Diesel-fueled power facilities on interconnected islands to go

Power utility PPC’s old diesel-fueled power facilities generating electricity on the Cyclades until this group of islands was interconnected with the mainland grid via subsea cable will soon be completely withdrawn, the current status of these facilities, as back-up units, deemed costly and unnecessary by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

No changes will be made this coming summer but the withdrawal of the units, as back-up systems, is expected as of next year, once certain legal and administrative issues are settled.

The interconnecting subsea cables, inflowing and outflowing and offering the Cyclades islands electricity input from two sides, have rendered the back-up units unnecessary as this back-up service is provided by the cables themselves, according to RAE sources.

Islands in the wider region still being supplied electricity through just one subsea cable continue to require back-up, but this service does not need to be provided by the high-cost diesel power units, RAE believes.

RAE has not approved a related proposal submitted by power utility PPC, firstly because of their high cost, and secondly, as compensation of the units, for their strategic back-up services, would need the European Commission’s approval.

Instead, RAE appears to favor a solution entailing the use of portable generators that could be transferred from one island to another, wherever and whenever needed. These generators would be leased by the distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a PPC subsidiary, while their cost would be incorporated into the operator’s operating expenses.

Meanwhile, RAE’s board is soon expected to approve a PPC lease plan for generators offering 58 MW, to be installed on Crete as back-up for the busier summer months of July and August.

Balancing market entry for RES, demand response by end of ’21

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is planning the balancing market entry of all energy sector players offering flexibility to the grid by the end of this year, a prospect seen as a key factor in lowering balancing market costs.

As a result, RES players, through green aggregators representing them, will participate in the balancing market by the end of 2021, along with the demand response mechanism.

The addition of RES producers promises to intensify competition in the balancing market, which, combined with the demand response mechanism’s participation, will contribute to a further de-escalation of balancing market surcharge costs.

Wind and solar energy farms will have a place in the balancing market. Other RES technologies, such as biogas units, are linked to operating aid contracts with fixed tariffs.

The demand response mechanism’s participation in the balancing market promises to enhance the system’s flexibility, in terms of demand, while the entry of RES producers will make electricity production even more flexible.

HEDNO bidders to next stage of sale with regulatory ambiguities

Second-round qualifiers of a privatization offering a 49 percent stake of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a subsidiary of power utility PPC, are entering the procedure’s next stage without a clear picture on the company’s regulatory framework, still not established, despite a March 31 deadline.

Though related talks began well in advance, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is still awaiting all the details it requires from the operator on its regulated earnings and network development plan before the authority can reach a decision on the regulatory framework.

The operator’s regulatory framework is crucial for the privatization as it concerns pivotal matters such as extra wacc for certain projects, as well as Opex, Capex settings, amongst other details.

Once established, DEDDIE/HEDNO’s new regulatory framework will be applied retroactively, as of January 1, 2021.

Though its delivery date still remains unclear, it will include two periods, covering 2021 to 2024 and 2025 to 2028, which will give potential buyers a long-term perspective on the returns to be offered by the investment.

RAE has already decided on a formula calculating required earnings from the distribution network as well as the wacc level.

Second-round qualifiers are expected to be given access to DEDDIE/HEDNO’s virtual data room within the next few days for an assessment of the operator’s financial standing as part of due diligence.

Extra RES measures to simplify installation, operating permits

The energy ministry is preparing to include simplification measures it appears to have settled on for the second stage of RES licensing procedures, concerning installation and operating permits, into the one draft bill to also incorporate EU energy efficiency directives being adopted.

The draft bill is expected to be forwarded for public consultation within the next few weeks, prior to Greek Orthodox Easter, in early May.

Public consultation on the energy efficiency EU directives being adopted has already been completed.

The imminent draft bill is not expected to bring about any fundamental changes to the second stage of the RES licensing procedure, as had been the case with a major first-stage change abolishing production licenses, sources have informed.

Instead, a series of revisions will be introduced to remove various obstacles encountered by investors in the maturity process of their projects, the objective being to significantly reduce the time needed for project maturity.

The second-stage RES licensing simplification plan promises to lessen both the number of steps and supporting documents needed for RES installation and operating permits.

The energy ministry also intends to revisit the first stage to implement further improvements, needed to counter the flood of producer certificate applications being submitted to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The government has declared its objective is to reduce the overall RES licensing procedure in Greece to two years, the EU average.

DEPA Commercial pushing to mature RES licenses in time for auction

Gas company DEPA Commercial, currently placing emphasis on its alternative business interests, is making efforts to bring to maturity solar energy licenses in time for an upcoming RES auction. These PV licenses concern solar farm projects representing a total capacity of 499.61 MW.

Late in January, DEPA Commercial announced it had acquired a 49 percent stake in North Polar, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) established on the basis of a portfolio carrying solar energy project certificates and production permits. These licenses concern projects in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region.

DEPA Commercial and its SPV partner have submitted environmental terms for these projects and are now expecting their connection terms.

The partners are striving to participate in the next RES auction to be staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, the first to be held under new terms expected to soon be approved by the European Commission.

On another front, DEPA Commercial is closely monitoring developments regarding the Alexandroupoli FSRU in northeastern Greece, another of its project interests.

DEPA Commercial holds a 20 percent stake in Gastrade, a company established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU.

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition still needs to approve Greek gas grid operator DESFA’s entry into the consortium, also with a 20 percent stake, to be taken from the Copelouzos group’s current 40 percent share in the Alexandroupoli FSRU venture.

The Brussels authority’s endorsement of DESFA’s entry is seen as a formality following its recent approval of the entry of Bulgaria’s Bulgartransgaz as a fourth member of the consortium, also with a 20 percent stake. Gaslog is the other consortium member, also holding 20 percent.

The DESFA entry approval is anticipated within the second quarter. Gastrade’s partners are then expected to swiftly follow with an investment decision on the Alexandroupoli FSRU’s construction.

Authorities gearing up for intraday market entry of traders

Authorities are picking up the pace on moves needed to also enable traders to begin participating in Greece’s intraday electricity market, one of the new wholesale markets emerging with the target model’s recent introduction.

The Greek energy exchange will forward its proposal for necessary market regulation amendments to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, within the next two months, energypress sources informed.

These revisions will take finalized shape through ongoing discussions between the energy exchange, as operator of the intraday market, power grid operator IPTO, managing international grid interconnections, and RAE.

The authorities are seeking to establish an optimal formula for the intraday market entry of electricity traders.

The talks, until now, have indicated that intraday day interconnection rights will not be required for transboundary trade between intraday markets that have not undergone coupling.

Therefore, traders will be able to participate in the intraday market by utilizing the amount of daily interconnection rights they have secured and not used for transboundary transactions in the day-ahead market.

The addition of traders to the intraday market promises to boost its liquidity, currently low. This will help liberate market players by offering them greater flexibility, limiting the pressure on the balancing market.

Consumers owing at least two bills to face switching block

Electricity suppliers will have the right to prevent consumers from switching supplier if owing two or more overdue power bills without having registered for any installment-based payback plan, according to a proposal forwarded by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, following two rounds of public consultation on the matter.

Suppliers will have the right to submit power supply cut requests to the distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO for consumers owing at least two months of overdue and unattended power bills, according to the RAE proposal, which has received the backing of all electricity suppliers.

A debt-flagging system to blacklist customers behind on at least two electricity bills will also be incorporated into the measure as a collective system accessible by all suppliers and the distribution network operator.

In the event that consumers with overdue electricity bills register for installment-based payback plans with their supplier, then move to a new supplier but stop servicing the payback program, the previous supplier will have the right to request power supply stoppages, even for pending amounts as little as 50 euros, sources informed.

RAE will now need to relay its proposal to the energy ministry for a ministerial decision enabling a revision of the country’s electricity supply code.

 

Transitional plan for Cretan small-scale link sent to Brussels

Technical and other preparations are now being made to enable Crete’s imminent small-scale power grid interconnection, to the Peloponnese, to cover, for the time being, approximately 30 percent of the island’s electricity needs.

The energy ministry has forwarded to the European Commission its proposal for a transitional model concerning Crete’s participation in the target model’s new wholesale markets.

Also, the energy ministry has prepared a draft bill needed for the transfer, to power grid operator IPTO, of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO’s assets on Crete. This will enable IPTO to assume responsibility for the island’s small-scale interconnection.

Normally, when grid links for non-interconnected islands are carried out, IPTO takes on the responsibility of their electricity networks. However, Crete, Greece’s biggest and most populous island, represents a much bigger interconnection project that is being developed over two stages. The project’s second stage, to reach Athens, is anticipated in 2023.

The transitional plan, shaped with the assistance of consultant Reed Smith, includes the sale, by power utility PPC, DEDDIE/HEDNO’s parent company, to IPTO, of a 150-kV transmission line on Crete, running from Hania to Lasithi, based on decisions reached by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, concerning management of Crete’s grid for the island’s small-scale interconnection.

The transitional model, to expire once the island’s full-scale interconnection has been completed, will allow Crete to purchase electricity transmitted through the small-scale interconnection at the target model’s new wholesale markets.

DESFA 2021-30 plan endorsed, west Macedonia, Patras pipelines included

Gas grid operator DESFA’s ten-year development plan for 2021 to 2030, featuring projects budgeted at over 500 million euros in total, including pipelines in the country’s west Macedonia and Patras regions, has been approved by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

Speaking at the 2nd Power & Supply Forum, on online event staged earlier this week by energypress, DESFA’s chief executive Maria Rita Galli pointed out that this amount is double that of the previous plan and includes 54 projects through which the company will strive to contribute to strengthening Greece’s role as a regional energy hub.

The west Macedonia pipeline, a new entry to the ten-year plan, is budgeted at 110 million euros and planned to cover a 130 km distance in northern Greece.

Despite not being included in the national recovery plan for subsidy support, DESFA is prepared to develop this project with company reserves and loans.

Even if developed without subsidy support, the eventual cost of the west Macedonia pipeline for gas consumers will be spread out into limited amounts if gas demand in the region is high, as is anticipated.

Power utility PPC’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis, another energypress forum participant, informed that the company’s prospective Ptolemaida V lignite-fired power station will have converted to natural gas by 2025.

The conversion promises to boost the facility’s capacity, which will increase its consumption and add to the west Macedonia gas pipeline’s feasibility.

The gas pipeline planned for Patras, budgeted at 85 million euros, will cover a distance of approximately 140 km, from Megalopoli, in the central Peloponnese, to the western city’s industrial zone. Patras’ industrial sector is expected to ensure strong demand for natural gas.

The Patras project could, in the future, be extended to reach other cities on Greece’s west side, such as Pyrgos, western Peloponnese, and Agrinio, in the northwest.

 

May RES auction applications total 128 for 1,092 MW, PVs dominant

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has confirmed previous reports of a strong turnout for its forthcoming RES auction in May, the number of applications reaching 128 for projects representing a total capacity of 1,092 MW, dominated by solar energy projects.

A minimum participation level set by RAE to ensure a competitive session was greatly exceeded.

The session, to offer tariffs for mature RES projects totaling a maximum of 350 MW, will help steer these plans towards swift development and also drive prices down as a result of bidding competition, to the benefit of consumers and the national economy, RAE noted in an announcement.

Approximately 70 percent of the RES auction applications submitted concern solar energy projects, the other 30 or so percent concerning wind energy projects.

The absence of quotas for the two RES technologies acted as a disincentive for wind energy investors, as bidding against solar energy investors will be difficult given the sharp drop in prices for PV equipment.

The overwhelming majority of wind energy applications, representing a total capacity of about 300 MW, concerns projects that failed to secure tariffs at the previous RES auction.

Solar energy applications, for major-scale projects between 10 and 20 MW, represent a much higher capacity total of approximately 700 MW.

A preliminary list of auction participants is scheduled for release on May 13, while the finalized list is expected May 20, once RAE has examined any possible objections. The auction is scheduled to take place May 24.

Brussels reiterates call for single energy, water authority

The European Commission has reiterated, in latest contact with the energy and environment ministry, a recommendation for the establishment of a single Regulatory Authority for Energy and Water as an independent monitoring body with a broadened task range, including regulation of rules for investments, management and pricing of water, especially drinking water, energypress sources have informed.

This time around, the recommendations by Brussels come as part of a strategy promoting the development of a circular economy and sustainable growth.

The European Commission was prompted to readdress the issue as it believes the existence of 120 or so municipal water supply and sewerage companies around the country – each applying their own and inexplicable, to a certain extent, pricing policies – does not contribute to rational water management.

Single regulatory authorities supervising the energy and water sectors have already been established in many EU member states, including neighboring Italy.

This country’s initiative was discussed, among other topics, at a meeting yesterday between energy minister Kostas Skrekas and Italy’s Ambassador to Greece, Patrizia Falcinelli, sources noted.

The establishment, in Italy, of a single regulatory authority for energy, water and wastewater has led to impressive social and economic benefits, the Italian diplomat is believed to have informed the Greek minister during their meeting.

The energy ministry is reportedly working on a plan designed to broaden the tasks of RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, sources informed, stressing finalized decisions had yet to be taken.

PV units dominate applications for RES auction in May

Solar energy projects dominated the number of applications submitted by RES investors for participation in an upcoming May 24 auction to offer tariff prices for PV and wind energy facilities, sources have informed.

Wind farm project applications appear to have been greatly outnumbered. Also, the level of applications concerning wind farm projects that failed to ensure tariffs at a preceding auction was particularly low. This category of projects was automatically entitled to participate in the May auction, to be staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The application deadline for the May auction expired yesterday. An official announcement has yet to be released as a result of pending contractual issues between RAE and CosmoOne, the provider of digital platforms used for these auctions.

The May auction, the final session to be held under current rules, concerns solar energy projects up to 20 MW and wind farms up to 50 MW. Tariffs for a maximum capacity of 350 MW will be offered.

In accordance with rules designed to help make these auctions competitive, participants will need to represent a total of 700 MW if this 350-MW capacity is to be offered in its entirety.

According to sources, wind farm applicants appear to represent a total capacity of approximately 300 MW, while the total capacity sum for PV projects is expected to be far higher.

A preliminary list of auction participants is scheduled for release on May 13, while the finalized list is expected May 20, once RAE has examined any possible objections.

 

PPC granted license for 665 MW gas-fueled power station

A power utility PPC investment plan entailing the development of a 665-MW gas-fueled power station in the industrial zone of Komotini, northeastern Greece has been granted a license by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, adding to the list of licensed projects to serve as a bridge in the country’s energy transition until the renewable energy sector fully prevails.

The project linked to this latest license, given a 35-year duration, is scheduled to be launched in December, 2024.

RAE has now granted five licenses to an assortment of companies for such investment plans, though not all will necessarily be developed.

An 826-MW gas-fueled power station being developed by Mytilineos in Viotia, slightly northwest of Athens, set to be launched at the end of this year, is the most advanced of these investment plans.

The maturity levels vary for other projects in terms of environmental licensing and other procedural matters. These include a 665-MW unit planned by Terna, also in Komotini; an 826-MW project planned by Elpedison in Thessaloniki; and an 830-MW facility planned by the Copelouzos Group’s Damco in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece.

Also, the power utility is expected to reach a decision on converting its prospective Ptolemaida V lignite-fired power station into a gas-fueled facility.

Recovery fund subsidies worth €400m for energy storage units

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suppliers want greater clarity on new customer switching rules

Electricity suppliers have agreed, in principle, on new rules proposed by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for customer switching, but demand greater clarity on a rule concerning the imposition of an upper limit on outstanding bills owed by customers seeking to switch suppliers.

Seven suppliers – power utility PPC, Protergia (Mytilineos Group), Heron, Elpedison, Volterra, Zenith and Fysiko Aerio/Hellenic Energy Company – and two associations – ESPEN (Greek Energy Suppliers Association), ESEPIE (Hellenic Association of Electricity Trading & Supply Companies) – took part in second-round public consultation staged by RAE, requesting views on three topics.

Preparations for the introduction of a debt-flagging system – the public consultation procedure’s second topic – offering general protection to suppliers by informing and preparing them on the track records of incoming customers, are headed in the right direction, participants agreed.

They also backed a RAE proposal that would permit suppliers to request electricity supply cuts from distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO for exiting customers who have not settled outstanding electricity bills.

This measure promises to contribute to more effective management of electricity-bill debt and support supplier receivables, participants pointed out.

RAE, in its proposals, sets a six-month limit for suppliers to take action against customers once they have switched companies.

DEDDIE network expansion plan held up by internal dispute

Though the distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, encouraged by the energy ministry, appears to have decided to move ahead with plans for an expansion of its medium-voltage network, the decision is not being implemented as a result of disagreements, within the company’s ranks, on the plan.

According to sources, rival factions have been formed at the operator over the project, holding it back. Officially, the operator’s regional services, which have completed all required preliminary work, have yet to be given the green light.

Clarity on the network expansion plan is crucial for certain investors, especially solar energy investors, facing a March 22 deadline set by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for a forthcoming RES auction in May.

The energy ministry has been informed of the deadlock at the operator and is expected to intervene to settle the dispute.

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.

Balancing market cost falls to €10.99/MWh a week into measures

Balancing market measures recently introduced by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, have produced tangible results for market participants, judging by clearance price figures between February 15 to 21, the first full week since the measures were imposed.

However, market players were quick to point out that last week’s market conditions were shaped by unusual factors not making possible a safe assessment of the results produced by the measures. They were launched on February 13.

Extreme snowstorms affected electricity supply in many parts of the country and a technical breakdown at the Koumoundourou substation serving the wider Athens area required a full-scale response from the country’s electricity production units.

Between February 15 and 21, the balancing market cost registered 10.99 euros per MWh, down from 12.36 euros per MWh a week earlier, according to data provided by IPTO, the power grid operator.

The regulatory authority needed to intervene following a sharp rise in balancing market costs since November’s launch of the target model’s new markets.

South Kavala UGS qualifiers in March, plenty of work needed

Privatization fund TAIPED is expected to have completed its appraisal of first-round bids in a tender offering development and operation of an underground gas storage facility (UGS) in the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in northern Greece next month, possibly within the first half of March, energypress sources have informed.

The fund, at that point, will be ready to announce its list of second-round qualifiers.

TAIPED and the government are taking cautious steps for this project, regarded as complex, especially on matters concerning the tender’s binding-offers stage, sources informed.

Three bidding teams have submitted non-binding expressions of interest for the first round. These are: China Machinery Engineering Co. Ltd. (CMEC) – Maison Group; DESFA – GEK Terna; and Energean Oil & Gas (in alphabetical order).

Much work appears to still lie ahead for this privatization, whose completion is not expected any sooner than next autumn, sources noted.

Pending matters include the delivery of a finalized operating framework for the South Kavala UGS by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

This framework will determine the pricing system for the UGS, or the proportion of the facility’s earnings to be regulated and the proportion to be shaped through competitive procedures.

Besides RAE’s operating framework, bidders will also need to conduct due diligence before submitting second-round offers.

 

 

Offshore wind farm framework within first half, auction in ‘22

A legal framework for offshore wind farms will be ready within the next few months, no later than the end of the year’s first half, enabling investments in this sector to begin in Greece, the energy ministry has assured.

The energy ministry’s leadership is expected to reiterate this stance, without offering further scheduling details, at an event to be staged today by ELETAEN, the Greek Wind Energy Association. Energy minister Kostas Skrekas and the ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou will be participating.

Norway, a country with extensive offshore wind farm knowhow, will be strongly represented at the ELETAEN event. The Norwegian Ambassador to Greece, Frode Overland Andersen, and Daniel Willoch, a representative of NORWEA, the Norwegian Wind Energy Association, will take part.

So, too, will Giles Dickson, CEO at Brussels-based WindEurope, promoting the use of wind power in Europe.

If all goes as planned with efforts being made by the energy ministry, as well as ELETAEN, a first auction for offshore wind farms in Greece could be staged within the first half of 2022.

Considerable progress has been made in recent months, but pending issues on important details concerning spatial and licensing matters, connectivity with power grid operator IPTO’s network, as well as a remuneration formula for investors, all still need to be settled. The overall effort is complex and involves a number of ministries.

Investor interest in offshore wind farms is high as studies project electricity costs concerning floating units in Greece will experience a 40 percent decline by 2050. This cost, according to an older European Commission study, was estimated to drop from 76 euros per MWh in 2030 to 46 euros per MWh in 2050.

The same study estimated Greece’s offshore wind farm capacity would reach 263 GW, a prospect promising investors sustainability for the development of such projects.

Norway’s Equinor has already expressed the strongest interest for offshore wind energy development in Greece. Denmark’s Copenhagen Offshore Partners, also a major global player, has also shown some signs of interest.

As for Greek companies, TERNA Energy, the Copelouzos Group, and RF Energy have, in the past, submitted applications for offshore wind energy parks to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

 

RAE proposes electricity supplier switching measures

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has adopted, to great degree, proposals made by electricity suppliers intended to restrict supplier switching by consumers seeking to prevent payment of electricity-bill debt.

Following a first round of public consultation, the authority staged a supplementary round, publishing its resulting proposals for an end to such consumer switching practices.

RAE has proposed the imposition of upper limits on electricity-bill amounts owed by consumers, which, if exceeded, would prevent them from switching suppliers.

For low-voltage category household consumers, the upper limit proposed by RAE is 150 euros per four-month billing period. For businesses, also in the low-voltage category, the authority has proposed an upper limit of 200 euros per four-month billing period. A 1,000-euro upper limit on electricity bill amounts owed per four months has been proposed for medium-voltage consumers.

Consumers whose unpaid power bills exceed these upper limits would either need to settle their energy debt or commit to installment-based payback programs in order to switch supplier.

RAE has also proposed a debt-flagging system that would be collectively used by suppliers to blacklist consumers behind on electricity bills. The authority proposes a rating system that would grade consumers seeking to switch suppliers as “red” if near or over the aforementioned upper limits or “green” if energy debt settlement agreements have been reached.

Power supply cut measures have also been proposed by RAE for consumers owing electricity bill amounts.

The authority has proposed that these measures be implemented for a one-year period before being reassessed.

Redispatching formula RAE’s next balancing market step

After imposing balancing-market restrictions for producer offers, as of February 13, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is now planning further measures needed to fully rectify this market’s irregularities, including, most imminently, a formula to remunerate units for redispatching activities.

Redispatching, or unit loading changes made for security or grid sufficiency reasons during the Integrated Scheduling Process (ISP) stage, has often been implemented by power grid operator IPTO at units belonging to the Peloponnese system, as energy restrictions exist concerning the maximum amount of energy injections permitted for these units, due to the existing 150-kV system’s transmission capacity limitations, combined with increased penetration of RES units in the area.

However, a formula has yet to be established to distinguish between energy activated for balancing purposes and energy activated for other purposes.

RAE is seeking a complete and permanent formula to deal with issues concerning system restrictions, especially a mechanism under which units participating in dispatching will be remunerated.

As part of the effort, the authority, on the one hand, has asked power grid operator IPTO to propose a formula distinguishing energy activated for balancing purposes and energy activated for other reasons, and, on the other, offer recommendations for effective integration and application of these provisions in the balancing market code.

RAE is aiming to adopt the new measures as soon as possible. For the time being, a measure suspending the ability of players to submit negative-price offers for energy balancing is in place until a 400-kV line linking Megalopoli, Peloponnese with the main grid is launched.

Balancing market costs remained slightly elevated for a four successive week, IPTO data showed.

Day-ahead market prices unusually low despite crisis conditions

Though the balancing market and its various problems since November’s launch of new target model markets may have been the focus of attention of late, irregularities have also troubled the day-ahead market, necessitating a closer look, officials have stressed.

This need was first pointed out by Alex Papalexopoulos, one of the architects of the country’s electricity system, who observed that the day-ahead market has shown signs of offers being systematically submitted at levels below actual cost. He said market dumping was taking place, referring to offers submitted by lignite-fired units.

These concerns have now also been raised by Dinos Benroubi, head of energy supplier Protergia’s electricity and gas divisions, as well as Antonis Kontoleon, the chief official at EVIKEN, Greece’s Association of Industrial Energy Consumers.

At a time of crisis, high electricity demand and calls on industrial producers to hold back on energy consumption, day-ahead market prices remain very low and full-scale electricity exports are taking place towards Italy, Kontoleon noted during a panel discussion at Athens Energy Dialogues, a conference held yesterday.

Protergia’s Benroubi took the issue a step further by noting that RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, must implement a monitoring mechanism for the day-ahead market, as, despite serving as a base for the target model’s functioning, it is displaying irregularities.

RES producer certificate applications wave sustained

The increased wave of RES producer certificate applications submitted of late continued with February’s round, attracting 477 applications representing a total of 8.8 GW, energypress sources have informed. This latest round’s deadline expired on February 10.

Applications for solar energy projects were dominant, both numerically and in terms of capacity, totaling 226 applications and 6 GW, respectively.

A total of 167 applications representing 2.65 GW were submitted for wind energy projects.

The remainder of applications concerned a variety of other RES technologies such as small-scale hydropower plants, combined cooling, heat and power (CCHP) facilities, as well as biogas-biomass units.

The supervising body, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is soon expected to begin processing applications submitted for the preceding December round and complete this procedure by late March or early April.

Successful applicants of the December round will then be requested to pay required fees for their producer certificates.

A total of 864 applications representing a capacity of 45.55 GW were lodged by prospective investors for the December round.

Transitional hybrid plan for Cretan participation in markets

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has decided on a transitional hybrid model for Crete’s participation in target model energy markets, covering production and consumption, once the island’s small-scale grid interconnection to the Peloponnese is soon launched.

The fundamentals of the transitional model – to be applied until Crete’s full-scale grid interconnection, all the way to Athens, is completed – have been agreed on by the participating market operators. But details still need to be worked out.

Power grid operator IPTO, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and the energy exchange are currently shaping the finer details of the transitional plan, expected to be finalized over the next few days.

Under the transitional hybrid solution, Crete – whose grid will continue being managed by DEDDIE/HEDNO until IPTO takes on the responsibility when power utility PPC, DEDDIE/HEDNO’s parent company, has transferred its network ownership on the island to IPTO – will purchase electricity transmitted through the small-scale grid link at target model energy markets.

As for electricity flowing in the opposite direction, production of Cretan units will be represented by IPTO.

The transitional model, when ready, will be forwarded for public consultation. European Commission approval will be needed for the finalized plan. RAE has already briefed Brussels officials on its proposed transitional model.

Finding a solution for Crete has proven to be a challenge as the small-scale grid link to the Peloponnese will not fully cover the island’s energy needs, meaning it will not automatically cease to be a non-interconnected island once the small-scale grid link begins operating. However, a considerable part of Crete’s energy needs, approximately 30 percent, will be served by the small-scale interconnection.

Normally, when grid links for non-interconnected islands are completed, IPTO assumes responsibility of their electricity networks. However, Crete, Greece’s biggest and most populous island, represents a much bigger interconnection project that is being developed over two stages. The project’s second stage, to reach Athens, is anticipated in 2023.

Failure to find a transitional solution would threaten to leave the small-scale link unutilized.

RAE wants measure of balancing market distortion cost

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has requested power grid operator IPTO to calculate the financial impact of balancing market distortion costs since November’s launch of new target model markets.

RAE has since decided to impose restrictions on balancing market offers. These are expected to be published in the government gazette today or tomorrow, enabling their implementation three days after the date of publication.

RAE estimates it will have implemented the balancing market restrictions by the end of this week.

It remains to be seen if RAE’s request towards IPTO for a measure of the higher balancing market costs incurred by suppliers will result in retroactive returns for affected parties dating back to the early-November launch of the target model.

Non-vertically integrated electricity suppliers, severely impacted by the increased balancing market costs that resulted in higher wholesale market prices, are demanding retroactive rebates.

Balancing costs still elevated, suppliers insist on full returns

Balancing market costs remained elevated last week despite the introduction of a first round of balancing market restrictions decided on by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The total balancing cost was 9.82 euros per MWh between January 25 and 31, slightly lower than the level of 10.82 euros per MWh registered between January 18 and 24, according to data provided by IPTO, the power grid operator.

Non-vertically integrated electricity suppliers, impacted by wholesale electricity price increases resulting from higher balancing costs since November’s launch of new target model markets, insist that decisions eventual taken by RAE for returns to suppliers of excessive balancing costs need to be retroactively enforced.

RAE has promised to examine this demand but the decision it could take remains unclear.

It should be pointed out that the recently appointed energy minister Kostas Skrekas generally does not favor retroactive enforcement of energy-sector decisions.

At least one non-vertically integrated supplier appears to have taken extrajudicial action against IPTO, overseeing the balancing market, making note of this market’s distortions and the operator’s responsibility.

 

Suppliers summoned to explain overdue surcharge transfers

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has summoned power utility PPC and six independent electricity suppliers to hearings for explanations on overdue surcharge amounts they have yet to transfer to three market operators.

The authority had initially requested related data and explanations from suppliers and has now taken a further step by deciding to stage hearings for PPC and two other suppliers, followed by supplementary hearings involving a further four suppliers.

The three market operators, power grid operator IPTO, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and RES market operator DAPEEP, will also be called upon by the authority to offer data on the overdue surcharge transfers by suppliers.

According to sources, RAE authorities are examining a variety of surcharges, including network transmission, distribution network and RES-supporting ETMEAR surcharges, up until October, 2020.

These surcharges, included in electricity bills and paid by consumers as part of their electricity bills, must then be handed over by suppliers to respective operators within a specific time period.

Conditions have recently deteriorated for electricity suppliers, primarily as a result of considerably higher wholesale costs since November’s launch of the target model’s new markets.

Electricity suppliers contend that amounts owed to them by the operators outweigh their unpaid surcharges and, as a result, want accounts offset. RAE has rejected this request.

RAE launches new application round for RES producer certificates

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has launched a 10-day application period for RES producer certificates, running until February 10.

This new round follows a big wave of applications submitted by RES investors in December, a record-breaking cycle, both in terms of application numbers and capacity. A total of 1,864 applications representing 45.5 GW were submitted in December.

RAE has already begun processing the previous round’s applications, a large percentage of which are expected to be excessive.

Information gathered on preceding applications – including still-unprocessed applications submitted through rounds in September, 2018 and December, 2019, both under the latest licensing rules – indicates that the majority of investors want to at least reach the first stage of the investment maturity process.

A preliminary fee expected from applicants for their producer certificates stands as a test of investor intent, even though this fee is smaller for older applications.

To date, applicants behind 939 applications, of 1,483 submitted in total, or over 60 percent, have already paid this preliminary fee.

Applications submitted through the September, 2018 cycle are offered a 90 percent discount on this fee. The discount is gradually reduced for newer applications, reaching as low as 50 percent for bids lodged through the December, 2019 cycle. These fees are paid as lump sums.