Greece’s power sufficiency now in hands of its neighbors

The country’s energy authorities are seeking to import quantities of electricity to ensure sufficiency during the crucial summer months. Estimates of demand this summer, ranging between 10,558 and 11,500 megawatts, mean there will be a shortfall of about 800 MW that could increase up to 2,000 MW in the event that three Public Power Corporation units are out of operation at the same time. This is by no means unlikely, given the history of breakdowns at lignite units. The shortfall could become even greater in the case of an extended heat wave, due to the continuous use of air-conditioning units which, according to PPC’s president, Takis Athanasopoulos, now number 400,000 in Greece. The electricity required by these units is equivalent to the energy produced by a 300 MW generating plant. The 800 MW shortfall, taken for granted by the heads of the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) and power distribution system operator DESMHE, means Greece needs imports of at least 350 MW over last year. Greek officials are traveling to and from Bulgaria, Albania, Turkey, Italy and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to secure the quantities needed. Turkey is expected to sign an agreement for the export of 250 MW to Greece. The issue was discussed on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum in Rome last month by Greece’s Development Minister Christos Folias and his Turkish counterpart, Hilmi Guler. The aim is for the two countries to sign a protocol providing for exchanges of energy. DESMHE has asked Albania to supply Greece with 100 MW from its hydroelectric production, although the neighboring country’s export capacity is not precisely known. Similar exchanges of 100 MW have also been requested from Bulgaria. Discussions with FYROM are conducted between its state electricity company and PPC and focus on the possibility of the operation of the Negotino power station, exclusively for supplying the Greek grid with 200 MW. For the past two years Negotino has contributed toward meeting the peak demand of the Greek system, but its ability to help this year will depend on the imports FYROM will secure to cover its own demand. PPC officials nevertheless remain optimistic. The electricity company wants to maximize its import potential, which is 600 MW from the north and 500 MW from Italy, as its general director of production, Avraam Mizan, told Kathimerini. He suggested that the system has been bolstered by additional output of 60 MW from Megalopolis in the Peloponnese to cover the possibility of a failure at the power station there, while efforts are being made to ensure a further 40 MW from Lavrion in Attica.