The Regulatory Authority for Energy has issued a decision amending the Electricity Balancing Rulebook and establishing measures aimed at ensuring its proper functioning and effective competition in the market. The amendments concern the setting of limits in the submission of offers for upward and downward energy balancing and the suspension of the possibility of balancing service providers submitting balancing electricity offers with negative prices.
Regulatory Authority for Energy Decision 1615/2020 – which approves the Public Gas Distribution Networks SA 2021 to 2025 development programme for the distribution network for the rest of Greece (ie, areas of Greece other than Attica, Thessalonica and Thessaly) – was recently published in the Official Journal. The approved programme is largely similar to the previously approved 2020 to 2025 programme, except for the length of the network in West Macedonia.
In 2020 the Regulatory Authority for Energy issued Decision 1426/2020 – the guarantees manual for the Electricity Transmission System Operation Code. According to Section 11.3 of the code, all persons which are registered in the Electricity Transmission System Operator Register must provide sufficient guarantees throughout the duration of the power transmission operator transactions contract for the fulfilment of their obligations under said contract.
In December 2020 a new ministerial decision was published which, among other things, amended the ministerial decision concerning the determination of a special framework of priority for the granting of permanent connection offers to renewable energy source and high-efficiency cogeneration of heat and power plants by the electricity network operator. This new legislative tool is orientated towards the fast evaluation of pending applications and the simplification of the relevant procedure as a whole.
The Regulatory Authority for Energy recently announced the commencement of the competitive procedure for determining the reference price for renewable energy source project operational support. This new cycle was launched by Decision 1648/2020 on a joint competitive bidding procedure for the selection of the photovoltaic and wind plants which will be included in the operation support scheme. Applications to participate in the auctions may be submitted until 22 March 2021.
The Ministry of Environment and Energy recently issued a decision on the formation of a working group which will prepare a proposal for the ministry on adopting the legal framework for the development and participation of electricity storage units in the electricity markets and the capacity mechanism. The decision appointed the working group members and provided that they may invite others to participate or provide an opinion.
In December 2020 the new Licensing Code, which regulates renewable energy source (RES) production certificates, was published in the Official Journal. The code aims to implement the new RES licensing procedure and was published on the day on which the first submission round for the issuance of these certificates started. This last-minute regulation caused uncertainty for interested applicants regarding the application procedure and the required documents.
A new law has amended the conditions for the approval of, and narrowed down the renewable energy source (RES) projects which may be accepted as, investments of strategic interest. Henceforth, only investments of at least €50 million in projects which use technological innovations to produce electricity from an RES and have a common connection point to the grid and investments of at least €100 million in projects with a common connection point to the grid may be approved as strategic investments.
In May and July 2020 the Regulatory Authority for Energy approved three five-year development plans for the extension of the natural gas distribution network: the natural gas network development plans for Thessalonica and Thessaly; the rest of Greece; and Attica. In September 2020 the Public Gas Distribution Networks launched two competitive procedures for the construction of networks in the East Macedonia and Thrace region, which attracted significant interest in Greece.
In May 2020 Law 4685/2020 on the modernisation and simplification of, among other things, renewable energy source (RES) production licensing was enacted. By virtue of Law 4722/2020, the next submission round for new applications for RES producer certificates has been scheduled for December 2020. Meanwhile, the Greek Regulatory Authority has been busy issuing RES producer certificates for which applications have been pending since before the enactment of Law 4685/2020.
Parliament recently passed a law modernising environmental legislation and harmonising Greek law with EU Directives 2018/844 and 2019/692. The law contains new legislative measures which will significantly amend, standardise and simplify the current licensing procedure for renewable energy power plants – particularly the procedure for obtaining a renewable energy source production licence and an environmental approval.
Greece recently adopted its first National Plan for Energy and Climate, which regulates all energy sectors. The plan defines Greece's energy and climate targets up until 2030, as well as priority policies and implementation measures which should help to both develop and reform the energy sector by 2050. The plan will also facilitate the shaping of the country's energy and climate strategy for the years 2030 to 2050.
Under the new law on the liberalisation of the energy market, the Public Natural Gas Company (DEPA) will be spun off into three distinct undertakings: DEPA Infrastructure, DEPA Commercial and DEPA International Projects. The privatisation tender is organised by the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund. Parties intending to participate in the tender are requested to meet various legal, financial and technical requirements.
Law 4643/2019 on the liberalisation of the Greek energy market, the modernisation of the Public Power Corporation, the privatisation of the Public Natural Gas Company and the support of the renewable energy sector was recently published in the Official Journal. The new legal provisions aim, among other things, to facilitate and expedite the licensing procedure for numerous power production applications already pending before the Regulatory Energy Agency.
Under the new law on the liberalisation of the energy market, the Public Natural Gas Company (DEPA) will be spun off into three distinct undertakings, two of which will be completely privatised. This transformation will significantly alter DEPA's unbundling and privatisation scheme, which was adopted in March 2019 (ie, before the elections and respective reconfigurations in Parliament and government).
The renewable energy sources (RES) sector of the Greek energy market is undergoing continuous and significant reform. Among other changes, the Hellenic Energy Exchange has commenced operations, RES producers now participate in the day-ahead market and the Greek islands' renewables sector has been expanded.
The minister of environment and energy recently amended the competitive procedures for determining operating state aid granted as feed-in premiums for 2019 and 2020. Further, the latest competitive procedures resulted in significant price reductions for photovoltaic (PV) and wind projects. However, owners of small PV plants have claimed that they have been disadvantaged by the merging of all PV plant categories into one.
In April and May 2019 solar and wind renewable energy systems producers will compete for the first time for operating state aid and a place in the Greek energy market in a joint competitive tender procedure organised by the Energy Regulatory Authority. Despite certain doubts, the market signs indicate that a significant number of players and capacities plan to participate in the upcoming joint competition.
A draft law on the further unbundling and privatisation of the public natural gas company DEPA was recently submitted to Parliament. The draft law proposes that DEPA be divided into two companies: DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade. The main opposition to the draft law centres on the fact that the state will retain a 14% stake in DEPA Trade, which some have argued will allow the state to retain too much control and potentially veto strategic policy issues.
The second regular wind and photovoltaic (PV) state aid auction held in December 2018 resulted in the award of all of the capacities for two of the three categories of renewable energy system project, a significant (up to 26%) reduction in the reference prices compared with the initial reference prices and the cancellation of the auction for large PV projects by the Regulatory Energy Authority due to insufficient competition.
The new renewable energy sources state aid scheme was introduced in Greece in 2016 by way of Law 4414/2016. On 18 October 2018 the Regulatory Energy Agency launched the second regular competitive procedures for determining the reference prices of state aid for wind and solar energy producers in Greece, which offers a total tender capacity of 423 megawatts. The first regular competition procedures were conducted on 2 July 2018.
Greece began reorganising its renewable energy system state aid scheme in 2016 by enacting Law 4414/2016. The minister of environment and energy has provided the legal framework for implementing the law and organising the competitive procedures to determine the reference prices for certain projects receiving operating aid. The first regular competitive procedures were initiated in April 2018, following the Regulatory Energy Agency's launch of three tenders. The tenders will be implemented in two phases.
Parliament recently passed a law regulating the procedure for the divestment of approximately 40% of Public Power Corporation's (PPC) lignite-fired production units and lignite exploitation rights. The aim of the law is to increase competition in the Greek electricity market. Currently, over 60% of the electricity produced in Greece is generated through the combustion of locally extracted lignite, while PPC accounts for 98% of all lignite production in the country.
During 2017, a group of experts worked on the modelling and organisation of the Energy Exchange with the intention that it would be established and begin operating in the first half of 2018. As such, the Ministry of Energy and Environment recently presented, through a public consultation, the draft Energy Exchange Law, which would amend the Target Model Law and the Energy Law.
In 2016 Law 4389/2016 introduced the sale by auction of electricity forward products with physical delivery by the Greek vertically integrated Public Power Corporation (PPC) to eligible electricity suppliers. The purpose of these auctions is to reduce the PPC's retail market share in the interconnected system, enhance competition and provide better quality products and lower prices to consumers.
The Ministry of Environment and Energy recently launched a public consultation on the draft Law on Energy Communities. Given the large range of activities and numerous incentives that the draft law proposes for energy communities, these communities may become an important vehicle for developing business activities and increasing energy efficiency in local communities.
After several years of preparation and analysis of different solutions for the reform of the electricity wholesale market and its harmonisation with the European Union, a new law has been enacted to implement the agreement on fiscal goals and corrective reform. Before the law was enacted, studies of the Greek electricity market were carried out while the Regulatory Energy Agency conducted public consultations on the implementation of the target model.