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.


Greece proposes corresponding Cypriot SPV for needed grid link

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis, responding to a Cypriot appeal for Greece to not stand as an obstacle in the island nation’s effort to end its energy isolation, has proposed that Cyprus establish an SPV of its own for swifter development of the Crete-Cyprus segment of a wider interconnection plan aiming to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids.

Despite European Commission objections, RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, has remained adamant about its decision to place an SPV named Ariadne, a Greek power grid operator IPTO subsidiary, at the helm of the Crete-Athens segment’s development.

IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading the wider Greek, Cypriot and Israeli PCI-status interconnection plan, have fought for control over the Crete-Athens segment, creating a Greek-Cypriot dispute.

Cyprus fears the Greek-Cypriot-Israeli interconnection plan could be brought to the ground by the dispute, which would end the island nation’s aspirations for an electricity market interconnection with Greece and, by extension, other European energy markets.

Stathakis, Greece’s energy minister, contends the Greek SPV does not breach any regulations or agreements as all parties involved have already agreed on IPTO holding a stake of at least 51 percent in the company to develop the Athens-Crete link.

He supports that a corresponding Cypriot SPV controlling the Crete-Cyprus segment would lead to swifter progress for both the Crete-Cyprus and Crete-Athens segments of the wider project and end the island nation’s energy isolation.



RAE plans to give IPTO Crete-link control, SPV task

Fearing project delays that could prompt power supply shortages on Crete, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, intends to inform the European Commission of a decision to give Greece’s power grid operator IPTO the task of swiftly establishing a special purpose vehicle for the development of Crete’s urgently needed major-scale electricity grid interconnection with Athens as a venture in which the operator will hold a 51 percent stake and other shareholders will be offered 39 percent with an option for a further 10 percent, energypress sources have informed.

The Euroasia Interconnector consortium, responsible for the wider Euroasia Interconnector, a PCI-status project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids via Crete, will be offered priority rights for the 39 percent stake, the sources added.

IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests, have been involved in an extended dispute for control of the wider project’s Cretan segment.

RAE’s plan comes as a counterproposal to a European Commission initiative giving the Euroasia Interconnector consortium until the end of the year to resolve its dispute with IPTO.

Greek energy minister Giorgos Stathakis had pre-notified of RAE’s latest move in parliament as well as in Chania last Friday, when he informed the energy authority would task IPTO with establishing an SPV by the end of this year, adding IPTO would hold a 51 percent stake and the Euroasia Interconnector consortium the other 49 percent.

Crete faces a looming energy sufficiency threat as of 2020 because an exemption to EU law concerning power station emission limits for local high-polluting units, such as those operating on Crete, ends in December, 2019. A number of power stations on the island will need to be withdrawn.




Minister heading to Nicosia for EuroAfrica Interconnector

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis is scheduled to attend a trilateral meeting in Nicosia next Tuesday where Greek, Cypriot and Egyptian officials will discuss the development of the EuroAfrica Interconnector, a 2,000-MW submarine cable project planned to link the electricity networks of Greece, Cyprus and Egypt with the European system.

Next week’s meeting comes follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Egyptian electricity company EEHC in Cairo last February.

The ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus, as well as top officials from Egypt’s electricity and energy ministry, attended February’s signing ceremony, during which Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi expressed personal interest for the interconnection project’s development.

The EuroAfrica Interconnector promises to provide considerable economic and geopolitical benefits to the countries involved, Greek, Cypriot and Egyptian officials have pointed out.

Sector experts will also attend next Tueday’s meeting to offer their views on the project’s prospects and sustainability, and also present the results of studies called for by the MoU.

If officials reach a consensus on the findings, prospects and sustainability, then procedures leading to the project’s actualization are expected to gain momentum.

According to initial estimates, the interconnection project will require 36 months to develop once all related studies have been completed.

Greece is also involved in another prospective international interconnection project, the EuroAsia Interconnector, along with Cyprus and Israel.

Development of both projects promises to establish Cyprus as a hub linking the electricity networks of three continents.

According to reports, a further extension of the EuroAfrica Interconnector, to incorporate other African and Middle East countries, is also being looked at. Such a prospect would greatly increase the significance of both projects and their combined role in the transmission of electricity from various sources to Europe’s network.