PPC-Aluminium of Greece agreement paves way for other major consumers

The forthcoming end of a long-lasting business association between Aluminium of Greece, a member of the Mytilineos group, and power utility PPC, announced at the former’s general shareholders’ meeting yesterday, marks the end of an era in the energy ties between the country’s biggest electricity consumer and the Greek market’s dominant supplier.

In 2023, Aluminium of Greece will no longer depend on PPC’s supply, a development concurrently marking the beginning of its goal to become the first eco-friendly aluminium producer.

The latest PPC-Aluminium of Greece agreement promises to pave the way for solutions in negotiations currently in progress between the power utility and other energy-intensive industrial producers.

Other than the fact that the duration of Aluminium of Greece’s new supply agreement with PPC will run until 2023, no other details have been disclosed. Its expiration in two years’ time will mark the end of a 60-year association between the two companies.

One thing already clear is that Aluminium of Greece, beyond 2023, will receive electricity from the Mytilineos group’s new natural gas-fired power plant being developed in the Agios Nikolaos industrial zone in Viotia’s Agios Nikolaos area, northwest of Athens, to be direct cable-linked to the Aluminium of Greece facility, as well as through RES production.

The combination of these two electricity sources will offer Aluminium of Greece greater energy-source flexibility, the group’s chairman and CEO Evangelos Mytilineos noted yesterday.

PPC’s administration, headed by chief executive Giorgos Stassis, displayed realism that will “help industry, as a whole, move ahead with the energy transition that is inevitably approaching,” Mytilineos acknowledged. “We can establish PPAs at good price levels, and we will play a significant role in this domain,” he added.

 

PPC hold of industry ending, energy groups entering picture

The approaching end of a 60-year business association between power utility PPC and Aluminium of Greece, a member of the Mytilineos group, announced yesterday by the group’s chairman and CEO Evangelos Mytilineos, marks the end of an era with wider implications, as all the country’s energy and industrial groups are heading in the same direction.

“In 2023, Aluminium of Greece will no longer depend on PPC. It is moving into a new era as, for the first time since its establishment, the company will be freed from PPC in terms of electricity supply,” Mytilineos announced at a general shareholders’ meeting.

The future belongs to the vertically integrated groups, smaller versions of the power utility, set to enter and cover market needs.

Some enterprises have already prepared and positioned themselves for the new era, in which major-scale electricity consumers will no longer depend on PPC, instead covering needs through PPAs.

Companies that have been slower to incorporate Greece’s energy transition into their strategies must now move fast if they want to remain on the map.

The developments offer a glimpse of the energy sector’s new era. A more efficient PPC will no longer be weighed down by dependencies and compromises, private-sector groups will be structured for greener policies, RES investors will not depend on tariffs at RES auctions, but, instead, establish PPAs with industrial consumers, and competition will intensify through the many changes coming into play, such as the target model markets and the Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM).

Green-energy investments, breaking one record after another, now appear likely to achieve a 2030 objective aiming for eco-friendly energy coverage of the country’s total energy demand at a level of 63 percent.

This essentially means that RES facilities offering a total capacity of 17 GW will be operating by the end of this decade, lessening the need for natural gas-fired power stations, which will become unsustainable, in market terms, as a large proportion of energy exchange transactions will be covered by increasingly competitive RES units.

 

PPC reducing debt to operators, but court cases still pending

Power utility PPC’s accumulated debt owed to market operators, which, along with amounts owed to contractors, exceeded 900 million euros two years ago, is now being brought under control, reduced to between 40 and 60 percent of previous levels on the strength of solid operating profit figures and improved electricity-bill collection records.

PPC is achieving a continual reduction of debt owed to power grid operator IPTO, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, and RES market operator DAPEEP.

The power utility’s net debt owed to IPTO has now fallen to 50 million euros, from 140 million euros in December, 2019.

The corporation has been just as successful in its reduction of debt owed to DEDDIE/HEDNO, down 60 percent, but its reduction of debt owed to DAPEEP has been slightly milder, dropping nearly 40 percent, to 170 million euros from 270 million euros.

The debt figures may be improving but some time will be needed before the bigger picture is entirely cleared up as PPC faces a series of law suits filed by operators. The power utility has appealed many of these, but court hearings remain pending.

 

Wholesale prices up nearly 20% in first 5 months, retail levels impacted

Wholesale electricity market prices rose by nearly 20 percent in the first five months of the year, official market data provided by power grid operator IPTO has shown.

These wholesale price increases directly impact retail price levels for consumers who have opted for floating-tariff supply agreements linked to wholesale price-related clauses.

The overall cost of electricity in the wholesale market rose 19.1 percent between January and May, from 64.111 euros per MWh to 76.373 euros per MWh.

Electricity prices in the day-ahead and intraday markets rose by 14.1 percent between January and May, from 55.612 euros per MWh to 63.499 euros per MWh, the data showed.

Discrepancy cost nearly doubled during this period, rising from 0.836 euros per MWh to 1.643 euros per MWh.

Power utility PPC, which, until now, has incorporated CO2-price clauses into its electricity bills, has announced it will adopt wholesale price-related clauses in August.

IPTO factors Balkans into adequacy report calculations

IPTO is taking into account current and potential grid capacities of neighboring Balkan markets for its preparation of an updated adequacy report, a study to serve as a base for various new plans, including the shaping of Greece’s requests for a Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM) and Strategic Reserve, an updated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), and private-sector investment decisions for new natural gas-fired power stations.

IPTO is also factoring into its adequacy report calculations the heightened investment interest and activity in Greece’s RES sector, energy storage, now that this domain appears set for initiation, as well as the introduction of new elements to mechanisms and energy exchange markets, including the demand response system, remunerating major-scale electricity consumers when the operator asks them to shift their energy usage or stop consumption during high-demand peak hours, so as to balance the electricity system’s needs.

Electricity grids in the Balkans are being revamped, creating unprecedented electricity export opportunities for Greek exporters. The EU’s intention to impose a carbon border tax on electricity imports from non-EU countries adds to Greece’s export potential to the Balkans, as well as more new natural gas-fired power stations than the quantity included in the current NECP.

Given the developments, Greece now probably needs four new natural gas-fired power stations, including power utility PPC’s Ptolemaida V.

Private-sector firms are pushing ahead their plans for the development of such units, as was highlighted by a related joint announcement last Friday from GEK Terna and Motor Oil.

 

RAE working on common clause policy for suppliers

Following up on its intervention against power utility PPC’s recent decision to trigger a CO2 emission price-related clause for medium and low-voltage consumers, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has now begun questioning independent suppliers over their adoption of a wholesale price-related clause.

The authority, to concurrently investigate the legality of these initiatives, has asked suppliers to forward related data concerning all of 2020 and 2021, up to the present, by the beginning of next week as part of its effort to establish a common clause policy for all suppliers that can clarify the price-comparing ability of consumers.

RAE aims to announce a new set of rules on electricity bill clauses in September, following public consultation, possibly in July.

Once RAE has examined market data expected from independent suppliers, it intends to hold a series of talks with them as of June 21.

PPC, which, just days ago, was asked by RAE to replace its CO2 price-related clause with one linked to wholesale price levels, is doing so, announcing it will also implement a 30 percent discount as of August 5 to offset, as much as possible, a price rise anticipated as a result of its adoption of the wholesale price clause.

Energy ministry pushing ahead with CRM despite Brussels doubts

The government is pushing to deliver, as soon as possible, to Brussels its plan for a Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM), a challenging endeavor given the strict stance maintained by the European Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager during her meeting with energy minister Kostas Skrekas last month.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, assisting the government’s effort with swift progress on preliminary procedures, has commissioned consulting firm E3-Modelling, a decision based on its specialized skills, to prepare an implementation plan, required by Brussels, in order to help eliminate regulatory distortions or market failures.

Vestager, at her meeting with minister Kostas Skrekas in May, made clear that Greece will need to incorporate its strategic reserve model – remunerating units made available by electricity producers for grid back-up services – into a wider Capacity Remuneration Mechanism.

The Brussels deputy, also the Commissioner for Competition, has demanded a new grid sufficiency study and the reserve mechanism’s restructuring from scratch, aligned with EU directives.

Besides remunerating power utility PPC facilities for grid back-up services, the mechanism will also need to incorporate a demand response system.

Brussels officials have indicated the Greek plan will need to have a short duration.

The E3-Modelling company’s team includes Pantelis Kapros, Professor of Energy Economics at the National Technical University of Athens, who possesses a high level of expertise in European energy market reforms, as well as other officials with the necessary expertise, to help the authority complete its task within the limited time given by the government.

PPC adopting wholesale market clause along with 30% discount

Power utility PPC is preparing to replace its CO2 emission right price-related clause with one linked to wholesale electricity market price levels, which, combined with a 30 percent discount, to be applied as an offsetting tool, is ultimately expected to result in a slight overall reduction in electricity bill costs for consumers.

PPC’s new pricing system, set to be implemented on August 5, was adopted following pressure from RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, in its effort to enhance the price-comparing ability of consumers.

Until now, PPC has been the only supplier using a CO2-related clause in its pricing system. All other suppliers have incorporated a wholesale market-related clause into their supply agreements, as protection against increased wholesale costs.

The power utility triggered its CO2-related clause in May in response to rallying CO2 emission right prices, which resulted in electricity bill increases of between 5 and 6 percent for consumers.

This percentage increase in the cost of PPC’s electricity bills is expected to be lowered as a result of the switch to a wholesale market clause and the accompanying 30 percent discount.

RAE scrutinizing greater lignite use, IPTO may need to clarify

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is considering to seek clarification from power grid operator IPTO on a series of electricity market issues, including differing formations adopted for the day-ahead and ISP markets.

A first presentation, last week, of the target model’s new wholesale market, energy exchange market results and the energy mix has shown an increase in the use of lignite-fired power stations, despite their higher cost.

Power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations are still deemed necessary for electricity supply security, even when capacity levels are sufficient, to counter instability issues at the grid’s northern section, where interconnections facilitate electricity exports.

The use of lignite-fired power stations, such as Agios Dimitrios, Megalopoli IV and Meliti, despite the higher cost of CO2 emission rights, has significantly increased energy costs for suppliers and industry.

Also, when IPTO issues grid distribution orders to lignite-fired power stations, the grid-contribution programs of other units are consequently canceled out and remunerated by the energy exchange, even for energy amounts not contributed to the grid.

Meanwhile, lignite-fired power stations are remunerated through the balancing market at price levels that usually exceed 100 euros per MWh.

RAE’s intervention is intended to ensure the electricity market’s smooth functioning and efficiency, for the benefit of participants and consumers.

PPC asked to replace CO2 clause with wholesale clause

Power utility PPC is facing pressure by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to replace its CO2 emission rights price clause with a wholesale electricity price clause adopted by all rival suppliers.

PPC’s decision to activate, early in May, its CO2 emission rights clause in response to rallying CO2 emission right prices has prompted regulatory issues, the authority contends.

PPC was asked, late last month, to explain its decision, as part of a series of meetings organized by the authority with all  suppliers.

RAE, demanding detailed data, is examining whether irregularities exist, the legality of these clauses, and if consumers have been misled.

Independent suppliers have also needed to explain their decisions to activate wholesale price clauses included in  supply agreements. Like CO2 emission right prices, wholesale electricity price levels have also risen.

The authority has received numerous complaints by consumers over costlier electricity bills.

PPC’s low-voltage power bills have risen by levels of between two and three euros since its activation of the CO2-related clause.

Though PPC, the dominant retail player, was the last to activate its clause, it was the first to be summoned by RAE.

CO2 emission right prices have persisted at elevated levels of over 52 euros per ton in recent times, peaking with a record high of 56.65 euros per ton on May 14, before easing slightly in recent days. CO2 emission right prices dropped to 50.14 euros per ton yesterday.

 

PPC Renewables expecting KAS nod for Ptolemaida solar farm projects

PPC Renewables is anticipating approval, today, by Greece’s Central Archaeological Council (KAS) for a large-scale cluster of solar farm projects totaling nearly 1 GW in the Ptolemaida plains of northern Greece, until now mined for their lignite deposits by parent company PPC, the power utility.

KAS has received an application from PPC Renewables for the solar energy projects Pteleonas 1, Pteleonas 2, Kardia 1, Exohi 8 and PPC Ptolemaida Mine A, B, C, D and E.

These projects, promising a total capacity of 960 MW, will be developed over a total land mass measuring 1,830 hectares.

PPC crews and sub-contractors have mined this land for decades, extracting lignite under the surveillance of KAS officials, watchful in the event of any archaeological discoveries.

Given PPC’s preceding mining activities in the region, PPC Renewables’ application for solar farm projects should not encounter any problems with KAS authorities.

Overall, PPC has submitted applications for solar farms in the area totaling 2.5 GW, which, if combined with applications lodged for solar farms in Megalopoli, Peloponnese, total 3 GW.

Lignite-fired power stations still operating despite elevated cost

Despite their increased operational cost, power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations remain essential, on an occasional basis, to ensure electricity supply security by countering various concerns that may arise, including voltage instability at the grid’s northern section.

Power grid operator IPTO needed to bring into the system one or two lignite-fired power stations throughout most of May, despite the high cost entailed, which would normally keep these units sidelined.

No lignite-fired power stations needed to be used for grid sufficiency on May 13 and 16, as is also the case for today.

The northern section of the country’s grid can be susceptible to voltage instability as a result of the international grid interconnections in the wider area, facilitating exports.

Until recently, northern Greece’s west Macedonia region was the country’s energy epicenter, courtesy of PPC’s extensive lignite portfolio in the area.

Regular use of higher-cost lignite-fired generation has increased price levels in the day-ahead and balancing markets, which, by extension, is increasing costs for suppliers.

PPC’s increased CO2 emissions, when the utility’s lignite-fired power stations are brought into operation, is also directly impacting industrial consumers, who are burdened by the resulting additional cost, passed on by the utility.

CO2 costs have risen sharply of late as a result of rallying carbon emission right costs.

PPC to issue post-lignite bonds with yields of 6-7% to residents

Power utility PPC is preparing to offer solar farm-project bonds with yields of 6 to 7 percent to residents of the lignite-dependent west Macedonia and Megalopoli regions, exclusively, where major-scale solar farms are planned as part of the utility’s decarbonization and economic transformation of the two areas.

The company aims to offer two sets of bonds representing 5 percent of its solar farm investments in these areas.

The issues will effectively offer residents a share of the economic growth potential of the west Macedonia and Megalopoli regions.

The lignite-related activity of the two regions has contributed significantly to the country’s GDP over the past six decades.

PPC plans to issue the two sets of bonds as soon as it has received finalized licenses for these solar farm projects.

The power utility has submitted licensing applications for a total capacity of 2.9 GW in both areas.

Assuming PPC is granted a 2-GW license for its west Macedonia project and construction costs average 700,000 euros per MW, the investment cost, for this project, would total 1.4 billion euros, meaning that a 5 percent share for residents would result in bonds worth a sum of 70 million euros.

A similar procedure would be implemented for PPC’s Megalopoli solar farm project, planned to offer a 500-MW capacity.

PPC wants to break up both issues into bonds worth 1,000 euros each so that they can be distributed to as many residents as possible.

 

Electricity demand up 7.5% in April, PPC market share steady

Electricity demand registered a sharp 7.5 percent rise in April, compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, driven by the government’s recent decision to ease lockdown measures, power grid operator IPTO’s latest monthly report has shown.

The relaxation of lockdown measures in Greece prompted a milder 1.5 percent increase in electricity demand in March, year-on-year.

On the contrary, electricity demand fell by 2.5 percent over the four-month period covering January to April, compared to the equivalent period a year earlier, according to the IPTO report.

This decline in electricity demand was approximately half the 5.1 percent drop, year-on-year, for the three-month period between January and March.

Electricity generation rose by 24.6 percent in April, compared to the same month a year earlier, according to the IPTO report.

Natural gas-fired power stations led the way, boosting their production by 52.4 percent, followed by lignite-fired power stations, whose output rose by 21.8 percent, RES units, increasing their generation by 5.8 percent and hydropower stations, which registered a 3.1 percent increase.

In terms of energy-mix shares, the pivotal role of natural gas-fired generation was once again made clear. It captured a 43 percent share of the energy mix in April, followed by the RES sector, capturing 36 percent, lignite with 11 percent, hydropower with 6 percent and electricity imports at 5 percent.

Power utility PPC’s share of electricity demand remained virtually unchanged for a third successive month in April, registering 65 percent, following a 64.8 percent share in March and 65.1 percent share in February.

Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, the frontrunner among the independent suppliers, was the only company to increase its market share in April. It rose to 8.2 percent share from 7.95 percent a month earlier.

Heron’s share was steady at 6.3 percent from 6.29 percent in March. Elpedison’s share experienced a mild drop to 4.72 percent from 4.88 percent. NRG’s share in April was unchanged at 3.99 percent, while Watt & Volt’s share slipped marginally to 2.44 percent from 2.58 percent.

PPC aims for EBITDA repeat of €900m, carbon cut ‘on track’

Power utility PPC is aiming for a repeat of last year’s EBITDA performance in 2021, a level of between 800 and 900 million euros, an objective to be supported by the corporation’s declining lignite-based electricity generation, both in terms of volume and energy-mix percentage, the company’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis has told analysts.

As part of its decarbonization effort, PPC plans to withdraw its Megalopoli III lignite-fired power station within the current year.

PPC managed to restrict its lignite-fired generation to 22 percent of total output in the first quarter this year, down from 44 percent a year earlier.

The utility needed to spend 138.5 million euros on CO2 emission rights in the first quarter, up from 119.7 million euros during the equivalent period last year, at an average cost of 31.7 euros per ton.

CO2 emission right prices have since risen further and currently register between 51 and 52 euros per ton.

Assuming CO2 emission right prices average 47 euros per ton in 2Q – this level could end up being be far higher – and PPC’s lignite-based generation remains at the current level, then the corporation’s carbon-cost outlay for this quarter will reach approximately 205 million euros, a 48 percent increase.

PPC, which recently borrowed through sustainability-linked bonds, committing itself to a carbon emission reduction of 40 percent by 2022, is confident this target will be achieved, the corporation’s administration told analysts.

 

PPC, to post solid 1Q results, recruiting after years of exits

Power utility PPC is set to recruit new technical staff after a number of years of personnel issues dominated by exits prompted by voluntary exit offers, early retirement packages and departures.

A total of 200 new recruits will be brought in for the utility’s technical departments, now understaffed, based on more flexible employment terms implemented in 2019, which do not guarantee new staff members permanent job status.

PPC subsidiary DEDDIE/HEDNO is severely understaffed, as was highlighted during an emergency situation last February, when a heavy snowstorm damaged power supply lines around the country and caused outages, some of these lasting a number of days.

At the end of 2020, DEDDIE/HEDNO’s workforce had shrunk to 5,700, from 6,000 at the end of 2019. Also, earlier this year, in February, the operator launched a new voluntary exit program for employees eligible for full pension rights.

PPC, the parent company, had 13,832 employees on its payroll at the end of 2020, down from 15,109 a year earlier, 7,113 of these employed at PPC, approximately 5,700 at DEDDIE/HEDNO, and 1,000 at other group subsidiaries.

PPC is aiming for a payroll of 11,500 employees by 2024, according to company announcements.

Besides the company’s retirement and voluntary exit programs, a portion of personnel, such as workers at the lignite-based units being withdrawn, is being transferred to other departments, a procedure requiring vocational retraining.

Meanwhile, PPC is today expected to announce satisfactory 1Q results. Analysts have forecast an operating profit figure of 211 million euros, up 16 percent compared to the equivalent period a year earlier.

Medium-voltage suppliers seek higher-priced deal revisions

A sharp rise in medium-voltage energy costs over recent times, resulting from higher wholesale prices, threatens to damage the competitiveness of Greek manufacturers, Antonis Kontoleon, president of EVIKEN, the Association of Industrial Energy Consumers, has told energypress.

Rallying CO2 emission right prices as well as persistently higher prices in the day-ahead and balancing markets have prompted electricity suppliers to seek revised medium-voltage agreements as protection against loss-incurring sales.

Electricity suppliers, maintaining business to business agreements with medium-voltage consumers have increased – by 20 percent compared to just recently – their number of requests forwarded for new supply agreements.

More crucially, suppliers are asking their customers to accept upward price revisions.

In many cases, suppliers have forwarded letters to customers informing that they will no longer be able to service existing supply agreements unless prices per KWh are raised.

Low-voltage consumers also face increased electricity bill costs following the activation, by suppliers, of cost-protection clauses.

Independent suppliers have activated wholesale price-related clauses, incorporated in their supply agreements, while power utility PPC has triggered, for the first time, a CO2 emission rights cost-related clause.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has summoned PPC’s administration to offer an explanation on this decision, at a meeting today. The authority is also expected to soon summon independent suppliers.

Independent players gain 100,000 low-voltage customers, overall, in 1Q

Independent electricity suppliers increased their total number of low-voltage consumers represented by 100,000 in the first quarter this year, compared to a 4Q in 2020, in a category totaling 6.79 million consumers, latest data provided by distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO has shown.

Power utility PPC’s share in this market slipped to 76.28 percent from 77.8 percent during the period, for a low-voltage representation totaling 5.1 million customers.

Protergia, which gained approximately 11,000 low-voltage customers during the period, is the frontrunner among the independent players with a 3.8 percent low-voltage market share, representing 255,000 consumers, the operator’s data showed.

Elpedison followed with a market share of 3.58 percent, or 250,000 customers, up by 9,500, and Heron was ranked third among the independent suppliers with 3.12 percent, or 211,000 customers, up by 15,000.

Watt & Volt was ranked fourth (2.56%), gaining 3,400 customers for a total of 173,000. Zenith followed in fifth place with a 2.27 percent share and 154,000 customers, up 17,000.

NRG was next with 1.72 percent and 116,000 customers, followed by Volton, capturing 1,68 percent, or 114,00 customers, and Fysiko Aerio, with 1.34 percent and 90,000 customers.

 

Strategic reserve milestones set for next two months

A series of milestones have been set until autumn in preparation for Greece’s prospective Strategic Reserve Mechanism, which, if achieved, will enable its launch towards the end of the year.

The timeline and milestones leading to the possible launch of a Strategic reserve mechanism, keeping certain generation capacities outside the electricity market for operation only in emergencies, was discussed in detail during an online meeting yesterday between energy minister Kostas Skrekas and European Commission authorities.

Strategic reserves can be necessary to ensure security of electricity supply when electricity markets are undergoing transitions and reforms and are meant to insure against the risk of a severe supply crisis during such transitions.

Three main prerequisites will need to be satisfied by the end of July, the first being the completion of a market reform plan, intended to intensify competition in the wholesale electricity market.

The plan’s preparations will include the involvement of Pantelis Kapros, Professor of Energy Economics at the National Technical University of Athens, according to sources.

A new adequacy report, or updated study on grid sufficiency proving the need for the introduction of a Strategic Reserve mechanism, will also be needed.

Thirdly, the energy ministry will need to have fully responded, within the next month, to an extensive set of questions forwarded by European Commission officials on the prospective mechanism.

If these steps go well, an indefinite prospect at present, then a clearer picture on the mechanism’s details should have emerged by early autumn.

Any Strategic Reserve formula reached will need to be applied for a brief period so that an ensuing Capacity Remuneration Mechanism, to support new natural gas-fueled power stations, can immediately follow, the European Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, also Brussel’s Commissioner for Competition, appears to have made clear to Skrekas, the energy minister, at a recent meeting.

Meanwhile, power utility PPC’s updated decarbonization plan is aiming for a withdrawal of all its lignite-fired power stations by 2025, at the very latest.

 

Ptolemaida V gas conversion board decision end of June

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

RAE summons suppliers for use of cost-increasing clauses

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has summoned electricity suppliers to offer explanations on their decisions to trigger, in recent times, clauses that have significantly increased electricity costs for consumers in the low and medium-voltage categories without any prior notice.

The country’s independent suppliers have activated wholesale price-related activated clauses, protecting them against wholesale cost increases, while power utility PPC, more recently, has taken unprecedented action by triggering a CO2 emission rights cost-related clause incorporated into its agreements with customers.

Consumers across the board have lodged numerous complaints, prompting RAE to take action. The authority will stage meetings with suppliers to examine if irregularities exist or whether consumers have been misled.

This series of meetings is expected to begin next Thursday with PPC, whose administration will need to justify its pricing policy. Meetings with independent players are expected to follow.

RAE will request detailed market data from all suppliers concerning the clauses they have implemented and also examine whether these initiatives are lawful or not.

The authority will aim to clarify what actions suppliers are permitted to take so that consumers may benefit from clearer pricing policies.

PPC to offer energy efficiency services following rival moves

The board at power utility PPC, which has lined up a shareholders’ meeting for June 4, will propose company statute revisions including one to facilitate the company’s entry into energy efficiency services, following dynamic moves into this sector by rival suppliers.

The board will propose to shareholders a corporate statute addition concerning the purpose of its operation and activity, covering: “Trade, supply, sale, various related products and equipment, as well as the provision of products and services for the design, implementation, installation, management and financing of energy production, heating, cooling and energy efficiency systems in buildings and facilities “.

According to sources, PPC has already begun planning its move into energy efficiency services, through which consumers will be able to install roof-mounted solar panels at homes combined with net metering. PPC also plans to provide specialized, digital solutions for enterprises and facilities to limit their energy consumption levels.

In other company developments, PPC has decided to maintain two board posts, on its eleven-member board, for worker representatives.

HEDNO sale VDR now open to nine suitors, talks set to commence

Potential buyers of a 49 percent stake in power utility PPC subsidiary DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator, have been given access to the operator’s video data room after signing confidentiality agreements.

PPC is now set to stage separate meetings with the suitors, nine in total, over the next 30 to 40 days, for talks, observations and negotiations leading to the establishment of a sale and purchase agreement as well as a shareholders’ agreement.

The shareholders’ agreement will stipulate the role of HEDNO’s minority partner, which, as has already been revealed, will offer the eventual buyer reinforced managerial rights, including proposal rights for the operator’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer posts on the board.

Given the pace of preceding privatizations in Greece, talks with the suitors are expected to last until the end of June, while officials are aiming for binding bids to be submitted within September.

The privatization’s nine second-round qualifiers have already begun talks for possible partnerships, between themselves and beyond.

US fund CVC Capital Partners, whose Greek portfolio has continuously grown, investments including three hospitals, Metropolitan, Iaso General and Ygeia, as well as anticipated deals for food production conglomerate Vivartia, dairy company Dodoni and insurance company Ethniki Asfalistiki, is engaged in talks with fellow US fund KKR and Australia’s Macquarie for the establishment of a consortium, it has been reported for some time now.

PPC strategic reserve, lignite exit compensation hopes fade

Power utility PPC’s prospects for some type of compensation in the foreseeable future, either through the Strategic Reserve Mechanism for the corporation’s withdrawal of units from the market and availability for back-up services, or for the utility’s earlier-than-planned closures of lignite-fired power stations, appear to have dwindled.

The reduced likelihood of any such compensation money for PPC became apparent at a meeting yesterday between energy minister Kostas Skrekas and the European Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, also Brussel’s Commissioner for Competition.

Progress was made on an antitrust remedy, through which PPC will soon begin offering rival suppliers lignite-based electricity packages, but the same cannot be said of the strategic reserve.

Vestager made clear, during yesterday’s session, that a strategic reserve plan proposed by the Greek government cannot be approved by the European Commission. Instead, she noted, a new grid sufficiency plan, one aligned with EU directives, will need to be prepared to enable the implementation of an acceptable mechanism.

Subsequently, a strategic reserve plan must be  prepared from scratch, incorporating, besides PPC’s facilities, the demand response mechanism.

According to estimates by some officials, Brussels’ approval of a finalized strategic reserve proposal, requiring considerable work, could take as long as a year.

PPC lignite electricity packages through futures market

State-controlled power utility PPC will soon begin offering rival suppliers lignite-generated electricity packages through the target model’s futures market, energy minister Kostas Skrekas and the European Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, also Brussel’s Commissioner for Competition, have agreed at a meeting yesterday.

Vestager, during the session, also made clear that the balancing cost of a mechanism concerning power purchase agreements (PPAs) between industrial producers and RES producers cannot be subsidized, but, instead, will need to be aligned with terms that apply for other EU member states.

Athens expects to submit its PPA plan to Brussels in June for approval.

Also next month, the government plans to submit its support framework proposal for energy storage units.

As for the country’s Strategic Reserve Mechanism, the European Commission’s deputy requested a new proposal from Athens, in line with new EU directives.

Under the Strategic Reserve Mechanism, PPC and all other electricity producers opting to withdraw units from the market for back-up services, would be remunerated for sidelining these units for periods determined by IPTO, the power grid operator.

Vestager stressed that the country’s Strategic Reserve Mechanism cannot coincide with the wider Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM).

The Brussels deputy also pointed out that a compensation request made by Greece for PPC’s redevelopment of lignite areas, part of the decarbonization effort, is legally baseless and cannot be pursued further.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brussels insists on PPC sale of lignite power packages to rivals

Power utility PPC must soon start offering rival suppliers portions of its lignite-based electricity production, as specified in an antitrust agreement, despite subdued interest by possible buyers expressed in a February market test, the European Commission insists.

The subject, which has remained stagnant for months following slow development over the past 13 years or so – ever since legal action was taken against PPC in 2008 over its lignite monopoly – will be one of the topics to be discussed at a meeting today between energy minister Kostas Skrekas and the European Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, also Brussel’s Commissioner for Competition.

Given Brussels’ insistence, the energy ministry has devoted considerable time over the past few weeks to shape a lignite electricity sale plan, based on a January agreement between the minister and the country’s creditor institutions, that could finally settle the dispute.

The January agreement calls for the sale of energy packages, either quarterly or annually, representing, in 2021, 50 percent of the previous year’s lignite-based production.

The percentage of PPC’s lignite-based electricity quantities to be offered to rival suppliers in 2022 and 2023 should be reduced to 40 percent of the previous year’s output, according to the agreement.

These amounts are seen as insufficient to make any real impact on the retail electricity market’s standings.

Other issues to be discussed at today’s meeting between Skrekas and Vestager include Brussels’ support for a grid back-up model as part of a wider Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM). Athens favors a separate Strategic Reserve Mechanism to remunerate units that are made available by electricity producers for grid back-up services.

Skrekas is also striving to establish a mechanism that would subsidize RES producers for power purchase agreements (PPAs) with energy-intensive industrial enterprises.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Additional €3bn’ for lignite area redevelopment, SPV in making

The transformation effort for Greece’s two lignite-dependent economies, west Macedonia, in the country’s north, and Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese, stands to receive three billion euros in additional support through two sources, Invest EU, established to fund decarbonization initiatives, and the European Investment Bank, Constantinos Mousouroulis, head of the government’s coordinating committee for the transition, announced at yesterday’s Delphi Economic Forum.

The three billion-euro amount, Mousouroulis noted, will add to two billion euros already made available for the effort through the EU’s Just Transition Fund and Recovery and Resilience Facility.

The official acknowledged that delays, especially financial, have held back the transition plan for the two regions, attributing the slow progress to the pandemic and, subsequently, the European Commission’s ability to operate.

Mousouroulis, at the forum, strongly defended recent efforts for the transformation of the west Macedonian and Megalopoli local economies, noting that complacency was prevalent for years.

“Not only was there no Plan B, but not even a Plan A for forthcoming changes concerning goals to combat climate change,” the official noted.

A total of 24,700 hectares of unutilized property to result from the closure of power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations and lignite mines in the west Macedonia and Megalopoli regions, both lignite-dependent economies for decades, is expected to be redeveloped through the program, to include PPC investments.

A special purpose vehicle is being established to attract investors, Mousouroulis said.

PPC triggering carbon cost clause as CO2 right prices soar

Higher wholesale electricity and carbon emission right prices are applying sustained pressure on the electricity market, forcing suppliers to continue activating related clauses incorporated into customer supply terms.

Over the next 12 months, wholesale electricity price levels are forecast to rise to 89 euros per MWh in the low-voltage category and roughly 79-80 euros per MWh in the medium-voltage category.

In response to an ongoing surge in CO2 emission right prices, power utility PPC recently decided to finally activate a CO2-related clause after holding back for months. The move is seen increasing the cost of PPC’s electricity bills to be issued in May by two to three euros, sources told energypress.

CO2 emission right prices reached a new record level of more than 52 euros per MWh yesterday, rising by nearly 3 percent in a day. They have approximately doubled over the past six months and registered a 23 percent increase in the last month, alone.

In February, PPC had announced it would not trigger a CO2-related clause for low-voltage supply, but has now been forced to do so as a result of this persisting rise in price levels.

The more recent rise in CO2 emission right prices has been attributed to several factors, including a gradual rise in consumption levels as the European economy begins to recover, weather conditions, and a new, more ambitious, EU carbon emission reduction target, set last month, of at last 55 percent by 2030.