Greece’s Easter Solar Power, Electricity Imports Cutbacks Seen Harbinger

With an average of 2800 hours of sun a year, Greece still hasn’t fully harnessed solar power to generate electricity and on one day in May disconnected 1 Gigawatt (GW) of solar plants from the grid.

That was May 5 – Easter – two days after the country’s transmission system operator, IPTO, said that it had to halt electricity imports from neighboring countries through May 7 ensure the safe operation of the Greek electricity system. IPTO said it didn’t bring in any electricity at all from Italy, Albania, North Macedonia and Turkey, and partially from Bulgaria with caps imposed.

Unnamed market sources told PV magazine that on Easter on May 5, IPTO disconnected the entire renewable-energy fleet connected to the transmission lines for a number of hours because of low demand then.


In April, Pantelis Biskas, a professor at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Department of Electrical and Computing Engineering, warned the annual assembly of the Thessaloniki-based POSPIEF solar producers in mid-April that curtailment would skyrocket on Easter, as well as from September to November, the magazine said.

Biskas told investors that from March 1-April 13, IPTO had planned to curtail 220 Gigawatt Hours (GWh) of renewable energy, corresponding to about 4 percent of the nation’s domestic green electricity production for that period.

The report said what was worrying, however, was his prediction that curtailment of renewable power in Greece might reach up to 15 percent of the country’s electricity generation in 2023 once it was calculated.

IPTO is able to vary the amount of generated solar electricity injected in the grid, they claimed, but distribution grid operator HEDNO allows solar parks to be plugged into the network, or totally cut it off from the distribution grid.

Given that a lot of solar projects connect directly to the distribution grid, HEDNO’s patterns affect a large number of PV investors, adding that the Parliament passed a law in April that requires all renewable energy plants larger than 400 Kilowatts (kW) to install the technical equipment that allows HEDNO to remotely control the output of solar projects and vary the electricity injected into the distribution grid.

At the assembly POSPIEF, General-Secretary Petris Tsikouras told PV that, “It took the government four years to introduce an energy storage framework and when it did, it only allowed in front of the meter subsidized energy storage systems,” he said, adding that the group wants to open the energy storage market to behind the meter storage systems that get installed without subsidies.

“There is strong investment appetite in Greece for such systems. The business case is there given that such systems can participate in the country’s balancing services market,” said Tsikouras of the interest.

“This is where the main issue lies. The government has delayed the energy storage framework in order to allow the gas plants enough time to rip the benefits of the balancing services market. At some point, it will bow to pressure and allow behind the meter energy storage to get built too. Until then, the balancing services market is dominated by gas plants who can flex their production as they like.”


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