Brussels gives Elia intermediary role for delayed Cretan link

The European Commission has given the Belgian electricity transmission system operator Elia an intermediary role to seek solutions for the development of the major-scale Cretan interconnection, both in terms of the line-up of the consortium to undertake the project and technical details.

Brussels has decided to take initiatives following the breakdown in negotiations this summer between Greece’s power grid operator IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector – a consortium of Cypriot interests awarded the development of the wider PCI-status Euroasia Interconnector to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids – for development control of the Athens-Crete segment of the wider link.

Crucial decisions will need to be made in September on the schedule and method of development of the project, crucial for the the country’s grid.

The European Commission has extended a Euroasia Interconnector consortium deadline until the end of the year, for progress solutions, before the Euroasia Interconnector project is officially branded a delayed PCI project. Euroasia Interconnector will need to find solutions over the next four months.

Meanwhile, RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, facing a looming energy sufficiency threat on Crete as of 2020, is seeking to commission the Crete-Athens link’s development as soon as possible. An exemption to EU law concerning power station emission limits for local high-polluting units, such as those operating on Crete, will cease to apply at the end of 2019 and force the closure of units.

Responding to the summer’s failed talks between IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector, the European Commission appears to have indicated that the Euroasia Interconnector project cannot be broken down into two separate projects – as a PCI-status Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grid link and a national Athens-Crete link.

Elia and IPTO officials are scheduled to hold a meeting in Athens on September 3. The Elia board is also likely to convene for a discussion on the matter this coming autumn, possibly within the month of September.

RAE, on edge as a result of the energy sufficiency threat on Crete, has indicated it will reach decisions for the Crete-Athens link by September 12.

Also, Greek, Cypriot and Israeli officials are expected to stage a top-level three-way meeting within September to discuss energy matters, especially the Euroasia Interconnector issue, as well as East Med, the natural gas pipeline plan.