, fuel and CO2 emission prices remain high.

The NTUA had also been commissioned to conduct research that served as the basis for most of the twelve legislative proposals forwarded by Brussels for its Fit-for-55 climate-change framework, aiming for a 55 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

Early findings produced by the latest NTUA survey have shown that the swiftest possible market penetration of renewable energy sources will not cause further problems linked to the higher energy prices at present but, instead, create favorable conditions for a return to market equilibrium, energypress sources informed.

Swifter market entry of RES units and their full induction into the private-sector market as an energy supply base for customers represents a positive response to the higher natural gas prices, Pantelis Kapros, Professor of Energy Economics at NTUA pointed out in a recent article. The impact of a faster RES entry, however, will not be felt immediately but will require two to three years to produce results, he added.

Market Reform Plan draft at EC, strategic reserve by end of year

A draft of the country’s Market Reform Plan, whose finalized version will carry target model market revisions for Greece, has been forwarded, by the energy ministry, to the European Commission for consultation between the two sides, expected to begin without delay.

The energy ministry and Brussels have also agreed on a timeline concerning Athens’ submission and examination of a proposal for a Strategic Reserve Mechanism, needed to ensure electricity supply security through the market’s transition and reforms.

Based on this schedule, the two sides will strive to have finalized the Strategic Reserve Mechanism by the end of the year, so that it may be launched in early 2022.

Brussels’ Directorate-General for Competition plans to begin its consultation for the Market Reform Plan in July. The procedure is expected to last four months, before target model market revisions are implemented.

As part of the overall effort, Pantelis Kapros, Professor of Energy Economics at the National Technical University of Athens, conducted a study – commissioned by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy – serving as a road map for the Greek wholesale electricity market’s revisions, the objective being to fine-tune the target model.

Power grid operator IPTO will concurrently conduct a new adequacy report, including reliability standards, to accompany the Greek plan.

Energy storage applications at 9 GW, regulatory framework pending

Applications submitted to RAE, the Regulatory Authority of Energy, since 2019 for energy storage projects involving all technologies have exceeded past levels, as well as expectations, to reach a total of almost 9 GW, the authority’s chief executive Thanassis Dagoumas has told an IENE online workshop on energy storage.

Over the past two or so years, RAE has received a total of 98 applications for energy storage, pumped storage and hybrid projects representing an overall capacity of 8,213 MW, the official informed.

Taking into account a Terna Energy investment plan for a pumped storage station complex in Amfilohia, northwestern Greece, whose development is set to commence in October, this capacity totals 8,893 MW.

To date, RAE has issued production licenses for the majority of these applications, while 34, representing 4,519 MW, still need to be examined.

Despite the progress and considerable interest shown by investors, many issues remain unresolved for an energy storage regulatory framework.

To date, energy storage production licenses granted by RAE have been based on an existing framework for natural gas-fueled power stations.

Much work is still needed before some of the investment plans can be developed, Dagoumas, the RAE chief, acknowledged during the IENE event.

First of all, authorities need to decide on a support mechanism that could make these investment plans sustainable. A related study conducted last year on behalf of RAE showed that, without a support mechanism, energy storage units would not achieve sustainability.

This study also found that, given support, energy storage units would be both essential and beneficial for the grid.

Incorporating energy storage units into the National Energy and Climate Plan’s long-term planning for capacity sufficiency, as well as a Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM), are also priorities, the RAE official noted.

The addition of energy storage units to the country’s energy plan is expected to subdue new power station investments and reinforce networks.

Other RAE priorities include incorporating energy storage into target model markets, a development promising balancing market flexibility.

Optimal energy storage capacity levels will need to reach 3 GW by 2030, 7 GW by 2040, and 12 GW by 2050, Pantelis Kapros, Professor of Energy Economics at the National Technical University of Athens, told the event.

Recovery fund subsidies worth €400m for energy storage units

The energy ministry plans to allot 400 million euros of EU recovery fund money to the development of central electrical energy storage units. A related proposal by the ministry is headed for inclusion into the national recovery plan.

The aforementioned sum will be used to subsidize energy storage projects and will be made available to investors through a mechanism whose details are still being negotiated by government and European Commission officials.

Once the mechanism has taken final shape it will be forwarded to Brussels’ Directorate-General for Competition and Directorate-General for Energy for approval from both, necessary ahead of its implementation.

Though further details on the prospective support mechanism remain unknown, its subsidies are expected to be offered through a competitive procedure promoting selected projects.

At this point, developments have indicated both central energy storage technologies – pumped hydroelectric energy storage and accumulators (battery units) – will be eligible for subsidy support.

A study on central energy storage conducted by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) for RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has shown that a combination of these two technologies is the optimal solution, as each covers different needs.

Energy storage framework, support system in progress

A special committee assembled by the energy ministry to process proposals for a legal framework and support system covering the energy storage domain is making steady progress.

The committee, headed by Dr. Stavros Papathanasiou, a professor at the National Technical University of Athens’ School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and including representatives of operators, the energy exchange and the regulatory authority, has until May 15 to deliver its findings.

Its main task is to offer opinions on regulatory decisions, codes, market regulations, even legislative interventions that may be required, in the form of a thorough plan as guidance for the functioning and entrepreneurial running of energy storage facilities.

Licensing matters, energy market participation rules for energy storage units providing capacity, flexibility, balancing and other services are all being addressed by the special committee.

It is also examining whether a support framework will be needed to determine supplementary compensation for energy storage systems in addition to earnings that may be generated through the market.

Any resulting support system would need to be endorsed by the European Commission.

RES auction for Crete wind, solar installations at end of year

A RES auction to offer respective 100-MW capacities for new wind and solar energy installations on Crete is still quite a long way off and will, at best, be staged towards the end of this year or early in 2021, energypress sources have informed.

Crete’s network for wind and solar energy facilities is currently saturated, according to technical standards provided in an older decision by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

However, studies conducted by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and power grid operator IPTO both support that RES station output of between 180 and 200 MW can be safely absorbed by the Cretan network once the island’s grid is interconnected with that of the Peloponnese.

The island’s overall capacity boost is expected to reach between 2,000 and 2,500 MW once the major-scale grid interconnection, linking Crete with Athens, is completed.

A RAE proposal forwarded to the energy ministry has called for wind and solar energy auctions offering respective installation capacities of 100 MW, the aim being to cover investment demand and also boost power capacity on the island, still using diesel and pressed hard to resolve energy-sufficiency issues in the summers.

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.


RAE renews call for ministry’s help on Crete sufficiency plan

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has reiterated a request for energy ministry support needed for the execution of a plan that is expected to resolve energy sufficiency concerns on Crete until the island’s major-scale interconnection with Athens is completed.

The authority, which has resent a package of Crete-sufficiency proposals to the energy ministry, is essentially seeking permission from the ministry to recruit consultants so that it can proceed with necessary tenders.

The RAE plan, comprised of four basic actions, is based on a related study conducted by the National Technical University of Athens. Besides ensuring energy sufficiency for the island, the proposals also meet environmental standards.

The conversion of a diesel-fueled power station into a 100-MW natural gas-fueled facility is one of the four RAE proposals.

Another entails the installation of a new 100-MW power station, preferably natural gas-fueled.

A third action involves a RES capacity addition of roughly 200 MW, evenly split between wind and solar facilities.

RAE’s fourth proposal concerns the installation – and introduction to the Greek grid – of energy storage systems, or high-tech batteries, representing a capacity of between 30 and 40 MW.

The first and second proposals depend on LNG supply to Crete. Subsequently, a tender will need to be staged for the installation of an FSRU as well as a 100-MW power station.

The additional RES capacity will also require tenders. In addition, RAE proposes a tender for the energy storage systems it envisions for the island.

These batteries could also be used on other Greek islands in the future if they are eventually no longer needed on Crete.


PPC wants cost coverage for Crete energy sufficiency moves

Power utility PPC is unwilling to move ahead with measures required to ensure energy sufficiency on Crete between 2020 and 2023 – the period during which the island’s major-scale electricity grid interconnection with Athens is planned to be developed – unless it is assured cost coverage for these actions through public service compensation (YKO) surcharges included on electricity bills.

Various measures deemed necessary by a National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) study have yet to be implemented.

On the contrary, various issues keep surfacing. Just recently, PPC informed there is not enough time to convert a diesel-fueled unit at Atherinolakkos into a gas-fueled facility by next summer. All of the island’s high-polluting diesel-run units must be withdrawn by the end of this year.

PPC wants the cost of unit conversions, natural gas orders, as well as take-or-pay clauses that may be attached to gas supply agreements covered by the public service compensation surcharge.

Besides representing part of the overall solution for Crete’s energy sufficiency between 2020 and 2023, the plan to convert old lignite units to gas-fueled facilities also promises to serve as a long-term solution.

The NTUA study for Crete also proposes the installation of a new 100-MW unit, preferably gas fueled; development of new RES facilities with a total capacity of between 100 and 150 MW; and the installation and incorporation into the grid of energy storage systems (high-tech batteries) with a capacity of 30 to 40 MW.

Crete FSRU plan encounters issues, onshore unit proposed

A plan to install an FSRU off Crete to import LNG as a means of countering the island’s looming energy sufficiency problem between 2020 and 2023 appears to have run into trouble as floating units of the required capacity are not available in the market for this time period.

Gas grid operator DESFA, requested by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to examine the FSRU prospect, has already proposed an even more ambitious alternative, the installation of an onshore LNG terminal on Crete, according to sources.

However, the considerable time required to develop this alternative – no less than three years – is a problem. So, too, is the cost entailed. Some form of support, possibly through CAT remuneration, could be needed.

If its development is eventually pursued, the onshore facility would serve as an LNG storage and regasification unit for LNG arriving from the Revythoussa islet terminal, close to Athens, or other sources, including Egypt.

An onshore unit’s sustainability would depend on the existence of gas-fueled power stations on Crete with a total capacity of around 400 MW, it is estimated.

Its adoption would bring about changes to a four-part solution proposed by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) that entails converting power utility PPC’s 100-MW diesel-fueled units, situated at Atherinolakkos, into gas-fueled facilities; installing new gas-fueled power stations with a capacity of about 100 MW; developing new RES facilities offering a capacity of between 100 and 150 MW; and setting up a storage system for 30 to 40 MW.

A small-scale grid interconnection is planned to link Crete with the Peloponnese as of 2020, when older high-polluting units operating on the island will have been withdrawn, based on EU regulations. However, the island’s energy sufficiency issue will not be fully resolved until 2023, with the anticipated launch of a major-scale grid link with Athens.


Crete RES auctions, storage system tender planned for 2019

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, looking to protect Crete against energy shortages as of the end of this year, when old power generators operating on the island will need to be withdrawn, is planning new RES auctions for solar and wind energy units, as well as a tender for the installation of a modern energy storage system.

Crete faces a crucial energy sufficiency period between 2020, when the island’s small-scale grid interconnection with the Peloponnese will be launched, and 2023, when a large-scale link with Athens is expected to operate – if all goes according to plan.

The authority is planning to stage the RES auctions within 2019. RAE is also expecting a decision from DEDDIE/HEDNO, Greece’s distribution network operator, determining two or three points on Crete’s grid as suitable for the installation of modern energy storage systems offering a total capacity of between 30 and 40 MW. Once the operator has forwarded its proposal, a RAE tender will follow, within 2019, inviting investors to submit offers for the energy storage systems to be installed on Crete.

They will be portable, enabling transportation to other islands, should the need arise, sources informed.

RAE is referring to the results of a study conducted by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) on the island’s energy sufficiency between 2020 and 2023.

Besides new RES facilities and the storage system, the RAE plan includes the conversion of 100-MW diesel-powered units at Atherinolakkos into natural gas-fired power stations, as well as the development of a new power station, preferably gas-fired, with a capacity of roughly 100 MW.

These measures are seen as optimal in terms of energy sufficiency, feasibility and environmental protection.


RAE opts for north Aegean grid link over LNG alternative

Power grid operator IPTO has included a grid interconnection project linking the north Aegean islands with the mainland to its ten-year development plan covering 2019 to 2028 following a recommendation from RAE, Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The authority was driven towards supporting the interconnection  plan by the results of a comparative study pitting the project against an LNG supply alternative for electricity generation on the islands Lesvos, Chios, Limnos and Samos.

RAE commissioned a team of experts at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) to conduct feasibility studies and was convinced by the results of a second report.

According to sources, the study recommends a grid interconnection from either Thrace, northeastern Greece, or Evia, Greece’s second-largest island slightly northeast of Athens.

RAE still needs to endorse the study so that procedures concerning the project’s plan and scheduling can commence.

North Aegean electricity options estimated between €600m-1bn

The cost of developing various project alternatives for the electricity needs of the country’s islands in the North Aegean, currently non-interconnected, ranges between 600 million and one billion euros, according to a study conducted by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) for RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The study presents ten electrification proposals for the North Aegean islands, including floating and land-based facilities. The costliest alternative, budgeted at one billion euros, envisions an LNG gasification facility combined with a power plant.

The cost of converting existing units in the region so that they may run on natural gas is comparable to the cost of interconnecting the islands, the NTUA study indicated.

Islands examined in the study include Ikaria, Agathonisi, Samos, Lesvos, Limnos, Chios and Skyros.

The interconnection of the North Aegean islands has, for the time being, not been included in power grid operator IPTO’s ten-year plan. However, the operator is believed to be extremely interested in becoming involved.

Meanwhile, the gas utility DEPA, in conjunction with the main power utility PPC, is looking at a plan entailing the transportation of small LNG shipments from large terminals to regional terminals and storage stations in areas detached from the country’s gas network.

Spain’s Enagás, whose Greek market interests have grown since its recent acquisition of a stake in the natural gas grid operator DESFA, is also eyeing projects in the North Aegean.