IPTO team visits Cyprus for interconnection business plan

A team of of IPTO (Greece’s Independent Power Transmission Operator) officials, led by chief executive Yiannis Giarentis, has visited Nicosia to work on preliminary technical matters for a business plan concerning an interconnection project to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids.

According to energypress sources, the IPTO team was in Cyrpus last week to assemble technical details to be submitted to the European Commission for the Crete-Cyprus segment of the project, classified as a project of common interest (PCI) and incorporated into the EU’s energy intergration plan.

Although still at an early stage, a realistic and reliable business plan, to include a detailed summary of the project’s technical details, needs to be prepared, an official noted.

The Cyprus-Crete link stands as the second segment of the Eurasia Interconnector project, its first part linking Israel and Cyprus. IPTO’s plan for the wider project includes a segment to interconnect Crete and the Greek mainland. The country’s recently elected government has expressed doubts about the latter segment’s route.

The interconnection project’s objective is to create an integrated grid linking Greece, Cyprus, and Israel. Greece is already interconnected with Italy, Albania, Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Fyrom) and Turkey. However, these links need to be upgraded as their current cable capacities are limited.

The project’s segment to interconnect Crete and the mainland, budgeted at one billion euros, was included in IPTO’s most recent ten-year business plan. The project, which officials believe may be launched by 2019 or 2020, is expected to save the country approximately 400 million euros, annually, in petrol bought to fuel power generators on the islands.

On a wider scale, the Eurasia Interconnector, linking Greece, Cyprus, and Israel, has been budgeted at 1.5 billion euros. The project’s submarine cable, whose capacity is planned at 2,000 MW, will cover a total distance of roughly 1,000 kilometers.

Major electricity projects that promise to change the eastern Mediterranean’s energy map, including the Eurasia Interconnector, are drawing the attention of US funds, as was made clear during an official visit to the USA by members of Greece’s previous administration last December.

In October, 2014, the European Council called on all EU member states to interconnect at least 10 percent of their respective total electricity production by 2020. Cross-border trading of electricity is not feasible without adequate infrastructure, a key part of the EU’s new energy market plan.

The European Commission believes the development of interconnection projects throughout Europe will limit the risk of power outages and also reduce the need to construct new power stations. Also, consumers will enjoy greater freedom in choosing suppliers, which could lower price levels. But favorable market conditions for consumers are not expected to take effect until investment costs have been covered. It is estimated that a total of one trillion euros in investments will be required in Europe by 2020.

“This is a plan that will integrate the 28 European markets into one Energy Union, reduce Europe’s dependence in the energy sector, and ensure a foreseeable environment for investors, which is needed to create jobs,” noted European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic, in charge of Energy Union.

The European Commission believes an appropriately interconnected European network may save consumers about 40 billion euros, annually.

The plan also entails environmental objectives. An objective has been set for renewable energy source (RES) production to hold a 27 percent share of the continent’s energy mix by 2030, while the aim is for greenhouse emissions to have been reduced by at least 27 percent and energy efficiency to have increased by 27 percent.