Green PPAs exchange platform, industrial subsidies in making

A Market Reform Plan being prepared by the government, to be submitted to the European Commission, includes provisions for the establishment of an energy exchange transaction platform concerning power purchase agreements (PPAs) between RES producers, as well as green aggregators, with suppliers and major-scale consumers.

The green PPAs, when concerning energy-intensive industrial enterprises, will receive state support, while a subsidy package for this category of agreements is also in the making, according to the plan.

Funds stemming from the recovery fund, the green fund as well as the RES special account will be used to fund the subsidy package, according to the government plan.

The aim of the effort is to ensure, in advance, the sale of prospective energy to be produced by new RES units, the intention being to  facilitate bank financing for their development given the fact that they will no longer be entitled to fixed tariffs, through auctions, over 20-year periods, as has been the case until now.

The plan is expected to result in lower-priced green energy for industrial consumers and also facilitate the development of new RES investments.

RES investors keen to talk PPAs with suppliers, industry

RES investors, especially from the solar energy field, but also wind energy, are engaging in talks with electricity supply companies and industrial enterprises to establish power purchase agreements (PPAs) for their future or under-construction projects as they anticipate a reduction in capacities at forthcoming RES auctions and even lower tariff prices than the low levels registered at the most recent auction.

This increased focus on PPAs highlights the major shift taking place in green-energy production as fixed tariffs, at auction, are gradually being phased out and the energy-exchange era is taking over.

RES producers need to establish contracts for the sale of their output in order to develop their projects as banks are not willing to finance such investments if potential earnings, at sufficient levels, have not been secured in advance.

No bilateral PPAs have yet been established, but the negotiations are continual and tenacious.

Potential RES producers have – since the previous RES auction – been willing to accept lower prices, proposing levels of as low as 40 euros per MWh attached with demands for shorter contracts, including five-year periods, sources have informed.

Market officials expect PPAs to start emerging over the next six months, noting that banks will play a decisive role in the price levels to be established as their project financing decisions will depend on profit margins presented by investors.

Brussels strategic reserve conditions discussed by RAE, IPTO, ministry

A new adequacy report and a new market reform plan, two conditions set by the European Commission for Greece’s adoption of a strategic reserve mechanism, have been discussed during an online meeting between RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, power grid operator IPTO, and the energy ministry.

The European Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, also Brussel’s Commissioner for Competition, during a preceding meeting, earlier last week, with energy minister Kostas Skrekas, called for a new adequacy report, in other words, an updated study proving the country’s need for a strategic reserve mechanism to cover actual grid needs.

The Brussels official also requested a new market reform plan detailing reforms designed to intensify competition in the wholesale electricity market.

Pantelis Kapros, Professor of Energy Economics at the National Technical University of Athens, has been asked to contribute to this new market reform plan, sources informed.

Besides the strategic reserve mechanism, RAE, IPTO and energy ministry officials also discussed details on prospective power purchase agreements (PPAs) between industrial enterprises and RES producers.

Vestager, at her meeting with Skrekas, the energy minister, recommended that Greece follow the examples of PPA models adopted by other EU member states, such as Spain.

PPC lignite electricity packages through futures market

State-controlled power utility PPC will soon begin offering rival suppliers lignite-generated electricity packages through the target model’s futures market, energy minister Kostas Skrekas and the European Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, also Brussel’s Commissioner for Competition, have agreed at a meeting yesterday.

Vestager, during the session, also made clear that the balancing cost of a mechanism concerning power purchase agreements (PPAs) between industrial producers and RES producers cannot be subsidized, but, instead, will need to be aligned with terms that apply for other EU member states.

Athens expects to submit its PPA plan to Brussels in June for approval.

Also next month, the government plans to submit its support framework proposal for energy storage units.

As for the country’s Strategic Reserve Mechanism, the European Commission’s deputy requested a new proposal from Athens, in line with new EU directives.

Under the Strategic Reserve Mechanism, PPC and all other electricity producers opting to withdraw units from the market for back-up services, would be remunerated for sidelining these units for periods determined by IPTO, the power grid operator.

Vestager stressed that the country’s Strategic Reserve Mechanism cannot coincide with the wider Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM).

The Brussels deputy also pointed out that a compensation request made by Greece for PPC’s redevelopment of lignite areas, part of the decarbonization effort, is legally baseless and cannot be pursued further.

Mechanisms, competition on Vestager agenda, here May 13

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas intends to present his case for the introduction of five support mechanisms encouraging energy-sector investments in Greece’s ongoing transition towards carbon neutrality to the European Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, also Brussel’s Commissioner for Competition, on the occasion of the official’s upcoming visit to Athens, scheduled for May 13.

Vestager will be in the Greek capital with an agenda featuring two pending competition issues concerning state-controlled power utility PPC.

Greece has faced charges for PPC’s monopoly of the country’s lignite sources but an agreement was reached to end the case by introducing a mechanism offering the power utility’s rivals access to lignite-generated electricity.

A market test for this mechanism was completed some time ago but failed to attract any real interest from rival suppliers.

The percentage of lignite-based electricity made available by PPC, initially set at 50 percent of total lignite-fired output and then lowered to 40 percent, is viewed, by third parties, as too small for any real gains.

The second PPC-related matter to be discussed during Vestager’s visit concerns a recently initiated investigation by Brussels seeking to determine whether the power utility has engaged in activities impeding market competition.

Private-sector investors are pushing for a capacity remuneration mechanism (CRM) in order to go ahead with the development of natural gas-fueled power stations, needed as Greece heads towards a post-lignite era. Skrekas, the energy minister, has repeatedly said a CRM will be launched in June.

The minister also supports a strategic reserve mechanism to compensate PPC’s lignite-fired power stations, still needed for back-up services but nowadays loss-incurring as a result of higher CO2 emission right costs.

In addition, the government is seeking compensation for the premature closure of PPC’s lignite-fired power stations and related mines, being phased out until 2023.

The minister also supports a support framework for hybrid units on non-interconnected islands combining RES electricity generation and energy storage.

Skrekas is also striving to establish a mechanism that would subsidize RES producers for power purchase agreements (PPAs) with energy-intensive industrial enterprises as well as suppliers selling to major-scale consumers.

 

Plan for subsidized lower-cost RES power to industry explored

The energy ministry is working on a transitional state-support mechanism that would offer industrial consumers lower-cost electricity stemming from renewable energy sources.

The European Commission offers conditional approval to state aid resulting in green-energy access for energy intensive consumers.

The energy ministry’s effort to establish such a mechanism comes following the exclusion, from a government list of proposals for EU recovery fund support, of a plan envisaging power purchase agreements (PPAs) between industrial enterprises and RES producers.

The ministry’s new effort is expected to be a variation of the plan not included in the government’s list of proposals seeking support through the European Commission’s Recovery and Resilience Facility.

The ministry acknowledges that, under present conditions, direct and mutually beneficial agreements between energy-intensive industrial consumers and RES producers cannot be achieved, unless such deals concern companies belonging to vertically integrated groups.

The plan being explored would ensure RES producers remuneration for a percentage of their output absorbed,  through the state-support mechanism, at fixed tariffs and extended periods.

RAE freezes RES producer certificate process, prompting investor unrest

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, without explanation, has stopped issuing RES producer certificates for older applications submitted between October, 2018 and December, 2019, the first round of applications examined through new rules.

The development has prompted strong reaction and unrest among investors, who, according to comments made to energypress, have paid their related fees but not received RES producer certificates, as stipulated by the new law.

This round of applications underwent processing through a new online system adopted by RAE. RES investors were requested, via email, to pay a related fee through the banking system.

Responding to questions on the issue, the IT company handling RAE’s new software said it was ordered by RAE to not proceed to the next stage, offering automated RES producer certificates.

The authority is concurrently examining older applications submitted until June, 2018; applications lodged between October, 2018 and December, 2019; and also preparing new terms for a forthcoming round of applications rescheduled for December, instead of October.

Officials to decide on next round of RES applications, RAE overloaded

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, overloaded with a backlog of RES production license applications ahead of a new round, will discuss its pressing situation with the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou at a meeting tomorrow.

The energy ministry will then decide on a date for the new round of applications. Officials have scheduled a next round for October, also stipulated by law. RES investors have expressed heightened interest during the approach.

RAE is concurrently examining older applications submitted until June, 2018, applications lodged between October, 2018 and December, 2019, and also preparing new terms for the forthcoming applications.

Older applications submitted until June, 2018 are being processed with support from software designed specifically for this purpose. These applications, numbering approximately 300, will also need to be examined, one by one, by the RAE board.

Similar software is also being used for the processing and examination of applications submitted between October, 2018 and December, 2019. Though this process is simpler, the numbers are bigger, tallying some 1,400.

RAE still has plenty of work to do to finalize a detailed proposal for producer certificate terms, intended to simplify the RES licensing procedure. Once ready, this proposal will need to be forwarded to the energy ministry, which, in turn, must sign a ministerial decision to bring the plan into effect.

Record-level interest by RES investors has been projected for the next round of applications. Two previous rounds that had been scheduled for March and June were not staged.

New rule soon for RES producer certificates, swifter licensing promised

A new rule concerning the introduction of RES producer certificates, to replace electricity production permits – a measure taken to help quicken licensing procedures – is expected to be announced within the next few days.

The replacement of RES electricity production permits with RES producer certificates, to be issued by RAE, represents the first step of a new RES licensing simplification framework presented by the energy ministry last April.

This plan will aim to drastically reduce the duration of RES licensing procedures to two years from the current average of seven years.

Procedures leading to new licensing rules have been slightly delayed by administration changes at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy. The authority was originally scheduled to deliver its plan on August 7 for immediate approval by the energy ministry.

This deadline date was set to offer RAE sufficient time to inform RES investors of the supporting documents required as a result of the new rules ahead of a planned early-October launch for application submissions.

RAE will issue RES producer certificates once applicants have presented proof of payment for related fees.

These fees have been set as follows: 3,000 euros per MW for capacities up to 1 MW; 2,500 euros for capacities between 1 MW and 10 MW; 2,000 euros per MW for 10 MW to 50 MW; 1,500 euros per MW for 50 MW to 100 MW; and 1,000 euros per MW for over 100 MW.

RAE aims for swifter processing of RES production license bids

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, faces the challenging task of processing the majority of more than 1,800 renewable energy production license applications currently accumulated at the authority by June, when a new and more efficient online application platform is set to be launched.

The unprocessed applications submitted by investors, all on paper and dating as far back as 2018, represent a total capacity in excess of 29 GW.

Under the new online system, prospective RES investors will no longer require to gain production licenses. Instead, they will apply for electricity producer certificates to be issued virtually automatically – if all requirements are met – through the online procedure.

New terms introduced for the upcoming online procedure will be used to appraise the old unprocessed applications, which include bids submitted during RAE’s December cycle.

RAE and the energy ministry are making a coordinated effort for the adoption, by the authority, of a fast-track procedure promising partial automation for the old applications through an online tool. But they will still need to be looked at one by one.

Authorities will manually check if basic requirements have been met, including payment of related fees – the amount is smaller for old applications – and spatial issues, a crucial factor.

 

RAE proposals for RES license simplification this month

A comprehensive package of proposals aiming to simplify licensing procedures in the RES sector is being prepared by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, in association with a legal consultant hired for the task.

These proposals, primarily concerning production licenses, are expected to be forwarded to the energy ministry within September.

The package will include proposals on rule changes, for which a ministerial decision is needed, as well as all the required legislative amendments.

The energy ministry is also working on a new legal framework concerning the installation of RES facilities, including spatial matters, to be delivered at a latter date.

RAE is striving to establish a digital RES production license issuing system that will enable investors to make online applications and track their progress.

Ultimately, the effort will aim for a reduction of the amount of time needed for RES production licenses to be issued – this can currently take as long as two-and-a-half years – as well as objectivity and transparency in the licensing procedure.