The chief official at State Grid Corp of China (SGCC) is expected to officially express interest for an additional stake in Greek power grid operator IPTO as well as an entry into its subsidiary Ariadne, project promoter of the planned Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection.
Wei Kou, the SGCC chairman, is scheduled to hold a meeting with Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis in Athens today.
The Chinese official is part of a visiting Chinese delegation spearheaded by President Xi Jinping. The group arrived yesterday.
The energy ministry has known about SGCC’s interest in both matters for quite some time now.
In July, Hatzidakis, the energy minister, had announced a government intention to further privatize IPTO. SGCC already holds a 24 percent share.
Ensuing reports on the additional IPTO stake that could be offered by the Greek government have ranged between 20 and 30 percent.
As for the Crete-Athens grid link, needed to resolve a looming energy shortage threat on the island, SGCC’s right to become involved is unclear. The European Commission needs to clarify whether the subsidiary of a certified operator – in this case, Ariadne – can develop national grid projects if third parties have entered as shareholders.
Quite clearly, the Greek government is keen on further energy sector collaborations with China. Athens, however, will need to move with particular care and abide by stricter EU rules concerning Chinese investments in European sectors of strategic importance.