Ministerial decision imminent for RES-related standalone battery support

The energy ministry is believed to be just weeks away from finalizing a ministerial decision needed to establish a competitive procedure concerning investment and operational support for RES-related standalone batteries.

The energy ministry is expected to announce its required ministerial decision in April, ahead of a first auction planned to take place no later than June.

The ministerial decision will detail the number of auctions to be held and their scheduling, as well as the type of auction to be adopted, among other key matters.

They include the starting price of auctions; prerequisites, including minimum capacity requirements, that will need to be met by RES projects in order to seek investment and operational support for RES-related standalone batteries; as well as the stage of licensing maturity that will be required of auction participants.

As has already become known, auction participants will submit, as their bids, expected annual revenues of projects (in terms of euros per MW of storage capacity). Investors seeking lowest tariffs for their projects will prevail.

An upper capacity limit of 100 MW per project is expected to be set. Also, companies and any of their subsidiaries will be limited to project support not higher than 25 percent of the overall capacity being auctioned.

Incentives for RES projects with storage units considered

The energy ministry is considering subsidy support and licensing simplification initiatives as incentives that could encourage RES investors to add energy storage units to projects that have already received connection offers.

Although the ministry’s thoughts on the issue are still nascent, it is already favorably inclined to pursue the plan, proposed by sector experts, as it would free up significant grid capacity and enable further RES development for a bigger green-energy share of the energy mix.

Highlighting the benefits offered by RES projects incorporating energy storage units, a RES project with a capacity of 100 MW, for example, would occupy 72 MW of the grid, whereas the same project would take up approximately 50 MW of the grid if it were to be equipped with an energy storage unit.

Efficient use of the country’s grid, saturated at certain points, is crucial. RES units in operation and maturing RES projects possessing final connection offers currently represent a total capacity of 24 to 25 GW, just below the transmission system’s projected capacity of approximately 29 GW in 2030.

Volterra makes dynamic RES return through iXion subsidiary

Energy company Volterra aims to make a dynamic return to renewable energy production through the establishment of iXion, a fully-owned subsidiary, after selling a section of its RES portfolio last June to PPC Renewables, which, as a result, acquired 112 MW in wind and solar energy projects.

Besides renewable energy production, Volterra’s iXion subsidiary also aspires to expand the company’s presence into new domains such as electromobility, energy-saving projects, as well as solar energy system installations at residential and business properties for net-metering purposes.

Volterra, one of the Greek energy market’s oldest independent players – 13 years old – and a member of the AVAX construction group, one of the country’s biggest, will now purely focus on electricity and gas trading and supply.

“Volterra has always operated on the basis of a robust business model, which provided the company with flexibility to face unprecedented market challenges and difficulties that emerged in early 2021,” Panos Nikou, CEO of Volterra and iXion Energy, told energypress. “The establishment of iXion, a wholly owned subsidiary of Volterra, is based on Volterra’s expertise and strength of the AVAX Group. iXion aims to leverage the vast experience of its executives and the accumulated expertise, virtues and skills of its staff in general,” he added.

iXion aims to start making serious impact in the domains it has chosen to enter in 2023 and 2024, the chief executive noted.

European electricity prices fall, demand down, RES output up

European energy market price levels fell last week, influenced by lower demand as well as increased renewable energy output by wind and solar farms.

Energy markets across southeast Europe recorded noteworthy price reductions last week that averaged 17.44 percent, compared to a week earlier. Favorable weather conditions in this region led to a 60 percent increase in RES output, wind farms being the main contributor.

Serbia posted the biggest week-to-week price reduction in southeast Europe, a 21.34 percent drop in wholesale electricity prices, followed by Greece, where the week’s drop averaged 20.31 percent. Bulgaria and Romania both recorded average price reductions of 19.16 percent last week. Prices in Turkey have also been on a downward trajectory.

In central Europe, spot markets fell to weekly averages of less than 135 euros per MWh. The weekly average, for this region, was lowest in Germany, at 119.05 euros MWh, a 12.61 percent reduction compared to a week earlier as a result of lower demand and increased wind energy output.

Central Europe’s highest wholesale electricity prices last week were recorded in Switzerland, at 134.48 euros per MWh, despite an 11.22 percent reduction compared to a week earlier. France followed with a weekly average price of 131.07 euros per MWh, driven higher by power utility EDF strikes that reduced output at nuclear power plants, covering roughly 70 percent of the country’s energy mix.

Stalled RES projects totaling 3.6 GW to face ultimatums

RES projects that have received final connection offers in the past from power grid operator IPTO but have remained stagnant as a result of failing to submit contract applications will be set deadlines, as part of an energy ministry effort to free up urgently needed grid capacity.

A related amendment has been included in an energy ministry multi-bill covering a range of matters. It will be taken to Parliament next week for debate and ratification.

Older RES projects representing a total capacity of 2.4 GW are estimated to have stalled since receiving final connection offers, along with a further 1.2 GW in green-energy projects that had submitted their applications collectively.

Sector officials believe that older RES projects representing 1.5 GW of this 3.6 GW tally in stalled projects will be withdrawn as a result of the deadlines to be set by the energy ministry, freeing up coveted space for new RES investments.

According to the ministry’s new terms, RES projects that received final connection offers up until December 31, 2020 will need to submit their contract applications by June 30, 2023. RES projects that received final connection offers between January 1 and December 31 in 2021 will have until August 31, 2023 to submit contract applications.

RES units currently operating in Greece represent a total capacity of 11 GW.

RES energy sharing for consumer teams among Brussels proposals

A plan empowering energy consumers by giving them an active market role through RES energy sharing is part of a broader European Commission proposal for a new market model, to be presented this week.

All households, small and medium-sized enterprises and public-sector entities will be able to participate in RES energy sharing as active consumers, according to the Brussels proposal.

Such consumers, teamed up in groups, will be able to share energy produced by RES units based on private agreements, within an installed capacity limit of 100 MW.

The plan would also permit representatives to undertake the installation, operation, metering and maintenance of RES or storage facilities on behalf of energy-sharing consumer groups.

According to the Brussels proposal, active consumers who either own or rent a power generation facility will have the right to share excess generation and empower other consumers to do the same, or to share renewable generation or storage through co-owned facilities, either directly or through third parties.

RES energy sharing will enable collective consumption of self-generated or stored energy that is fed into the grid by active consumers who operate collectively, the proposal notes.

EC proposes pre-determined RES, nuclear output prices

Two-way Contracts for Difference (CfDs) for low-carbon emitting power plants that are in any way subject to state support are one of the most central reforms in the European Commission’s proposal for revisions to wholesale electricity markets.

Brussels’ proposal, to be officially presented tomorrow, has already sparked some criticism from market officials, citing ambiguities and lack of ambition.

A draft of the proposal obtained by energypress indicates there will be no fundamental changes to the EU electricity market’s structure.

The proposal includes measures aimed at establishing a mechanism that would absorb short-term fluctuations in wholesale markets from consumer bills, especially through wider use of long-term contracts.

CfDs, two-way Contracts for Difference, would be central to such an initiative as they could become mandatory for all low-carbon electricity generation technologies (RES, nuclear, hydro, geothermal) that benefit from state support.

In practical terms, all new investments belonging to categories requiring long-term contracts would be remunerated for output based on pre-determined rates, guaranteed by member states. Therefore, RES and nuclear facility prices for output would not be traded at energy exchanges as they would be pre-set.


PPC close to signing first PPAs with industrial consumers

Power utility PPC and a number of industrial players are examining a series of details, including legal matters, before signing the country’s first round of power purchase agreements (PPAs) for supply of lower-cost green energy.

PPC and industrial consumers are aiming to sign PPAs by Monday, though it remains uncertain if this target will be achieved, energypress sources have informed.

Procedures leading towards the country’s first PPAs between PPC and industrial groups have moved rapidly since a recent announcement by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, exempting PPAs from a wholesale electricity market price cap. This measure comes into effect as of tomorrow.

The PPAs involving PPC and industrial consumers are planned to have ten-year durations. Industrial consumers will need to be supplied electricity through thermal power stations for the first two years of these ten-year periods, providing energy supply coverage until new and required RES facilities being developed by the power utility are up and running.

PPC’s launch date of new solar farms, which will ensure green energy supply to industrial consumers, is a key matter in the final-stage talks before PPAs are signed. According to sector officials, these RES projects are expected to be launched in 2025.

Some of these RES facilities have already obtained connection terms from power grid operator IPTO, but most have not, preventing absolute certainty of their launches in 2025, as projected.

PPC reaches agreement for €1.26bn buy of ENEL Romania

Power utility PPC and Italy’s ENEL have signed a sale and purchase agreement, following two months of negotiations, for the latter’s sale of its Romanian subsidiary ENEL Romania to the Greek corporation at a price of 1.26 billion euros.

The sale is expected to be completed by September, as long as competition-related authorities approve the agreement.

PPC plans to finance its acquisition of ENEL Romania through a loan of 800 million euros and 460 million euros in company capital.

A move of national importance, PPC’s acquisition of ENEL Romania promises to offer entry into a now-developed Balkan market, establishing the Greek corporation as a strategic market player with access to a significant energy corridor running from Romania and across Bulgaria, all the way to Greece.

Through the deal, PPC will acquire over 130,000 kilometers in electricity distribution networks, double its RES capacity and also gain 3.2 million new customers.

Wholesale electricity prices up over past week

Wholesale electricity price levels rose over the past week, the average market clearing price rising by 4.76 percent compared to the previous week to 151.95 euros per MWh, with upper and lower levels reaching 218.35 and 80.16 euros per MWh, respectively.

The past week’s highest average market clearing price was recorded on March 2, reaching 160.60 euros per MWh.

During the same period, wholesale electricity price levels in other parts of Europe ranged from 136 to 195 euros per MWh, while prices yesterday ranged from 141 and 167 euros per MWh.

Electricity demand remained low, for this time of the year, while lower RES and hydropower unit output led to a slight increase in prices at the Hellenic Energy Exchange, according to an analysis by IENE, the Institute of Energy for Southeast Europe.

RES units averaged a daily output of 36 GWh for an energy-mix share of 29 percent over the past week, official data showed. RES output totaled 251 GWh for the week, an 11 percent reduction compared to a week earlier.

Hydropower facilities covered 2 percent of demand, injecting just 16 GWh into the grid, 14 percent less than a week earlier. Natural gas-fueled power stations generated 286 GWh over the past week, covering 33 percent of demand, while lignite-fired power stations produced 145 GWh to cover 17 percent of electricity demand.

Electricity demand remained virtually unchanged over the past week, at 897.131 MWh, compared to 897.306. It peaked at 138.128 MWh last Thursday, while the week’s low was recorded on February 27, at 107.471 MWh.

The low-voltage category, including households, represented 56 percent of electricity demand over the past week, the medium-voltage category represented 19 percent of demand, the high-voltage category, or energy-intensive industry, represented 17 percent, 5 percent concerned the Cretan grid, while electricity losses of 3 percent were also recorded.

HEDNO decides on voluntary exit plan with €20,000 bonus sum attached

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO’s board has decided to offer employees aged 60 and above a voluntary exit package this year that includes bonus compensation pay of 20,000 euros.

This bonus sum will be offered to exiting staff members as long as certain prerequisites are met, in addition to a maximum amount of 15,000 euros required by law.

DEDDIE/HEDNO staff eligible for the bonus compensation amount will need to be aged 61 or over and have acquired pension rights; turn 60 years of age within 2023 and have acquired pension rights; or be aged 67 and backed by at least 15 years of employment at either DEDDIE/HEDNO or its parent company, power utility PPC.

Employees belonging to the first of these three categories will receive a bonus compensation amount of 20,000 euros if they voluntarily resign by July 31, 2023. As for the second and third categories, workers will receive the bonus compensation amount if they exit the company by December 31, 2023.

DEDDIE/HEDNO plans to soon begin procedures to recruit 1,400 new employees by June, the company’s chief executive, Anastasios Manos, has informed.

The employee renewal program is needed as the operator has undertaken network development projects for the coming years to support the country’s RES objectives, Manos has explained.

Just one staff renewal program has been carried out by DEDDIE/HEDNO between 2012 and 2019, which has resulted in 158 hirings but remains unfinished, the chief executive said.

Energy ministry multi-bill at parliamentary committee

Greek Parliament’s Standing Committee on Production and Trade begins is set to begin discussions today on a multi-bill covering a wide range of energy-sector issues. The committee’s talks are expected to continue during the week, but a date has yet to be set for the multi-bill’s tabling in Parliament for ratification.

Energy-sector issues included in the multi-bill include a formula for filtering out stagnant RES projects as a means of freeing up required grid capacity.

Non-auction tariff levels in 2023 for small-scale wind and solar energy projects of up to 6 MW is another matter included in the energy ministry’s multi-bill, as are power purchase agreement (PPA) rights for RES projects, instead of fixed tariffs, which were trimmed as part of the new deal.

Also included is an article concerning a compensation amount for gas company DEPA Commercial following the cost of its recent decision to cancel LNG orders, not required as a result of lower energy demand this winter.

It also includes revisions exempting businesses and farmers from public service compensation surcharges, included in electricity bills, worth 63 million euros.

In another section, the multi-bill includes terms increasing upper capacity limits to 100 kW on solar energy panels installed for net-metering purposes by churches, charities, NGOs and schools.

Moreover, the revisions include an EU formula to be adopted for the development of offshore wind farms as a pilot project off Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece.


Alexandroupoli offshore wind farms given RES priority status

Offshore wind farms planned to be introduced in Greece as a pilot program off Alexandroupoli, in the country’s northeast, will be developed through an EU go-to-areas formula designed to accelerate green-energy project development as a means of ending Europe’s reliance on natural gas as soon as possible.

A local draft bill incorporating this European formula, which has been adopted in Greece for the first time for the Alexandroupoli offshore wind farms, was submitted to Greek Parliament yesterday as a “RES First Choice Areas” initiative.

As stipulated in the draft bill, RES priority areas must be located beyond areas offered environmental protection through the EU’s Natura 2000 network. In addition, these areas will be approved by Presidential Decree.

Go-to-area RES projects will be exempted from the environmental permitting process and a special ecological assessment procedure.

For the time being, Alexandroupoli is Greece’s only area to have been awarded RES priority status.

Two-thirds of PPC’s depleted lignite mines to the State

Roughly two-thirds of power utility PPC’s depleted lignite mines are in the process of being transferred to the Greek State. The power utility has scheduled an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting on March 30 for approval of the transfer of ownership.

More specifically, 16,400 of 24,700 hectares of depleted lignite mine property is planned to be transferred to the Greek State. PPC will maintain control of the remainder, primarily for development of solar farms.

As noted by PPC, the completion of this transfer of property is subject, by law, to approvals by the General Assembly of PPC’s shareholders, the signing of a relevant notarial deed, as well as the receipt of all necessary approvals from competent authorities.

Leitwind: Efficient wind turbine blades to satisfy every need

The year 2022 ended with a positive balance for Greece: the report published by the Hellenic Wind Energy Association (HWEA) shows that the total capacity of wind farms connected to the grid from 2021 to 2022 increased from 445 to 468 GW (+5%). In addition, Greece ranks seventh worldwide in terms of the share of solar and wind power out of total electricity produced and by 2030 it aims to cover at least 70% of domestic energy needs from renewable sources.

Given Greece’s ambitious goals, it needs more wind farms. Wind farms are projects of national importance because, with their increased penetration of the electricity market, they ensure a more balanced and cost-effective energy system, with a consequent decrease in the price of energy for consumers and an increase in the country’s energy independence.

LEITWIND, the only Italian manufacturer of MW wind turbines (250 – 3,000 kW), not only designs and manufactures wind turbines with patented direct drive technology and boasts proven technological experience, but it also stands out for its ability to adapt to customer needs thanks to its constant investments in R&D.

LEITWIND has recently introduced the LTW90 and LTW80 models with a nominal power of 500 kW to meet the current market need for fast and lean authorization processes without having to give up to high energy production thanks to the large-sized rotors.

Furthermore, belonging to the HTI Group, a Group that has always been active in the field of winter technologies (ropeways, snow groomers and snow-making systems), has allowed the company to increasingly specialize also in energy solutions in mountain areas and remote places, offering optimal solutions in terms of efficiency, reliability and profitability.

This is demonstrated by the five LTW80 wind turbines with nominal power of 1.5 MW each which were installed in central Greece in 2021 (the Gaidourorachi and Ipsoma wind farms respectively) located at an altitude of 1,000 meters and only 5 km from the coast of the Gulf of Corinth, which provide local electricity capable of covering the annual energy needs of about 6,500 Greek households.

Power demand continues fall in January, RES dominate output

Electricity demand plunged by 13.24 percent in January, compared to the same month a year earlier, registering a drop for a seventh successive month, a monthly report published by power grid operator IPTO has shown.

Households, businesses and industrial producers have cut back on power usage in an effort to contain their energy costs.

January’s contraction in electricity demand ranks as the second-biggest recorded during the seven successive months of decline and is one of the biggest reductions ever recorded in Greece.

Households registered the biggest cut in electricity usage in January, down 15 percent compared to January, 2022, while heavy industry also cut back on consumption, by 7.8 percent, the January figures showed.

Overall electricity demand fell to 4,235 GWh in January from 4,881 GWh in January, 2022, the IPTO data showed.

Subsequently, the drop in electricity demand prompted a generation reduction of 25.75 percent in January, compared to the same month a year earlier, according to the IPTO data.

Renewables and hydropower dominated the country’s energy mix in January, capturing a 53.6 percent share. Natural gas and lignite-generated electricity captured a 30.5 percent share.


Asset Management – the new market need

The photovoltaic industry and RES in general are entering a new era of maturity. Until a few years ago, investments in RES were based on government subsidies, which especially in the early days were quite generous, offering high returns to the first investors of this new, unknown sector. With the development of technology and the increase in production volume worldwide, costs have decreased dramatically and simultaneously (or at least with some time lag) the financial incentives offered by various governments have also decreased. Today, PV is the most cost competitive electricity generation technology without any government subsidy, especially in countries with abundant sunshine like Greece.

Moving up the learning curve, PV has now gained its place in the power generation mix, competing with conventional fuel technologies. Sizes have multiplied (from a few tens of kW to hundreds of MW) and investment return has decreased, as it is based on competitive participation in the energy market without subsidies. The investors of “mega projects” are mainly utilities, international funds and institutional investors, who are required to manage large investments with geographical spread, possibly with different business models and technological diversity, without necessarily having the required know-how. For many, the photovoltaic plant is now an investment product. In a regime where energy sales prices are now determined by competitive processes or by market rules through bilateral contracts (PPAs) and the duration of contracts can be very close to the payback period of the investment, the optimal performance of a PV installation matters much more than it did in the past.

This need is met by the Asset Manager, who creates added value for the investor, taking over the management on his behalf. By providing the right services, the asset manager can guarantee the maximization of financial and technical performance throughout the project’s life cycle and achieve the following objectives:

1. Increase of performance

2. Reduction of operating costs

3. Financial restructuring

4. Renegotiation of contracts in favor of the investor

5. Technological Upgrades

6. Human resource management

7. Health and safety system management

8. Environmental management

Asset Management is significantly different from the operation and maintenance (O&M) of a solar plant. Management is about the investment (the company – SPV), not just the installation, from design and development to construction, operation and end-of-life of the project, even the recycling of materials. The long life cycle of assets (30+ years) requires a comprehensive, long-term planning approach. Each asset also has unique characteristics and needs, which may require a different management approach. Best international management practices should form the basis of the asset management framework applied to each portfolio with the necessary adjustments.

An integral part of the evolution of Asset Management is the adoption of quality systems and digital tools. The ISO 55001 standard for asset management was published in 2014. However, there are very few management service providers certified to this standard. Quality systems are the backbone of any standardization and in the management field they indicate the internal transformation that service providers should follow, to optimize their own processes and offer consistent service quality.

At the same time, the adaptation of digital tools and information management systems contributes to the optimal provision of services. With the right tools, information gaps are avoided, which limit the potential for strategic, long-term planning and delivering added value to investors.

It is no coincidence that, as Europe moves towards the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C and prepares to reach TW of installed capacity this decade, the Solar Quality Summit Europe was organized in January 2023 in Barcelona. The conference has allowed the exchange of views between managers, investors, manufacturers and service providers regarding the best practices in construction, operation, maintenance and asset management, identifying the challenges as well as new technologies and trends to achieve their goals .

Dr. Alexandros Zachariou, PV Consultant, Greensolver Business Development, Greece

February 2023

Ministry putting final touches to solar panel subsidies offer

The energy ministry is finalizing the details of a subsidy program for roof-mounted solar panels to be made available to a total of 300,000 applicants – households, farmers, and businesses.

Pre-notification of the support program’s guidelines is expected to be released next week, barring unforeseen developments, so that interested parties may begin preparing their applications, energypress sources informed.

In addition, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO has just about completed a platform simplifying net metering application procedures, so that interested parties may submit applications prior to the launch of the subsidy program for roof-mounted solar panels.

The subsidy program will need to be approved in Parliament as part of a draft bill also including other RES sector matters.

Speaking at an industry event yesterday, energy minister Kostas Skrekas noted that a 40 percent share of the subsidy program’s funds would be allocated for households, while farmers and businesses would each share 30 percent. This share of the funds means roughly 120,000 households, 90,000 farmers and 90,000 businesses will be eligible.

The ministry has increased the subsidy program’s total number of eligible parties to 300,000 from 250,000 as it opted to lower the program’s capacity limit for household roof-mounted solar systems to 7 KW from 10 KW, energypress sources informed.


Energy storage subsidies in tenders ensuring dispersion

Standalone battery projects will face capacity limits of 100 MW in tenders offering investment and operational support for portfolios carrying such projects, the objective being to avoid exhausting capacities on offer with a small number of projects and ensure standalone battery projects are dispersed at various points around the grid.

According to energypress sources, limits will be set on the number of standalone battery projects that investors can submit to tenders as a means of ensuring competitive conditions for these units in wholesale markets.

In addition, companies and their subsidiaries participating in these tenders for energy storage investment and operational support will not be able to submit project plans exceeding 25 percent of total capacities being contested.

The terms for these tenders will ensure subsidy qualification for at least nine standalone battery investment projects. Also, projects eligible for this support program will need to belong to a minimum of four corporations.

As is the case with RES auctions, investors taking part in energy storage capacity auctions will need to register project plans representing a total capacity that is one-and-a-half times over the capacity being offered. If lower limits are not met, then capacities on offer will be revised downwards.


Net metering only via energy communities for smaller industries

An energy ministry proposal, in ongoing consultation, calling for a drastic reduction of a net-metering upper limit to 100kW from 3 MW, was made with the grid’s capacity limits in mind after power grid operator IPTO and distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO informed the ministry that the network would not be able to cope should RES self-producers simultaneously inject generation into the system during times of heightened production, a move most probable from smaller producers not equipped with energy storage units.

Energy ministry proposals included in a draft bill now undergoing consultation essentially aim to virtually eliminate small and medium-sized industries from net metering through the plan to reduce its upper limit to 100kW from 3 MW.

The prospect has sparked a reaction from industries, viewing net metering as an import tool for energy-cost reduction, especially for medium-sized industries as bigger industrial enterprises consume far greater energy quantities and seek other solutions offering more effective cost-reduction potential, such as long-term supply deals.

However, the proposed 100kW upper limit for net metering could be overcome if at least fifteen enterprises join forces to establish an energy community, according to the energy ministry proposal.

Two new energy community formats proposed in draft bill

A draft bill prepared by the energy ministry and published for consultation yesterday intends to abolish the current format and regulations concerning energy communities, instead offering existing communities the opportunity to convert to Renewable Energy Communities (KAE) and make the most of benefits foreseen for this new type of energy cooperative.

Should existing energy communities opt to not convert to this new status, their RES projects will be left to continue maturing at the regular, time-consuming pace.

The draft bill also intends to introduce Energy Communities for Citizens (EKP) as another alternative format also promising benefits.

A common feature of the two new energy cooperative formats is the categories to be made available to prospective members. Individuals, enterprises, local authorities, and public legal entities will be eligible to join Renewable Energy Communities or Energy Communities for Citizens, the only difference between the two formats being that Renewable Energy Communities will also be able to host agricultural cooperatives.

For the first time, such collective ventures will also be available exclusively for businesses, which must number at least 15. However, Renewable Energy Communities, according to the draft bill, will only be open to small and medium-sized enterprises, whereas Energy Communities for Citizens will be open to enterprises of all sizes.

In a significant change to existing energy community regulations, members of the two new formats proposed by the energy ministry will not be able to secure fixed tariffs for output of RES projects developed.

Revision lifting PPA barriers for industry headed to Parliament

The energy ministry is seeking a bill already in Parliament to table  an amendment designed to lift barriers currently preventing the establishment of bilateral power purchase agreements (PPAs) between power producers and large-scale consumers.

The amendment’s details were finalized at a meeting earlier this involving the participation of officials representing the energy ministry, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, the industrial sector and power utility PPC, sources informed.

Once the bill has been ratified, negotiations between PPC and energy-intensive industries for PPAs will be able to recommence after stalling as a result of the existing legal barriers.

“This intervention will ensure supply of competitively priced electricity [for energy-intensive industries]. Quantities will concern physical deliveries, while industries will be able to seek agreements with power producers for RES-generated electricity supply,” energy minister Kostas Skrekas was quoted as telling local business news publication Ikonomikos Tahidromos (OT) yesterday.

The amendment will primarily pave the way for PPC, the Greek electricity market’s dominant player, to sign PPAs with energy-intensive industries over long-term periods of between eight and ten years.

As has been previously reported, PPC is currently engaged in talks with the country’s two most energy-intensive industries, building materials producer TITAN and metal manufacturer Viohalco.

RES, energy storage auctions most likely after election

A preparatory period of at least two-and-a-half months is still estimated to be needed for auctions offering tariffs to new RES projects and a first wave of standalone batteries concerning energy storage totaling between 900 and 1,000 MW, the latter to also receive investment support funds worth 200 million euros from the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) if tightening deadlines are met.

Given the hefty time period still required for preparations, the auctions for both new RES projects and energy storage units will most likely not make it for before the country’s next national election, to take place in spring, some time between April and May.

As for the RES auctions, the next session will concern a second round catering to large-scale solar and wind energy units expected to represent more than 1 GW. In addition, a RES auction for small PVs with capacities of between 10 KW and 1 MW is still pending.

According to RRF terms, standalone battery projects to qualify for investment support will need to be completed by the end of 2025.

Grid-injection limit proposals for RES, storage units face opposition

Renewable energy associations and producers, taking part in a consultation procedure staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, have rejected a proposal for universal grid-injection restrictions on RES facilities and energy storage units, instead calling for a plan offering greater flexibility.

ESIAPE, the Greek Association of Renewable Energy Source Electricity Producers, rejected a proposal for grid-injection restrictions, noting their imposition would come as an outdated and unsubstantiated move. The association has proposed more focused, demand-related restrictions, rather than universal ones, as the only viable solution that would minimize the loss of RES production.

The Mytilineos energy group also sees definite advantages in focused, demand-related restrictions as they could be applied in real time as well as on a localized basis.

SEF/HELAPCO, the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies, was one of many consultation participants who also spoke out against proposed universal, permanent grid-injection restrictions on energy storage units.

The association noted these restrictions would impact the financial feasibility of energy storage systems, adding that, by definition, these systems are meant to optimize grid infrastructure and the network and should not face restrictions.


Vestas unveils circularity solution to end landfill for turbine blades

Vestas is presenting a new solution that renders epoxy-based turbine blades as circular, without the need for changing the design or composition of blade material. Combining newly discovered chemical technology developed within the CETEC initiative, and partnerships with Olin and Stena Recycling, the solution can be applied to blades currently in operation. This will eliminate the need for blade redesign, or landfill disposal of epoxy-based blades when they are decommissioned.

‘Until now, the wind industry has believed that turbine blade material calls for a new approach to design and manufacture to be either recyclable, or beyond this, circular, at end of life. Going forward, we can now view old epoxy-based blades as a source of raw material. Once this new technology is implemented at scale, legacy blade material currently sitting in landfill, as well as blade material in active windfarms, can be disassembled, and re-used. This signals a new era for the wind industry, and accelerates our journey towards achieving circularity,’ says Lisa Ekstrand, Vice President and Head of Sustainability at Vestas.

Turbine blades have previously been challenging to recycle due to the chemical properties of epoxy resin, a resilient substance that was believed to be impossible to break down into re-usable components. This has led to many technology leaders attempting to replace or modify epoxy resin with alternatives that can be more easily treated. Vestas’ solution is enabled by a novel chemical process that can chemically break down epoxy resin into virgin-grade materials. The chemical process was developed in collaboration with Aarhus University, Danish Technological Institute, and Olin the partners of the CETEC project, a coalition of industry and academia established to investigate circular technology for turbine blades.

‘The newly discovered chemical process can theoretically turn epoxy-based turbines blades, whether in operation or sitting in landfill, into a source of raw material to potentially build new turbine blades. As the chemical process relies on widely available chemicals, it is highly compatible for industrialisation, and can therefore be scaled up quickly. This innovation would not have been possible without the ground-breaking CETEC collaboration between industry and academia enabling our progress until this point,’ says Mie Elholm Birkbak, Specialist, Advanced Structures at Vestas.

Through a newly established value chain, supported by Nordic recycling leader Stena Recycling and global epoxy manufacturer Olin, Vestas will now focus on scaling up the novel chemical disassembly process into a commercial solution. Once mature, the solution will signal the beginning of a circular economy for all existing, and future epoxy-based turbine blades.

‘“As the leading customer solution provider of innovative epoxy systems, Olin is proud to support the anticipated massive expansion in wind energy worldwide. By utilising unique technologies, together with our partners, we are ready to recover molecules and convert them into new epoxies that can be re-used in wind turbine blades. We are excited to bring our expertise and unique asset footprint to this partnership, and realize breakthrough sustainable material solutions for existing wind blades and those of the future”, says Verghese Thomas, Vice President, Epoxy Systems and Growth Platforms at Olin.

‘In the coming years, thousands of turbines will be decommissioned or repowered, representing a major sustainability challenge but also a valuable source of composite materials. As one of Europe’s leading recycling groups with a wide footprint in Europe, we have a central role in the transition to a circular economy. We see this solution as a huge opportunity to take part in making a sustainable solution even more sustainable and circular and are ready to apply our chemical recycling expertise and knowledge to this process’ says Henrik Grand Petersen, MD Stena Recycling Denmark.

For several decades, producing wind turbine blades manufactured with epoxy-based resin has been standard practice in the wind industry. In the most mature markets for wind energy, the first turbines are reaching the end of their operational life and this will increase over the coming years. WindEurope expects around 25,000 tonnes of blades to reach the end of their operational life annually by 2025.

Once mature, the new solution will provide Vestas with the opportunity to produce new turbine blades made from re-used blade material. In the future, the new solution also signals the possibility to make all epoxy-based composite material a source of raw material for a broader circular economy, potentially encompassing industries beyond wind energy.

Vestas is the energy industry’s global partner on sustainable energy solutions. The company designs, manufactures, installs, and services onshore and offshore wind turbines across the globe, and with more than 154 GW of wind turbines in 87 countries, it is a global leader in the wind power sector.


Lignite, gas-fueled facilities on full to meet spike in demand

Electricity demand is expected to peak at 8,190 MW this afternoon, while the day’s overall demand will reach 163.258 GWh, an amount that will require input from virtually all available lignite and gas-fueled power stations so that the country can cope with the Barbara weather system, which has produced freezing temperatures and snowfall.

The RES sector is also greatly contributing to help the grid cope with significantly higher electricity demand and avert any fears of an energy shortage.

The country’s RES units are today expected to offer 79.59 GWh, roughly 50 percent of the day’s overall demand, while lignite and gas-fueled power stations are planned to generate 62.44 GWh.

According to power grid operator IPTO’s schedule for the day, five of power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations will contribute to the grid, these being Agios Dimitrios I, Agios Dimitrios III, Agios Dimitrios V, Meliti and Ptolemaida V, a new 660-MW facility still undergoing a full-scale trial run ahead of its launch next month.

As for gas-fueled power stations, PPC’s Aliveri V and Megalopoli V will be called into action, while the private sector will contribute with a Heron unit, two Elpedison facilities, in Thessaloniki and Thisvi, as well as a Corinth Power unit.

The same lignite and gas-fueled power stations were recruited to contribute to the grid yesterday, when the Barbara weather system made landfall, resulting in an electricity demand peak at 7,990 MW and overall demand of 161.080 GWh.

HEDNO: Grid capacity boost of 5 GW by 2025 for RES units

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO plans to increase the network’s capacity by 5 GW to 13.5 GW by 2025 to facilitate RES output, Dimitris Vranis, the operator’s Director of the Network Users Division, has told an industry event in Thessaloniki.

The capacity goal set in the revised National Energy and Climate Plan for 2030 would, as a result, be exceeded, noted Vranis, while offering his views on the progress of PV and energy storage unit licensing at an annual event staged by POSPIEF, the Pan-Hellenic Federation of Photovoltaic Producer Societies.

A 25-GW objective has been set by the NECP for RES penetration by 2030, the official said.

Considering that half the RES units to be involved in this further penetration are expected to concern low and medium-voltage connections, the distribution network will need to be able to host projects representing 12.5 GW.

Given this projection, the operator’s aim for a distribution network capacity increase to 13.5 GW by 2025 exceeds the aforementioned capacity needed by 8 percent.

In addition, between 2025 and 2030, DEDDIE/HEDNO plans to further boost the network’s capacity by 2 GW, increasing it to 15.5 GW, Vranis told the POSPIEF event.

At present, RES facilities representing a total capacity of 6.5 GW are linked to the distribution network, the DEDDIE/HEDNO official noted.

Some 7,000 small-scale RES projects representing a total capacity of approximately 2 GW are now being developed, most of these PVs, while 5,300 units are privately owned and represent a capacity of roughly 400 MW, Vranis noted.


Project of national importance status for interconnection in north

The government has declared a new 400-kV electrical interconnection being developed by power grid operator IPTO from Filippoi to Nea Sanda in northern Greece as a project of national importance, a move promising unhindered development as the classification limits any potential obstacles that may arise in terms of licensing or environmental issues.

The electrical interconnection, to run a length of approximately 140 kilometers, was declared a project of national significance by the energy ministry as well as the development and investment ministry.

A number of factors were taken into account, including the objective of IPTO, owner and operator of the country’s grid, to ensure adequate, continuous, secure, efficient and reliable electricity supply to the country.

Balancing market interests as well as cross-border trade, based on principles of transparency, equality and free competition, were also taken into account.

So, too, was the potential offered by the project to increase storage capacity and distribution of electricity production, especially that of renewables, mainly large-scale wind farms, plus conventional power stations in the wider region.

Growing interest for RES units combining energy storage

Investor interest for RES systems combining behind-the-meter energy storage units is constantly growing, as highlighted by the number of licenses issued for such projects by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, now numbering 36 for a total capacity of approximately 2.5 GW.

Of these projects, six, offering an overall capacity of roughly 1 GW, concern RES units with storage systems not able to absorb energy from the grid. The other 30 projects, offering 1.55 GW, are systems with energy storage units able to absorb energy from the grid.

The growing eagerness of investors to develop RES systems combining behind-the-meter energy storage units has been spurred by recently introduced government incentives in the form of priority status for connection terms offered by power grid operator IPTO. A related ministerial decision was signed in August.

The RAE licenses issued for RES systems with energy storage units mainly concern modest-sized projects with existing producer certificates and which have been modified for the addition of accumulators.