Electricity supplier switching by consumers up 89% in 2019

Consumers switching electricity suppliers increased sharply by 89 percent in 2019, a report by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has shown.

A total of 576,436 consumers, 8.5 percent of the 6,783,075 consumers in total, switched suppliers in 2019, up from 4.51 percent in 2018, the report showed.

This sharp rise in consumer switches was attributed to growing consumer confidence in independent electricity suppliers as well as the effectiveness of discounts and various other offers made available by these suppliers to attract customers. Put simply, competition in the Greek electricity market appears to be intensifying.

Household electricity consumers showed the greatest degree of mobility, followed by mid and high-voltage consumers, or businesses and industrial consumers, the RAE report observed.

In the mid-voltage category, 834 business and industrial consumers of 9,071 in total, or 9.19 percent, switched electricity suppliers in 2019, according to the report.

Despite the increased customer mobility, power utility PPC remained dominant in 2019, supplying electricity to 5,694,627 consumers, or 83.95 percent of the 6,783,075 in total, the report showed. In terms of consumption, PPC held a 71.13 percent share, supplying 27.7 million MWh last year.

Independent supplier Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, was ranked second in terms of total number of customers in 2019, supplying to 181,232 customers, the report noted.

Elpedison was ranked third with 171,143 customers, followed by Heron (140,812), Watt & Volt (127,364), Zenith (73,968), Volton (69,688), NRG (52,961), Fysiko Aerio (39,881), Volterra (35,748) and KEN (33,997).

A total of 24 independent suppliers are active in Greece’s electricity market.

Vestas reinforces dominance with new deals, including 54-MW order

Vestas, a leading global partner for sustainable energy solutions, has further strengthened its leadership position in Greece with new orders  for wind projects placed by Volterra and Iberdrola, Vestas has announced.

Volterra has placed a 54-MW order for 15 V117-3.45 MW wind turbines delivered in 3.6 MW Power Optimised Mode for two wind parks in the Viotia region, northwest of Athens, according to a Vestas announcement.

Underlining Vestas’ ability to support customers in securing wind diverse energy projects, the order includes both the Kastro-Likovouni wind park derived from Greece’s feed-in premium system and the Ampelia wind park awarded at the country’s second renewables auction held in December 2018, Vestas informed.

“This order showcases the extent of the capabilities we offer to our customers as it covers projects derived from different energy schemes. Our vast experience, strong customer knowledge and leading technological solutions make Vestas the wind energy leader globally as well as in Greece. We are very glad to continue our very successful collaboration with Volterra”, said Marios Zangas, Head of Vestas Hellas.

Turbine delivery is planned for the second and third quarters of 2020 and commissioning for the second half of 2020.

Furthermore, Vestas has also won a 16-MW auction-derived order from Iberdrola for the Pyrgari wind park located in Viotia, the company  announced.

“We are very proud to have helped Iberdrola win this project and it underlines how our local experience and technology leadership enables us to successfully support our customers in the Greek auctions. We
believe that the project will benefit from the V150-4.2 MW turbine’s extremely competitive Levelised Cost of Energy and its perfect fit with the site’s wind conditions”
, Zangas, the Vestas Hellas chief, noted.

In other company news, Vestas has also won an order for an 88-MW wind park in Greece with a 20-year Active Output Management 4000 (AOM 4000) service agreement, it announced. Other details remain undisclosed.

For this order, Vestas has developed a solution that includes the supply and installation of 21 V136-4.2 MW turbines equipped with Vestas Anti-Icing System to optimize performance at the site’s specific
climatic conditions, the company noted, adding the solution will minimize the risk of icing on the turbine blades, maximizing energy production in cold climate conditions.

These agreements lift the company’s total orders in Greece to over 1.9 GW and increase its market share to more than 50 percent, Vesta announced. The company installed the country’s first wind turbine back in 1986.

Since Greece launched its transition to an auction-based renewable energy system last year, Vestas has won more auctioned capacity than any other solutions provider, the company noted.

RES player Volterra entering low-voltage power supply market

Driven by its dynamic market presence as a renewable energy producer, especially wind-generated energy, Volterra, a member of the J&P Avax corporate group, is preparing to also enter the low-voltage electricity market for supply to the household and business sectors.

Volterra, whose retail electricity market presence is currently limited to 0.85 percent of the mid-voltage market, intends to move cautiously with this latest initiave, the company has noted. Upcoming legal and regulatory developments concerning Greece’s retail electricity market should prove crucial for Volterra’s market penetration bid.

The company, seeking to further boost its renewable energy profile, is pressing ahead with an investment plan aiming to increase Volterra’s installed RES capacity to 300 MW. A total capacity of 150 MW within the next three years is seen as an attainable intermediate target, according to Volterra.

Development of a 16-MW Volterra wind farm in Etoloakarnania, northwestern Greece, expected to begin operating next April, is now in progress.

A 54-MW wind farm in Viotia, slightly northwest of the wider Athens area, is planned to follow.

Development of a 108-MW wind farm project on the north Aegean island Samothrace, planned to include a 47 kilometer submarine cable for a mainland link, as well as an overland 15 kilometer cable offering a connection with Evros, on Greece’s northeastern tip, stands as Volterra’s most ambitious of its current RES projects.

Company officials are currently focused on preliminary work concerning the Samothrace project, including licensing, before construction work is launched.

Volterra permitted to keep paying half surcharge amount until final verdict

An Athens Court of First Instance has permitted electricity supplier Volterra to continue paying 50 pecent of an electricity supplier surcharge, based on a preceding temporary court decision, until a final verdict is delivered within the next few months.

Volterra had filed a case against LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, seeking protection from higher-than-expected surcharge payments, used to eliminate the RES special account.

Four other electricity suppliers, Elpedison, Protergia, Heron and Watt+Volt, had also filed separate cases against LAGIE but these were eventually withdrawn.

The issue emerged when supplier surcharge amounts, revised weekly, skyrocketed and prompted reactions from suppliers. In January, main power utility PPC, the market’s dominant supplier, decided to stop paying LAGIE its share of the surcharge, determined by market shares.

A month later, independent suppliers followed suit and, in addition, took legal action, fearing they could be removed from the electricity suppliers’ registry, as is specified by market regulations. PPC did not fear such a prospect as it controls nearly 90 percent of Greece’s retail electricity market.

Authorities needed to intervene after the supplier surcharge rose well over anticipated levels. The surcharge level has since subsided.

In the first week of May, the surcharge registered 7.1 euros per MWh, followed by 7.01 euros per MWh in the month’s second week. Such levels were anticipated in a related study conducted by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki prior to the surcharge’s introduction last October.



Volterra, making gains in retail market, plans RES production

Independent electricity supplier Volterra, a joint venture established by two major corporate groups, local J&P-Avax and Italian energy company Sorgenia, has developed into a quiet achiever in the Greek market.

Pushed along by a steady growth rate, Volterra is establishing its place in the electricity supply company, proceeding with a major investment plan in the wind-energy field, and also expanding its transboundary electricity trading activity in the Balkan and wider European markets.

“We have entered the Greek energy market with the intention to stay. We are an emerging company, possess a serious and realistic growth plan that stands firmly on its feet, and have the support of two powerful partners,” Volterra’s general manager, Panos Nikou, told energypress. “We respect the competition and, naturally, expect the competition to respect us,” he continued.

To date, Volterra has almost entirely focused on the medium-voltage category in the electricity supply sector, but the firm plans to soon broaden its range and include professionals and households in its target market.

“This, of course, will be pursued under the condition that market regulations are stabilized and market mechanisms – such as the NOME-type auctions – established, which will offer opportunities and facilitate our  business plan,” Nikou pointed out.

The NOME-type auction plan, believed to be nearly ready for introduction, is intended to provide third parties with access to main power utility PPC’s low-cost lignite and hydropower sources as part of the bailout-related obligation to help break the utility’s virtual monopoly.

Nikou said Volterra’s major corporate backing offers security to consumers, adding that the level of awareness of the supplier’s consumer-focused principles is gradually increasing.

“We will continue this way, with studied moves and the basic aim for a stable and robust growth rate, not a spectacular market share increase,” Nikou remarked.

A previous bad experience in Greece’s electricity market several years ago, when the retail market entries of two now-defunct suppliers, Energa and Hellas Power, both ended in financial scandal, has made consumers suspicious and hesitant to leave PPC, depite the fact that transferring to an alternate power supplier is a simple, safe, and beneficial procedure, Nikou noted.

Besides its activity in electricity supply, Volterra is currently implementing an investment decision for the establishment of a strong portfolio in electricity production, especially in the wind energy sector.

Volterra plans to develop wind-energy facilities with a total capacity of 120 MW as soon as Greece’s institutional framework for the renewable energy (RES) sector is clarified, Nikou said, adding that the enterprise aims to be operating company-owned wind-energy facilities with a total capacity of 250 MW by 2020.

The official noted Greece possesses excellent wind-energy potential but has fallen behind on obligations taken on to achieve EU climate change objectives.

“If investments such as ours and those of other major corporate groups are to be actualized, the institutional framework needs to be clarified and the Greek State must offer assistance by eliminating disincentives and difficulties,” Nikou said. “A sense of uncertainty, caused by the country’s economic condition and the distress in the banking system, is always lurking. Although these factors are crucial, they do not only affect our field,” he continued.

Besides the need for greater clarity in the RES sector, the Volterra official stressed licensing procedures also need to be swiftened, adding that the Greek State should intervene to offer solutions, not create new problems.