Lignite extraction boosted as part of emergency plan

Power utility PPC has boosted its lignite mining output by an additional 5,000 to 6,000 tons a day for its Meliti and Agios Dimitrios power stations in northern Greece and by an extra 7,000 to 8,000 tons a day for its Megalopoli power station in the Peloponnese, in response to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ call, early in April, for increased lignite reserves should Russia disrupt its natural gas supply to Europe.

The objective is to increase lignite extraction by 45 to 50 percent over a two-year period for reserves amounting to more than 15 million tons, up from the present quantity of 10.5 million tons, which would enable lignite-fired production to reach 6.5 TWh annually, up from 4.5 TWh projected in the current energy plan.

The majority of PPC’s seven lignite-fired power stations will need to be temporarily withdrawn if increased lignite quantities are to be accumulated at the yards of these power stations.

Of the country’s seven lignite-fired power stations, just one, Agios Dimitrios IV, is scheduled to operate today.

The additional 2 TWh of electricity generation that could be produced annually as a result of this initiative would still not suffice if Russia were to stop supplying natural gas to Europe.

Greece’s annual electricity consumption is estimated at 55 TWh. Last year, natural gas-fueled electricity generation covered 20 TWh of the country’s overall electricity demand, with 40 percent of the natural gas used supplied by Russia.

This means Russia’s natural gas was responsible for 8 TWh of Greece’s electricity generation last year. The Greek plan for an additional 2 TWh in generation through greater lignite production would only cover 25 percent of electricity currently produced using Russian natural gas.

Additional LNG shipments, accelerated development of RES projects, and an energy-saving policy for households, businesses and industry will also be needed to cover the gap.

Revised NECP’s 2030 energy storage target to be doubled to 3 GW

Greece’s revised National Energy and Climate Plan will set a doubled energy-storage capacity target of 3 GW by 2030, to support the RES sector’s greater penetration of the energy mix, as part of the country’s contribution to CO2 emission reductions.

The previous energy-storage capacity target of 1.5 GW will be moved closer, to 2025, so that additional energy storage projects may be installed during the latter half of the decade, energy minister Kostas Skrekas told a recent energy sector conference.

The revised NECP will also set a higher target for RES installations, at 25 GW, from the existing plan’s 18.9-GW objective, as energypress has previously reported.

Investors are expected to receive a total of 450 million euros from the Energy Transition Fund as support for the first wave of RES projects to be installed by 2025.

 

 

SPEF: PV costs up 30-75%, tariff reduction thoughts must be abandoned

Solar panel prices were up 30 percent for orders placed in March compared to a year earlier, while prices for AC cables, also used for solar panel installations, are as much as 75 percent higher compared to levels in 2019 and 2020, Dr. Stelios Loumakis, president of SPEF, the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Energy Producers, has pointed out.

In response to these higher costs, the SPEF president called on authorities to abandon any thoughts of reduced tariffs for new solar energy projects currently being developed.

Installation costs for XT/MT substations have also risen considerably, up by 20 percent over the past year, according to Dr. Loumakis.

In addition, power grid operator IPTO’s connection term costs have also risen to levels double those of a few years earlier.

These connection term increases are not exclusively linked to higher-priced equipment but also to network upgrades being carried out by IPTO in order to boost capacity, projects whose cost is passed on to investors.

Solar, wind energy facility installation costs up over 30%

Solar and wind energy park installation costs have risen considerably, internationally, since early 2021, driven higher by the pandemic’s impact on the global economy, supply chain and labor,  unfavorable market developments now exacerbated by the impact of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.

According to a new study conducted by LevelTen Energy, monitoring RES sector transactions worldwide, installation costs last year rose by 28.5 percent in North America and by 27.5 percent in Europe, and have continued rising this year, up 9.7 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively, taking the average RES installation cost to 57 euros per MWh.

These unfavorable developments have wiped out RES sector gains achieved over the past decade or so, during which RES installation costs have fallen.

Steel prices in Europe skyrocketed to 1,650 euros per ton in March, up from 1,100 euros per ton last October, and have since eased slightly to levels of around 1,400 euros per ton.

The increased RES costs come as a challenge to the EU’s objective for major RES growth as a means of achieving climate-change targets and drastically reducing Europe’s reliance on natural gas.

Despite these price increases, the cost of RES-based electricity generation still remains far lower than that of fossil fuel-generated electricity.

 

Egyptian grid operator team in Athens for Greek grid link talks

A team of highly ranked officials from the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC), headed by president and CEO Sabah Mashali, is in Athens for two days of talks, beginning today, on the development of the Greek-Egyptian grid interconnection.

The EETC officials are scheduled to meet today with a team of Greek power grid operator IPTO officials, headed by president and CEO Manos Manousakis, for a discussion on technical details concerning the grid interconnection.

Tomorrow, the EETC team is scheduled to meet with Greece’s energy minister Kostas Skrekas as well as development and investment minister Adonis Georgiadis.

A first step for the project was taken last October when the Greek and Egyptian energy ministers signed a related Memorandum of Understanding. As part of the agreement, the power grid operators of both countries have assembled a working group to conduct necessary preliminary work.

The group’s responsibilities, according to the MoU, include technical coordination to ensure the grid interconnection’s compatibility; facilitating the project’s licensing matters; as well as providing support for the project’s classification as an EU Project of Common Interest, which would ensure EU funding support.

The Greek-Egyptian grid interconnection is planned to exclusively transmit green energy from Egypt to Greece as a means of increasing the energy-mix share of renewables in Greece and the wider region and also bolstering energy security in Europe, prioritized following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, during a recent meeting with European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, stressed the importance of the Greek-Egyptian grid link, noting it should receive European backing.

 

Major RES input lowers electricity price to near zero Sunday afternoon

Greatly increased renewable energy contributions – covering over 80 percent of demand – during yesterday’s weekend siesta hours of 2pm to 5pm pushed down the wholesale electricity price to virtually zero, or 0.09 euros per MWh.

RES input reached approximately 5 GW (wind and solar energy units), while demand was limited to just over 6 GW, enabling authorities to withdraw from the market lignite and gas-fired power stations.

On the same day, when RES input eventually fell and gas-fired power station contributions were brought back into the grid, the electricity price level rebounded to 283 euros per MWh by the evening.

The wholesale electricity price averaged 168.22 euros per MWh on Sunday, a 27 percent reduction compared to Saturday.

Similar price fluctuations were also recorded in other parts of Europe over the weekend. Negative prices were recorded in Germany and the Netherlands, at -2.49 euros per MWh, and they were even lower in Belgium, at -17.97 euros per MWh. These negative prices essentially mean that consumers are paid to use electricity.

Today, electricity market conditions are back to the ongoing energy crisis’ normal levels. The average wholesale electricity price is at 243.08 euros per MWh, up 44.5 percent compared to yesterday, despite RES input representing 51.1 percent of the energy mix.

JinkoSolar delivers over 500,000 modules for Kozani project, one of Europe’s biggest

JinkoSolar, one of the largest and most innovative solar module manufacturers in the world, has announced that it has delivered its bifacial modules to a 204-MW Solar Power Plant in Kozani, northern Greece.

The Kozani project consists of 18 project sites adding up to a total capacity of 204 MW. JinkoSolar has delivered more than 500,000 bifacial modules to juwi Hellas Renewable Energy Sources S.A.

The Kozani project, inaugurated yesterday, will deliver up to 320 million kilowatt-hours per annum when fully ramped up, supplying electricity to more than 75,000 households. The Kozani project is one of the largest bifacial projects ever built in Europe.

Mr. Frank Niendorf, General Manager of JinkoSolar Europe, commented: “We are delighted that juwi Hellas, one of the leading renewable energy specialists globally, has once again placed their trust in the superior quality and reliable performance of our solar modules for this impressive mega project in Greece. The Kozani project has become Europe’s benchmark for renewable energy. It is also one of the largest bifacial projects ever built in Europe, and JinkoSolar is very proud to be a part of such an important milestone for our industry.”

Mr. Dimitris Varlamis, JinkoSolar Head of Sales for South Eastern Europe, commented: “We are very proud to contribute to this emblematic project which is by far the biggest solar energy project in Greece and one of the largest project in Europe featuring our high-performance bifacial modules. We would like to thank juwi Hellas, and HELPE for their trust in JinkoSolar and we look forward to a long-term strategic partnership with the juwi team.”

 

ELPE to seek Ionian Sea partner, Crete delayed by case

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE has successfully completed seismic surveys at offshore blocks in the Ionian Sea and the Gulf of Kyparissia, west of the Peloponnese, for which the company holds 100 percent exploration and exploitation rights, and once results have emerged, will seek to establish partnerships for these ventures, CEO Andreas Siamisiis noted yesterday.

The chief executive, who was speaking at ELPE’s official launch for a solar energy farm in Kozani, northern Greece, one of Europe’s biggest, informed that the group’s hydrocarbon exploration activities for potential natural gas deposits, part of the group portfolio, will focus on offshore areas and be accelerated.

The results of data collected through seismic surveys at the Ionian Sea and Gulf of Kyparissia blocks will now be studied, while 3D seismic data will also be collected, a procedure to require a further 12 months.

As for ELPE’s interests at Cretan offshore blocks, for which the company has formed a consortium with France’s Total and America’s ExxonMobil, surveys conducted have shown similarities with areas in the eastern Mediterranean, where major hydrocarbon discoveries have been made.

ELPE’s chief executive attributed delays affecting exploration work at the Cretan blocks to a legal case filed with the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, targeting the venture’s environmental impact study. No serious company would continue exploring with such a legal case pending, Siamisiis noted.

 

 

Updated NECP raises RES capacity target to 25 GW by 2030

The updated National Energy and Climate Plan is expected to increase the country’s RES installation target for 2030 to 25 GW, up from the existing edition’s 18.9 GW.

The NECP’s greater ambition for increased RES installations and a bigger green-energy share of the country’s energy mix is based on the Fit for 55 agreement reached by the EU last April for a carbon emissions reduction of at least 55 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, revised from the previous reduction target of 40 percent.

Given the latest developments concerning Russia’s war on Ukraine, the EU is now determined to achieve even faster RES development to greatly reduce its reliance on Russian gas imports long before 2030.

The Repower EU plan, recently designed for this purpose, is aiming for an average 20 percent increase in new green projects that would cut natural gas consumption by a further 3 bcm. The Repower EU plan has also raised green hydrogen targets.

Greece’s RES units operating in 2020 totaled 10.1 GW, a capacity that will need to be increased by a further 10 GW by 2030, if the Fit for 55 target is to be met. This ambitious target increases the urgency of the energy ministry’s plan for further RES project licensing simplification.

Network upgrades already planned more than cover the country’s ambitious green targets. Power grid operator IPTO estimates that planned transmission network upgrades will enable RES units with a total capacity of 28.5 GW to operate by 2030.

EU’s Fit for 55 revisions to include reduced gas use

The European Commission is preparing to present, in May, details of its Repower EU program, a strategy aiming to greatly reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian energy. Until now, the plan has been limited to objectives, without specifics on how these targets could be achieved.

Further revisions of the EU’s energy and climate policy – as presented in the recent Fit for 55 package, which set a target of a 55 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels – will be needed, through legislative revisions and directives.

The revisions could include greater tolerance for lignite and gas infrastructure, until recently treated strictly, as well as measures for an acceleration of RES and energy storage development.

As was pointed out at the recent energypress Power & Gas Forum by Pantelis Kapros, Professor of Energy Economics at the National Technical University of Athens, the EU’s energy policy, concurrently managing economic, energy security and environmental concerns, is now shifting towards greater emphasis on energy security as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the move’s wider repercussions.

Even so, the Fit for 55 objectives for 2030 are expected to be maintained, while RES targets may be raised to more ambitious levels.

The EU will also look to reduce natural gas consumption for electricity generation and heating through the use of biomethane quantities in excess of 35 billion cubic meters by 2030, green hydrogen quantities of 20 million tons by 2030, as well as energy storage system development, noted Professor Kapros, one of the architects of the EU’s energy policy.

The EU’s Fit for 55 package had originally planned for 164 bcm of Russian gas imports in 2025 and 131 bcm for 2030, but these quantities are now expected to be greatly reduced to 74 bcm and 33 bcm, respectively.

Energy storage unit payment based on RES feed-in premiums

The energy ministry is preparing a legislative revision to secure remuneration levels for energy storage facilities, deemed necessary to ensure sufficient earnings for such units and their sustainability as investments.

The energy-storage framework being prepared for the Greek market, regarded as innovative, resembles the feed-in premium system adopted for renewable energy units and will secure remuneration levels for energy storage facilities through competitive procedures.

Units that qualify for remuneration through the competitive procedures will be entitled to participate in all markets (day-ahead, intraday and balancing).

If earnings secured by energy storage units through this market participation are smaller than remuneration levels agreed to, the difference will be fully covered by a compensation amount stemming from the RES special account. On the contrary, if earnings exceed remuneration levels agreed to, then the operators of energy storage units will need to return excess sums to the RES special account.

The energy ministry’s legislative revision will also incorporate a framework for investment support to energy storage units, to be given access to 200 million euros from the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF).

 

PPC capable of boosting lignite extraction by 43%, utility tells

Power utility PPC has the capacity to increase its lignite extraction to as much as 15 million tons annually, from 10.5 million tons at present, for a 43 percent increase to full-capacity lignite-fired generation, in the event of a Russian disruption of natural gas supply to Europe, according to an updated annual mining plan submitted by the utility to the energy ministry.

Even so, this increased production could still not be enough to fill the enormous gap that would be left by a Russian cut in natural gas supply.

The country’s lignite-fired electricity generation can increase to 6.5 TWh annually from the present plan of 4.5 TWh, according to the utility plan. However, PPC would need to hasten the development of a series of projects to boost productivity at its lignite mines and increase the amounts of lignite stocks at the yards of its seven lignite-fired power stations – five Agios Dimitrios units, as well as Meliti and Megalopoli.

The annual plan’s objective is to increase lignite stocks at each of the five Agios Dimitrios facilities to 1.75 million tons from 1.2 million, while also increasing the amount at Meliti to 300,000 tons from 220,000 tons this month, as well as the lignite stock at Megalopoli to 500,000 tons from 270,000 tons.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to comment on Greece’s lignite alternative, given the Russian threat, at the official launch, tomorrow, of a major-scale solar energy farm developed by Hellenic Petroleum ELPE at Livera, close to Kozani, northern Greece. Offering a 204-MW capacity, this facility is one of Europe’s biggest.

RES and energy storage licenses in less than 2 years from 5 at present

The time needed by investors to secure RES project and energy storage licenses will be reduced to less than two years, from five at present, according to a RES licensing simplification draft bill prepared by the energy ministry, expected to be announced within the next few days.

Through the simplified licensing procedure, the ministry will aim to facilitate RES licenses representing a total capacity of 12,000 MW and investments estimated at 10 billion euros by 2030.

The ministry’s legislative initiative will be carried out over two stages, the first concerning RES and energy storage project licenses, and the second offshore wind farms.

The revisions will enable investors to push ahead with licensing steps simultaneously rather than successively, as is the case at present.

Also, the procedure will include criteria filtering out prospective RES applicants deemed to not be genuinely interested in developing projects.

 

 

 

 

Fast-track transmission project licensing to slash time needed

The energy ministry is preparing a new set of rules for fast-track licensing of grid transmission projects, the aim being to slash, by 75 percent, the overall time required for issuance of licenses concerning transmission projects deemed essential for the updated National Energy and Climate Plan, sources have informed.

The revisions, adopting proposals forwarded by power grid operator IPTO, promise to accelerate and simplify licensing procedures for grid transmission projects that have remained complex and too long for many decades. Under the current rules, licenses take as long as five years to be issued.

Environmental permits, just part of the overall licensing procedure, take at least 24 months to be completed. This time period is expected to be restricted to a maximum of seven months once the licensing procedure for grid transmission projects is simplified.

Also, the time needed for related building permits will be reduced from six months, at present, to just 15 days, sources informed.

The new licensing framework for grid transmission projects will serve as an integral part of the national plan for RES management, IPTO sources noted.

 

Decarbonization fund €4bn boost for island energy transition

The energy transition plan concerning the Greek islands could receive as much as 4 billion euros in support from the decarbonization fund, authorities participating at an event staged by HAEE, the Hellenic Association for Energy Economics, have indicated.

The HAEE event, titled “Green Transition Cost and Island Decarbonization”, involved the participation of leading authorities, including the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou.

A change in the energy production model of islands is fundamental for the decarbonization effort concerning the islands, Sdoukou pointed out.

The government is aiming to incorporate as many RES facilities as possible on islands, either in the form of hybrid projects with energy storage or as independent solar and wind energy units, wherever grid interconnections are available, Sdoukou told the event.

Kostas Andriosopoulos, professor at the Audencia Business School and CEO of Akuo Energy Greece, estimated that funds to be made available from the decarbonization fund for the island energy transition may reach 4 billion euros, beginning with 2 billion euros, based on current emission right prices.

Operators coordinate for swifter RES connection terms

Power grid operator IPTO and distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO have begun coordinating by exchanging information on available grid transmission and distribution network capacities, respectively, in an effort to accelerate connection terms offered to RES facilities.

At present, IPTO and DEDDIE/HEDNO are struggling to keep up with a flood of applications submitted by RES investors for connection terms.

The two operators have formed a working group which has already held one session involving the participation of RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

It was agreed that the two operators need to establish better pictures of available capacities concerning the grid transmission and distribution networks.

Taking into account all grid expansion projects included in the ten-year investment plans of IPTO and DEDDIE/HEDNO, as well as national and transboundary grid interconnection plans, plus anticipated energy storage projects, the country’s RES capacity will reach a maximum of 28.5 GW in 2030. RES investor applications submitted so far are estimated to already exceed this sum by 10 GW.

Sweden’s OX2 buys 500-MW RES portfolio, eyeing further moves

Swedish company OX2 has acquired wind and solar energy projects in Greece with a total capacity of 500 MW, a development that serves as a reminder of the steadily growing interest of European and international investors in the country’s RES market.

OX2 already possesses an extensive past in the Greek market, having collaborated with local companies to develop RES projects offering a total capacity in excess of 4 GW, the Swedish company has pointed out.

Further details on the deal’s seller, or sellers, have not been disclosed, but it is understood OX2’s acquisition concerns projects that are currently at different stages of development in various parts of Greece.

The Swedish company is preparing to assemble a team in Greece comprised of personnel from the Greek market as well as employees already with the company, sources have informed energypress.

OX2 plans to also examine further investment opportunities in the Greek market and is eyeing offshore wind farm, energy storage and hydrogen-related investments, a top-ranked company official has told energypress.

“Greece is a very interesting market for OX2. Approximately 20 percent of energy consumed is imported and 15TWh of lignite-fired power will be replaced by 2028,” noted Paul Stormoen, chief executive officer at OX2. “The country has strong sources, serious prospects for development of green energy projects, and plans to install over 5 GW in solar units and more than 3 GW in wind units by 2030. OX2 is aiming for a long-term presence and can accelerate the energy transition by utilizing its high expertise in the development of RES projects,” he continued.

Last year, OX2 formed subsidiaries in Romania and Italy and also developed a solar energy hub in Spain. The company is active in ten European markets.

 

Green power injection cuts as a result of network saturation

Green power injections into the grid will be cut by as much as five percent, when required for the system’s safe operation, as a result of the grid’s saturation, according to information obtained by energypress on an imminent legislative revision concerning non-guaranteed absorption of RES-based electricity production.

This revision will be included in a draft bill being prepared by the energy ministry for a second round of RES licensing simplification as well as framework for the development of energy storage facilities.

The ministry’s draft bill is expected to be forwarded for consultation within the next few days, most probably next week, before being submitted to parliament for ratification.

The RES injection cuts will concern the country’s entire grid, the objective being to create grid space for as many RES units as possible in the upgraded transmission network to be developed by power grid operator IPTO projects planned until 2030.

 

 

RES project applications over 2030 limit, halt considered

RES investor applications submitted to power grid operator IPTO for connection terms concerning wind and solar energy facilities already greatly exceed the grid’s planned capacity for 2030, by 10 GW, taking into account prospective grid infrastructure upgrades.

This excess capacity has prompted the energy ministry to consider suspending the submission of any new applications until authorities have found solutions to manage the accumulation of project applications already submitted.

IPTO has completed its assessment of applications concerning 2020 and has offered connection terms to successfully applicants.

The operator is now preparing to process applications lodged in 2021 and during the first quarter of 2022.

The current total capacity of RES projects, either already operating or which have received connection terms up until the end of 2020, is 19.6 GW.

Applications submitted in 2021 and so far in 2022, all of which need to be evaluated, represent a total capacity of 19 GW.

Greece’s updated National Energy and Climate Plan has projected an installed RES capacity of 25 GW by 2030.

Taking into account all grid expansion projects included in the ten-year investment plans of IPTO and DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator, as well as national and transboundary grid interconnection plans, plus anticipated energy storage projects, the country’s RES capacity will reach a maximum of 28.5 GW in 2030.

 

Greece skips Brussels’ RES hosting funding mechanism

Greece has opted to not express interest in a new RES funding mechanism prepared by the European Commission enabling EU members, as RES hosts, to receive funds provided by fellow member states for construction of RES projects in exchange for 80 percent of the nominal project capacities, which would be counted in climate-target figures of the countries financing the projects.

Member states faced a March 15 deadline to express interest in this RES funding mechanism.

Greece’s decision to not participate in this mechanism, for the time being, does not mean the country is not interested, highly ranked energy ministry officials have pointed out, adding that priority, at this early stage of the decade, needs to be given to the achievement of national objectives.

A clearer picture of the country’s RES sector development over the next few years will enable Greece to reach a more accurate decision on whether it should declare a capacity for this funding mechanism, and, if so, its quantity, the ministry officials indicated.

Also, Greece does not face financing problems for new RES capacity, which is essentially what this mechanism offers, the officials added.

EU RES synergies are becoming increasingly important as Europe strives to achieve more ambitious green energy targets by 2030, the European Commission has noted.

Brussels draft backs urgent gas storage refill for next winter

EU member state leaders are expected to back a European Commission draft calling for an immediate refill of gas storage facilities throughout the EU, in preparation for next winter, when they meet at a summit next week, scheduled for March 24 and 25.

“Refilling of gas storage across the Union should start now. Member States and the Commission will urgently coordinate measures necessary to ensure adequate levels of gas storage before the next winter”, notes a draft prepared for the imminent summit, Reuters has reported.

The European Commission will propose rules by next month requiring EU countries to collectively ensure gas stores are at least 90 percent full by October 1 each year. The EU’s current gas storage facilities are currently 26 percent full.

The European Commission plans to present, in May, a detailed roadmap to EU member states for a drastic reduction of Russian natural gas, oil and coal imports by 2027.

A preliminary plan announced last week includes measures such as an increase of LNG imports, as well as tripled wind and solar energy capacity, installed, in the EU by 2030.

 

 

Smaller, bigger solar energy investors face differing prospects

Smaller and major-scale solar energy investors face differing prospects amid RES investment opportunities offered by extremely higher wholesale electricity prices as these opportunities are being largely offset by higher equipment costs.

Sharply higher wholesale electricity prices have generated stronger investment opportunities for bigger RES investors, while, for smaller players, these prospects are being dampened by higher RES equipment costs, severely diminishing their more modest profit margins.

Demand for solar panels has surged around Europe in recent times, pushing up prices. The cost of solar panel mounting systems has also risen as a result of recent sanctions imposed on Russian steel exports, which have driven steel prices higher.

Solar panel prices had begun falling early in 2022 following a period of pandemic-related increases, but are now rising again with no price de-escalation seen in the short term, RES sector officials have projected.

 

RES producer certificate applications up in February

RES producer certificate applications rebounded in the February cycle to reach a total of 221 for a capacity of 3,196 MW, more than three times the capacity of the previous cycle, last October, whose slowdown was prompted by a new regulation requiring letters of guarantee worth 35,000 euros per MWh to accompany applications.

Net-metering and green PPA prospects are believed to be the main driving forces behind this elevated RES interest.

A total of 127 RES producer certificate applications representing a total capacity of 960 MW were submitted in October.

Of the February cycle’s 221 applications, 73 concern solar energy projects representing a total capacity of 1,833 MW. These applications include a number of exceptionally big projects, such as a 300-MW solar energy park in Thessaly, central Greece, as well as a 250-MW project in the mainland.

Wind energy projects followed with 70 applications totaling 1,118 MW. A prospective 315-MW wind energy farm planned for the Peloponnese is the biggest among these applications, followed by a 147.5-MW facility in Greece’s northeast.

Small-scale hydropower unit applications also figured prominently in the February cycle, reaching 66 for a total of 52.8 MW.

The February cycle also included 7 applications for hybrid RES units totaling 124 MW, as well as 5 applications for biomass units with a total capacity of 18.5 MW.

EC announcing plan to end EU dependence on Russian gas, oil

The European Commission will today present a new energy plan for the EU-27 that will aim to end Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas imports, amounting to roughly 155 billion cubic meters per year, as well as Russian oil.

Tools to be used for an end of this energy dependence will include LNG imports from the US and Qatar, further LNG terminal investments throughout Europe, accelerated development of RES projects, and emphasis on biogas and hydrogen.

A preliminary announcement of the EU’s new energy doctrine was made yesterday by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen following a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

She also spoke of the need to protect consumers, especially lower-income groups, as well as enterprises, against skyrocketing energy prices as the continent braces for even higher electricity prices next month.

If natural gas prices remain at levels of over 300 euros per MW/h, wholesale electricity prices in Greece could soon exceed 700 euros per MWh. The wholesale electricity price in Greece today is at 462.90 euros per MWh, up 52 percent in a day.

The energy market turbulence is expected to persist until at least early next year.

 

ELPE acquires 303-MW PV project, 16 MW of units in operation

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has acquired a new solar energy facility with a 303-MW capacity, currently at the licensing stage, and also added to the company portfolio 16 additional MW of RES units now in operation, both dynamic moves made as part of the energy group’s strategy for further RES growth.

More specifically, ELPE has just signed an agreement with RES development company FEN SOL for the 303-MW solar facility, consisting of two solar energy farms at Meliti, in northern Greece’s Florina area.

In its other big move, ELPE has acquired solar parks offering a total of 16 MW in the Viotia area, northwest of Athens, from Trina Solar. These projects, already functioning, have secured tariff levels at very satisfactory price levels.

In addition, ELPE is also moving ahead with licensing procedures for a further 20 MW and has completed its development of a major-scale solar energy park with a 204-MW capacity in Kozani, northern Greece. The company now expects power grid operator IPTO to soon connect this project to the grid.

The Kozani project’s addition to the grid will increase ELPE’s capacity of operating RES units to a total of nearly 300 MW, chief executive Andreas Siamisiis noted during a presentation of the group’s annual financial results.

Brussels to propose windfall profit support for consumers

The European Commission, fearing the energy crisis will be prolonged, is moving towards adopting a French EU presidency proposal that would offer energy consumers support through redistribution of windfall profits earned by electricity producers in the RES, hydropower, nuclear and lignite sectors.

The European Commission strategy also includes a call for regulatory intervention to contain retail electricity prices.

The Brussels proposal, contrasting the European Commission’s energy-crisis stance until now, is included in a preliminary plan that was due to be officially announced next month but has been leaked by the EURACTIV media outlet.

Spain has already taken similar-minded action by taxing excessive earnings generated by nuclear power stations and large-scale RES facilities.

Ministry continuing talks with Brussels for green PPAs

Energy ministry officials are intensifying talks with the European Commission for its approval of a support mechanism concerning green PPAs to be established between industrial producers and RES producers through green pools.

The energy ministry recently responded to an initial set of questions forwarded by Brussels and is expected to stage a teleconference with European Commission official within the next week or two for further clarification of issues concerning the green PPAs.

According to sources, the initiative’s main objective is not to bolster the industrial sector but to help transform industrial players into greener players and also facilitate the entry of new RES units into the country’s energy mix.

Officials are striving to announce the green pool plan this coming summer.

 

Ministry preparing non-auction tariff deadline extension for investors

Investors behind solar and wind energy projects planning to secure non-auction tariffs for their projects will be given extensions beyond an upcoming February 28 deadline, based on a legislative revision being prepared by the energy ministry for ratification, energypress sources have informed.

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas has decided to extended the non-auction tariff deadline for investors in acknowledgment of major project development delays prompted by supply chain disruptions on a worldwide scale, as well as construction issues that were faced by investors following problems caused by a recent extreme weather system that severely affected the country’s ability to operate.

However, the deadline extension to be granted to investors through the upcoming revision is not expected to be extensive. The energy ministry has been contemplating granting a one-month extension, but a greater time period is now considered highly likely.