Subsidy program for PV net metering systems in January

The energy ministry is working towards launching, in January, a subsidy program for small-scale solar energy systems to be installed by households, farmers and small-sized enterprises for net-metering purposes as a means of reducing their energy costs.

This subsidy program was announced by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at September’s annual Thessaloniki International Fair.

It is expected to offer subsidies for solar energy panel installations to at least 100,000 households, 75,000 small enterprises and 75,000 farmers.

The subsidy funds to be provided for households and farmers are expected to stem from the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) and the REPowerEU program, introduced by the European Commission to reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian energy sources. The government is expected to provide subsidies for small businesses through the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

The initiative is seen subsidizing up to 60 percent of solar energy system installations combining energy storage. Subsidies for simpler systems are expected to cover at least 30 percent of their cost.

Subsidies to cover 40-60% cost of net-metering solar panels

The government plans to offer a subsidy package covering between 40 and 60 percent of investment costs for approximately 250,000 roof-mounted solar panels installed for net metering purposes by households, farmers and small businesses.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the government’s plan over the weekend at the ongoing Thessaloniki International Fair.

The overall capacity of small-scale solar energy panels to be installed through this support program will reach 2.5 GW, while a 10-KW limit will be set for each installation, energypress sources have informed.

Some beneficiaries with less energy needs will undoubtedly opt for smaller solar panels, meaning the number of parties eligible for subsidy support will rise.

The program’s funds for households and farmers will stem from the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) as well as the REPower EU action plan, designed to rapidly reduce European dependence on Russian fossil fuels and accelerate the green transition.

Small businesses will be included in this subsidy support program with corresponding amounts from the development fund.

 

Brussels report highlights EU’s alarming energy cost increase

The cost of wholesale electricity in the EU rose by over 400 percent in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the equivalent period a year earlier, while gas imports during this period cost the EU a total of 78 billion euros, of which 27 billion euros concerned Russian natural gas quantities, a report published by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy has shown.

Households and businesses across the continent have faced unprecedented natural gas cost increases following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Consequently, the TTF index skyrocketed to peak at 212 euros per MWh on March 7.

The EU adopted a series of sanctions primarily concerning the energy sector as a result of the Russian attack, the report noted. Also, in May, the EU approved its REPower EU plan, designed to gradually end Europe’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels, bolster the continent’s energy security, and support the green-energy transition.

Imports of Russian gas fell by 71 percent via Belarus and 41 percent via Ukraine in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the equivalent period a year earlier. Gas inflow from the Nord Stream pipeline linking Russia with Germany fell by 60 percent in early June.

Europe’s wholesale electricity price averaged 201 euros per MWh in the first quarter of 2022, 281 percent higher than the equivalent period in 2021, the report noted.

Spain and Portugal registered the highest wholesale electricity price increases during this period, a 411 percent rise, followed by Greece (343%) and France (336%), the report noted.

Further support funds sought, higher energy prices feared

The government is frantically searching for additional funds to keep supporting its energy subsidies program, fearing a further reduction in Russian gas and oil supplies to Europe in autumn and even higher fuel, natural gas and electricity prices.

Athens’ current support package for households and businesses, worth 3.2 billion euros, of which 1.1 billion has been drawn from the budget, will not suffice should energy prices continue rising.

The government is looking to make the most of all available European funding programs, such as the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), and REPowerEU, the recent plan established by the European Commission to end the EU’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels.

Athens is examining whether support from these sources, combined with national budget money, would be enough to offer consumers ongoing protection from further energy price rises.

According to a worst-case scenario, the country’s overall electricity cost this year will reach between 14 and 15 billion euros, triple the pre-crisis and war level of 5 billion euros.

Also, every 10 euro rise in the price of natural gas decreases Greece’s GDP by 500 to 600 million euros and requires 300 to 400 billion euros in budget money for offsetting consequent electricity price increases.

DG Energy chief in Athens for talks on range of key projects

The European Commission’s Director-General for Energy Ditte Juul-Joergensen will be discussing a range of issues with the energy ministry’s leadership at a meeting in Athens today, including Greece’s role in the Balkans, western Balkan interconnection projects, natural gas reserves ahead of next winter, as well as Greece’s list of projects related to REPower EU, Europe’s plan for an end to the continent’s reliance on Russian energy sources.

Athens’ plan for wholesale electricity market intervention through a mechanism designed to subdue price levels is also expected to be discussed. It still needs to be approved by the European Commission, according to government sources.

The energy ministry is confident this mechanism will be approved by Brussels following a related agreement reached by its leadership during a visit to Brussels in late May. Market officials have remained uncertain.

Greece is expected to seek funding support estimated between 7 and 8 billion euros through the REPower EU initiative for a total of 14 projects supporting energy efficiency and security.

These projects include an upgrade of the gas grid; installation of a new floating storage unit at the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens; the Dioryga Gas FSRU in Corinth, west of Athens; an FSRU at Alexandroupoli, in Greece’s northeast; the Blue Med hydrogen project; the prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north; IGB and TAP capacity boosts; as well as Greek-Egyptian and Greek-Bulgarian electricity grid interconnections.

DNV ‘contributing’ to floating PV company ‘bankability’

By Michalis Mastorakis

An important step to enhance the maturity of the floating photovoltaic industry in Europe is being advanced by the independent energy expert and assurance provider, DNV.

This is starting with the implementation of two Joint industry Projects (JIP’s) which aim to create standards and guidelines for anchorage and mooring design as well as testing and certification of floats.

DNV intends to formulate a “roadmap” for potential investors and operators of floating photovoltaics, developing for the first time in the world, a specific certification and verification framework in terms of design, development and operation of floating photovoltaics.

The Norwegian classification society already collaborated with 24 sector companies as part of a previous JIP effort, that led to the publication of DNV-RP-0584. DNV has also invited others to participate in the two new JIPs, Michele Tagliapietra, solar energy advisor and DNV’s Global Practice Lead for Floating Solar, has told energypress.

As Tagliapietra explained speaking to energypress, there is a significant gap and this affects the “bankability” of investors, resulting in significant obstacles to the maturation and implementation of projects in the industry and even at a time, as he characteristically stated, that the technology of floating photovoltaics is booming and has significant investment interest in major markets on the European continent.

DNV’s first new Joint Industry Project for this sector aims to share and verify optimal practices concerning floating photovoltaic anchoring and mooring design. Taking into account the sector’s experience, so far, and existing concepts, this effort, involving participants from across the entire floating photovoltaics domain, will produce a design standard tackling a range of challenges that are expected to arise during design and installation.

The second new Joint Industry Project, concerning float design, testing and qualification – it is based on DNV’s knowhow and network – will aim to establish an adequate standard for design, testing and certification of floating PVs. This step promises to introduce clearer, swifter and lower-cost procedures.

Specific technology for specific conditions

Evaluating the Group’s overall experience in the floating photovoltaic industry, the senior DNV executive stated that the “key” to the successful development of the projects is the combination of “appropriate technology in the right place”, emphasizing that the project design must take into account the geographical, weather and technical conditions of each place selected for a project.

Determining the level of “maturity” of this technology, he said that for the time being it remains immature for application on the high seas, without however being ruled out in the near future, given that this technology is experiencing rapid development. Today such projects are mainly found in lakes and water basins within the mainland.

The case for Greece

Of particular interest is the case for Greece, where DNV has a long experience in the industry. According to Mr. Tagliapietra, Greece has a comparative advantage with the sea areas near the coastline that are considered particularly favourable to host such projects. “The Greek coastal region may be an optimal choice solution for the installation of floating photovoltaics,” he said.

The European trend

While the Netherlands is at the forefront for installed capacity in Europe, countries like Portugal, Spain, Italy, France and Germany are currently starting to implement floating solar specific regulations and initiatives to promote the sector.

Overall, European countries are becoming more favorable to the development of floating photovoltaics, a stance that puts this technology in good stead as a sustainable solution for energy sufficiency and supply within the framework of the European Commission’s new REPowerEU plan.

DNV forecasts

The geographical potential for floating photovoltaics installation is estimated at 4 TW by the World Bank. Following a hesitant start, the global floating PV market grew to 3 GW in installed capacity in 2021 and, according to DNV, should reach between 7 and 11 GW in installed capacity by 2025, a surge in development expected from 2023 onwards.

 

Offshore wind farm financing support to follow framework

The energy ministry, pressing ahead to finalize the legal framework for offshore wind farms, is concurrently working on a plan to secure financial support for the country’s first wave of investments in this sector.

The financial support plan is intended to cover both fixed-bottom and floating wind farm projects, while prospective funds are anticipated from the REPowerEU initiative as well as the island decarbonization fund, energypress sources have informed.

Authorities are looking to include a fixed-bottom offshore wind farm project that has already secured production permits as a pilot project linked to the REPowerEU plan.

Fixed-bottom offshore wind farm projects have already been tried and tested abroad, meaning they do not represent a financing risk in terms of technology and feasibility.

On the contrary, floating offshore wind farms are a technology making its first steps, globally. Any investment uncertainty will need to be eliminated before financing for this technology can go ahead.

Key energy infrastructure included in new recovery fund

The government, intending to make the most of its favourable geographic location for diversified natural gas supply in the wider region, plans to seek EU funding support, through the REPowerEU package, for a series of natural gas and electricity grid projects awaiting development.

These projects are planned to be included in the country’s revised EU Recovery and Resilience Facility, to be submitted to by the government to the European Commission by early July.

The investments will aim to end Greece’s reliance on Russian energy sources by 2027, as planned by the REPowerEU package.

Besides the addition of natural gas infrastructure, absent from Greece’s existing recovery plan as a result of the European Commission’s unfavorable view on funding support for projects concerning natural gas, seen as a transitional energy source towards zero emissions, the country’s revised plan will also seek to incorporate electricity transmission projects that will contribute to the reinforcement of renewable energy sources in Europe’s energy mix.

The government is believed to have already prepared its catalogue of electricity and natural gas infrastructure project proposals to seek funding through the REPowerEU initiative.

An electricity grid interconnection project to link the Greek and Egyptian systems and transmit green energy, exclusively, to Greece and the EU has been included in the Greek catalogue, sources informed.

An additional central gas pipeline, to run 650 km from Komotini, northeastern Greece, to Elefsina’s Patima area, west of Athens, has also been included in the Greek catalogue, following a request by DESFA, the gas grid operator.

New REPowerEU plan may boost recovery fund by €2bn

The EU’s revised energy sector targets for 2030 – 740 GW in solar energy output by 2030, a RES sector energy-mix share of 45 percent, up from the previous target of 40 percent, and energy savings of 13 percent, up from a 9 percent increase – raise the standards for member states.

The EU is pouring an additional 210 billion euros into the effort. The share of this total to be made available to Greece remains to be seen.

According to initial calculations by government officials possessing knowledge on this subject, Greece should be entitled to an additional 2 billion euros for the country’s recovery and resilience plan.

If so, this amount will increase the value of Greece’s recovery and resilience plan to 34 billion euros, from 32 billion euros at present.

Of this additional two billion-euro amount, for RES and energy savings projects, over one billion euros could be offered to investors in the form of low-interest loans, while approximately 700 million euros, or possibly less, may be offered as subsidies.

 

 

REPowerEU details unveiled, RES acceleration a key aspect

The European Commission has unveiled details of its REPowerEU plan, a road map intended to eliminate Europe’s reliance on Russian energy sources.

Brussels’ road map will aim to eliminate Russian gas, oil and coal imports into the EU by 2027. The renewable energy sector is planned to play a key role in this effort. The European Commission has increased the RES sector’s energy-mix target to 45 percent, up from 40 percent, by 2030 and will seek to accelerate RES investments.

Solar energy utilization will be a pivotal factor of this strategy, to be promoted through the European Solar Rooftop Initiative, part of the REPowerEU plan.

The wider plan will push for an energy savings increase of 13 percent by 2030, up from the present objective aiming for a 9 percent increase in savings.

The European Commission estimates investments totaling 210 billion euros will need to be made by 2027, as an addition to the previous Fit for 55 plan, which set a target for a 55 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

Energy ministry officials in Sofia for EU’s first regional energy platform

A first regional taskforce for cooperation between EU member states on energy matters, as part of the EU’s Energy Purchase Platform, is scheduled to meet in Sofia tomorrow, as announced earlier this week by European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson.

The regional taskforce will concentrate on the year ahead and provide specific regional expertise and know-how to develop and implement the REPowerEU action plan to reduce dependency on Russian fossil fuels, fill storage ahead of next winter and further accelerate the decarbonization of the energy sector.

This meeting comes following Russia’s recent decision to disrupt natural gas supply to Bulgaria as well as Poland.

The Bulgarian government has also organized a coinciding meeting of regional ministers. Greece’s energy minister Kostas Skrekas (photo) and the ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou will participate.

The two Greek government officials will be visiting Sofia on the heels of yesterday’s official launch of work on the Alexandroupoli FSRU, an LNG terminal project intended to diversify the energy sources of Greece and the wider region. Yesterday’s official ceremony was attended by heads of state representing Greece, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Serbia.

During their visit to Sofia, the Greek energy ministry’s two officials are also expected to take part in a bilateral meeting with Bulgarian energy minister Alexander Nikolov.

This session’s agenda will examine the progress of the IGB gas pipeline, set to be completed and launched in July, and an electricity grid interconnection upgrade between the two countries, whose completion is expected by the end of this year.

The IGB gas pipeline, promising to contribute to the EU’s effort for drastically reduced dependency on Russian energy sources, will offer a second interconnection between Greece and Bulgaria, in addition to the nearby Sidirokastro link.

 

 

REPower EU plan overambitious, ‘an objective, not a specific strategy’

The European Commission’s REPower EU transition plan, aiming to greatly reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian gas, is overambitious and should be regarded as an objective rather than a set of specific measures, officials taking part in the recent annual Gas Infrastructure Europe conference, an authoritative sector event, have concluded.

The calculations offered by the REPower EU plan are incorrect, Torben Brabo, GIE’s president, has told the Euractive agency, adding that a closer look at the figures concerning Russian natural gas supply, LNG supply, as well as biomethane projections, renders the European plan as overambitious.

LNG availability and purchase projections in the REPower EU plan are possibly too high, the GIE president stressed.

Officials linked with LNG infrastructure told the GIE conference that the LNG market’s actual conditions will prevent the EU plan’s lofty targets from being achieved. Anything beyond 50 percent of the target set will be difficult to attain, these officials contended.

American current gas liquefaction capacity does not suffice for supply of an additional 15 bcm of LNG to Europe, as specified in the EU plan, officials taking part in the GIE conference contended.

Qatar and other LNG exporters in the Middle East have already committed amounts to non-EU buyers, while the REPower EU plan’s 35-bcm biomethane objective appears to be too optimistic, they added.

 

 

 

 

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.

IGB nearing completion, Bulgarian PM to visit Komotini

The Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas pipeline, whose construction is expected to be completed by mid-April, promises to contribute to the EU’s effort for drastically reduced reliance on Russian gas.

The IGB gas pipeline, a 50-50 joint venture of the ICGB consortium, involving Greek-Italian company IGI Poseidon (DEPA and Edison) and Bulgaria’s BEH, will run from Komotini, northeastern Greece, to Stara Zagora in Bulgaria and be linked with the TAP pipeline that runs across northern Greece for supply of Azerbaijaini gas to the region.

The IGB pipeline will offer a second interconnection between Greece and Bulgaria, in addition to the nearby Sidirokastro link.

Last week, EU officials announced a new energy strategy, Repower EU, aiming to reduce Russian gas imports to the continent by two-thirds. The establishment of alternative energy supply routes into Europe is now a priority on the Brussels agenda.

Bulgarian prime minister Kiril Petkov is scheduled to visit the IGB project contactor AVAX’s construction site in Komotini this Friday. His Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis has been forced to miss the occasion after being sidelined by the Covid-19 virus. Energy minister Kostas Skrekas will fill in.

East Med regains attention as EU reshapes gas strategy

The energy crisis, skyrocketing natural gas prices, and the EU’s new energy policy, aiming to end the continent’s reliance on Russian gas as soon as possible, are developments creating bigger prospects for the East Med pipeline, whose development could upgrade Greece’s role in the energy sector as well as geopolitically.

Importantly, higher gas prices have boosted the feasibility of the East Med pipeline project, a prospective 2,000-km pipeline planned to carry natural gas to Europe via Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Italy, as was supported yesterday by Edison CEO Nicola Monti.

The US withdrew its support for the project in January, citing technical and commercial sustainability concerns. Many analysts have forecast gas price levels will remain elevated for an extended period, which could make East Med a profitable investment for companies that construct and operate the pipeline.

Earlier this week, the European Commission announced its ambitious Repower EU roadmap, prioritizing the search for alternative natural gas sources and supply routes as a means of ending the continent’s reliance on Russian gas.

East Mediterranean gas deposits are well positioned, close to European markets. It remains unclear as to whether it would be more beneficial to transport these gas quantities in the form of LNG or via the East Med pipeline.

Given the bolstered bargaining power of gas producers and LNG exporters, the EU could be better off pursuing a pipeline solution. Also, Shell’s forecast of an LNG shortage in international markets from 2025 onwards should be kept in mind.

‘Repower EU’ plan aims for RES growth in place of Russian gas

Repower EU, the European Commission’s roadmap for ending the EU’s reliance on Russian natural gas, features a key role for renewable energy, now not only expected to reduce fossil fuel-based electricity generation but to also significantly contribute to green hydrogen production, which is planned to replace natural gas in a wide range of uses.

The European Commission intends, through Repower EU, to accelerate the EU’s existing Fit for 55 plan, aiming for a 55 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Green electricity generation units incorporated into this framework are expected to offer annual natural gas consumption savings of 170 bcm.

Brussels plans to boost the EU’s installed wind and solar facilities by 80 GW to support green hydrogen production.

“Twenty million tons of hydrogen can replace 50 bcm of Russian natural gas,” noted Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President of the European Commission for the European Green Deal, during the presentation of the Repower EU roadmap.

Licensing procedures will need to be simplified for the development of new RES projects, the Repower EU plan stresses.