The government is preparing fast-track procedures for the installation of electricity production facilities on Crete by 2020, needed to avoid an energy shortage following an EU-required withdrawal of old units at the end of 2019.
Installations of wind turbines as well as power generators that may be hired or transferred from Rhodes are among the solutions being considered by authorities to ensure the island’s energy sufficiency.
Building permit demands are expected to be omitted to make the fast-track procedures as swift as possible.
The plan’s new electricity generation solutions will be crucial until the completion of a small-scale grid interconnection linking Crete with the Peloponnese, expected during 2020. Even then, Crete will still face a 200-MW capacity deficit until a major-scale grid interconnection, linking Crete with Athens, is completed in 2022.
Three old, high-polluting units with a total capacity of 728 MW will need to stop operating on Crete as a result of strict EU environmental regulations, Miguel Arias Canete, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, has made clear to the Greek government.
Electricity demand on Crete, one of the country’s biggest tourism destinations, currently stands at 630 MW and is expected to exceed 700 MW in 2020.
The energy ministry appears to have decided not to restrict the operating capacity of Crete’s diesel-fired power stations by the end of 2019, when a European Commission extension for these high polluting units expires, as all alternatives examined to cover a consequent energy sufficiency shortage on the island are seen as high-cost solutions.
Though Greece’s interest for a further operating extension has not been officially rejected by Brussels, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete recently made clear the country will not be granted more time.
Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis is counting on an increased level of understanding by the European Commission, given the looming energy shortage threat on Crete, as well as lengthy procedures implemented by Brussels officials in reaction to environmental violations.
A prolonged operating period of Crete’s diesel-fired power stations, covering electricity needs until a submarine power cable connection linking the island with the Peloponnese is completed, should make the energy scare manageable.
Taking into account higher electricity demand levels anticipated on the island, an additional 50 MW should be needed in 2019 and 70 MW in 2020, according to a DEDDIE/HEDNO (Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator) study that was reportedly presented at an Athens meeting this week.
Small units to be transferred from Rhodes and, possibly, leasing of other units for Crete, are planned to cover this extra demand.
RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, appears adamant about its recent decision to appoint Greek power grid operator IPTO as project promoter of the Crete-Athens grid interconnection despite objections from the European Commission, insisting Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a wider Greek-Cypriot-Israeli PCI-status interconnection project, remains in charge of the Crete-Athens segment.
Latest developments in the dispute indicate RAE will push ahead with details concerning its decision to place IPTO at the helm of the Crete-Athens link within the next fortnight. These details include the provision of an environmental license to IPTO and the assembly of a technical team to work on the Crete-Athens link’s compatibility with the wider project.
In comments to energypress, RAE officials said the authority will push ahead as planned, contending its actions to date comply with EU laws and regulations. The Greek energy authority took action following a report delivered by ACER, Europe’s Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, which confirmed the PCI-status project was two years behind schedule, the RAE sources added.
The concerns of Greek officials are focused on a looming energy sufficiency threat on Crete as of 2020, when high-polluting diesel-fueled power stations operating on the island will need to be withdrawn.
It remains unclear if the dispute will bring together Greece’s energy minister Giorgos Stathakis and European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete for higher-level talks on the matter.
A question forwarded by ruling Syriza party Euro MP Stelios Kouloglou to the European Commission’s climate change and energy chief concerning project awarding procedure delays for the Athens-Crete grid link has unintentionally raised the alarm for urgent action at the energy ministry and RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, suddenly both under major pressure to seek a solution that would prevent an energy shortage problem on Crete as of 2020.
Responding to the Greek MEP’s question, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete made clear, in a public statement, Greece will not be granted any further deadline extensions beyond December 31, 2019 for diesel-fueled power stations operating on Crete.
The commissioner’s reaction also serves as a preemptive response to any deadline extension, as has been contemplated by Athens, for Crete’s diesel-fueled power stations. Such a request has yet to be made.
According to sources, highly ranked Brussels officials visiting Athens last month had kept alive the prospect of a deadline extension for Crete’s high-polluting power stations until the energy shortage fears on the island were overcome, under the condition that this allowance was accompanied by an environmental initiative from Athens, such as the withdrawal of lignite-fired power stations operating on the mainland.
Greece will not be given any further deadline extensions beyond December 31, 2019 for diesel-fueled power stations operating on Crete, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete has noted.
The Brussels authority was responding to a question raised by Syriza party Euro MP Stelios Kouloglou concerning Crete’s grid interconnection project delays and the island’s consequent energy sufficiency threat – if the existing power stations, high-polluting units, are withdrawn prior to the grid interconnection’s operational launch.
The Cretan interconnection – with the Peloponnese, as a first step, followed by a link with the Athens grid – represents a segment of a wider PCI-status project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids.
Cypriot energy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis has urged his Greek counterpart Giorgos Stathakis to support action that would ensure Greece’s energy-related support for Cyprus and prevent a collapse of the PCI-status project.
The European Commission is working on the wider project’s development with all sides involved, Canete stressed in his response.
Greek power grid operator IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading the Greek-Cypriot-Israeli project, have fought for control of the wider project’s Crete-Athens segment.