Growing number of investors complain about faulty online auction procedure

Investors who were unable to participate, due to technical glitches, in an online procedure staged by distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO on October 21 for solar energy unit capacities to help resolve the saturated Peloponnese network have been filing a growing number of complaints.

A variety of online platform issues, including a dysfunctional drop-down menu list, the system’s block of information participants were expected to upload, as well as frequent server disconnections, meant that bidders were unable to submit bids before the procedure’s deadline.

Peloponnese West Corridor grid deviation still awaiting approval

Power grid operator IPTO’s virtually completed grid infrastructure upgrade in the west of the Peloponnese, a crucial project promising to foster development of regional RES projects and also enable smoother functioning of power utility PPC’s natural gas-fired power station in Megalopoli along with its lignite-fired units, remains on hold, awaiting the energy ministry’s environmental-permit approval of a project deviation forced by monks at a nearby monastery.

The grid project, budgeted at 110 million euros and known as the Western Corridor, runs from Megalopoli to Patras, northwestern Peloponnese. It is planned to link the Megalopoli high-voltage center in the Peloponnese with an existing 400-KV line running across mainland Greece, from Acheloos to Distomo. Just two more pylons, of 400 in total, remain to be installed for its completion.

A court ruling following legal action taken by five monks forced project planners to reposition these two pylons, originally planned for installation approximately 500 meters from the Agion Theodoron monastery in Kalavryta, northern Peloponnese.

The project was initially included in the grid’s plan back in 2006 but its development did not commence until 2018. A related subsea line linking the Peloponnese with the mainland was installed in 2019.

At present, the Peloponnese is mainland Greece’s only area without a high-voltage (400 kV) connection. It is interconnected to the wider Athens area with 150 kV lines, like links used for islands, inhibiting green investments and large infrastructure projects planned for the country.


Pivotal IPTO substation returning to full capacity after repair work

Power grid operator IPTO’s pivotal Koumoundourou high-voltage substation, serving the wider Athens area, will be ready to counter elevated electricity demand levels of the summer season as the installation of a new autotransformer, required following an explosion and fire at the unit in February, has been completed, enabling the facility to return to full capacity, expected within the next few days.

Since the accident, the substation has operated below full capacity, following temporary adjustments.

The Koumoundourou substation’s return to full capacity promises to reinforce the country’s grid security, especially in the Peloponnese, as the summer’s power-demand peaks draw nearer.

Besides the fire-related repair work, the Koumoundourou substation is also undergoing an overall revamp, budgeted at 46 million euros. Work on this upgrade, scheduled to require a total of two and a half years to complete, is expected to be completed in September, 2023.

Once completed, the upgrade will enable the substation to take on a significant proportion of the electricity load needed in the wider Athens area, while it will also serve as the connection point for the Crete-Athens grid interconnection, expected to be completed within 2023.

The substation will also serve as a terminal for the Eastern Corridor (400 kV) from the Peloponnese to the mainland, whose completion is expected in 2024.


RAE launches inquiry into ‘western corridor’ grid delay

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has launched an enquiry into the delay of Greece’s “western corridor” power grid project, now behind schedule and posing a serious threat to the national grid’s overall operating ability.

The corridor’s delayed delivery has been linked to objections raised by a small group of nuns at a monastery in the northern Peloponnese’s Kalavryta area, opposing the installation of several  remaining pylons needed for the project’s completion.

Power grid operator IPTO has provided RAE with an extensive report, hundreds of pages long, detailing the project’s entire course, following a request made by the regulatory authority.

The “western corridor” is now behind schedule as envisaged in the operator’s 10-year development plan.

RAE has also requested an explanation from IPTO as to why it did not promptly inform the regulatory authority on the project’s delay, given that it was full aware of the nearby monastery’s stance, so that possible alternative solutions could be explored.

IPTO contends all its actions, from the moment the monastery-related problem arose, have been carried out in accordance with energy ministry instructions, as is the case with all matters of strategic importance.


Peloponnese private RES limits to be lifted, 100 MW available

Current limits not permitting individuals to install new RES units in the Peloponnese, a region long regarded by authorities as saturated, can now be lifted according to power grid operator IPTO and distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO.

Both operators have determined that vacant grid space has become available for new RES units, estimating the free space at approximately 100 MW.

For quite some time, small and big-scale RES investors have expressed tremendous interest to install new RES units, mainly PVs, in the Peloponnese, but have been held back by the limits set for the region.

In response to the latest news from the two operators, the energy ministry appears set to proceed with a legislative amendment that will also offer grid access to individuals, not just energy communities, in the Peloponnese, as is the case at present.

This however will previously require an official proposal by the two operators to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, which, in turn, will need to set new limits concerning RES capacity absorption in the Peloponnese.

Once completed, these actions will have paved the way for the energy ministry to proceed with the required legislative revisions, to also specify the technical profiles of units that will be able to utilize the available grid capacity.

DEDA, Hengas vying for Peloponnese network projects

A decision by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to approve gas distributor DEDA’s development plan covering 2021 to 2025 further complicates matters for gas network development projects in four provincial cities of the Peloponnese as two companies are now vying for the same projects.

Hengas, a successor to the firm Edil seeking to develop and operate the gas networks of the same four cities, Argos, Nafplio, Sparti and Kalamata, has applied for a gas distribution license covering these locations.

RAE, which reached its decision to approve gas distributor DEDA’s development plan covering 2021 to 2025 on December 17, published the decision yesterday, noting requirements have been met for a re-inclusion of the four cities in DEDA’s development plan. This re-inclusion could restore DEDA’s rights for the four cities, according to the authority.

The authority had removed the entire Peloponnese region from DEDA’s five-year development plan a year earlier as related time limits were exceeded.

Following this removal, RAE approved distribution license applications submitted by Hengas for two other cities of the Peloponnese, Korinthos and Tripoli, both previously represented by DEDA.

RAE must now decide on how it will grant gas distribution licenses for the four cities in question.

Post-lignite plan facing 19,000 job losses, €1.6bn GDP shrink

Greece’s GDP will contract by 1.6 billion euros and over 19,000 jobs stand to be lost as a result of power utility PPC’s ongoing withdrawal of lignite facilities, a study conducted by IOBE, the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research, has estimated, not taking into account a master plan of offsetting measures proposed for the lignite-dependent areas.

The total reduction in annual salaries as a result of these lignite unit withdrawals was estimated at 342 million euros by the IOBE study.

The Kozani area in northern Greece will be hardest hit, in terms of absolute numbers, among the country’s three lignite-dependent areas, the study estimates. Arkadia, in the central Peloponnese, and northern Greece’s Florina are the other two local economies depending on lignite.

The size of Kozani’s local economy is projected to shrink by 680 million euros, or 25 percent, according to the IOBE study. Job loss figures will also be biggest in Kozani, expected to reach 7,500, or 16 percent of the local workforce.

However, in a proportional sense, greater damage will be inflicted on Florina as its GDP is projected to contract by 28 percent, a 331 million-euro reduction. Job losses in Florina will also be considerable, reaching 2,900, or 15 percent, the IOBE study has projected.

Athens, Peloponnese power supply reinstated after fire damage

Power supply to Athens and Peloponnese areas affected late last night by a fire that broke out at a key grid facility west of Athens, in the Aspropyrgos area, was swiftly reinstated after power grid operator IPTO technicians along with distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO crews took action to repair damages at the grid facility.

Earlier today, the ministry assured that the environment had not been impacted after a team of environmental authorities visited the fire-damaged facility in Aspropyrgos to measure the amount of pollution in the air.

Electricity supply to Athens areas was mostly reinstated within 40 minutes while power transmission to the Peloponnese was back within 55 minutes.

The cause of the fire at the Aspropyrgos power facility is still being investigated.

Central Athens, suburbs in the west and south, as well as areas on the capital’s western outskirts, all experienced blackouts late Sunday night. In the Peloponnese, Corinth, Nafplio, Tripoli, Sparta and Kalamata were all affected. Three islands close to Athens, Aegina, Poros and Agistri, also had their electricity supply cut.

DEDDIE/HEDNO crews are still working intensively to reinstate medium-voltage supply at isolated locations in the areas that were affected.



DEDA appeals Peloponnese gas network plan exclusion

Gas distributor DEDA’s effort for a reversal of decision removing the Peloponnese from the company’s gas network development plan has been rejected by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

In response, DEDA, a subsidiary of gas utility DEPA distributing to areas in Greece not covered by the group’s other distributors, has already taken its case to an appeals court.

RAE has granted gas distribution licenses for three Peloponnesian cities, Tripoli, Korinthos and Megalopoli, to Hengas, a successor of the firm Edil.

The Peloponnese was excluded by RAE from DEDA’s five-year network development plan covering 2020 to 2024 as time limits were exceeded, according to the authority.

RAE, however, has approved DEDA’s five-year development plan for 2021 to 2025, outlining the distributor’s development plan for natural gas networks in 34 provincial cities around Greece, Europe’s biggest gas network plan at present.

Networks representing a total length of 1,860 km and budgeted at 270 million euros are planned to be developed by DEDA, prospectively offering over 68,000 connections for consumers in the household, business and industrial sectors.

Western corridor transmission line work blocked again by monastery

A small fraction of remaining work on a strategically important western-corridor expansion plan for a 400 kV transmission system reaching Megalopoli, central Peloponnese, needed to facilitate green energy investments in the wider region, has once again been stopped as a result of objections raised by nuns at a nearby monastery in the Kalavryta area.

Completion of this project, budgeted at 110 million euros and being developed by power grid operator IPTO, would unlock green-energy investments worth millions.

However, the installation of two remaining transmission towers, at a 500-meter distance from the monastery, has essentially been blocked for 14 months by its nuns, citing construction of the towers, requiring between 60 to 80 days, would visually harass and impact the monastery’s tranquility. The project is 98-percent complete.

IPTO construction crews went back to work on November 25, only to swiftly prompt the reemergence of the monastery nuns, who used vehicles to block bulldozers from performing their tasks. The project contractor filed a law suit against the nuns on the very same day.

Two days later, the nuns retaliated with legal action of their own, which resulted in a temporary order from a local Court of First Instance requiring all work to stop until December 16, when the issue will be examined.

New Peloponnese RES project applications deferred to 2021

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and power grid operator IPTO have written off any possibility of accepting new RES connection applications in 2020 for new solar and wind energy projects, as well as other technologies, but application procedures could recommence in 2021, energypress has been informed.

Authorities face the challenging task of managing an enormous level of RES investment interest, especially for solar energy projects, before procedures for new-project applications can restart.

In the Peloponnese, where RES development has been held back by system saturation for seven years, a new IPTO study is still needed on the capacity to become available once two transmission networks, the west and east corridors, are completed.

Once IPTO has delivered this study, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, should lift its saturation-related ban on new RES projects in the Peloponnese and also set capacities available for each technology – wind, solar, small-scale hydropower, biomass-biogas.

However, IPTO’s delivery of the west and east corridors in the Peloponnese does not promise a complete solution as these lines, limited to 400-KV capacities, are well below capacities represented by the level of investment interest.

A fair and effective competitive procedure serving as a selection process will need to be established.

PPC ups Megalopoli V output to full capacity of 811 MW

Power utility PPC’s Megalopoli V power station in the Peloponnese has, for the first time,  begun operating at a full-capacity level of 811 MW following five years of production well below full potential, a restriction whose cost the utility has estimated at 200 million euros.

Power grid operator IPTO yesterday gave PPC the green light for full-scale production at Megalopoli V after an extended period of pressure applied by the power utility.

In the lead-up, PPC was forced to operate its Megalopoli V facility at 60 percent of its full capacity, 500 MW, following instructions from IPTO, noting the Peloponnese region’s existing network could not carry a greater amount.

Trial runs at Megalopoli V, a natural gas-fired combined-cycle unit, began in April, 2015 but PPC had never been given permission to boost generation at this power plant by 311 MW to reach full capacity.

Meanwhile, PPC’s Megalopoli III and IV units, both lignite-fired, were either shut or operated well below full capacity as a result of hefty CO2 emission right costs.

A swifter full-scale launch of Megalopoli V would have enabled the power utility to completely switch off the engines at loss-incurring Megalopoli III, a 250-MW unit, PPC has noted.

Gas distributor DEDA’s 5-year development plan minus 8 cities

Gas distribution network projects in eight provincial cities have been removed from gas distributor DEDA’s five-year development plan approved by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, as their estimated completion dates exceeded deadlines by more than 18 months.

Projects in a total of six Peloponnesian cities as well as northern Greece’s Veria and Giannitsa had been included in the previous version of the DEDA development plan, covering 2020 to 2024.

DEDA, now under the wings of DEPA Infrastructure, a new entity formed by gas utility DEPA ahead of its privatization, distributes to Greece’s areas not served by EDA Attiki (wider Athens) and EDA Thess (Thessaloniki and Thessaly).

According to DEDA’s initial five-year plan, Tripoli, Corinth, Argos and Nafplio, all in the Peloponnese, were planned to gain network infrastructure enabling gas supply via a high-pressure pipeline operated by gas grid operator DESFA.

The plan also entailed the development of infrastructure for LNG supply from DESFA’s Revythoussa terminal, close to Athens, to the Peloponnesian cities Kalamata and Sparti.

Projects for CNG supply to Veria and Giannitsa in the country’s north were also excluded by RAE from the five-year DEDA plan it approved.


Key power line upgrade in west delayed by church resistance

One of power grid operator IPTO’s most important upgrade projects, a 400-KV power line serving as a western corridor for electricity transmission to and from the Peloponnese, still remains unfinished despite being scheduled for delivery and electrification in February.

Resistance by a major monastery located close to the route of the project, budgeted at 105 million euros, has prevented its completion.

Two to three pylons still need to be installed for the project, linking Megalopoli, central Peloponnese, with Patras, and from there, Etoloakarnania, further northwest, via a Rio-Antirio water crossing.

Church officials representing the Mega Spilaio monastery, close to Kalavryta, slightly east of Patras, have strongly objected the installation of these pylons. Meetings by energy authorities with church officials have so far failed to break this resistance.

Completion of the project would enable power utility PPC’s Megalopoli V gas-fueled power station to operate at full capacity. At present, the 800-MW facility is underperforming at a capacity level of 500 MW.

Besides impacting PPC’s finances and preventing the utility from capitalizing on lower fuel costs, this project delay is also hindering PPC’s withdrawal plan for its Amynteo lignite-fired power station in northern Greece.

Once completed, the project would also enable further RES development in the wider region.

Peloponnese RES activity to be revived by 900-MW boost

Two prospective electricity line projects being developed in the Peloponnese, one stretching from Megalopoli to Patras, the other from Megalopoli to Corinth, promise to reinvigorate renewable energy growth in the region following seven years of stagnancy caused by network saturation.

The Megalopoli-Patras line is set to be completed in March, while the Megalopoli-Corinth connection is being pushed forward for a swifter-than-planned delivery next year.

The two projects will increase the Peloponnese network’s absorption safety limit to 2,310 MW from the current limit of 1,900 MW.

RES units with a total capacity of 1,400 MW currently operate in the area, meaning the higher limit will offer capacity for a further 900 MW in solar and wind energy projects, as well as other RES technologies, including hydropower, biogas and biomass.

It remains unclear if the additional 900-MW capacity will cover old and new RES investment demand.

Power grid operator IPTO and distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO have prepared a common list of investment plans for which connection term applications submitted by investors in the past have remained stalled as a result of network saturation. Investors behind these plans have indicated they remain interested and willing to develop projects amid the current market conditions.

Projects on this common list represent approximately 775 MW of the network’s additional 900-MW capacity to be offered.

IPTO has already begun offering connection terms, giving date-based priority. DEDDIE/HEDNO will follow suit within the next few days.


Surge of RES investments expected in the Peloponnese

A decision by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to make available over 400 MW for wind, solar and other RES installations in the Peloponnese is expected to generate heightened RES investment activity for the region.

The power grid operator IPTO is expected to have completed a 400-KV transmission line linking Megalopoli, Patras and Acheloos by the end of the year.

This stretch, from Megalopoli to Acheloos, along with a submarine grid interconnection linking the mainland with the Peloponnese, from Rio to Antirrio, makes up the western corridor of a grid expansion towards the Peloponnese.

These links will enable the development of new wind, solar, small-scale hydropower, biomass and biomass units following a seven-year period of complete stagnancy.

According to sources, the RAE decision is expected to offer 100 MW for wind energy installations; 100 MW for solar projects, not including roof-mounted PV systems, which are not subject to limits; 100 MW for small-scale hydropower units; 80 MW for biomass, biogas and combined heat and power (CHP) units; and 30 MW for energy community projects.



Solid turnout for Peloponnese line, ultra high-voltage center tender

An ongoing tender staged by the power grid operator IPTO for two sub-projects concerning the construction of a 400-kV power transmission line from Megalopoli in the Peloponnese to Corinth, west of Athens, as well as a related ultra high-voltage center in Corinth has drawn a strong field of contenders.

Three major players, from Greece and abroad, have expressed official interest to construct the Megalopoli-Corinth power transmission line, which will eventually be extended to reach Athens, while six consortiums, also featuring key Greek and foreign firms, have expressed interest to develop the Corinth high-voltage center.

One of the latter six applicants has been eliminated. This leaves a total of eight contenders for both projects. They will be invited to submit offers within the current month, possibly next week.

Each of the two projects has been budgeted at 29 million euros. Both are scheduled for completion in the first half of 2021.

Meanwhile, work on the Rio-Antirio electricity grid interconnection, an underground and underwater cable, is currently in progress. Its completion, expected within the current year, will offer major benefits as electricity transmission to and from the Peloponnese will be drastically improved.



ELPE Arta-Preveza survey hit by local election interests

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE’s plan to conduct seismic surveys at an onshore license in northwestern Greece’s Arta-Preveza area appears to have run into problems of disproportionate dimensions as a result of resistance by a small number of local residents and other objectors accustomed to opposing such initiatives.

Local authorities, mindful of upcoming municipal elections in May, are paying heed to the danger-mongering of these teams of people, resulting in serious issues for ELPE’s overall hydrocarbon exploration program.

ELPE had already provided local authorities with detailed information supporting the region and its residents would not be impacted in any way by the prospective seismic survey work.

Until recently, local officials, convinced by the ELPE presentation, were prepared to recommend that a license be granted to the petroleum company for its survey work. Instead, local councils of two municipalities in the wider region, Arta and Central Tzoumerka, refused to offer their consent.

As a result, ELPE’s seismic survey plan for Arta-Preveza now appears headed for a delay until after the elections, which will have a knock-on effect on the company’s next scheduled seismic survey, in northern Peloponnese.

Greece must not miss out on the opportunity of discovering major deposits and entering the global petroleum map, which would attract oil majors, industry officials have noted.

Grid upgrade to end network saturation in the Peloponnese

A network revamp planned by the power grid operator IPTO in the Peloponnese offers potential for further RES development in the region, currently restricted by a saturated grid, while also promising appropriate conditions for full-capacity operations at Megalopoli V, the main power utility PPC’s new gas-fired power station.

Contracts awarded for the development of an underwater power cable connection at the Rio-Antirio crossing, between the mainland and the Peloponnese, represent a pivotal step. Budgeted at 105 million euros, Corridor A, as the project has been dubbed, is scheduled for completion within 2019 and will enable electricity transmission to and from the Peloponnese.

The benefits to be offered by this project will be maximized by the development of Corridor B, to link Megalopoli, slightly southwest of central Peloponnese, Corinth and Athens. A tender is now in progress for work concerning the Megalopoli-Corinth section, expected to be completed by 2021. The Corinth-Athens segment is scheduled for completion in 2024.

Peloponnese, Epirus capacity boosts for RES installations

Two Greek regions, the Peloponnese and Epirus’ Ioannina and Arachthos areas in the northwest, are soon expected to be given power production capacity increases, enabling the installation of small-scale RES units.

The capacities of both regions, currently saturated, for different reasons, will be mildly increased.

As part of the lead-up to this capacity boost, DEDDIE/HEDNO, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator, is set to finalize a related study to be submitted to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy. Some power stations have been stretched to their limits.

Certain criteria could be reevaluated. Regardless of the result, the aforementioned areas will be given capacity boosts permitting the use of technologies such as roof-mounted solar panels for net metering, biomass-biogas installations as well as energy community project development.

According to current regulations, RES installations in the Peloponnese are restricted to photovoltaic systems with capacites of no more than 20 KW for net metering. This limit is expected to soon be increased, according to sources, which will offer professionals greater capacity. Current limits imposed on biomass-biogas projects and energy community projects are also expected to be mildly boosted.

RAE will make final decisions based on an IPTO (power grid operator) study.

Two sub-stations in the Ioannina and Arachthos areas are currently saturated, as is also the case with a number of others around the country. However, interest for new RES installations has grown, which prompted DEDDIE/HEDNO to consider upgrading station transformers.

Operator sources informed that similar upgrade projects could also be carried out at other saturated substations in the future if investor interest for installations ensures the sustainability of related projects.


Initial PGS seismic survey reprocessing results anticipated within September

A reprocessing initiative taken by EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, for older seismic survey data collected by Norway’s PGS in the Ionian Sea and off Crete, covering a total of 12,500 square kilometers, is expected to produce its first results this month, the hydrocarbon company has announced.

EDEY has signed a data reprocessing agreement with PGS, which will strive to complete the project by June, 2018. Once obtained, the reprocessed data should enable the Greek State to provide more detailed information to prospective hydrocarbon investors and, ultimately, increase the likelihood of successful exploration ventures by oil companies.

More sophisticated equipment, offering clearer pictures of existing data and the aforementioned submarine areas, is being applied in the reprocessing effort.

In addition, EDEY is now conducting preliminary work for 3D seismic surveys covering 2,000 square kilometers in the northern part of the Ionian Sea, southwest of Corfu, while densification of existing 2D data is planned for areas south of Crete and south of the Peloponnese, covering a total of 4,000 square kilometers.

Three offers submitted for Crete-Peloponnese deep-sea survey

Three candidates have submitted offers for a tender being staged by IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator, concerning a deep-sea survey required to develop an underwater interconnection project linking Crete and the Peloponnese.

The University of Athens’s Marine Geology department; the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR), joined by a private-sector partner; as well as AKTI, a specialized private sector firm, have submitted offers to conduct the deep-sea survey.

The survey is planned to cover the sea region between Neapoli, southern Peloponnese, and the Kissamos Gulf in western Crete as a preliminary step for the installation of a 150 KV underwater cable.

This part of the project represents its small-scale stage. An additonal large-scale interconnection will provide a link to the wider Athens area.

According to energypress sources, two of the three offers have met the tender’s technical requirements while the third, submitted by the University of Athens, was deemed incomplete and needs to be resubmitted as a fuller version within the next five days. Otherwise, it will be excluded from the process.

Then, as the next step, the financial details of these offers will be opened up and the prefered bidder chosen. The winner will be provided 105 days to deliver the deep-sea survey from the day the contract is signed.

Technical details to be provided by the survey will then be included in another tender offering the Crete-Peloponnese interconnection project’s development. The survey’s technical details will provide prospective bidders with a clearer picture of the underwater environment, which will help bidders shape their plans and offers.

The deep-sea survey is expected to offer crucial information concerning prefered routes as well as possible obstacles such as extreme depths, earthquake-prone areas and seabed ruptures.