Greek-Italian grid link repair work subduing power prices

The Greek-Italian grid interconnection’s temporary disruption for repair work is offering partial protection against wholesale electricity price increases in Greece.

The temporary-closure period for the grid interconnection, which has been sidelined towards both directions since August 19, has just been extended until September 3 following a request made by Italy’s power grid operator Terna, according to an announcement made by IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator.

Last Friday and Saturday, the wholesale electricity price was 300 euros per MWh higher in Italy compared to Greece.

Under normal conditions, price differences between neighboring markets prompts electricity export activity towards the lower-priced country.

Greek electricity exports were considerable in July, reaching 500 GWh, data provided by IPTO showed. Of this total, 351 GWh was exported to Italy, 253 GWh to Albania, 184 GWh to North Macedonia and 90 GWh to Bulgaria.

Electricity export figures will be subdued in August as a result of the disruption of the Greek-Italian grid interconnection. The link has been closed down for repairs on numerous occasions in recent years.

 

 

Electricity suppliers revise tariffs upwards for August

Electricity suppliers have just announced tariff revisions, upwards, for August following the government’s implementation of a five-euro price cap on fixed charges.

These tariffs will apply as of today. Deducting the state’s support, worth 33.7 cents per KWh, the revised tariffs announced by suppliers range between 14.9 and 28 cents per KWh, the majority of suppliers offering tariffs between 23 and 26 cents per KWh.

The government’s decision to impose a price cap on fixed charges – after electricity suppliers opted to increase their fixed charges to keep their tariffs, the competitive aspect of electricity bills, as low as possible – as well as the related legislative revision procedure led to a one-week delay, enabling electricity suppliers who had not made accurate forecasts for August’s international prices to reexamine and reset their levels.

Some suppliers have increased their tariffs for August by 4 to 10 cents, compared to previous levels, set on July 25.

These increases reflect the unrest of suppliers as TTF gas prices continue on an upward trajectory, steadily over 200 euros per MWh. Wholesale electricity prices are now back over 400 euros per MWh, reaching 422.02 euros per MWh today.

Combined-cycle natural gas-fueled power stations will be remunerated at a rate of 422.39 euros per MWh in August, up from 292 euros per MWh in July. Open-cycle natural gas-fueled power stations will be remunerated at a rate of 594.76 euros per MWh in August, up from 408.47 euros per MWh in July. The month-to-month remuneration change for lignite-based production is minimal.

 

 

August pressure for energy retailers, covering subsidies

Electricity and gas retailers fear even tougher financial times in August as the government’s increasing levels of energy subsidy support offered to consumers to offset rising wholesale energy prices and keep energy bills serviceable will force suppliers to use greater amounts of company capital for the effort, company officials have told energypress.

Energy suppliers need to commit company capital for customer subsidies in accordance with subsidy support packages announced by the energy ministry before they are reimbursed about a month later via the Energy Transition Fund, once DAPEEP, the RES market operator, has cleared related amounts.

The one-month period elapsing from the time suppliers cover subsidies, at their own cost, to their eventual reimbursement is pushing suppliers to their financial limits.

It should be pointed out, energy suppliers have yet to be reimbursed for subsidies they paid for in June, concerning consumption in May.

New electricity market model launched, PPC role pivotal

A new model for the country’s electricity market, intended to contain soaring prices brought about by the energy crisis, comes into effect today with the introduction, as a first step, of price caps in the wholesale market, setting remuneration upper limits for electricity producers of all categories.

A ministerial decision expected imminently, possibly today, will set upper limits of 112 euros per MWh for hydropower facilities, 85 euros per MWh for renewables, 253.98 euros per MWh for natural gas-fueled power stations and 206.71 euros per MWh for lignite-fired power stations. These limits will remain valid for the first one-month period, starting today.

Any discrepancy between these upper limits and the average price of the day-ahead market will be transferred to the Energy Transition Fund for subsidy support.

The government hopes its plan will subdue electricity prices to levels of between 20 and 30 percent higher than last summer.

Calculations for a finalized electricity price per KWh, following the deduction of subsidies, will be based on state-controlled power utility PPC’s new price list. The government, guided by the utility’s new price list, will set a single price for all suppliers. The level at which PPC will set the bar remains to be seen. The company’s market dominance will set a standard for the entire market.

Though not yet confirmed, it is believed PPC will announce, by July 10, a nominal price of between 460 and 490 euros per MWh, meaning 46-49 cents per KWh.

PPC and all other players are abandoning a 30 percent discount offered to customers. PPC’s subsidies for hydropower and lignite units will now end up with the State, which is assuming the discount-policy role.

Wholesale price clause suspension not instant relief

The suspension of a wholesale electricity price clause included in power bills will not bring about instant price relief for consumers as suppliers are continuing to take on new costs that threaten to eliminate any prospective price reductions ahead of increased state subsidy support.

New regulations will require electricity suppliers to inform households and businesses on prices they will charge two months in advance. On July 10, when this pricing rule will be activated, suppliers will need to announce their price per KWh to be charged two months later, on September 10. On August 10, suppliers will need to do the same for their price on October 10, and so on.

Power utility PPC, the retail market’s dominant player, will play an influential role in market price levels. If the utility subdues prices levels, rival players will follow suit in an effort to their maintain market shares or possibly increase them.

Electricity consumers charged fixed tariffs – they represent a small percentage of the market – will, from now on, need to pay a penalty fee should they leave their supplier prior to the expiration of agreement.

Uncertainty will remain prevalent despite the new rules. At this stage, there is no model offering electricity price forecasts two month down the road, which is a problem given the market volatility. A single announcement by Russian president Vladimir Putin, or a European Commission package of sanctions against Russia, is enough to send natural gas prices flying and, as a result, lead to sharp wholesale electricity price increases.

 

Wholesale price adjustment clause set for suspension

The government is moving ahead with a plan to suspend a wholesale price-related adjustment clause included in electricity bills, to follow the ratification of a RES draft bill that includes an order for temporary implementation of a mechanism  enabling partial returns of day-ahead market earnings through a wholesale electricity market cap.

According to energypress sources, energy minister Kostas Skrekas appears to have accepted a RAE proposal calling for the suspension, as of July 1, of a wholesale price adjustment clause included in electricity bills.

The energy minister is expected to suspend the clause for a total of 11 months, from July 1 to June 1, 2023, through an energy supply code revision.

Electricity prices for consumers will be controlled through a combination of wholesale market intervention (caps on producer earnings) and subsidy support.

According to the plan, electricity suppliers, as of July 1, will have the choice of offering three types of tariffs: fixed; flexible with upper and lower limits; and flexible without upper and lower limits.

Brussels approves wholesale price formula, producer caps

A government package containing a new formula for the country’s wholesale electricity price along with caps for each of the four electricity generating technologies (hydropower, renewables, gas and lignite) has been approved by the European Commission, paving the way towards its implementation as of July 1, sources have informed energypress.

Once a related draft bill, submitted to parliament last Friday, is ratified, a ministerial decision detailing the price caps per technology will be published at the end of this week or early next week. It is eagerly awaited by market participants.

According to sources, the cap on hydropower facilities is expected to be set relatively higher than initially thought, at 110 euros per MWh, well over the initial expectation of between 80 to 90 euros per MWh.

The price cap on renewables is expected to be set at 85 euros per MWh. Natural gas-fueled power stations are seen taking on a cap of between 230 and 240 euros per MWh.

Power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations will be set a cap of no less than 200 euros per MWh.

The mechanism’s operation will be assumed by EnExClear, the day-ahead market’s clearing authority, which will report, on a daily basis, to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, and DAPEEP, the RES market operator.

Ministry to suspend wholesale adjustment clauses in bills

The government appears determined to push through with an energy ministry decision suspending wholesale electricity price adjustment clauses included in retail electricity bills as of July 1 and for as long as measures – in both markets – are deemed necessary.

Even so, details of the plan remain unclear. The government aims to implement a new electricity price-adjusting mechanism on July 1. Its fundamentals involve setting a remuneration cap for electricity producers and reducing wholesale electricity price levels for suppliers.

There has been confusion as to whether the government will suspend or cancel existing wholesale electricity price adjustment clauses.

In comments to energypress, leading energy ministry officials supported that energy minister Kostas Skrekas plans to deliver a draft bill suspending wholesale electricity price adjustment clauses, while also introducing a wholesale price-cap mechanism.

These measures, however, will not necessarily keep tariffs steady. On the contrary, suppliers will, after informing customers, be able to adjust kilowatt hour prices based on their wholesale electricity purchase costs, it is understood.

 

Four electricity price-reducing scenarios, EU decision pivotal

The government is considering four alternatives for its strategy to reduce electricity bill costs, but any decisions will be delayed until the European Commission has reached decisions at an EU level next month.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has noted measures will be taken in Greece if the EU does not implement a price ceiling on natural gas at the Dutch TTF exchange.

Though the government is aiming for a drastic reduction in electricity costs, to levels as low as pre-crisis prices, the measures to be implemented will need to take into account the country’s fiscal ability.

One of the four price-reducing strategies being looked at entails setting a maximum payment price, per MWh, for electricity producers, who would be compensated for any price differences through the budget.

Another measure involves setting different remuneration limits for the various electricity generation technologies (natural gas, lignite, renewables and hydropower).

A third consideration involves a combination of price ceilings and subsidies, while a fourth would significantly increase subsidies already being offered for electricity bills.

 

 

Gov’t plan aims for electricity prices at first-half ’21 average

The government will pursue a strategic target aiming to reduce retail electricity prices to the average level recorded in the first half of 2021, through the implementation of a price ceiling in the wholesale electricity market and state compensation packages for electricity producers covering the price difference.

However, it remains unclear how this ambitious measure, worth at least 4 billion euros amid the current conditions, will be financed.

The government’s plan will be carried out in coordination with any proposals that may be announced by the European Commission.

Announcements, by the Greek government, are not expected before May 18, when Brussels could deliver energy-crisis proposals for member states.

The price of natural gas in coming weeks, an unknown factor, adds risk to the government’s support plan. Gas prices could further escalate if Russian president Vladimir Putin decides to disrupt supply; if Russia’s war in Ukraine intensifies; or if any other unfavorable factor comes into play.

At present, a best-case scenario would result in a price tag of at least 4 billion euros for the Greek government’s strategic plan to reduce electricity prices.

Three different financing sources could be considered: the Energy Transition Fund, currently financing monthly energy subsidies; a 900 million-euro surplus from a supplementary budget submitted to parliament a fortnight ago; and Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) money.

 

 

Government in frantic search of €3-4bn for crisis measures

The government is frantically searching for solutions that would secure between 3 to 4 billion euros to compensate energy companies for planned price ceilings on wholesale energy prices.

Energy market conditions are adverse across the board. Consumers are struggling to meet costlier energy-bill payments, energy market companies and authorities fear an increase in unpaid receivables and its wider effects, while the government, seeing its approval rating fall by between half and one percentage point a month, is hoping for a European solution to the energy crisis, now exacerbated by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

A European solution to the energy crisis does not seem anywhere near. French president Emmanuel Macron is currently stranded by the French elections, while German chancellor Olaf Scholz appears undecided. For the time being, at least, the Greek government will need to seek a solution through the national budget.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is under no pressure to end his war on Ukraine and stop his energy-sector blackmailing of the EU as long as European energy payments for Russian gas, oil and coal, totaling 600 million dollars a day, keep flowing into Russia.

At this stage, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ proposal for a price ceiling at the TTF gas exchange appears to be the only promising solution, as this would strike at the root of the problem prompting exorbitant electricity prices around Europe.

RAE seeks to limit or abolish bilateral electricity contract restrictions

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is moving to limit, or even abolish, restrictions imposed on bilateral physical delivery contracts in Greece’s electricity market as a step towards further liberating the market for price de-escalation.

RAE, in a letter forwarded to the country’s energy exchange, has requested a study examining all scenarios that would further facilitate bilateral physical delivery contracts.

The energy exchange intends to have completed its study in three months so that RAE can proceed with related legislative initiatives.

The issue of whether bilateral contracts in Greece’s wholesale electricity market could contribute to a de-escalation of electricity prices in the retail market has preoccupied local authorities for quite some time.

In recent months, wholesale electricity market price increases in Greece have been almost fully passed on to the retail market, contravening the pattern of more mature European markets.

Ongoing war, new EU sanctions on Russia, spark price fears

The ongoing war in Ukraine, as well as a fifth round of EU sanctions against invading Russia, have prompted further energy-shortage fears that could drive natural gas and electricity prices even higher.

A growing number of consumers struggling to cover energy bills are resorting to installment-based payment arrangements, up 60 to 70 percent since the beginning of the year.

One major energy supplier received some 6,000 applications for installment-based payments in March, up from 4,500 in February.

Though the EU has found consensus on imposing sanctions against Russia, it has struggled to reach agreement on support measures for consumers and enterprises. A gap between the EU’s north and south continues to exist, each member state more or less left to seek solutions alone.

None of the south’s proposals, intended to ease the effects of the energy crisis, including a price ceiling on natural gas, and a detachment of gas prices from electricity prices, have yet to be adopted. Instead, decisions have been postponed until May. Decisions could ultimately be shaped by the degree of pressure felt by the north.

The EU’s fifth round of sanctions on Russia, announced yesterday, include a ban on coal imports from Russia, worth four billion euros annually; a total ban of banking transactions with four main Russian banks; as well as export bans for products required by Russia, such as semiconductors. The USA has also increased its pressure on Russia.

Wholesale electricity prices in Greece may be 30 percent lower than a peak of 427 euros per MWh registered in early March, but levels of between 280 and 330 euros per MWh registered in recent days are equivalent to those of November and December.

Even if the war were to end now, the good scenario for energy prices would still be bad. Natural gas prices would remain at levels of between 50 and 60 euros per MWh throughout 2022, compared to yesterday’s level of 106 euros per MWh, for a wholesale electricity price of 160 euros per MWh, up 160 percent compared to last year and 130 percent over 2019 levels.

As for the worst-case scenario, maintenance of natural gas price levels at the present level of 100 euros per MWh would result in wholesale electricity prices of 255 euros per MWh, meaning between 130 and 150 euros in monthly electricity bills for average households, not including subsidies.

 

Europe on edge, tested by Putin’s ruble payment demand

Tension in Europe has risen with signs of disorientation emerging over Russian president Vladimir Putin’s demand for ruble-currency payments to cover Russian natural gas supply.

German chancellor Olaf Scholz, according to Moscow, initially agreed on this payment term for Russian gas supply, but this was swiftly denied by the chancellery.

Italian prime minister Mario Draghi abruptly rejected Putin’s ruble-based payment plan for Russian gas supply, while Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki has called on Europe to impose an embargo on Moscow and follow his country’s example by stopping all Russian energy imports until the end of the year.

Europe is on high alert. Reliance on Russian energy reaches as high as 80 percent in Austria. Germany’s dependence on Russian energy is also high, at 55 percent.

Both countries have taken steps for gas rationing over the payment stand-off with Russia, fearing, like all of Europe, a halt in energy deliveries from Russia because of the dispute over payments.

Robert Habeck, Germany’s federal minister for economic affairs and climate action, has called on citizens to use electricity as moderately as possible.

Should Putin take the dreaded step and cut energy supply to Europe, distribution of existing natural gas reserves, as well as supply from non-Russian sources, will need to be prioritized, with preference for hospitals, power stations and crucial industries, needed to avoid economic collapse.

If European governments are forced to announce a state of emergency, an electricity rationing plan will need to be implemented for all households. The UK was forced to adopt such an extreme measure, for fuel, during the oil crisis in 1973.

In Greece, a halt in Russian natural gas supply would stop economic activity in just a few days. The country’s daily gas consumption reaches approximately 200,000 MWh, of which 115,000 MWh is supplied by Russia.

Additional LNG shipments in April; the mooring of an FSRU at the Revythoussa islet LNG terminal, just off Athens, for a capacity increase; full-capacity generation at the country’s lignite-fired power stations; as well as an agreement with Italy to ensure storage capacity at the neighboring country’s gas storage facilities, for strategic reserves, are all necessary steps ahead of next winter.

It remains to be seen if Russia’s war on Ukraine will carry on into summer and require extreme measures, or end soon, to the relief of all.

The TTF gas exchange ended trade yesterday at 118 euros per MWh. Wholesale electricity prices in Greece today are at 222.38 euros per MWh.

In comments offered during yesterday’s opening day of the two-day Power & Gas Forum staged by energypress, Pantelis Kapros, Professor of Energy Economics at the National Technical University of Athens, estimated that natural gas prices, even if the war were to end now, will average between 50 and 70 euros per MWh this year.

 

 

 

Nation’s power cost massive, even in best-case scenario

Worth 1.1 billion euros, the government’s triple-dimensioned support package designed to help consumers deal with exorbitant energy prices is not negligible. The big question at this stage is how many more times will such support need to be offered to consumers in 2022?

Energy price projections are frightening as Russia’s war on Ukraine enters its fourth week. The political world will need to intervene and set market rules, as noted by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Smaller EU member states with less fiscal leeway, such as Greece, face serious danger should the European Commission not intervene and offer a central European solution.

If the situation unfolds favorably and the war ends soon, wholesale electricity prices could average 100 euros per MWh in 2022, well below today’s level of 240.32 euros per MWh, but nearly double Greece’s pre-crisis wholesale electricity average of 55 euros per MWh.

At a wholesale electricity price average of 100 euros per MWh in 2022, the country’s annual electricity consumption, totaling 55 TWh, would cost 5.5 billion euros.

This figure is 2.2 billion euros more than the 3 billion euros, or so, for Greece’s pre-crisis annual electricity cost, resulting from a wholesale electricity average of 55 euros per MWh.

To put this additional 2.2 billion-euro amount for electricity into perspective, it is just below the 2.58 billion euros collected by the state in 2021 through ENFIA property tax.

Smaller, bigger solar energy investors face differing prospects

Smaller and major-scale solar energy investors face differing prospects amid RES investment opportunities offered by extremely higher wholesale electricity prices as these opportunities are being largely offset by higher equipment costs.

Sharply higher wholesale electricity prices have generated stronger investment opportunities for bigger RES investors, while, for smaller players, these prospects are being dampened by higher RES equipment costs, severely diminishing their more modest profit margins.

Demand for solar panels has surged around Europe in recent times, pushing up prices. The cost of solar panel mounting systems has also risen as a result of recent sanctions imposed on Russian steel exports, which have driven steel prices higher.

Solar panel prices had begun falling early in 2022 following a period of pandemic-related increases, but are now rising again with no price de-escalation seen in the short term, RES sector officials have projected.

 

Electricity suppliers dread new round of unpaid receivables

A rising wave of overdue electricity bills, highlighted by a sharp rise in the number of applications lodged by consumers for installment-based payments, is generating anxiety in the energy market as consumers face steep energy cost increases and suppliers battle against tightened cashflows while fearing a reemergence of unpaid receivables.

Consumers are now feeling the accumulative effect of an energy crisis that has lasted seven months and deteriorated since Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine.

Consumer applications for installment-based payments have risen by more than 200 percent since September, 2021, generating fears of a new round of unpaid receivables, which would have a wider impact on the energy market’s stability.

The extent of the problem will become clearer in April when electricity bills are issued for consumption in March, a month during which wholesale electricity prices have skyrocketed to levels of approximately 300 euros per MWh as Russia’s war on Ukraine rages.

Many energy consumers who have so far managed to remain punctual with their payments could struggle to meet risen energy costs, energy company officials have informed energypress.

Prior to the energy crisis, the country’s annual electricity consumption of 55 TWh cost a total of nearly 3 billion euros, based on an average wholesale electricity price of 50 euros per MWh, several times below the current level of roughly 300 euros per MWh. If sustained throughout 2022, this price level would result in a national electricity bill of nearly 14 billion euros for the year.

EU exploring ways to counter skyrocketing natural gas prices

The EU is preparing drastic energy policy changes in response to the economic impact prompted by Russia’s war on Ukraine. Europe’s determination for change is highlighted by a series of initiatives that have already surfaced, including the Repower EU package, announced this week, aiming to severely limit Europe’s reliance on Russian gas and limit gas consumption in general; proposals for price ceilings; and other measures, all of which will be discussed at an informal summit in Paris today.

Until now, measures called for by Europe’s south as means of tackling exorbitant energy prices pushed higher by the energy crisis of previous months, have been largely overlooked by the continent’s north.

However, more attention to these calls is now being paid by the north as the crisis drags on, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has pushed energy prices through the roof and begun to also trouble consumers in the north.

A proposal forwarded by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has called for price ceilings at the Dutch TTF exchange, as a response to record-high gas prices, is one of the subjects expected to be discussed at today’s meeting in France.

The Greek leader yesterday reminded of the wholesale gas price level just over a year ago, in February, 2021, at 30 euros per MWh, which, in Greek market terms, translates to wholesale electricity prices of 90 euros per MWh, about a quarter of the current level, at 349.80 euros per MWh.

Escalating war increases threat of gas shortages, prices surging

The escalating war in Ukraine following last week’s invasion by Russian forces has increased fears of natural gas shortages in the European market, which has led to a new price surge, adding to the price ascent prompted by the preceding energy crisis.

Markets are now jittery over concerns that the ongoing bombardments in Ukraine could damage gas pipelines running across the country. The prospect of a Russian retaliation to stricter sanctions threatened by the west is another concern pressuring markets.

Greece is in a somewhat sheltered position as the country imports Russian gas quantities via the Turkstream pipeline, crossing the Black Sea, but, given the overall developments, Athens cannot remain complacent.

The country’s crisis management committee will be meeting again today to discuss measures should the adverse conditions created by Russia’s war in Ukraine deteriorate further.

Greek authorities are expected to try and maintain reserves at the country’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, as close as possible to full capacity, and use pipeline gas to the fullest extent.

The country’s gas needs for March have been fully covered by four LNG shipment orders – two by Elpedison, and one each by Mytilineos and DEPA – expected at the Revythoussa terminal. Additional orders could be placed if needed. LNG orders have yet to be placed for April.

Natural gas prices surged yesterday, ending the day at 121 euros per MWh. At such a level, retail electricity prices could reach close to 300 euros per MWh. Today’s retail electricity price is 254.94 euros per MWh.

Europe now appears determined to reduce its dependency on Russian gas, covering between 40 and 45 percent of the continent’s needs. The issue has become a top priority on the EU agenda, but the road towards achieving this objective remains unclear.

European social unrest feared as crisis is expected to deepen

Since its outbreak seven months ago, the energy crisis, adding to the economic hardship prompted by the pandemic, has now been pushed to even further extremes by Russia’s war on Ukraine, as higher energy prices over the long term appear likely.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine – following months of increasing gas prices paid by European consumers for Russian gas supplied by Gazprom – is driving energy prices even higher and, by extension, generating further inflationary pressure to limit the purchasing power of Europeans, a catalyst for social unrest.

Under the current market conditions, energy debt will surely rise around Europe, including Greece, as consumers struggle to meet extremely higher energy costs. Also, many energy companies will struggle to stay in business.

Social unrest and a new round of Euroscepticism can be expected once consumers fully realize that higher energy costs are not just ephemeral.

Just one year ago, wholesale electricity prices in Europe averaged between 50 and 60 euros per MWh. In Greece, annual electricity consumption totaling 50 to 55 TWh was worth approximately 3 billion euros.

Yesterday, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, natural gas prices climbed as high as 144 euros per MWh, before settling at 120 euros per MWh. Natural gas prices of such levels result in wholesale electricity prices of between 250 and 300 euros per MWh, roughly five times higher than a year ago.

Should such price levels remain, Greece’s annual electricity cost of 3 billion euros, until the start of 2021, will become a sweet memory of the past. The country’s additional electricity cost could end up being worth as much as 11 billion euros, if wholesale electricity prices remain at levels of between 200 and 250 euros per MWh.

Factoring in the additional money needed by consumers for heating costs – petrol and natural gas – only exacerbates the problem.

Gov’t officials fear further energy price escalation

Government officials, battling for months to deal with exorbitant energy price levels resulting from the energy crisis, now dread the thought of a further price rise in wholesale electricity to levels of as high as 400 euros per MWh should the Ukraine problem develop into a bigger conflict.

Responding to a halt in the licensing procedure for Nord Stream 2, a subsea gas pipeline directly linking Russia with Germany, Russian officials have warned of higher natural gas prices that could lead to wholesale electricity price levels of as much as 400 euros per MWh, more than double the already-high 188.39 euros per MWh at present.

Despite these concerns, local officials remain less troubled about a possible energy shortage, heartened by the milder weather conditions, high water reservoir levels at dams, as well as the increased production capacity of RES units this time of the year, which, in a worse-case scenario involving a Russian gas supply interruption via the Turk Stream pipeline, should help the grid maintain sufficiency levels.

Top-ranked government officials, including aides of the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, energy minister Kostas Skrekas, RAE (Regulatory Authority for Energy) president Thanasis Dagoumas, power utility PPC’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis, and gas utility DEPA’s chief executive Konstantinos Xifaras, held a meeting yesterday to examine the pressured energy market’s developments, emergency plans, as well as the financial leeway available for a continuation of energy subsidy support for beleaguered consumers.

 

Wholesale electricity €83/MWh higher without RES output

Wholesale electricity prices would have reached as much as 83 euros per MWh higher than the lofty levels of recent months had there not been any RES contribution to the country’s energy mix, a study conducted by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki has shown.

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas made reference to the findings of this study during a recent informal meeting of EU energy ministers in France, to highlight the important role played by RES units in energy price de-escalation.

December’s wholesale electricity price average in Greece would have reached levels of 315 euros per MWh, well over the actual average of 235 euros per MWh, the minister noted, basing his point on the university study’s findings.

An intraday market record high of 415.94 euros registered on December 22 would have reached 451.11 euros per MWh without RES contributions to the country’s energy mix, the study noted.

Electricity subsidy trim for consumers, businesses in February

Subsidies offered by the Greek State for household and business electricity bills will be trimmed for the month of February as a result of a slight de-escalation in wholesale electricity prices, authorities have decided.

According to sources, wholesale electricity prices are forecast to average approximately 225 euros per MWh in February, slightly below the average of 235 euros per MWh in December.

Household electricity subsidies for February will once again be inversely related to consumption level, the upper limit for subsidies unchanged at 300 kWh per month. Consumption above this level will not be subsidized.

In January, the first 150 kWh of household consumption was offered 160 euros in subsidies, while consumption between 151 and 300 kWh was subsidized with 120-euro amounts.

As was the case in January, household electricity subsidies in February will be limited to primary residences.

For a second consecutive month, businesses will be offered electricity subsidies at a universal rate, slightly below January’s level of 65 euros per MWh.

Wholesale power up to nearly €300/MWh, subsidies prepared

The wholesale electricity price has risen for a fourth consecutive day, reaching nearly 300 euros per MWh, the highest level recorded this month.

Today’s day-ahead market price is at 293.79 euros per MWh, a 42 percent increase compared to the price registered on January 22, when prices last dipped, falling to 206.46 euros per MWh.

The energy mix covering demand today is dominated by natural gas-fueled generation, representing 40.1 percent, while renewable energy sources and hydropower, both capable of containing prices, are limited to 19.97 percent and 6.52 percent of the energy mix, respectively. Lignite-fired power stations are contributing to today’s energy mix with an elevated 14.77 percent share, while electricity imports are also high, representing 14.34 percent of the mix.

According to market analysts, low wind levels have severely restricted wind energy output during nighttime hours, which prompted the need for electricity imports to cover domestic electricity demand.

Wholesale electricity prices are expected to fall to levels below the December average level of 235 euros per MWh, according to projections.

The government is currently analyzing market data to calculate the level of electricity subsidies to be offered for February. No major changes, compared to the current month’s subsidy package, are expected.

Businesses are expected to receive uniform subsidy support in February. Criteria shaped by the energy ministry have yet to be approved by the European Commission.

French power pricing proposal tops EU energy ministers talks

French Minister of the Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili is expected to reiterate her proposal for a detachment of electricity pricing from natural gas prices, an initiative supported by the Greek government, at a meeting of EU energy ministers tomorrow in France.

The meeting, in Amiens, northern France, is being staged following the release of a latest European Commission report projecting natural gas and electricity prices will remain elevated over the next two to three years.

Though tomorrow’s meeting is the first day of an informal two-day session, the electricity pricing issue will be tabled as the French government, which has just assumed the EU’s rotating presidency, has prioritized revisions for the wholesale electricity market, the intention being to achieve retail prices that reflect the energy mix’s average cost.

According to sources, French officials believe conditions have ripened for an agreement on needed revisions which, according to a statement published on the French EU presidency’s website, will aim to protect consumers from extremely volatile and record-high natural gas and electricity prices, will also striving to achieve EU climate objectives.

 

 

Electricity subsidies for first 300 KWh likely to remain

The government appears likely to keep unchanged an electricity subsidy criterion subsidizing the first 300 KWh of electricity used by households over four-month periods, despite initial indications of more restricted subsidy support following European Commission pressure.

Other key aspects of the latest electricity subsidy program for consumers, facing an unprecedented price surge, have not been finalized.

It remains unclear if electricity subsidies will be restricted to first homes without covering any supplementary home ownership, including holiday homes.

Officials at the energy and finance ministries are believed to be examining a new mechanism that would automatically calculate electricity subsidy amounts for consumers based on wholesale electricity price levels.

Natural gas prices have dipped in recent days, deescalating from a record level of 180 euros per MWh on December 21 to 80 euros per MWh, which is still 340 percent higher than the price level of 18 euros per MWh a year ago.

Likewise, wholesale electricity prices have eased to 182.46 euros per MWh, today, well below levels of around 300 to 400 euros per MWh registered just weeks ago, but still 220 percent above last January’s average of 56 euros per MWh.

Subsidies over €1.5bn in ’22, to avoid inflationary pressure

The government’s electricity bill subsidies in 2022 will exceed a total value of 1.5 billion euros and, besides households and small businesses, also include medium and high-voltage consumers, according to sources.

Government officials, including energy minister Kostas Skrekas, the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou, deputy finance minister Theodoros Skylakakis, RES market operator DAPEEP’s chief executive Giannis Giarentis and Regulatory Authority of Energy (RAE) chief executive Athanasios Dagoumas, have just held a meeting in search of measures offering protection to consumers against exorbitant energy prices, expected to remain elevated in the first few months of the year.

Final details on the new subsidy package for electricity bills are expected to be set within the coming days before it is announced during the first week of January by the energy and finance ministries.

The plan is expected to include a mechanism automatically calculating subsidies for retail electricity, over a one or two-month period, when wholesale electricity prices exceed a certain level.

Besides offering consumers some energy-crisis relief, the support package’s aim will be to help enterprises avoid increasing prices of products and services, which would prompt inflationary pressure, should energy prices not de-escalate in the coming months.

 

French forced withdrawal of nuclear plants at worst time

France’s withdrawal of four nuclear power stations in recent days, following the discovery of faults at some units and suspicions of issues at others, comes at a critical time for the European energy market, already deep in crisis, and could have a knock-on effect throughout Europe, as was the case during a previous round of problems at French facilities in the winter of 2016-17.

France is a backbone of Europe’s energy market as the country usually exports electricity to neighboring countries, helping steady price fluctuations. However, the country is currently without nearly one quarter of its electricity generation capacity, meaning it will need to forget about electricity exports for a while and import instead.

According to French grid operator RTE, the country imported 11.8 GW from Germany and Belgium yesterday, while demand is expected to peak today.

French Ecological Transition Minister Barbara Pompili has urged energy company EDF to work around the clock to repair the damages, cracks on reactor pipes, for a swift return of its nuclear power stations,

Energy market conditions in Europe are currently completely different to what they were in 2016-17, when France was forced to temporarily shut down nuclear power units over technical issues. At the time, the wholesale electricity price in Greece was 114 euros per MWh, while, at present, it is over 300 euros per MWh.