Natural gas, through its role as a bridge fuel between lignite and renewable energy sources, constitutes a field of competition as well as a starting point for new business alliances that will determine the energy map.
The country’s major energy groups have included new gas-fired plants totaling 4,300 megawatts in their strategy investments, as, given the abandonment of lignite, the grid will require new units with a stable output against the unstable volume produced by RES units – at least until the technology for large-scale energy storage becomes widely available.
Mytilineos was the first to announce a natural gas plant with the construction at Aspra Spitia in Viotia of a state-of-the-art plant with a capacity of 826 MW. This will be completed by year-end and start operating in May 2022.
Behind it was supposed to be the unit of Terna in the Industrial Area of Kozani, but vying for second spot in the race are also the 826 MW Elpedison unit in Thessaloniki and the 662 MW Copelouzos plant in Alexandroupoli, with a 25% stake held by North Macedonia.
Other contestants in the race are the planned unit of ElvalHalcor, with a capacity of 651 MW, and the 660 MW plant of the Karatzis group at Larissa. A recent entry is Public Power Corporation, which is seeking ways to heal the open wound at Ptolemaida, where its lignite plants are closing and its 1.5-billion-euro investment in the Ptolemaida 5 plant may go to waste.
All of the above private plans had remained frozen, regarding their definitive business decisions, as their sustainability in the new market conditions was uncertain without state compensation. Therefore investors had been anticipating an Energy Ministry initiative for a capacity remuneration mechanism (CRM) proposal to the European Commission and its approval before they decided to make their move.
All this changed suddenly last Friday when Motor Oil and Terna announced their partnership for the joint construction of a gas-fired plant at Komotini, starting within the year, although it came as no surprise. However, the joint entry of two major groups is likely going to lead to more alliances and concentration in the sector.