Greece’s 680 MW pumped storage project seeks investors

Developer Terna Energy claims the Amphilochia pumped hydroelectric energy storage project has entered the final stretch. If built, the large scale facility can boost Greece’s independence from fossil fuels and the government’s strategy for a coal-free electricity system by 2025.

June 17, 2021

With a total installed capacity of 680 MW (production) and 730 MW (pumping), Athens-headquartered Terna Energy says the Amphilochia pumped storage project will be Greece’s largest grid connected energy storage investment.

The project is set to be built in Aetolia-Acarnania, in northwestern Greece, and will include two upper water reservoirs, Agios Georgios and Pyrgos, with volumes of approximately five and two million cubic metres, respectively. Lake Kastraki, which is controlled by state-owned utility the Public Power Corporation, will serve as a lower reservoir.

“The investment exceeds €500 million and yields 816.00 GWh annually,” said a Terna Energy press release.  

Completed technical studies

The developer said the pumped-hydro scheme was declared a project of common interest by the EU in 2013 and thus received support from the bloc’s Connecting Europe Facility for its feasibility studies. As such, said Terna in its press release, the project has obtained “definite approval of environmental terms.”

The pumped-hydro plant was also granted strategically significant investment status by the Greek government in 2014, ensuring priority status in processes carried out by public bodies and concerning other red tape.

“In other words, the project is technically, and licensing-wise, ready and ripe enough for its construction to be shortly initiated,” said the company.

Investors

With no finance details included in the press release, Terna also refused to comment on such matters when contacted by pv magazine.

With bankability a prime concern for potential investors, a video produced by Terna Energy states the Amphilochia project will be able to generate revenue by providing grid ancillary services.

The Greek government is expected to publish an energy storage regulatory framework this summer, however, and Alexandra Sdoukou, secretary general for energy and mineral resources at the Ministry of the Environment and Energy, told pv magazine last week, the aim will be to get the regulation into law before October. 

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Investors may be unlikely to step forward before knowing the details of the pending regulatory regime but Terna has a good track record in securing finance from multilateral institutions including London-based development lender the European Investment Bank and the EU’s European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Greece’s pumped storage and battery plans

The energy ministry also told pv magazine it is preparing to tender 700 MW of battery storage this year.

Speaking at an energy storage webinar organized last year by Greece’s energy regulator, Stavros Papathanasiou, a professor of electrical engineering at the National Technical University of Athens, argued that for Greece to stay on track for its 2030 energy strategy, the country will need a combination of large pumped-hydro storage systems and smaller battery facilities. While batteries could provide four-hour storage, Papathanasiou said, pumped-hydro could be used for periods of six hours-plus.

Papathanasiou, who is drafting Greece’s energy storage policy framework, suggested the nation will need 1.5-1.75 GW of new capacity to meet 60% of its 2030 electricity needs from renewables.

pv magazine has determined Athens will devote €450 million of the €30.5 billion it expects to secure from the EU’s post-Covid recovery and resilience facility, to energy storage. Of that €450 million, around €200 million will be channeled into battery facilities, via the planned 700 MW tender.

It remains to be seen whether the Greek government intends to subsidize pumped-hydro facilities.

With Amphilochia its flagship project, Terna claims plans for smaller facilities at Amari, on Crete; at Veria; and in the Peloponnese, ensure it holds 1.5 GW of licensed pumped storage capacity in Greece.

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