New minister, just appointed, has issues to resolve in 2021

Kostas Skrekas, just appointed new energy minister as part of the government’s cabinet reshuffle, in place of Costis Hatzidakis, who has headed the ministry for a constructive year and a half, faces a series of pending energy-sector matters that remained unresolved in 2020. They need to be addressed as soon as possible. Developments and conditions this year will be pivotal for these matters.

Skrekas was previously deputy minister for agricultural development and food.

Also in 2021, a year during which takeovers and mergers are seen occurring in the retail electricity and gas markets, rivals will continue battling for market share gains. The target model’s launch two months ago has brought about new conditions, strengthening the positions of vertically integrated suppliers.

The need for a normalization of the target model’s new markets stands as the energy ministry’s most pressing task at present. A sharp rise in wholesale electricity prices as a result of soaring balancing market costs has deeply unsettled the market, impacting the standings of non-vertically integrated suppliers, as well as industrial enterprises and consumers, who face rising bills.

Market coupling with Bulgaria’s day-ahead market, scheduled to take place within the first three months of the new year, is the next step of the target model, a procedure designed to harmonize EU energy markets and promote competition.

New energy-intensive industrial tariffs also need to be set soon. Though essentially a matter concerning state-controlled power utility PPC and Greece’s industrial players, the cost of industrial energy is crucial for Greek industry, carrying particular political and economic weight.

Also, Greece has little time left in its negotiations with Brussels for a framework to offer third parties access to PPC’s lignite-based generation. This issue is no longer as crucial as it once was because the country’s lignite output has been drastically reduced. Even so, it remains important for independent suppliers.

A number of energy-sector privatizations could be completed this year. Gas utility DEPA’s two new entities, DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Commercial, electricity distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, and a tender for a tender for the development of an underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) in the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in northern Greece are all on this year’s privatization list.

In renewable energy, the ministry needs to take decisions within the first few months to clarify terms regulating the sector. RES investment interest is currently high. Steps still need to be taken in an ongoing effort to simplify RES licensing procedures, while a legal framework must be established for energy storage, offshore wind farms and hydrogen use.

 

Hydrocarbon framework helping shape offshore wind farm rules

The energy ministry is utilizing the existing legal framework for offshore hydrocarbon licensing as a guide for the establishment of a respective set of rules for offshore wind farms, energypress sources have informed.

The energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou is heading a team assembled for this task, to include carving out offshore blocks in the Aegean and Ionian Seas that are deemed appropriate for offshore wind farm development.

Once defined, these blocks, which must neither trespass Natura environmental protection areas nor interfere with shipping and fishing zones, will be offered to investors through tenders.

An open-door procedure, or staging of tenders following official expressions of interest by investors for specific areas, as is the case with the hydrocarbon sector, may also be adopted for offshore wind farms.

The team led by Sdoukou is also examining equivalent legal frameworks used by other European countries.

Offshore block positioning and licensing; interconnections with the grid; and the remuneration formula for investments are three key aspects to be covered by the offshore farm sector regulations, Sdoukou recently told an ELETAEN (Greek Wind Energy Association) conference.

A related draft bill is expected to be ready towards the end of the year.

Floating wind turbine installations are most suitable for Greece as a result of the country’s deep waters and lack of obstacles for the development of this type of technology in international waters, studies have shown.

 

Greece keen to utilize American RES technology; funds eyeing market

The government wants to utilize latest American technology for more recent RES and RES-related domains such as offshore wind farms and energy storage, the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou noted yesterday during a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other US officials in Thessaloniki.

For quite some time now, American renewable energy producers, institutional investors and funds have been scanning the Greek market for RES market opportunities.

A complete framework for offshore wind farms in Greece will be presented early in 2021, Sdoukou pointed out during yesterday’s meeting.

Major offshore wind farm development has been achieved off the American west coast, featuring, like the Mediterranean, waters of sudden depth, ideal conditions for the development of offshore wind farms.

US firms such as Invenergy, one of North America’s biggest wind energy producers; 547 Energy, a RES platform for Quantum Energy Partners; National Energy; and wind energy equipment manufacturer General Electric, have displayed a rising interest in the Greek market.

Besides RES and RES-related companies, a number of American funds are seeking investment opportunities in Greece.

At least ten US funds appear to be keeping a close watch on power utility PPC as a result of the corporation’s strategic turn to renewable energy.

They include Bell Rock Capital, Sephora Investment Advisors, Waterwill Capital Management, Cleargate Capital, Golden Tree Asset Management, Helm Investment Partners, Knighthead Capital Management, Craftsman Management, Colt Capital Partners and Kirkoswald Αsset Μanagement.

 

 

 

 

 

IPTO moves to develop links for private RES projects on islands

Power grid operator IPTO has submitted a request to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for a grid management rule revision that would enable the operator to take on the planning and development of new subsea interconnections for private RES projects whose licenses include cable installations.

The operator’s proposal includes a formula through which IPTO would assume the entire cost of subsea cable installations for private projects and recover these costs via network surcharges.

This formula mainly concerns bigger projects, over 250 MW, while the cable interconnections could, according to the operator’s proposal, remain independent or serve as capacity boosts for projects already included in IPTO’s ten-year development plan. They include the fourth stage of the Cyclades interconnection and links in the northern Aegean and the Dodecanese.

This is, after all, one of the advantages possessed by the operator, able to offer a complete plan, ensure equal treatment of investment plans, and utilize projects in a uniform way to achieve economies of scale and ultimately provide benefits for the electricity market as a whole.

In addition, IPTO, like other European operators, is seeking a key role in the development of offshore energy transmission infrastructure, promising  links for offshore wind farms, either floating or fixed.

Dutch offshore wind energy experience a guide for Greece

Local authorities and investors have turned to the Netherlands for information on the development of offshore wind energy parks.

Offshore wind energy parks in the Netherlands currently represent a capacity of 1 GW, expected to soon rise to 2.5 GW.

Local interest in this RES technology is growing, as highlighted by ongoing talks and public consultation for a related legal and regulatory framework.

In addition, the economic and commercial affairs department of the Greek Embassy in The Hague has prepared a detailed report on the Dutch wind energy sector, focused on offshore wind energy parks.

The Dutch government offers a number of competitive incentives to stimulate energy innovation and promote RES use, which, as a result, has strengthened the country’s position in RES research and development and in particular in wind turbine technology, the report notes.

This is further strengthened by strategic public-private partnerships and world-class institutions such as the Top Consortium for Offshore Winds (TKI Wind op Zee), the Energy Research Center (ECN) and Delft University of Technology, a leading specialist, worldwide, in the field of renewable energy, the report added.

 

Investors keen on offshore wind energy parks, framework absent

A growing number of major renewable energy companies from abroad appear keen to develop offshore wind energy parks in Greece but the absence of legal framework covering this RES sub-sector is preventing any progress.

Representatives of at least two such foreign energy companies have spent time in Athens over the past few days for meetings with local authorities to explore the country’s offshore wind project prospects, energypress understands.

One of these, Copenhagen Offshore Partners, a Danish enterprise specializing in offshore wind projects, is believed to be eyeing the north Aegean area.

The other, US firm Invenergy, has been involved in recent meetings here to discuss the development of offshore wind projects in the south Aegean.

The RES sub-sector’s prospects in Greece were also explored last year by Norway’s Equinor. An undisclosed Spanish company is also believed to have looked into offshore wind project prospects.

Strong and dry seasonal winds appearing in the Aegean Sea in the summer, known as meltemia, are a major advantage for offshore wind projects in the area as they could provide support to the grid during summer, when electricity generation levels at onshore parks are lower.

Greek power grid operator IPTO is particularly interested in this prospect as it promises to reinforce grid security.

Also, the development of offshore wind energy facilities could play a key role in helping the country achieve ambitious renewable energy targets included in a revised National Energy and Climate Plan.

Major changes to RES licensing procedure sought by ministry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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