Athens-Evia submarine cable connection set for testing

Testing, or trial electrification, of a submarine cable connection to link Evia, Greece’s second largest island slightly northeast of the capital, with the mainland’s seaside Nea Makri area, on the northeastern outskirts of Athens, is expected to begin within the next few days, IPTO, the power grid operator, has confirmed.

The project, classified as one of “wider significance for the country’s economy” by Greek legislation dating back to 2003, has been planned to facilitate wind-park development in Evia’s south, a region whose wind-energy potential has been widely recognized.

The submarine cable connection’s role will be to transmit electricity generated on Evia to the mainland grid, which explains why energy companies holding operating licences in the area have committed themselves to the project’s financing.

However, financing concerns do remain. Until now, the energy companies have limited their involvement to letters of guarantee. Once the connection’s trial electrification procedures have been completed, the companies will be expected to sign agreements and provide their respective payments for participation, at a rate of approximately 150,000 euros per MW, within three months.

“It’s easier said than done to find money these days,” an official at a major energy company holding a wind-energy operating licence for the Evia area had recently told energypress, highlighting the financing problems faced by local entrepreneurial initiatives in recent years as a result of the country’s troubled banking sector.

The same official noted that energy companies are presently not in a position to make final decisions or binding commitments for the development of projects they hold permits to.

Admittedly, such decisions depend on various factors, including the country’s wider investment climate, and finalization of regulatory decisions for the renewable energy source (RES) sector. Also, Greece’s wider political and economic conditions for the immediate future do not appear to be stable, which further aggravates the already affected environment for enterprises.

Of course, not all companies are in the same position. Decisions made by some, for the Evia project, are at a more mature stage that they are for others. Certain companies are currently awaiting the project’s completion to proceed with their investments.

A number of corporate groups hold licenses for the development of wind-energy facilities in southern Evia, the overall investment valued at about 700 million euros for total wind-energy capacity of over 300 MW. They include major players such as the power utility PPC, Iberdola-Rokas, Terna Energy, Gamesa, Protergia, and Enteka.

Development of the Athens-Evia submarine cable link has been delayed by over a decade as a result of local community objections, primarily in the Nea Makri area.  The project’s submarine cable was installed two years ago but further progress had been blocked by a court decision that supported the case presented by Nea Makri residents.