Power utility PPC intends to offer residents of lignite-dependent areas in Greece stakes totaling 5 percent in solar farm projects planned by the company as part of its decarbonization strategy, chief executive Giorgos Stassis disclosed in an interview published by Greek daily Kathimerini yesterday.
PPC plans to develop and operate solar farms with a total capacity of 2.5 GW in west Macedonia, northern Greece, and Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese, both lignite-dependent economies.
Besides creating jobs through these investments, PPC plans to offer locals the opportunity to invest in the power utility by acquiring shares for total stakes of 5 percent, Stassis noted.
Through this procedure, residents will join PPC in its investments and enjoy the exact same returns as the company, he said.
“I want to underline the annual investment return on these investments will range between 8 and 10 percent, at a time when deposit interest rates are almost negative,” Stassis said. The offer will be restricted to decarbonization-area residents, he added.
Commenting on local resistance against prospective RES installations, especially on islands, Stassis noted: “Islanders who, for years, have enjoyed low-cost electricity generated in Megalopoli and Ptolemaida at a cost for the environment and human lives, cannot object turbine installations on islands for production of electricity they will consume now that lignite-fired generation has become ultra-expensive and is being abandoned.”
Gas grid operator DESFA’s ten-year development plan has been approved by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, following a lengthy procedure, including consultation, that lasted several months.
A virtual pipeline proposal envisioning LNG supply to Crete, the north Aegean islands and the Dodecanese via tankers from the operator’s Revythoussa terminal just off Athens was left out of the approved plan. This is the ten-year plan’s only notable change compared to the draft forwarded for consultation.
LNG virtual pipelines serve as a substitute for conventional gas pipelines to enable the transport of LNG to points of use by sea, road or a combination of these.
The virtual pipeline proposal was removed from the DESFA ten-year plan following concerns expressed by consultation participants over higher surcharge costs for consumers that could have been imposed as part of the project’s cost recovery procedure.
The gas grid operator’s ten-year plan includes, for the first time, a natural gas outlet along the TAP route for the west Macedonia region in Greece’s north.
This TAP outlet, a project budgeted at 3 million euros and expected to be launched late in 2022, is intended to supply natural gas to the area’s provincial cities of Kozani, Ptolemaida, Florina and Amynteo for use at telethermal facilities as well as other energy needs in the post-lignite era.
The area’s telethermal system currently relies on energy produced by power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations, soon set for withdrawal as part of the country’s decarbonization effort.
PPC Renewables plans to announce a tender next week for the development of a 15-MW solar energy project, the second of three sections making up a bigger 230-MW photovoltaic project planned for Ptolemaida, northern Greece.
The renewable energy firm, a wholly owned subsidiary of power utility PPC, has already forwarded all relevant information concerning this tender to the European Commission for publication on its official website.
A tender has already been staged for an initial 15-MW package. As for the project’s third and final package, by far the biggest, 200 MW, PPC Renewables intends to stage a tender for its development by summer.
During its construction stages, the project is expected to create at least 300 jobs, while, when completed, the facility should generate 390,000 MWh, enough to cover the needs of 290,000 persons.
PPC Renewables is expected to be among the first companies to induct projects into the Target Model, in other words, two-sided contracts with consumers whose prices will no longer be determined at auctions staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.
PPC Renewables’ portfolio currently totals 150 MW of completed energy projects, while RES projects representing a further 100 MW are now under construction. In addition, tenders for 280 MW have either been announced or will be announced. This additional 280-MW capacity includes the Ptolemaida project, expected to require between 24 and 36 months for completion.
The government and its energy ministry are considering a solar-based hydrogen production initiative through major-scale photovoltaic facilities planned at state-controlled power utility PPC’s lignite fields in northern Greece’s Ptolemaida area, on the way out as a result of Greece’s decarbonization plan.
Discussions for solar-based hydrogen production are still at an early stage. However, if pursued, the initiative would be launched in the Ptolemaida area, until now a lignite-dependent local economy.
Major-scale photovoltaic facilities such as a 230-MW project being planned by PPC in Ptolemaida, as part of a wider 2-GW initiative for the region, are considered ideal for solar-based hydrogen production, requiring considerable amounts of energy.
Solar-based hydrogen production utilizes photovoltaic (PV) cells in combination with water electrolysis. The resulting hydrogen can be stored and used to reproduce electricity whenever needed by the grid.
Current electricity production costs linked to this technology are high. However, technological developments such as the mass production of electrolytes could lower power production costs and lead to economies of scale, making such an investment feasible.
Greece is already taking part in a European initiative looking to promote hydrogen production. Germany, preparing to take over the EU’s rotating presidency from Croatia in July, appears determined to push ahead with hydrogen production initiatives.
A natural gas outlet – stemming from the TAP project – for supply to Greece’s west Macedonian region intended to help cover the region’s energy needs in the post-lignite era is one of the few new features added to a gas grid operator DESFA ten-year development plan covering 2020 to 2029, slightly revised compared to its previous version.
The aim is to supply natural gas through pipelines to the region’s provincial cities of Kozani, Ptolemaida, Florina and Amynteo for use at telethermal facilities, currently operating through heat produced at power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations.
These PPC units, however, will soon be withdrawn as part of the government’s plan for a decarbonized Greece by 2028, incorporated into a new National Energy and Climate Plan.
The national gas grid’s 10-year development plan, prepared by DESFA, is undergoing public consultation for the second time since August for feedback on its minor changes, including the gas supply plan for west Macedonia.
The first round of public consultation was staged by DESFA while the second round is being held by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.
A total of 49 projects budgeted at over 2.5 billion euros, overall, are included in the ten-year plan. Responses to the latest public consultation procedure face a January 10 deadline.