DESFA 2021-30 plan endorsed, west Macedonia, Patras pipelines included

Gas grid operator DESFA’s ten-year development plan for 2021 to 2030, featuring projects budgeted at over 500 million euros in total, including pipelines in the country’s west Macedonia and Patras regions, has been approved by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

Speaking at the 2nd Power & Supply Forum, on online event staged earlier this week by energypress, DESFA’s chief executive Maria Rita Galli pointed out that this amount is double that of the previous plan and includes 54 projects through which the company will strive to contribute to strengthening Greece’s role as a regional energy hub.

The west Macedonia pipeline, a new entry to the ten-year plan, is budgeted at 110 million euros and planned to cover a 130 km distance in northern Greece.

Despite not being included in the national recovery plan for subsidy support, DESFA is prepared to develop this project with company reserves and loans.

Even if developed without subsidy support, the eventual cost of the west Macedonia pipeline for gas consumers will be spread out into limited amounts if gas demand in the region is high, as is anticipated.

Power utility PPC’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis, another energypress forum participant, informed that the company’s prospective Ptolemaida V lignite-fired power station will have converted to natural gas by 2025.

The conversion promises to boost the facility’s capacity, which will increase its consumption and add to the west Macedonia gas pipeline’s feasibility.

The gas pipeline planned for Patras, budgeted at 85 million euros, will cover a distance of approximately 140 km, from Megalopoli, in the central Peloponnese, to the western city’s industrial zone. Patras’ industrial sector is expected to ensure strong demand for natural gas.

The Patras project could, in the future, be extended to reach other cities on Greece’s west side, such as Pyrgos, western Peloponnese, and Agrinio, in the northwest.

 

Recovery plan eyes €270m for e-car part facilities, rechargers

National recovery plan features will aim to lay the foundations for an electric vehicle industry in Greece through 200 million euros in subsidies for the establishment of production facilities making batteries and parts for electric vehicles, sources have informed.

The national plan, to be fed by the European Commission’s Recovery and Resilience Plan, once approved in Brussels, is designed to create jobs where they are needed most, including in parts of west Macedonia, in Greece’s north, and Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese, whose lignite-dependent economies require restructuring as a result of the country’s decarbonization strategy.

The national recovery plan will also seek to offer a further 70 million euros in subsidies for the installation of approximately 8,500 recharging posts for electric vehicles, both regular and fast chargers, much higher in cost. Regular recharging units cost between 3,000 and 5,000 euros while fast chargers cost about 20,000 euros each.

Given the aforementioned subsidy plans, Greece’s electromobility effort could enjoy financial backing totaling more than 300 million euros, as, besides the 270 million euros being anticipated through the national recovery plan, an amount of between 30 and 40 million euros has already been secured through other financing programs.

The government plan aims for one in three vehicles circulating in Greece by 2030 to be electric.

 

Work on PPC Renewables 200-MW solar park starting April

Development of a major-scale 200-MW solar farm planned by PPC Renewables in Ptolemaida, northern Greece, a project budgeted at 110 million euros, is expected to begin in approximately one month.

A series of pre-construction procedures are expected to be completed within the next four weeks, enabling the Mytilineos Group’s METKA EGN, the project’s contractor, to begin work on this project. It represents the biggest part of a 230-MW solar energy project cluster planned by PPC Renewables.

A first 15-MW cluster has already been completed, while a second section representing an equivalent capacity is now being developed and should be ready by autumn.

Work on another big solar farm project planned by PPC for Megalopoli in the Peloponnese, to offer a capacity of 50 MW, is expected to begin in June.

On another front, PPC Renewables is currently working on establishing a major joint venture with Germany’s RWE by July or August.

PPC Renewables and RWE are currently working through a series of matters, including a number of legal issues. RWE will hold a 51 percent stake in this venture.

The two partners plan to equally contribute solar energy projects for a total capacity of 2 GW and a total value of approximately one billion euros, once developed, to this joint venture.

Talks on which projects each partner will choose to contribute to this joint venture remain at an early stage.

PPC Renewables is expected to contribute PV licenses concerning the west Macedonia and Megalopoli areas, while RWE is seen contributing project licenses or anticipated Greek project acquisitions being eyed by the German company for quite some time.

 

Ministry seeks recovery fund aid for west Macedonia gas pipeline

Development of a high-pressure gas pipeline in west Macedonia, in the country’s north, which would enable the country’s gas grid to be extended to the area, is among the energy ministry’s proposals for EU recovery fund inclusion.

Though still too early to tell if this project will become eligible for financial support through this fund, it should be pointed out that the European Commission is generally hesitant about backing natural gas-related projects.

The project’s inclusion, or not, in a national recovery and resilience plan being prepared by a special energy-ministry committee, currently filtering proposals by this ministry and other ministries, stands as a crucial test that could determine whether the west Macedonia gas pipeline project will become eligible for EU recovery fund support.

A national plan’s finalized list is expected within the next few days before it is forwarded, by early April, to the European Commission, whose approval will be needed.

The energy ministry is also seeking 300 million euros through the recovery fund for the redevelopment of the power utility PPC’s mining areas in west Macedonia, a lignite-dependent economy.

Regardless of whether the west Macedonia high-pressure gas pipeline plan will qualify for EU recovery fund support, gas grid operator DESFA appears determined to move ahead with the project, budgeted at 110 million euros and constituting part of the country’s decarbonization strategy.

The new National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) could serve as an alternative financing source, while DESFA will also consider company cash reserves and a bank loan if necessary.

 

DESFA to push ahead with west Macedonia gas pipeline

Gas grid operator DESFA is determined to push ahead with the development of a natural gas pipeline in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, a project budgeted at 110 million euros, either with financial support from the EU’s current National Strategic Reference Framework or other financing solutions, including bank loans, if the project is ultimately excluded from EU recovery fund support.

Though a finalized decision on the list of projects to receive EU recovery fund support has not been reached, DESFA, according to energypress sources, will proceed with this pipeline project, part of the operator’s ten-year development plan for 2021 to 2030, totaling 545.5 million euros.

In examining its financing options for this gas pipeline project, DESFA will take decisions based on containing network usage fees to be paid by consumers.

The European Commission and European Investment Bank (EIB) no longer finance conventional gas-based infrastructure projects, unless eco-friendly hydrogen is incorporated into their plans. Even so, the west Macedonia gas pipeline has been included in the recovery fund catalogue as the project is linked to the post-lignite era.

Possessing a clearly developmental role with multiple benefits for the wider region, the pipeline represents part of the energy transition plan for west Macedonia, a lignite-dependent local economy, as it will help replace lignite-based energy, contribute to growth, and support the region’s industry.

The pipeline, to stretch 130 km, could be swiftly licensed, DESFA officials believe, as long as its financing plan is settled and municipal and regional authorities acknowledge the region’s gas penetration need. The pipeline’s delivery was forecast for within 2023 before questions concerning the project’s financing emerged.

DESFA focusing on gas pipeline for west Macedonia network

Gas grid operator DESFA and energy ministry officials are currently discussing financing options that could be sought for the operator’s plan to develop a gas pipeline needed to facilitate a gas network expansion in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, energypress sources have informed.

DESFA is awaiting approval by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for its ten-year development plan, worth more than 545 million euros, including the gas pipeline project.

The talks between DESFA and the energy ministry officials are focused on public funding possibilities, primarily European, to cover part of the cost of the gas pipeline, which would ultimately help contain the level of network usage tariffs to be covered by consumers.

Local officials anticipate this network expansion plan should qualify for EU development fund support, even though EU policy generally does not favor gas projects, as it clearly represents a development project that promises multiple regional benefits, including replacement of lignite-based energy, on the way out as a result of the country’s decarbonization strategy.

Besides the EU recovery fund, officials in Greece are also considering the prospects of financial support from the EU’s National Strategic Reference Framework or a number of regional development programs.

The gas network expansion plan in the country’s west Macedonia region will require the development of a 130-km gas pipeline from Trikala, in the mainland’s mid-north, a project budgeted at 110 million euros.

According to sources, DESFA has revised an original pipeline route plan, bringing the pipeline closer to cities where medium and low-pressure networks for households and businesses are to be developed by gas distributor DEDA.

Government determined to eliminate anti-RES movement

Government policy for renewable energy sources is focused on facilitating their development and regards the RES sector as a key source of economic growth, deputy minister for environmental protection Giorgos Amyras has stressed, during a virtual meeting, to regional authorities around the country, who have raised obstacles of varying degree, frustrating government officials and renewable energy investors.

Though the resistance by regional and municipal authorities opposing RES development is widespread, it has been especially strong in northern Greece’s west Macedonia area.

Officials representing this region have not just responded negatively to environmental studies submitted by investors, but also called for the suspension of all renewable energy licensing procedures until a national spatial plan is completed, still at least two years away, and a legal framework enabling regional and municipal authorities to block RES investments in their respective regions is established.

RES investors have expressed their frustration to the energy ministry, which will be determined to appease players, already annoyed by the imposition of an extraordinary fee on existing RES units.

The ministry’s leadership will be desperate to eliminate this destabilizing factor that could potentially undermine the country’s investment climate.

Given the large number of licensing applications, investors have indicated they are prepared to inject sizeable capital amounts for RES projects, as long as they are not caught up in misadventures and bureaucratic delays.

Preliminary talks for 9th post-bailout review begin today

Power utility PPC’s lignite monopoly ordeal, the effort to ensure proper functioning of target model markets, the progress of privatization plans, and Greece’s decarbonization master plan for the lignite-dependent local economies of west Macedonia, in the country’s north, and Megalopoli, Peloponnese, are the key issues on the agenda of the ninth post-bailout review set to be conducted by the European Commission.

Preliminary review talks are scheduled to commence today between energy ministry officials and Brussels technocrats. These will be followed by higher-level talks involving technocrat chiefs and Greece’s newly appointed energy minister Kostas Skrekas.

Though his predecessors faced plenty of pressure, especially over PPC’s dominance, the new minister could be in for a hard time if pending energy-sector issues are not directly dealt with.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, and power grid operator IPTO are still seeking solutions to tackle problems faced by the target model’s new markets. They got off to a problem-laden start in November, prompting a sharp rise in balancing market costs during the first few weeks.

As for energy-sector privatizations, the plan to offer a 49 percent stake in distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO appears to be making sound progress and attracting strong interest, as exemplified by the participation of 19 participants in December’s market test.

On the contrary, the privatization plan for gas supplier DEPA Commercial could be destabilized by the company’s ongoing legal battle with ELFE (Hellenic Fertilizers and Chemicals) over an overcharging claim made by the latter. This battle could delay and affect the DEPA Commercial sale.

The Just Transition Plan for Greece’s decarbonization effort is now beginning to make some progress, but this unprecedented endeavor’s degree of complexity cannot be overlooked. Vast amounts of land controlled by PPC need to be repurposed, Brussels must approve investment incentives, and licensing matters need to be resolved, amongst other matters.

Post-lignite telethermal plan presented in Parliament

Sustainable heating solutions for the residents of provincial cities in Greece’s Mecedonia region, as well as Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese, to replace telethermal systems supported by power utility PPC’s regional lignite-fired power stations that are gradually being withdrawn, have been included in an upgraded just transition plan presented in Parliament yesterday.

This replacement plan was included in a memorandum of understanding and strategic cooperation signed last September by regional and municipal authorities, PPC officials and gas grid operator DESFA.

The plan features the development of network interconnections as well as a thermal hub consisting of the Ptolemaida V power station, now being developed for an annual capacity of between 300-400 MWh; a new combined heat and power (CHP) unit expected to produce between 270 and 350k MWh per year; electric boilers (0-125k MWh per year); and a natural gas boiler (10-125k MWh per year).

According to the plan, the Kardia region will be equipped with 80-MWth electric boilers by October, 2021, to eventually serve as back-up for the system, while new natural gas-fueled thermal energy facilities will also be developed for a total capacity of 160 MWth, along with a CHP unit and natural gas boilers.

 

Decarbonization strategy’s spatial planning enters crucial stage

The country’s decarbonization master plan is entering one of its most crucial stages, the establishment of spatial planning for a just transition, or establishment of new commercial activity in regions to be financially impacted by the country’s withdrawal of lignite units, now underway.

These spatial plans, which will need to be submitted to the European Commission for approval, will determine the speed and success of the overall effort as just transition mechanism funding approval will be based on them.

A just transition mechanism sum of 5 billion euros is expected to be utilized. However, Greek officials will need to present analytical spatial plans detailing the transitions in accordance with the National Energy and Climate Plan. These plans will be incorporated into the EU’s National Strategic Reference Framework funding program.

Power utility PPC, monopolizing the country’s lignite facilities, will obviously be involved in the process. The utility will keep some of the land hosting lignite mines to develop its own investment plans, including solar energy parks.

The lignite-dependent economies of west Macedonia, in the country’s north, and Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese, will need to be completely redeveloped as part of the decarbonization plan.

It remains unclear when Greece’s spatial redevelopment plans will be ready to be submitted to the European Commission. They are not expected to be ready any time before the new year.

Mineral processing investment proposals submitted to post-lignite plan

Seven, possibly eight, investment proposals, for the construction of industrial plants to process raw minerals in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region into building and industrial materials, have been submitted to a committee overseeing the Just Transition Plan for lignite-dependent areas, energypress sources have informed.

An abundance of mineral deposits in the region, combined with incentives being legislated, are attracting the interest of enterprises active in the aforementioned domains.

Greece’s Just Transition Plan was published by the energy ministry earlier this month for public consultation until October 31.

Mineral deposits in the area include rock crystal, used to produce industrial glass, bricks, porcelain and colours; nickel, whose uses include reinforcing the durability of defense weapons and tanks; chromite, an iron chromium oxide; huntite, most commonly used as a natural mixture with hydromagnesite to produce a fire retardant additive for polymers; and attapulgite, its uses including mortar restoration.

Just Transition Plan objectives include the development of an industrial zone in the west Macedonia region that could host processing facilities for these mineral deposits in the post-lignite era.

PPC to offer lignite-dependent area residents 5% stakes in solar farms

Power utility PPC intends to offer residents of lignite-dependent areas in Greece stakes totaling 5 percent in solar farm projects planned by the company as part of its decarbonization strategy, chief executive Giorgos Stassis disclosed in an interview published by Greek daily Kathimerini yesterday.

PPC plans to develop and operate solar farms with a total capacity of 2.5 GW in west Macedonia, northern Greece, and Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese, both lignite-dependent economies.

Besides creating jobs through these investments, PPC plans to offer locals the opportunity to invest in the power utility by acquiring shares for total stakes of 5 percent, Stassis noted.

Through this procedure, residents will join PPC in its investments and enjoy the exact same returns as the company, he said.

“I want to underline the annual investment return on these investments will range between 8 and 10 percent, at a time when deposit interest rates are almost negative,” Stassis said. The offer will be restricted to decarbonization-area residents, he added.

Commenting on local resistance against prospective RES installations, especially on islands, Stassis noted: “Islanders who, for years, have enjoyed low-cost electricity generated in Megalopoli and Ptolemaida at a cost for the environment and human lives, cannot object turbine installations on islands for production of electricity they will consume now that lignite-fired generation has become ultra-expensive and is being abandoned.”

PPC’s new image a prelude to revised business plan, imminent

Retail outlets to open for extended business hours, digital products and new services, swifter withdrawals of lignite-fired power stations, as well as an acceleration in the development of major-scale and smaller RES projects are among the factors contributing to power utility PPC’s new corporate image, showcased yesterday, during a 40-minute event, by chief executive Giorgos Stassis, who described the new image as a prelude to a revised business plan to be presented towards the end of the year.

The revised business plan, to have a three-year duration, will be a more ambitious and confident plan than last year’s version as, besides swifter lignite unit exits, it will feature bolder digitalization steps, a more aggressive retail market policy, aim for a RES portfolio well over 1 GW over the next three years, through a pool of prospective projects totaling 6 GW, and also feature network and personnel investments.

Next year, the company will aim to double 24 existing retail outlets – they begin operating for extended business hours as of today – as well as 75 service centers that may be visited by appointment only.

Yesterday’s announcements represent just part of the developments to be gradually announced by PPC, the most imminent being a new series of digital products, dubbed PPC myHome, to be launched within the next few days.

The new business plan’s level of ambition will also depend on external factors, Brussels being pivotal. Settlement of the country’s ten-year lignite dispute with the European Commission will offer state-controlled PPC greater leeway.

PPC is also hoping for a favorable Brussels response within November on a compensation request for 200 million euros, annually, for every year lignite-fired power stations in the west Macedonia and Megalopoli regions will need to keep operating.

JTF plan includes 16 post-lignite projects budgeted at €2.5bn

The total cost of sixteen investment proposals concerning the decarbonization of Greece’s lignite-dependent areas included in the country’s Just Transition Fund plan, just released by the energy ministry for public consultation until October 31, is estimated between 2.3 and 2.5 billion euros.

The plan, offering project description and cost details, includes eleven proposals for west Macedonia, in northern Greece, and five proposals for Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese.

The proposals for west Macedonia include 2-GW solar farm projects by power utility PPC.

The power utility is currently developing a 230-MW solar farm budgeted at 133 million euros.

A Solaris Bus & Coach project for a RES-based hydrogen unit budgeted at one billion euros is also among the eleven proposals for west Macedonia, as is a 250-MW energy storage project by Eunice, to cost 280 million euros.

The five Megalopoli proposals included in Greece’s JTF plan include PPC solar farms with a capacity of 50 MW and budgeted at 250 million euros; a pharmaceutical production facility to cost 90 million euros and create 400 jobs; a smart-technology livestock and animal feed farm budgeted at 40 million euros; a theme park for entertainment and educational purposes to cost 40 million euros; as well as other public-sector investments worth 30 million euros.

 

 

 

Government’s post-lignite master plan set for one-month consultation

The government’s post-lignite master plan for the west Macedonia region in the country’s north, and Megalopoli in the Peloponnese, both lignite-dependent economies, is set to be forwarded for public consultation, possibly within the day, to enable observations and comments for a one-month period.

Power utility PPC plans to phase out its lignite-fired power stations and mines over the next three years as part of Greece’s decarbonization strategy.

The master plan’s draft will feature specific targets, studies conducted to reach conclusions, and the government plan prepared by a special decarbonization committee headed by government official Constantinos Mousouroulis.

The availability of funds necessary to support the development of this strategic plan will be pivotal.

Energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has announced that funds totaling over 5 billion euros will be made available for the post-lignite master plan through the EU’s National Strategic Reference Framework; national sources; the Just Transition Fund; European Investment Bank; and the European Fund for Strategic Investments, commonly referred to as the Juncker Plan.

Nearly 70 investment proposals have been submitted to the special decarbonization committee headed by Mousouroulis, while 16 major investment plans are now regarded as mature plans possessing the ability to create new jobs in west Macedonia and Megalopoli and reform the economies of these regions.

 

Gov’t plans 11 decarbonization investments worth €2.5bn

The government plans to facilitate the post-lignite transition of Greece’s west Macedonia and Megalopoli areas by promoting 11 big investments totaling 2.5 billion euros and also making available, through a six-year plan, national and EU support funds in excess of three billion euros.

This plan, already presented to west Macedonia working groups earlier this week, will be discussed today by a government committee before being presented to media by energy minister Costis Hatzidakis.

Besides the 11 major-scale investments, the plan, intended to reshape the production models of both regions, will also feature tax and financing incentives.

For decades, both the west Macedonia and Megolopoli areas have depended on lignite for economic growth.

The new plan will be based on five key pillars – clean energy; industry, small-scale industry, commerce; smart agricultural production; sustainable tourism; technology and education – for growth and utilization of comparative advantages.

Investment plans include the development of solar farms in west Macedonia and Megalopoli with a total capacity of 2.3 GW; a state-of-the-art gas-fueled power station in west Macedonia; as well as the establishment of electromobility industrial parks in both areas.

The government’s decarbonization plan for the two areas is expected to create 5,100 jobs, directly, and a further 6,400, indirectly.

The government expects to deploy national and EU support funds worth 3.2 billion euros for the overall effort over six years, with the majority of this total, 2 billion euros, to be made available over the first three years (2021-2023).

The plan is expected to be forwarded for public consultation in mid-September.

 

Post-lignite plan to Boston Consulting, Grant Thorton

Boston Consulting and Grant Thorton have been awarded contracts by Greece’s privatization fund to prepare a master plan for Greece’s post-lignite era, due at the end of 2020, energypress sources have informed.

The two professional services companies, awarded deals totaling 200,000 euros plus VAT, will need to deliver a draft of their master plan to a coordinating committee heading the task around early autumn, three months after contracts have been signed.

Their finalized version must be completed and delivered six months from now, or roughly at the end of the year.

The master plan will include policies to tackle job losses as a result of Greece’s decarbonization policy, as well as policies for the establishment of new businesses and jobs in Greece’s west Macedonia and Megalopoli areas, both lignite-dependent local economies that will be severely impacted by the decarbonization plan.

Boston Consulting and Grant Thorton will need to analyze all related data, including  demographics and infrastructure-related data, and identify competitive advantages offered by the two aforementioned regions.

Industrial infrastructure, farming, research and innovation, tourism, logistics, energy and the environment, as well as social policies will all be examined for sustainable growth not requiring state support following the post-lignite transition.

Most of power utility PPC’s lignite units are expected to be phased out by the end of 2023.

PPC endorses exit plan for 890 workers in west Macedonia

Power utility PPC’s board has approved an initial voluntary exit plan for 890 employees at lignite-fired power stations and mines operated by the corporation in the west Macedonia region, northern Greece.

The overwhelming majority of these workers, or 80 percent, are aged over 55, performing jobs  classified as labor-intensive and health-hazardous, and eligible for full pensions, energypress sources informed.

Company employees eligible for the voluntary exit plan must lodge applications by June 30.

The exit plan is being offered as a result of PPC’s phasing out of lignite units by 2023, beginning with a unit at Amynteo this year.

Just under 3,000 jobs will be lost following gradual closures of state-controlled PPC’s power stations and mines in the west Macedonia region, part of the government’s decarbonization policy.

Outgoing employees will each receive bonus severance pay of 20,000 euros, to cost the company 18 million euros, plus compensation of 15,000 euros, by law, for a further total cost of 13.5 million euros.

Salaries for the initial exit plan’s 890 workers are estimated to cost PPC an annual amount of 56 million euros.

Specific dates for the voluntary exit plan have yet to be announced by PPC officials. Workers are expected to gradually depart from July to December this year.

The PPC board will soon also reach decisions on equivalent voluntary exit plans for workers at Meliti, in northern Greece’s Florina area, and Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese.

 

 

PPC, seeking key electric car market role, to announce MoUs

Power utility PPC is expected to soon announce two MoUs signed with private-sector companies for collaboration in the nascent electric vehicles market, a domain the utility is looking to dominate in the years ahead.

The power utility’s MoUs, believed to have been signed with Greek companies, concern recharging station installations and a range of electric vehicle services, as foreseen in a PPC business plan presented last December.

According to the plan, PPC intends to install 1,000 recharging stations around Greece over the next two to three years as well as a further 10,000 stations in the medium term.

The company is now assembling a new electric vehicles division in the lead-up to its latest business endeavor.

PPC’s wider plan could even entail collaboration with a specialized partner for production of electric vehicle parts at new plants in west Macedonia and Megalopoli, both lignite-dependent local economies in the country’s north and the Peloponnese, respectively, now being decarbonized.

A related draft bill being prepared by the government will feature incentives for the establishment of new production units at these locations.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is scheduled to present the government’s ambitious plan for electric vehicle market growth this Friday. The development of a recharging network is crucial for this plan.

DESFA considering west Macedonia pipeline expansion

Gas grid operator DESFA’s next ten-year development plan, for 2021 to 2030, may include gas network extension projects in areas that have not featured in previous plans, including northern Greece’s west Macedonia region.

The shape and extent of the pipeline network expansion plan will depend on the development, or not, of regional natural gas-fired power stations by electricity producers.

Preliminary considerations for DESFA’s new ten-year development plan come just weeks after a delayed approval by authorities of the operator’s ten-year plan covering 2020 to 2029.

A prospective decision by power grid operator PPC on whether its Ptolemaida V power station will operate as a natural gas-fired unit will be instrumental in shaping DESFA’s investment decisions for pipeline network expansions in the west Macedonia area.

DESFA also intends to develop metering stations at TAP project corridor points as the capacity to be offered by the TAP project will not suffice to cover regional needs if natural gas-fired power stations are developed in the west Macedonia region.

DESFA plans to construct three new metering and regulating stations in the Eordea, Kastoria and Aspros (Edessa, Naoussa, Giannitsa) areas, their budget totaling 8 million euros. These stations, whose completion is expected by the end of 2022, will enable the development of a mid and low-voltage network for natural gas transmission to these areas.

 

Electric vehicles bill to include production line incentives

A draft bill being prepared by the government to promote growth for Greece’s embryonic electric vehicle sector will not only include incentives for buyers and users but also producers, energypress has been informed.

Producers establishing production lines for electric vehicle parts, including batteries, transformers and recharging units, will be offered incentives in the form of lower tax rates and reduced social security system contributions for employees, the sources said.

However, eligibility for these incentives will be conditional and require producers to establish their production facilities in either northern Greece’s west Macedonia region or Megalopoli in the Peloponnese, both lignite-dependent local economies headed for decarbonization.

The incentives are expected to include subsidies of between 4,500 and 5,000 euros for purchases of zero or low-emission electric cars, approximately 1,000 euros for electric scooters and 800 euros for electric bicycles.

Government officials plan to submit the draft bill on electric vehicles to Parliament in June.

Besides seeking to promote industrial development in current lignite areas, the master plan will also aim to make the most of early interest expressed by foreign investors.

One of these, Tesla, has, for months now, expressed interest to the Greek government for development of a fast-recharge network at Greece’s highways, a project budgeted at 10 million euros. This project is envisioned as part of a wider plan stretching from Portugal to Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

Decarbonization an independent business plan linked to NSRF

The decarbonization master plan for the west Macedonian region in Greece’s north and Megalopoli in the Peloponnese, both lignite dependent local economies, will be an independent business plan linked to the new National Strategic Reference Framework, running from 2021 to 2027, exclusively funded and based on four main axes, sources have informed energypress.

A draft of the master plan has already been prepared and endorsed by the development ministry, while a competitive procedure will be staged for the shaping of the finalized plan.

A special advisory committee will present its opinion to the privatization fund, involved in the process, for the hiring of a consultant and development of the decarbonization master plan.

Its four main axes will be comprised of industry, the primary sector, tourism-culture and differentiation of lignite area energy identities, the sources said.

Though specific plans have yet to be set out as to how the country’s two main lignite zones will be restored, a tendency towards industrial development is already emerging.

The decarbonization project’s progress to date, procedural matters and its four axes will be discussed by the coordinating committee of the fair development plan at its next meeting, scheduled for this Friday.

New NSRF funds for decarbanization effort to reach at least €600m

EU funds to be made available to Greece through the new National Strategic Reference Framework (2021-2027) for the country’s decarbonization effort are estimated to reach at least 600 million euros, sources have informed.

The NSRF amount is expected to be double the 300 million euros to be received by Greece through the Just Transition Fund, also for decarbonization projects.

The national contribution, expected to range between 10 and 20 percent, or roughly 150 million euros, will take the overall decarbonization amount to about one or 1.1 billion euros.

These funds will be used to fund a smooth post-lignite transition for Greece’s west Macedonia region in the country’s north and Megalopoli in the Peloponnese, both lignite-dependent local economies.

Two or three major foreign investments are expected to also draw private capital.

A change of mentality will be needed in both regions for sufficient post-lignite project development enabling full absorption of the support funds.

NSRF absorption in the entire west Macedonia region has been limited to just 200 million euros over the past few years.

 

RES plan official processing prioritized in 5 categories

A ministerial decision prioritizing RES investment plan processing by authorities has just been signed by deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas.

The decision prioritizes processing of RES investment plans – applications and provision of connection terms – in five categories. Priority levels are determined by EU regulations and the contribution potential of investment plans to the National Energy and Climate Plan.

Green energy investments facilitating network utilization, such as self production, are promised top-priority categorization. This also applies for investments concerning energy efficiency, waste management and biogas.

Energy community investment applications will be given a one-month advantage in the waiting line. In other words, such applications will be examined as if submitted a month earlier.

Energy community plans involving local government organizations or over 60 members are promised an even bigger time advantage of four months.

Priority processing will also be offered to investment plans in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, whose lignite-dependent local economy must be restructured as a result of the government’s decarbonization effort.

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.

 

 

Top officials visit north for post-lignite fair transition plan talks

The leaders of Greece’s energy and development ministries and power utility PPC’s chief executive have scheduled a two-day visit, today and tomorrow, to Kozani and Florina, both lignite-dependent areas in Greece’s north, for an initial presentation to local authorities of the government’s plan for a fair transition towards the post-lignite era.

PPC’s lignite-fired power stations operating in the wider area are all headed for withdrawal by 2023 as part of the government’s decarbonization plan.

Energy minister Costis Hatzidakis, his deputy Gerassimos Thomas, secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou, as well as development and investment minister Adonis Georgiadis, will offer local communities a first impression of the government’s fair transition plan.

For decades, these communities, in the west Macedonia region, have depended on PPC’s regional lignite mines and power stations for their livelihoods.

Hatzidakis, the energy minister, and PPC chief executive Giorgos Stassis will visit lignite fields and PPC facilities for talks with workers and supervisors. Stassis has also planned meetings with union groups.

In a symbolic gesture, the energy minister will also visit the environmental group Arcturos, his intention being to highlight the environmental importance of the government’s decarbonization effort.

Local mayors, MPs and representatives of the area’s business and academic communities are expected to present demands and opinions for the region’s post-lignite growth plan.

 

 

Coal electricity not competitive, Megalopoli facility workers told

Lignite-fired power stations are becoming a far less competitive electricity generation option by the day as a result of rising operating costs, workers at the power utility PPC’s Megalopoli III and IV units have been told by the energy ministry’s leadership.

Megalopoli, a lignite-dependent local economy in the Peloponnese, will receive some 25 million euros from a lignite withdrawal compensation fund, deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas told concerned Megalopoli workers.

The government has announced a plan to withdraw all existing lignite units over the next three years.

The operating time of lignite units is currently being kept to a minimum, the only justifiable reason to keep them running being the continued provision of telethermal needs, the workers were told.

Lignite-produced electricity, including CO2 emission costs, has steadily ranged between 80 and 90 euros per MWh, compared to 55-60 euros per MWh for gas-fueled power stations and a System Marginal Price (SMP), or wholesale price, of 59-60 euros per MWh, according to December figures, deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas told PPC’s Megalopoli workers.

In the renewable energy sector, latest auctions staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, produced wind energy prices from 55.8 to 58.3 euros per MWh and solar energy prices at 53.8 euros per MWh.

The Megalopoli workers were not convinced by the ministry’s arguments and, citing desulphurization investments worth 140 million euros at the power station in recent years, remained adamant on the sustainability of the Megalopoli III and IV lignite-fired units.

A special steering committee assembled to coordinate a fair national transition plan towards the post-lignite era for Megalopoli and west Macedonia, Greece’s other lignite-dependent area in the country’s north, is scheduled to hold its inaugural session later this week.

 

 

Gov’t Council being assembled for support to lignite-dependent areas

The country’s administration is assembling a government council to be tasked with preparing a Just Transition Plan for Greece’s lignite-dependent areas needing support to offset the effects of the government’s planned withdrawal of all coal generators by 2028, including all existing units by 2023.

A Council of Ministers Act enabling the establishment and operation of the government council, to be headed by energy minister Costis Hatzidakis, has just been approved.

The west Macedonia region in Greece’s north as well as the Megalopoli area in the Peloponnese, both lignite-dependent local economies, will need support while adjusting to the post-lignite era.

The government council to work on the Just Transition Plan will be comprised of top officials from a number of ministries, which, besides the environment and energy ministry, include the finance, interior, development and investments, as well as agricultural development and food ministries.

“Ending the economy’s dependence on polluting lignite fuel is a key energy policy priority,” noted energy minister Costis Hatzidakis. “However, the withdrawal of all lignite units by 2028 must be done in a coordinated and responsible manner. The government’s top priority is to make the transition to the post-lignite era a fair one for western Macedonia and Megalopoli with claims of all necessary funds from Brussels,” he added.

A comprehensive, multidimensional and forward-looking plan will be presented by the new government council in mid-2020, the minister said.

Besides national and private funding, Greece will also seek EU support funds, including from the Just Transition Fund.

 

 

Gas supply for post-lignite west Macedonia added to grid plan

A natural gas outlet – stemming from the TAP project – for supply to Greece’s west Macedonian region intended to help cover the region’s energy needs in the post-lignite era is one of the few new features added to a gas grid operator DESFA ten-year development plan covering 2020 to 2029, slightly revised compared to its previous version.

The aim is to supply natural gas through pipelines to the region’s provincial cities of Kozani, Ptolemaida, Florina and Amynteo for use at telethermal facilities, currently operating through heat produced at power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations.

These PPC units, however, will soon be withdrawn as part of the government’s plan for a decarbonized Greece by 2028, incorporated into a new National Energy and Climate Plan.

The national gas grid’s 10-year development plan, prepared by DESFA, is undergoing public consultation for the second time since August for feedback on its minor changes, including the gas supply plan for west Macedonia.

The first round of public consultation was staged by DESFA while the second round is being held by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

A total of 49 projects budgeted at over 2.5 billion euros, overall, are included in the ten-year plan. Responses to the latest public consultation procedure face a January 10 deadline.

Settlement of PPC €100m amount for north a first post-lignite support step

A planned payment of an outstanding power utility PPC amount of 100 million euros to energy producing municipalities in the country’s north for regional development, owed since 2014, represents a first step in the west Macedonia region’s gradual transition towards a post-lignite era.

The prospective payment of this amount to the region’s municipalities will be included in a PPC draft bill being prepared by the energy ministry for presentation in October, energypress sources informed.

Local municipalities are eagerly awaiting payments in order to finance the completion of vital infrastructure projects needed to continue telethermal supply when it will no longer be offered by lignite-fired power stations.

Florina and Amynteo are among the locations whose telethermal projects are to be developed through the payment of PPC’s development funds.

The prospective settlement represents a first step in the post-lignite support plan for Greece’s west Macedonia region, where PPC’s mining and electricity generation activities account for 45 percent of the regional economy.

The local economy of Megalopoli in the Peloponnese is also greatly dependent on lignite.

Municipalities will anticipate further support for economic stability following 2028, when all lignite activity is expected to have stopped in Greece, according to a plan announced last week by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York.

Plenty of ministries will need to coordinate on numerous issues if a smooth and punctual transition to the post-lignite era, scheduled for less than a decade away, is to be achieved. Greece does not have a good track record in achieving targets of this scale.

The move towards decarbonization is a European challenge concerning many EU member states besides Greece, including Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Romania, all greatly exposed to lignite activity. They are hoping for generous support through Europe’s energy transition fund.