PPC green plan includes pumped storage, hydrogen, old generator use

Power utility PPC’s green-energy plan represents a key part of the company’s new business plan, along with a newly adopted customer-oriented approach and the digital transformation of production and distribution networks, deputy chief executive Giannis Kopanakis has pointed out during a speech at the 3rd Athens Investment Forum.

PPC’s green energy plan will be based on decarbonization, through a gradual withdrawal of the corporation’s lignite-fired power stations, and RES market penetration, the deputy noted.

Telethermal need coverage, development of large-scale solar energy farms at former lignite mines, and investments in energy storage, biomass, hydrogen and other new technologies all feature in the transition plan for lignite-dependent local economies, Kopanakis told the conference.

As for energy storage, PPC, besides batteries, also intends to develop pumped-storage systems at depleted lignite sites, appropriate for use as small-scale reservoirs.

The development of hydrogen producing facilities, also included in the PPC plan, will greatly depend on decisions concerning the fuel mix the corporation’s new Ptolemaida V power station will run on beyond 2028.

PPC also plans to utilize existing mechanical equipment of lignite-fired power stations either closed or headed for closure through use at other company facilities. Generators at old power stations are planned to be converted into condensers for grid voltage stability. Such systems will be needed as a result of the sharp increase in RES stations.

PPC’s investment plan, budgeted at 2.2 billion euros, is expected to create at least 900 permanent jobs as well as 3,000 temporary positions, for the construction of new projects, Kopanakis said.

 

Just Transition Fund excludes support for all gas projects

The EU’s Just Transition Fund, takings its cue from the European Investment Bank, has left natural gas projects of its funding list, noting it will not provide financial support for any investments concerning production, processing, distribution, storage or consumption of fossil fuels.

This exclusion creates issues for all the country’s natural gas projects, big or small, which authorities would have wanted to be supported by the Just Transition Fund.

They include a power utility PPC plan for a combined gas-fueled cooling, heat and power plant in Kardia, northern Greece, for coverage of the west Macedonia region’s telethermal needs, announced by the energy minister Costis Hatzidakis just days ago.

Other Greek project plans such as the Alexandroupoli FSRU and the development of an underground natural gas storage (UGS) facility at a virtually depleted offshore gas field south of Kavala have already been rejected by the EIB, unless hydrogen is incorporated into their plans to convert them into eco-friendly projects.

Natural gas, emitting approximately half the amount of CO2 produced by coal, also spills out methane, an undesired greenhouse gas.

Climate protection advocates insist new natural gas units could end up operating for decades, which would threaten the EU objective for zero emissions by 2050.

Fast-track procedures pursued for green island pilot project

Fast-track licensing procedures deviating current regulations will be pursued by authorities to transform Agios Efstatios, colloquially referred to as Ai Stratis, a small island in the northeast Aegean, into a green island with RES production systems covering 85 percent of local energy needs for a population of less than 300.

This renewable energy pilot project, organized and developed by KAPE, Center for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving (CRES), with the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou is expected to be completed in two years.

A RES hybrid station, telethermal unit converting excess RES output into thermal energy stored in hot water tanks, and a telethermal network fully covering local needs will all be developed.

 

PPC, decarbonizing, to hire consultant for worker exits

Power utility PPC has decided to soon hire a consultant to help shape a voluntary exit plan for employees working in the corporation’s lignite sector, set to gradually wind down as a result of the country’s decarbonization policy.

The consultant’s efforts will focus on the structure of the voluntary exit plan, its incentives, timing and extent within PPC’s workforce, not including employees eligible for retirement and workers to be transferred to other company units.

PPC plans to appoint a consultant in the immediate future with the objective of announcing the full details of its voluntary exit plan towards the end of this year.

PPC’s voluntary exit plan is intended to stretch over a number of years as a gradual process aligned with the decarbonization effort.

Severance payments, according to a company announcement made several months ago, currently total 22,000 euros per employee.

PPC’s objective is to reduce its workforce to 11,500 by 2024 from 15,300 at the end of 2019, according the company’s new business plan.

The Amynteo lignite-fired power station in Greece’s north is at the top of PPC’s withdrawal list, but it now remains unclear when this exit can take place.

Amynteo was originally scheduled to be withdrawn by April 30, tomorrow, but this exit may be postponed until next year. The completion, by local authorities, of regional projects securing telethermal services is a key factor. PPC is currently awaiting an update on these projects.

 

 

DESFA 10-year plan approved, virtual pipelines not included

Gas grid operator DESFA’s ten-year development plan has been approved by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, following a lengthy procedure, including consultation, that lasted several months.

A virtual pipeline proposal envisioning LNG supply to Crete, the north Aegean islands and the Dodecanese via tankers from the operator’s Revythoussa terminal just off Athens was left out of the approved plan. This is the ten-year plan’s only notable change compared to the draft forwarded for consultation.

LNG virtual pipelines serve as a substitute for conventional gas pipelines to enable the transport of LNG to points of use by sea, road or a combination of these.

The virtual pipeline proposal was removed from the DESFA ten-year plan following concerns expressed by consultation participants over higher surcharge costs for consumers that could have been imposed as part of the project’s cost recovery procedure.

The gas grid operator’s ten-year plan includes, for the first time, a natural gas outlet along the TAP route for the west Macedonia region in Greece’s north.

This TAP outlet, a project budgeted at 3 million euros and expected to be launched late in 2022, is intended to supply natural gas to the area’s provincial cities of Kozani, Ptolemaida, Florina and Amynteo for use at telethermal facilities as well as other energy needs in the post-lignite era.

The area’s telethermal system currently relies on energy produced by power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations, soon set for withdrawal as part of the country’s decarbonization effort.

 

Grid entry adjustment for PPC telethermal-linked lignite units

The energy ministry is set to satisfy a power utility PPC request prioritizing the grid entry of its lignite-based production for telethermal support without factoring in this input to calculations determining the system marginal price, or wholesale price.

This requested procedure already applies for PPC’s compulsory hydropower input and RES units.

Under the current system, state-controlled PPC is incurring losses when entering into the grid lignite-fired units for telethermal needs in the west Macedonia and Megalopoli regions. More specifically, the utility is being forced to not operate its gas-fueled power stations, despite their lower operating costs, prompted by the large reduction in gas prices.

PPC’s LNG purchases, as a result, are not being utilized.

The ministry is now preparing a legislative act for the adjustment. It could apply for a limited amount of time to cover remaining telethermal needs in the post-winter season.

Independent producers have reacted against the plan. Some producers appear determined to take the issue to the EU competition authority, noting priority rule exemptions can only be made for RES, Combined Cooling, Heat and Power (CCHP) and hydropower units.

 

Lignite end’s socioeconomic hurdles stressed in EC report

Greece will face socioeconomic challenges as a result of the government’s decision to gradually shut down the country’s lignite units in the northern region of west Macedonia and Megolopoli, in the Peloponnese, for a climate-neutral economy by 2050, the European Commission has noted in a report delivered as an addition to its post-bailout report on the Greek economy.

Some 27,000 jobs could be lost in both areas, according to the report, delivered as an additional chapter intended to serve as basis for talks between Brussels and Athens on Greece’s transition towards a lignite-free era.

The two sides are already negotiating funding details from the Just Transition Fund, expected to financially support a new growth plan for west Macedonia and Megolopoli between 2021 and 2027.

Also, the Greek government has assembled an interministerial committee tasked with shaping a post-lignite plan for the west Macedonia and Megolopoli areas, both lignite-dependent local economies. The committee will deliver a plan by June, according to the energy ministry.

In its latest report, Brussels highlights the significance of lignite for the local economy and community of west Macedonia, whose population numbers 280,000, especially Kozani, representing more than half this figure with a population of 150,000.

“The [country’s] biggest mines and most lignite-fired power stations are located in this area. Lignite-based electricity generation is its most significant economic sector, representing over one-third of the area’s GDP,” the report notes.

An estimated 5,500 jobs at the lignite mines and power stations are directly threatened, while a further 20,000 jobs are indirectly threatened, the report’s authors added.

The west Macedonia region is already burdened by one of the highest unemployment rates (31% according to 2016 data) of all the EU’s lignite areas, the report notes. The region’s GDP per capita fell from 86 percent to 59 percent of the EU average between 2009 and 2017, it adds.

Over 100,000 residents are linked to telethermal systems for lignite power station-based domestic heating, the report also highlights. The replacement of lignite units in the area is one of the challenges that must be dealth with, it adds.

As for Megalopoli, the lignite sector is by far the most significant economic activity in this Peloponnesian region of 6,000 residents, the report notes. Some 1,600 jobs are at risk of being lost here, it adds, which takes the overall tally of jobs on the line, including in west Macedonia, to just over 27,000.

 

 

RES interest high in September, applications total 2.1 GW

Investor interest for the development of new RES units, especially solar energy projects, as well as wind energy farms, remained high in September.

A total of 114 applications representing an overall capacity of 2,093 MW were submitted to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, during the month.

Solar energy project applications represent the bulk of this interest, numbering 82 for a capacity at 1,642 MW, compared to 406 MW for wind energy applications.

A smaller number of applications concerning small-scale hydropower projects totaling 10 MW were also submitted in September. The authority also received one application for a 2-MW biomass unit, three applications for hybrid projects on Lesvos totaling 14 MW, and one bid for a 20-MW telethermal project in Megalopoli.

Cantreva led the way with solar energy project applications totaling 413 MW. Terna Energy submitted solar project applications representing an overall capacity of approximately 372 MW.

Sizeable moves were also made by Portugal’s EDPR, submitting 185 MW in solar energy project applications and 90 MW for wind energy installations, as well as Germany’s ABO, which applied for solar energy projects totaling 107 MW.

Other noteworthy applications were forwarded by Maximus Terra (106 MW, solar), SPDGR (95 MW, solar), Iliothema (70 MW, solar) and Erimia (114 MW, wind).