Slow Athens-Crete link action raising island’s energy fears

Crete’s major-scale electricity grid interconnection with Athens is a PCI-status project as it represents a part of the wider Euroasia Interconnector to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids, meaning EU terms and conditions will need to be observed for the Crete-Athens link, the European Commission informed participants at a related meeting in Brussels earlier this week.

Greek and Cypriot regulatory authorities for energy, the European Commission, and the Euroasia Interconnector consortium, responsible for the wider Euroasia Interconnector project, took part in the meeting.

Officials of Greece’s power grid operator IPTO, which is at odds with the Euroasia Interconnector consortium for control of the Athens-Crete link’s development, skipped the meeting claiming there was no chance of any agreement on the issue with Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests.

The Athens-Crete interconnection has fallen behind schedule. Slow-moving bureaucratic procedures in Brussels have intensified Greek concerns of a serious power sufficiency problem on Crete as of 2020. An exemption to EU law concerning power station emission limits for local high-polluting units, such as those operating on Crete, is set to expire in December, 2019.

The Athens-Crete link’s PCI status promises to offer the project fast-track licensing advantages, reduce the risk of legal challenges by rival companies, and ensure transparent procedures.

RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, will most likely award the Athens-Crete link’s development to IPTO, but, even so, the power grid operator will need to stage a tender and include other companies. Belgian power grid operator Elia, currently examining details of the wider Greek-Cypriot-Israeli link, is believed to be interested in participating in the Athens-Crete project.

Valuable time will have been lost by next month, when developments are expected, which will increase the urgency of Crete’s looming energy sufficiency problem.