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 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.

 

Network operator’s privatization may offer less than 49% limit

The government has set a 49 percent limit for the planned privatization of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO but the stake to be offered may end up being smaller.

A DEDDIE/HEDNO stake of up to 49 percent and increased rights for investors will be placed for sale, while the operator’s majority and management will remain under the control of power utility PPC, the operator’s parent company, the group’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis noted in an interview published by Greek daily Ta Nea over the weekend.

The size of the DEDDIE/HEDNO stake to be offered to investors will, on the one hand, depend on the amount of cash required by PPC to resolve financial matters for a path towards recovery, and, on the other, the ability of potential buyers to meet the price-tag demands of a major privatization.

DEDDIE/HEDNO’s assets are estimated to be worth 3.2 billion euros, meaning a 49 percent stake should cost potential buyers over 1.5 billion euros.

PPC has commissioned Goldman Sachs and Eurobank as the privatization’s consultants. The power utility’s administration would like to find a DEDDIE/HEDNO buyer by the end of the year.

An ambitious ten-year business plan for DEDDIE/HEDNO, one reflecting the lofty demands of the National Energy and Climate Plan, is being prepared for presentation to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, in about two months’ time.

DEDDIE/HEDNO will face the challenge of developing projects worth billions by 2030, including new interconnections and nationwide installation of smart meters.

 

Greek, North Macedonian operators working on gas, power links

Greek gas grid operator DESFA and its state-controlled North Macedonian counterpart MER plan to upgrade a memorandum of cooperation signed in 2016 for the construction of a 120-kilometer gas pipeline from Thessaloniki’s Nea Mesimvria area to the northern neighbor.

Heading a Greek delegation, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his North Macedonian peer Zoran Zaev have agreed to sign a series of bilateral agreements and memorandums of cooperation in Skopje today.

The project, to interconnect the Greek and North Macedonian gas transmission systems, is regarded as one of the most significant energy investments being prepared by the two countries.

It is planned to offer an annual transmission capacity of about 3 billion cubic meters and also enable an interconnection with the TAP route – to supply Azerbaijan gas to European markets via Greece – for a diversification of sources.

The DESFA-MER association promises to be further enhanced by the North Macedonian operator’s moves for gas system interconnections with Kosovo and Montenegro.

Subsequently, the Greek-North Macedonian natural gas pipeline, once constructed, promises to offer a new supply route to Balkan markets.

DESFA is preparing to stage a market test for the Greek-North Macedonian pipeline during the second half of this year, sources have informed.

Meanwhile, Greece’s power grid operator IPTO and its North Macedonian counterpart MEPSO are discussing preliminary studies intended to lead to an upgrade of electricity interconnections between the two countries.