IPTO, now in control of Crete’s small-scale link, boosts to full capacity

Power grid operator IPTO, which has assumed control of a small-scale power grid interconnection linking Crete with the Peloponnese following the transfer, to IPTO, of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO’s assets on Crete, effective August 1, has, since August 26, also increased the line to near full capacity, at 150 MW, sources informed.

In addition, IPTO yesterday successfully staged a trial run further boosting the line’s capacity to 180 MW, the absolute upper limit.

The Crete-Peloponnese grid link was launched on July 3 to transfer power loads from the mainland to Crete in order to prevent energy insufficiency issues on the island.

Between its first day and August 20, the link consistently supplied Crete at a capacity of between 70 and 80 MW. This transmission was boosted to 100 MW between August 20 and 25 ahead of the latest increases over the past few days.

Crete’s participation in target model markets will be based on a hybrid model proposed by the Hellenic Energy Exchange from October 1 until the island’s large-scale grid link with Athens is completed.

 

HEDNO’s Crete assets set for transfer to IPTO

An energy ministry legislative revision facilitating the transfer to power grid operator IPTO of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO’s assets on Crete, a pending issue needed for the launch of market activity concerning the island’s small-scale interconnection with the Peloponnese, has been submitted to Parliament for ratification, ending months of debate on the matter.

As of August 1, Crete’s entire package of high-voltage electricity grid assets will be transferred from power utility PPC, DEDDIE/HEDNO’s parent company, to IPTO, the new owner of these assets, taking on their operational management.

Until now, DEDDIE/HEDNO has been responsible for the management of Crete’s small-scale interconnection with the Peloponnese.

The price IPTO will need to pay for the acquisition of these Cretan grid assets will be determined by their market value, to be calculated over two stages.

The first will reflect the regulatory value of the assets. The second, to be calculated at a latter date, will concern the evaluation of the assets transferred to IPTO by an independent, specialized appraiser to be accepted by both IPTO and PPC.

 

Strict schedule for Crete target model transition plan

The European Commission has offered preliminary approval, still unofficial, of a Greek proposal concerning a transitional framework for Crete’s electricity grid link with target model markets.

This development will now enable RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to conduct public consultation for a temporary plan concerning the island’s participation in the target model’s wholesale markets.

RAE is expected to begin the public consultation procedure this week, sources said. It will feature a strict road map for the model’s implementation, from forthcoming steps all the way to legislation.

The plan’s framework will include two alternative methods for the island’s electricity supply transactions through a small-scale interconnection, with the Peloponnese.

The solution to be selected will greatly depend on the results of the public consultation process.

As previously reported by energypress, a transitional framework is necessary as Crete’s electricity needs will only be partially covered, at a level of about 30 percent, through the small-scale interconnection.

The framework will expire once the island’s full-scale grid interconnection, all the way to Athens, begins operating in 2023.

Operators disagree on Crete network responsibility shift

Power grid operator IPTO and distribution network operator DEDDIE are locked in a dispute over the point in time at which management responsibility of Crete’s small-scale grid interconnection, to reach the Peloponnese, should be transferred from DEDDIE, currently responsible for Crete’s network as the island is classified as a non-interconnected island, to IPTO.

DEDDIE contends that IPTO must take on the responsibility of managing the island’s network with the launch of the small-scale interconnection, anticipated in March, and not in 2023, when Crete’s full-scale interconnection, all the way to Athens, is expected to begin operating.

Crete should be considered an interconnected island as soon as the small-scale grid interconnection to the Peloponnese is launched, even though this infrastructure’s capacity will be able to cover about 30 percent of the island’s energy needs, DEDDIE contends.

Normally, the grid status of islands is automatically revised from non-interconnected to interconnected when grid interconnections serving their energy needs are launched. However, Crete, Greece’s biggest and most populous island, represents a much bigger interconnection project that is being developed over two stages.

DEDDIE, backing its case, has cited an older opinion forwarded by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to the energy ministry, through which the authority supported that Crete’s network must be considered a part of the national grid, ending its non-interconnected island status, once the small-scale interconnection begins operating.

Also citing technical reasons to support its view, DEDDIE has pointed out that IPTO will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the small-scale grid link, infrastructure directly influencing the Cretan network’s performance. Therefore, the island’s high-voltage network and the Crete-Peloponnese interconnection must be managed by the one operator, DEDDIE contends.

IPTO does not reject the prospect of eventually becoming responsible for Crete’s network, but the power grid operator does oppose the idea of assuming responsibility for a fixed asset that does not belong to the company. Crete’s high-voltage network is owned by power utility PPC.

At present, PPC does not appear ready to sell. As a result, IPTO believes DEDDIE must be responsible for the network’s management until this asset is transferred to the power grid operator.

Cretan small-scale grid link tested, launch by year’s end

Power grid operator IPTO has begun electrification procedures at Crete’s small-scale grid interconnection with the mainland, to the Peloponnese – ahead of a bigger link to reach Athens – and is now preparing to conduct trial tests ahead of the project’s official launch by the end of the year.

The small-scale interconnection, covering a total distance of 132 kilometers, from Hania in Crete to Lakonia’s Neapoli area, is an investment worth 356 million euros.

Its development, including subsea cable installations at depths of 1,000 meters, has remained on schedule despite the pandemic’s obstacles.

The project’s imminent launch will enable the transmission of electricity from the mainland to Crete, high-voltage loads of 150kV, for the first time.

Crete’s large-scale grid interconnection with Athens, scheduled for completion in 2023, will secure exclusive supply to the island from the mainland, ensuring quality electricity supply for the island’s residents and visitors, IPTO has noted.

The overall project’s completion is expected to reduce public service compensation (YKO) surcharge costs imposed on electricity bills to fund island-based power-generating facilities by 300 to 400 million euros per year, while CO2 emissions on Crete will be reduced by 60 percent.

 

 

RAE awaits Brussels response to Ariadne minority sale plan

RAE, the Regulatory Authority of Energy, is awaiting a response from the European Commission before approving a plan by power grid operator IPTO to sell up to a 40 percent stake in its subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection, established specifically for the development of the Crete-Athens interconnection.

RAE has consulted Brussels as the authority wants clarification on what the corporate structure of parent company IPTO and its subsidiary permits, based on EU law.

The Crete-Athens grid link was originally planned as a segment of EuroAsia, a wider interconnection plan of PCI status to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli electricity grids, with EuroAsia, a consortium of Cypriot interests, at the helm. Eventually, IPTO withdrew the Crete-Athens section for its development as a national project.

Ariadne Interconnection’s role will be strictly limited to the construction of the Crete-Athens interconnection, a concession agreement between IPTO and its subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection has specified. Once completed, IPTO will assume the project’s management.

Last October, IPTO forwarded a detailed plan to RAE concerning the sale of a minority stake in Ariadne Interconnection.

China’s SGCC, a strategic partner of IPTO holding a 24 percent stake, informed, some time ago, that it would be interested in acquiring a 20 percent stake of Ariadne Interconnection. European operators such as Italy’s Terna and Belgium’s Elia, as well as major investment groups, have also expressed interest.

The acquisition by investors of a minority stake in Ariadne Interconnection is linked to the development of major-scale RES projects on Crete.

EuroAsia project moving again, Egypt present with EuroAfrica

Development of the wider region’s two major electricity grid interconnections, the EuroAsia Interconnector, to link Greece, from Crete, with Cyprus and Israel, and EuroAfrica Interconnector, a complementary project to link Cyprus with the African continent via Egypt, was discussed at a meeting in Nicosia yesterday between Greece’s energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and his Cypriot counterpart Natasa Pilides.

Progress at EuroAsia Interconnector, whose launch is scheduled for late in 2023, was held back by a Greek-Cypriot dispute prompted by Greek power grid operator IPTO’s withdrawal of the wider project’s Crete-Athens segment from EuroAsia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests.

The Crete-Athens segment is now being developed as a national project by IPTO and subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection.

EuroAsia Interconnector and EuroAfrica Interconnector promise to develop Cyprus into an electricity hub. A 310-km cable from Israel and a 498-km line from Egypt will converge at coastal Kofinou, in Cyprus’ south. From this hub, an 898-km cable is planned to link Cyprus with Crete before reaching Athens.

At yesterday’s meeting, the Greek and Cypriot energy ministers primarily focused on EuroAsia Interconnector, the Crete-Cyprus-Israel project, at a more mature stage.

Budgeted at 2.5 billion euros, this project, regarded as an EU Project of Common Interest, will promote regional energy security and further RES penetration in all three participating countries, Hatzidakis noted. The EU, it is estimated, will need to contribute at least half the project’s value.

Cyprus is the only EU member state without electricity grid interconnections.

Germany’s Siemens was awarded a procurement contract last May for EuroAsia Interconnector’s HVDC converter stations, budgeted at 623 million euros.

EuroAsia Interconnector was initially planned to offer 2 GW but this capacity has been halved, for the time being, as the other 1 GW will be used for the Crete-Athens grid interconnection.

EuroAsia Interconnector’s Israel-Cyprus segment is budgeted at 900 million euros while the cost of the bigger Cyprus-Crete section is estimated between 1.6 and 1.8 billion euros.

 

IPTO’s Ariadne Interconnection minority share offer resurfaces

Power grid operator IPTO has reopened the prospect of making available to investors a minority stake in its subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection, established for the development of the Crete-Athens interconnection.

The possible sale essentially remained stagnant during a recent period of administrative changes at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

Ariadne Interconnection has been commissioned the project’s construction IPTO but will cease to be involved in any way once the project is delivered to the operator for operation.

IPTO’s administration reminded RAE, in a letter forwarded just days ago, about a concession agreement it has signed with Ariadne Interconnection, offering a detailed description of the relations between the two companies for the Crete-Athens grid interconnection project.

The project was originally planned to be a segment of a wider interconnection plan to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli electricity grids, with EuroAsia, a consortium of Cypriot interests, at the helm, before IPTO withdrew the Crete-Athens section for its development as a national project.

IPTO has noted a minority partner in Ariadne Interconnection could be offered a stake of up to 40 percent.

China’s SGCC, a strategic partner of IPTO holding a 24 percent stake, informed, some time ago, that it wants to acquire a 20 percent stake of Ariadne Interconnection. European operators such as Belgium’s Elia and France’s RTE, as well as major investment groups have also indicated they would be interested.

 

Crete-Peloponnese subsea cable installation to start soon

Power grid operator IPTO plans to begin installing a 135-km subsea cable for the Peloponnese-Crete grid interconnection, part of a larger project to ultimately extend this line to Athens, within the next few weeks. The installation’s exact starting date will depend on the weather conditions.

Also, a subsea cable interconnecting the islands Naxos and Syros, the final step in the third phase of the Cyclades grid interconnection, is expected to be electrified next month, according to the operator.

The Peloponnese-Crete project, in particular, is pivotal in the effort to reduce public service compensation (YKO) surcharges for consumers. The interconnections will also help utilize the renewable energy potential of islands.

The Peloponnese-Crete subsea cable installation, made challenging by deep waters reaching 1,000 meters, will require about two months to complete, IPTO sources noted. It will be the world’s longest subsea cable grid interconnection.

Installation work for a second subsea cable (107 km, 150 kV) between Syros and seaside Lavrio, on the southeastern tip of the wider Athens area, was completed last month in preparation for the electrification of the Naxos-Syros line, expected early October. High-voltage testing, over a 24-hour period, will precede the line’s electrification.

IPTO, Ariadne agreement details partnership for Crete link

Power grid operator IPTO has signed a concession agreement with its fully owned subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection detailing their relationship for the Athens-Crete grid interconnection project, energypress sources have informed.

The agreement was prepared with assistance from legal and consulting firms to overcome concerns raised by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, following a decision by Greek authorities to develop this interconnection as a national project and not as part of the wider EuroAsia project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids.

RAE will now assess the concession agreement’s details and make observations, if needed, before procedures commence to bring investors into Ariadne Interconnection for a minority share.

The details of this entry procedure still remain unclear but the energy minister is expected to clarify through related legislation.

One of the ambiguities concerns whether large-scale RES projects on islands will be able to reserve IPTO interconnection capacities.

The Copelouzos group and Terna, for instance, maintain investment plans for Crete. If given the green light by the energy ministry, they will reserve capacities for the Athens-Crete interconnection, provide funds accordingly and be given corresponding stakes in Ariadne Interconnection.

Investors are expected to acquire up to 40 percent of Ariadne Interconnection, according to the IPTO board.

Chinese company SGCC, IPTO’s strategic partner with a 24 percent, has already expressed an interest to acquire a 20 percent stake in Ariadne Interconnection. Other interested parties include European operators, among them Belgium’s Elia and France’s RTE, as well as prominent financial groups possessing major investment portfolios.

Cyprus wants unchanged cost agreement for link with Crete

Though a new application submitted by EuroAsia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests, to the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility for funding support concerning an electricity grid interconnection project to link the Greek and Cypriot systems has yet to be examined or reciprocated by the European Commission, Greece and Cyprus have already begun talks on how to divide the remainder of the project’s costs not covered by the CEF.

The Cypriot side, which took the initiative for these talks, appears determined to ensure that Greece will stick to its share of the cost under the terms agreed to when the project also included the Athens-Crete link as part of a wider plan to interconnect the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli systems.

EuroAsia Interconnector head the wider Greek-Cypriot-Israeli plan. Greek power grid operator IPTO withdrew the Athens-Crete segment and is now working on it as a national project. IPTO is aiming for swifter progress on this section, urgently needed to resolve Crete’s pressing energy sufficiency issues.

Cyprus’ Regulatory Authority for Energy, RAEK, has forwarded to its Greek counterpart RAE a text presenting its cost-related views. RAEK wants to ensure that a Cross Border Cost Allocation agreement signed by the two sides late in 2017 for the Greek-Cypriot link, running from Crete to Cyprus, remains valid, despite Greece’s withdrawal of the Athens-Crete section.

According to the CBCA agreement, Cyprus will take on 63 percent of the cost of the Crete-Cyprus link and Greece will be responsible for the other 37 percent, under the condition that 50 percent of the total cost will be covered by EU funds, through the CEF.

The Crete-Cyprus interconnection is budgeted at 1.5 billion euros, meaning Greece’s share will be approximately 280 million euros.

This amount will be incorporated into IPTO’s accounts and need to be recovered through network surcharges included in consumer electricity bills, seen as a delicate matter by the Greek government.

Greek authorities have yet to respond to RAEK’s initiative as they await news from the European Commission on the CEF request.

PPC, Terna, Copelouzos resume talks for Crete RES partnership

Power utility PPC has resumed talks with Terna Energy and the Copelouzos group for a consortium to develop RES projects on Crete, but work is still needed if institutional complications are to be resolved.

The plan’s viability will depend on whether the consortium – if formed – can secure a contract with power grid operator IPTO to ensure a capacity reservation in the prospective Crete-Athens grid interconnection.

Approximately three years ago, Terna Energy and the Copelouzos group decided to merge two respective wind-energy projects covering Crete’s four prefectures, which took their combined capacity total to 950 MW, in order to facilitate an EU funding effort.

PPC also entered the picture just months ago, prior to the pandemic’s outbreak, for talks on the establishment of a three-member consortium. PPC Renewables, a PPC subsidiary, possesses wind-energy capacity on Crete.

The prospective venture planned by the trio entails transmission and sale to the mainland of 1 GW generated by wind-energy facilities. Each partner would hold a 33.3 percent stake in this venture.

 

 

Committee to oversee Greece, Cyprus, Israel grid link compatibility

Greek power grid operator IPTO, its Cypriot counterpart, DSMK, and project partners have been authorized by the energy ministries of the two countries to assemble a special committee tasked with ensuring technical compatibility between the prospective Athens-Crete grid interconnection and the planned Cypriot and Israeli links.

The Athens-Crete grid interconnection, work on which is set to begin, will be developed by IPTO subsidiary Ariadne Interconnector, following the Greek grid operator’s break away from Cyprus’ EuroAsia Interconnector, originally formed to oversee the entire interconnection project, from Greece to Israel, but now handling its Cyprus and Israel segments.

The Greek and Cypriot energy ministries have asked IPTO, DSKK, Ariadne Interconnector and EuroAsia Interconnector to assemble the special committee within the next fortnight.

Greece’s energy ministry is determined to contribute to all efforts resolving any technical issues for the wider Greek-Cypriot-Israeli interconnection but development of the Athens-Crete section, nationally significant as it promises to prevent energy shortages on Crete, remains the ministry’s main concern at this stage, sources informed.

The Greek government is providing strong political support to the Crete-Cyprus and Cyprus-Israel segments, the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou has pointed out, noting Cyprus’ grid interconnection with the rest of the EU promises to help the country achieve RES objectives set for 2030.

IPTO in talks with investors, operators for Crete interconnection

Investors – funds and major operators – are believed to be expressing strong interest for a minority stake in power grid operator IPTO’s subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection, the project developer of the Athens-Crete electricity grid interconnection.

Talks with parties interested in an Ariadne Interconnection stake have commenced, the power grid operator’s deputy chief Yiannis Margaris informed media during a press call for a presentation of the company’s annual financial results.

Prospective Ariadne shareholders must be financially robust, well acquainted with energy-sector matters, and focused on long-term investments, Margaris pointed out, setting terms and conditions.

The operator is focusing its search on big groups with portfolios carrying major investments, the deputy said.

IPTO’s administration is already engaged in talks with European operators such as Belgium’s Elia and French operator RTE, Margaris indicated.

IPTO expects to sign a bank loan agreement this month for an amount between 400 and 500 million euros to help finance the Athens-Crete interconnection. A sum stemming from Ariadne’s cash reserves worth 200 million euros and National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds of between 300 and 400 million euros are also expected to contribute.

The Athens-Crete link project is set to start and all the funds must be in place, IPTO officials said.

The possible involvement in Ariadne of investors will help achieve better borrowing terms, the officials added, while stressing the two procedures – search for a minority shareholder and capital – are moving ahead independently of each other.

Talks are also in progress with investors for island interconnections to facilitate RES projects, Margaris said.

Gov’t moves promise progress for Athens-Crete grid link

The government has taken key initiatives to facilitate progress of the Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection project, vital for the island’s energy sufficiency following the compulsory withdrawal of high-polluting power stations.

A decision was reached yesterday at a cabinet meeting headed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to induct this project into a code making the expropriation of property compulsory.

Prior to this, early in April, government officials delivered the project’s environmental terms.

The latest move, offering expropriation rights, enables work to progress before compensation amounts have been determined and paid out to displaced property owners.

However, in return, the Greek State must apply for temporary or final determination of compensation within one month.

Officials at power grid operator IPTO, developing the project, have embraced the government decisions as they promise to prevent delays for this ambitious and challenging grid interconnection.

Large-scale projects such as the Crete-Athens grid link cover areas administrated by successions of local authorities. Subsequently, overall project progress greatly relies on the swift issuance of licenses by local authorities.

As the next step, the winning bidders of cable installation work are expected to sign project contracts in May. The signing of contracts for the development of terminal stations is anticipated in the first half of June.

IPTO, Ariadne roles for Crete link project clarified to avoid complications

Power grid operator IPTO, guided by consultants and legal experts, has prepared a concession agreement clarifying the roles of the operator and its subsidiary firm Ariadne Interconnection in the development of the Athens-Crete electricity grid interconnection. This is needed to avoid future complications in Brussels.

The concession agreement makes clear Ariadne Interconnection’s involvement in the venture is limited to the development stage, noting the subsidiary firm will not maintain any operational or management interests once the project is delivered to IPTO for operation.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has warned that any managerial involvement in the project by a company such as Ariadne Interconnection, not a certified operator like its parent company, will lead to complications at the European Commission and could delay the project, to be developed as a national project, not a PCI project promising EU funds.

RAE’s concerns are made more acute by the prospect of Ariadne Interconnection’s prospective split from IPTO as part of a procedure to offer a minority stake to third parties. Ariadne Interconnection is currently a fully-owned IPTO subsidiary.

Clarification on the project roles of IPTO and Ariadne Interconnection will enable Ariadne Interconnection to seek minority shareholders.

IPTO has noted a 40 percent stake of Ariadne Interconnection will be offered to investors to help finance the project without the burden of bank loans.

State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), IPTO’s strategic partner with a 24 percent stake, has expressed an interest to acquire a 20 percent stake in Ariadne Interconnection.

IPTO island links over next 10 years to offer 2.6 GW capacity

Power grid operator IPTO’s interconnections planned for the next decade will prepare the ground for new island-based RES projects representing a total capacity of 2.6 GW.

The operator’s ten-year national electricity grid development plan for 2021 to 2030, forwarded to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for approval, offers major investment opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

Wind and solar energy farms operating on islands will be able to transmit their output to the mainland via underwater cables.

The IPTO ten-year plan offers a RES project installation capacity of 2,442 MW for Crete, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese and the northeast Aegean islands. This capacity represents potential investments estimated at 2.6 billion euros.

The completion of all four phases of the Cyclades interconnections, scheduled for the second half of 2024, will offer 332 MW for this region. Andros and Tinos will have a RES installation capacity of 72 MW, the capacity for Syros, Paros, Mykonos and Naxos will total 160 MW, while Santorini, Folegandros, Milos and Serifos will be offered a 100-MW installation capacity.

The completion of Crete’s small-scale mainland interconnection to the Peloponnese, scheduled for the second half this year, will offer a RES installation capacity of 160 MW. A further 600 MW will be added once the island’s major-scale interconnection to Athens is completed in 2023, when Crete’s wind and solar energy capacity total of new and existing RES projects is expected to reach 1,080 MW.

The RES expansion capacity on the Dodecanese and northeast Aegean islands will reach 1,030 MW, according to the IPTO ten-year plan. Samos, Chios and Lesvos will be offered a 360-MW share of this total; Limnos, Kos, Rhodes and Karpathos will get 570 MW, while Skyros will be offered the remaining 100 MW.

The grid interconnections in the island regions will be developed over three phases to be respectively completed in 2027, 2028 and 2029, according to the IPTO plan.

 

Work on Crete-Athens grid link nears launch after approvals

The Court of Auditors has approved contracts offered to winning bidders for installation of the Crete-Athens grid interconnection’s four cable segments, enabling the signing of contracts for the one billion-euro project’s biggest stage, budgeted at 615 million euros, probably within the month, energypress sources have informed. Work will then be able to commence.

Prysmian, Nexans and Hellenic Cables-NKT were awarded contracts for the project’s four cable segments. Prysmian secured two of these four contracts.

On another front, the Court of Auditors is expected to approve a contract for the project’s other key stage, the design, supply and installation of two converters and a substation, in June, according to sources.

Siemens – Terna, a member of the GEK TERNA group, submitted an improved bid of 370 million euros late last month to be awarded this contract by power grid operator IPTO’s fully-owned subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection, the project promoter.

The Court of Auditors’ approval of contracts for the project’s four cable segments follows a recent decision by the environment and energy ministry endorsing the 1,000-MW project’s environmental terms.

EU funding for the project through the NSRF (2014 – 2020) is expected to be approved within the next week to ten days, according to reliable sources. This would subsequently also offer IPTO access to bank financing.

Siemens-Terna awarded converter stations contract for Crete-Athens link

Power grid operator IPTO’s fully-owned subsidiary Ariadne
Interconnection has successfully completed a tender process for the Converter Stations of the Crete-Athens Interconnection, awarding the contract to Siemens – Terna, a member of the GEK TERNA group, ADMIE (IPTO) Holding has announced. 

After the submission of an improved bid on March 26, the contract price was set at 370 million euros, of which 358.6 million euros concern the construction of the converter stations. The remaining 11.4 million euros concern maintenance of these stations.

The contract calls for a 36-month implementation period and will be signed after approval by the Court of Auditors.

The project will be included in the list of the Operational Program “Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation” of the NSRF 2014 – 2020.

Τhe tendering procedure for the design, supply and installation of two Converters and a Substation for the DC Electrical Interconnection between Crete and Athens was launched on May 24, 2019.

The tender attracted the interest of world leaders in the industry and on November 1, 2019 the GE-Nari-Mytilineos and Siemens-Terna consortiums submitted binding offers.

The evaluation of the offers submitted by the consortiums, both of which possess strong technical backgrounds and specialized experience in similar projects abroad, required more than four months due to the project’s elevated technical demands. 

The technical evaluation was completed on March 13 and the Siemens-Terna consortium’s offer qualified, taking into account all relevant issues related to the interconnection.

Commenting on the tender, the IPTO group’s CEO Manos Manousakis noted: “During these challenging times, the tender process for our
flagship project, amounting to 1 billion euros, was successfully completed without problems.
IPTO will continue to focus all its efforts in order to protect the timely implementation of the project and ensure the safe and reliable power supply of Crete through the mainland system by 2023. Apart from the economic benefits of the interconnection of Crete for all Greek consumers, through the decline of Public Service Obligations (PSO), the implementation of this
project paves the way for accelerated RES integration on the island based on the principles of sustainable development.”

IPTO in talks with financial institutions for Crete link loan

Power grid operator IPTO is currently involved in talks with local and foreign financial institutions for a loan concerning Crete’s major-scale electricity grid interconnection with Athens, a project budgeted at around one billion euros.

IPTO chief executive Manos Manousakis is looking for a project loan of roughly 400 million euros. Talks, so far, with financial institutions, including the EBRD, according to sources, are believed to have made good progress.

Financial institutions contacted so far appear positive on the prospect of  providing financing for the Crete-Athens interconnection but want WACC level and cost-benefit study assurances.

IPTO anticipates financing for the project from three sources, including the 400 million-euro bank loan.

The operator has already allotted 200 million euros for subsidiary firm Ariadne Interconnector, the project promoter. IPTO also expects between 350 and 400 million euros to come from the EU’s National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF).

A new regulatory framework for the grid interconnection as a national project rather than a PCI project is a significant pending issue that also needs to be resolved.

RES auction to offer 200 MW for Cretan wind, solar energy projects

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is preparing to stage a RES auction for new renewable energy facility installations on Crete in anticipation of the island’s grid capacity increase to result from new interconnections with the mainland.

The authority intends to offer 100 MW for wind energy facilities and a further 100 MW for solar energy projects, all at a starting price of 30 euros per MWh.

Crete is rated as an area of very high RES potential, especially for wind and solar projects. These favorable conditions support further renewable energy development at the lowest possible cost and minimum burden on consumers.

Crete’s energy security has developed into a major issue and national priority as a result of the implementation of strict EU carbon emission limits requiring the withdrawal of high-polluting units as of the end of 2020.

 

Crete link environmental terms, needed for contracts, soon

The energy ministry will publish the environmental terms for Crete’s major-scale grid interconnection with Athens, needed for project contracts, within the first ten days or March, power grid operator IPTO, the project’s promoter, anticipates.

The delivery of these terms will enable the winning bidders for the project’s cable installations, Prysmian, Nexans and Hellenic Cables – NKT, to sign project contracts with the operator, probably two to three weeks later, somewhere between late March and early April.

Meanwhile, appraisals of offers submitted by bidders for project converter stations are believed to be nearing completion. Two consortiums, Terna-Siemens and Mytilineos-General Electric-Nari have submitted offers to the tender for converter stations.

Construction of the major-scale grid interconnection, from Crete to Athens, will be able to commence once the cable and converter station contracts have been signed.

IPTO insists the project will be fully operational in 2023.

Work on Crete’s small-scale grid interconnection with the mainland, from Crete to the southern Peloponnese, is progressing as scheduled, IPTO has informed.

The installation of this segment’s submarine cables, awarded to Prysmian and Hellenic Cables, is scheduled to be completed around November, according to IPTO’s schedule.

This segment involves deep-sea cable installation work at more than 1,000 meters below sea level, an effort said to be unprecedented anywhere in the world.

Swift solution needed for Crete link project’s local resistance

The energy ministry is working to overcome resistance raised by regional authorities in Crete against the installation of a converter station needed for a submarine electricity grid interconnection project to link the island with Athens.

Cretan regional authorities have delivered a negative report on a plan by power grid operator IPTO, the project’s promoter, to install a converter station at Damasta in the Heraklion province.

The ministry needs to resolve the issue in order to issue an environmental permit for the interconnection project. The project’s completion target of 2023 could be threatened if this issue is not swiftly resolved.

A new round of talks involving top-ranked officials at the energy ministry and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, and Cretan regional authorities could be held during the current week. Alternative solutions and offsetting measures that would compensate locals for any negative impact caused by the project are expected to be discussed.

IPTO appears set to sign an agreement with Prysmian, Nexans and Hellenic Cables – NKT, the winning bidders in a tender for the project’s cables. However, the pending environmental permit is needed.

Technical aspects of bids submitted to another project tender concerning two other converter stations and a substation are currently being assessed. Two consortiums, Terna – Siemens and Mytilineos – General Electric – Nari submitted bids for this tender.

Its next stage, an assessment of financial offers submitted by the aforementioned participants, will be made early in the year, Ariadne, an IPTO subsidiary formed for the Cretan interconnection project, has informed.

Copelouzos, Terna, PPC in Crete wind energy talks

Power utility PPC is engaged in talks with the Copelouzos and Terna Energy groups for the establishment of a joint venture to operate Cretan wind energy parks with a total capacity of approximately 1,000 MW.

The trio also intends to secure capacity in the Crete-Athens grid interconnection once this project, being developed by power grid operator IPTO, has been completed.

Details being discussed include the prospective stakes each of the three companies in the common venture. An even split of 33 percent each is one of the options being considered.

Two major Cretan wind energy projects being developed by Terna Energy and the Copelouzos group’s Elika were merged in 2017 to simplify their respective financing procedures through the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), commonly known as the Juncker Package.

These wind energy parks, promising an overall capacity of approximately 950 MW, will be developed in four prefectures.

PPC’s involvement, if an agreement with Copelouzos and Terna Energy is reached, could offer the power utility a 330-MW capacity.

Besides the current talks with Copelouzos and Terna Energy, PPC has received over ten partnership offers by Greek and foreign firms over the past few months.

The power utility recently signed three Memorandums of Understanding for strategic partnerships in the renewable energy sector, including one with Masdar Taaleri Generation (MTG) concerning a 300-MW capacity.

Ariadne Interconnector minority stake tender early in 2020

A tender to offer one or two prospective partners minority stakes in Ariade Interconnector, the SPV established by power grid operator IPTO for the development of the Athens-Crete electricity grid interconnection, is expected to be staged within the first few months of 2020.

Both the energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and IPTO chief executive Manos Manousakis anticipate common ground will soon be found with RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to enable the tender to go ahead.

State Grid Corp of China (SGCC) appears willing to participate in the tender. The Chinese company, already holding a 24 percent stake of IPTO, has expressed interest to acquire 20 percent of Ariadne. A related memorandum guaranteeing SGCC’s involvement, has been signed between SGCC and IPTO.

If SGCC’s interest in Ariadne is limited to 20 percent, then a second package, most probably offering an additional 19 percent, will be offered to investors for a total of 39 percent.

This is the Ariadne Interconnector stake that had been planned for EuroAsia, a consortium of Cypriot interests that has opposed IPTO’s decision to appoint Ariadne, a subsidiary firm, as project promoter of the Athens-Crete electricity grid interconnection.

Euroasia, heading a consortium formed for a wider PCI-status interconnection project to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids, has sought control of the Crete-Athens segment’s development.

If SGCC expresses an interest for an Ariadne stake bigger than 20 percent, then just one package offering 39 percent will be offered through a tender.

IPTO is determined to keep a majority stake in its subsidiary Ariadne as the operator wants to maintain control over the construction stage of the Athens-Crete link, to be managed by the operator once launched.

Investors, especially from abroad, are expected to show strong interest in Ariadne.

The IPTO administration is also looking to offer minority stakes to investors in other projects it is developing. This would secure further financing support and swifter completion.

SGCC interested in additional IPTO stake, Crete grid link role

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.

Ariadne third-party investors a problem for Crete grid link

Crete’s major-scale electricity grid interconnection with Athens, now entering its next phase following a government decision to not develop the link as a national project, meaning the project will not be included on the EU’s new PCI list, faces subsequent administrative and financing complexities.

Ariadne, as a fully-owned subsidiary of power grid operator IPTO, is entitled to develop this national electricity transmission project, but appears to lose the right should third parties enter its equity make-up as partners.

IPTO wants investors to take on a minority stake of up to 49 percent in Ariadne as a means of avoiding bank loans for the project’s development.

If third parties enter Ariadne’s make-up as shareholders, then the subsidiary will need to be re-certified as operator based on its new line-up. A second alternative would require RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to stage the competitive procedure to bring new investors into Ariadne.

Both options would be time-consuming, which is a major concern given the urgency of this project, needed to prevent looming energy shortages on Crete.

The energy ministry, fully informed on the complexities to be created by third-party entries into Ariadne’s line-up, is expected to soon seek further clarification on the matter from the European Commission.

One of three Crete link bidding teams wants time or will exit

ABB, the world’s biggest developer of power grid interconnection projects, has requested a further deadline extension greater than the one-month periods of additional time already granted twice for a tender concerning the Crete-Athens grid interconnection project’s engineering, procurement and construction of two converter stations and a GIS substation, energypress sources have informed. The tender’s current deadline is set to expire on October 31.

Both the Greek government and power grid operator IPTO appear determined not to accept any further deadline extension requests as this, they believe, would increase the risk of a project delay and, consequently, energy sufficiency issues on Crete.

Outdated, high-polluting power stations still operating on Crete soon need to be withdrawn.

ABB, which has joined forces with Greek maritime infrastructure construction and maintenance group Archirodon for the Cretan project’s tender, has cited the complexity of the project for the additional time the company appears to need. If a sizable extension is not granted, then ABB and project partner Archirodon will most likely withdraw from the tender, it is believed.

On the contrary, two other partnerships established for the tender, according to reliable sources, are preparing to submit their offers. Siemens is believed to have joined forces with Greek construction company TERNA and General Electric is working with Greece’s Mytilineos, according to sources.

The grid interconnection project’s development faces a tight schedule. IPTO chief executive Manos Manousakis told a recent conference the project will be launched early 2023, not at the end of 2022, as was previously believed.

PPC wants cost coverage for Crete energy sufficiency moves

Power utility PPC is unwilling to move ahead with measures required to ensure energy sufficiency on Crete between 2020 and 2023 – the period during which the island’s major-scale electricity grid interconnection with Athens is planned to be developed – unless it is assured cost coverage for these actions through public service compensation (YKO) surcharges included on electricity bills.

Various measures deemed necessary by a National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) study have yet to be implemented.

On the contrary, various issues keep surfacing. Just recently, PPC informed there is not enough time to convert a diesel-fueled unit at Atherinolakkos into a gas-fueled facility by next summer. All of the island’s high-polluting diesel-run units must be withdrawn by the end of this year.

PPC wants the cost of unit conversions, natural gas orders, as well as take-or-pay clauses that may be attached to gas supply agreements covered by the public service compensation surcharge.

Besides representing part of the overall solution for Crete’s energy sufficiency between 2020 and 2023, the plan to convert old lignite units to gas-fueled facilities also promises to serve as a long-term solution.

The NTUA study for Crete also proposes the installation of a new 100-MW unit, preferably gas fueled; development of new RES facilities with a total capacity of between 100 and 150 MW; and the installation and incorporation into the grid of energy storage systems (high-tech batteries) with a capacity of 30 to 40 MW.