IPTO in advanced talks for EuroAsia Interconnector helm

Power grid operator IPTO appears set to assume the role of project promoter at EuroAsia Interconnector, the Cyprus-headquartered consortium established to develop a grid interconnection project linking the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli electricity networks.

Questions have recently abounded about the consortium’s financial and technical ability to develop such a complex project.

Negotiations between IPTO and EuroAsia Interconnector, headed by Cypriot CEO Nasos Ktorides, have reached an advanced stage, sources informed.

IPTO, which recently acquired a 25 percent stake in the EuroAsia Interconnector, has submitted an offer that would give the Greek operator majority control of the consortium. The offer, sources informed, has been accepted, but still requires the European Commission’s approval.

Though the consortium has achieved noteworthy progress by securing, among other things, 657 million euros in funding from the Connecting Europe Facility and establishing an agreement for the project’s cable with Norwegian company Nexans, the overall endeavor has now reached a critical pre-construction stage, leading to greater needs, especially financial, which the Cypriot company appears to have found challenging.

IPTO’s assumption of the project promoter’s role at EuroAsia Interconnector is seen, by all parties involved, as the best solution for the smooth implementation of the project, as the Greek operator possesses the necessary financial strength, technical capacity and expertise to develop an HVDC interconnector of such magnitude and technical complexity.

The Cypriot government is taking this interconnection project very seriously, while cooperation between IPTO and the Cypriot energy ministry is excellent at all levels, IPTO officials informed energypress, in response to questions.

Talks for Green Aegean link, from Greece to Germany, gain momentum

A prospective Green Aegean grid interconnection project, planned to run from Greece to Germany’s south, facilitating exports of significant amounts of green energy as part of a wider effort to transport energy from Europe’s south to north, is gaining momentum through ongoing communication between Greek power grid operator IPTO and four German electricity transmission operators. Additionally, the international policy offices of the Greek and German energy ministries are becoming more actively involved in the project.

Though, quite clearly, the green transition stands no chance of succeeding without the development of major international interconnections for exports of colossal green energy quantities from south to north, coordinating such a transboundary project is a highly complex task, as efforts to date have shown.

From a technical point of view, an initial Greek proposal envisions a cable with a total transmission capacity of approximately 3 GW. This capacity would be boosted to 6 GW through a second round of work and eventually be further upgraded to 9 GW, according to the Greek proposal.

IPTO has worked on two alternative cable routes, both involving Albania. One proposal concerns an overland route across Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria before concluding in Germany’s south. The Greek power grid operator’s other proposed route, which includes an underwater crossing, would run alongside the Albanian coast to Slovenia and then follow a n overland route to Austria and southern Germany.

IPTO is currently engaged in talks with each of Germany’s four transmission system operators (TSOs) – Transnet, Tenne, Amprion and 50 Hertz – covering separate German regions, to determine the extent of Berlin’s support for the Green Aegean project.

Greece and Germany, Europe’s biggest consumer of green energy, will need to reach an agreement on the project before an application can be lodged to the European Commission. If the effort moves ahead, PCI/PMI status will be sought for the project.

At present, there is no clarity on the project’s financing plan. Last March, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told an EU Summit that the project would require funding from a variety of European programs. A European Grid Facility needs to be established to fund new multi-billion budget networks that will be able to support additional green energy, he noted.

As yet, no moves been made to modernize outdated grid infrastructure, especially in the western Balkans, lying between Europe’s south and north. This infrastructure will require a revamp in order to carry enormous amounts of green electricity stemming from the east Mediterranean, Egypt and Africa’s north.

Greece is now at a critical crossroads in terms of its green production potential, which will increasingly exceed domestic demand. On September 10, a new record of green electricity production was set, renewables covering up to 140 percent of domestic demand. Surplus amounts were exported, indicating what lies ahead and highlighting the need for solutions.


EuroAsia Interconnector fears abound after payment failure

Questions continue to abound on the uncertain future of the beleaguered EuroAsia Interconnector project, aspiring to interconnect the electricity networks of Greece, Cyprus and Israel, after the project consortium leader’s denial of having missed a payment deadline last Friday.

Asked by the Cypriot newspaper Phileleftheros to comment on an energypress report stating that EuroAsia Interconnector, the Cyprus-headquartered consortium promoting the project, failed to meet a September 7 deadline for a 50 million-euro payment to Norwegian company Nexans as a first installment for cable supply, the consortium’s chief executive officer Nasos Ktorides denied the existence of any such deadline.

The CEO claimed EuroAsia Interconnector had no contractual obligation to make a first payment of 50 million euros to Nexans by last Friday for the construction and installation of a 1.4 billion-euro cable running from Crete to Cyprus.

Instead, Ktorides insisted that the EuroAsia Interconnector consortium respects all terms of its agreement with Nexans. The CEO acknowledged the existence of payment deadlines but refused to offer any dates.

As reported by energypress, the agreement between EuroAsia Interconnector and Nexans for a first installment by September 7 may not have been binding, but the consortium’s failure to make the payment does underline its financial issues.

The Cypriot government has kept a growing distance from the EuroAsia Interconnector project ever since the European Commission warned a 657 million-euro CEF sum secured for it would be reexamined if the project’s schedule is not maintained.

EuroAsia Interconnector fails to make first Nexans payment

The beleaguered EuroAsia Interconnector project, aspiring to interconnect the electricity networks of Greece, Cyprus and Israel, has run into further trouble following its Cyprus-headquartered consortium’s failure to meet yesterday’s deadline for a 50 million-euro payment to Norwegian company Nexans as a first installment for cable supply.

This deadline was widely viewed as a crash test for the credibility of the consortium, spearheaded by Cypriot entrepreneur Nasos Ktorides, its chief executive officer.

The payment failure has given rise to various scenarios concerning the project’s future. Without a doubt, the Cypriot government wants this geostrategically important project to go ahead, while the European Commission, which has offered funding support worth 657 million euros, through the Connecting Europe Facility, can be expected to become more actively involved in an attempt to push the project forward.

Given its commitment to the EuroAsia Interconnector project, Greek power grid operator IPTO could also intensify its efforts to keep the grid interconnection project afloat.

IPTO has pledged to contribute 33 percent of the investment if legal due diligence is successfully completed, while an Israeli fund that has expressed interest could provide an equivalent amount. Under such a scenario, IPTO and the Israeli fund would hold 66.66 percent of the EuroAsia Interconnector project’s equity capital.

It remains unclear as to why the EuroAsia Interconnector consortium failed to meet yesterday’s payment deadline, despite having recently received the required 50 million-euro amount from the CEF. According to one resulting scenario, a new consortium could now be sought for the project’s development.

A growing number of Cypriot government officials have been distancing themselves from the Euroasia Interconnector project ever since Brussels’ recent warning that the 657 million-euro CEF sum secured for it would be reexamined if the project’s schedule is not maintained.

Cyprus’ energy minister Giorgos Papanastasiou recently noted the project is still 1.1 billion short of its 1.9 billion-euro budget, which was revised upwards from a previous total of 1.57 billion euros.

Euroasia Interconnector, short of €1.1bn, faces payment test

The moment of truth is approaching for the promising yet troubled Euroasia Interconnector project, aspiring to interconnect the electricity networks of Greece, Cyprus and Israel but facing challenges in terms of its schedule and funding.

European Commission warnings over the project’s insufficient financing plan have raised concerns among authorities in Cyprus, where the Euroasia Interconnector consortium is headquartered. The consortium faces a September 7 deadline for a 50 million-euro payment to Norwegian company Nexans, for the construction of a cable. Tomorrow’s deadline represents a crash test for the consortium’s credibility.

A growing number of Cypriot government officials have been distancing themselves from the Euroasia Interconnector project since Brussels’ recent warning that EU funds worth 657 million euros secured by the project would be reexamined if the project’s schedule is not maintained.

The project’s challenges have been highlighted by the very statements of Cypriot government ministers and officials. Asked, just days ago, about Euroasia Interconnector, government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis replied that the Cypriot government would first wait for a rating agency’s assessment of the project’s feasibility and geostrategic value before taking any decisions on its involvement.

Also, Cyprus’ energy minister Giorgos Papanastasiou has downplayed the significance of Greek power grid operator IPTO’s recent preliminary agreement with an Israeli fund for the latter’s entry into the equity capital of Euroasia Interconnector with a share of up to 33 percent.

This agreement would contribute roughly 100 million euros to the project, just a fraction of the Euroasia Interconnector’s budget, which has risen sharply to 1.9 billion euros from a previous estimate of 1.57 billion euros, Papanastasiou noted, when asked to comment on IPTO’s agreement with the Israeli fund.

This agreement’s anticipated 100 million euros, along with the Connecting Europe Facility’s 657 million euros, and a further 100 million euros from the Cypriot recovery fund, all totaling 857 million euros, still leaves the project’s required funding short of 1.1 billion euros, Papanastasiou pointed out.

External investor interest for Greece-Cyprus-Israel grid link

A preliminary agreement between Greek power grid operator IPTO and an Israeli fund that would facilitate the fund’s entry into the equity capital of Euroasia Interconnector, the developer of the Greece-Cyprus-Israel grid interconnection, with a share of up to 33 percent, has ignited considerable investment enthusiasm in the project among external investors.

News of this strong investment interest was revealed by Cypriot Minister of Energy, Trade and Industry Giorgos Papanastasiou during a Parliamentary Energy Committee meeting held yesterday for a discussion on the project’s progress.

The parliamentary session took place just hours after IPTO’s preliminary agreement with the Israeli fund had been disclosed.

IPTO has already reached an agreement of its own with Euroasia Interconnector for a stake of at least 25 percent in the consortium, with an option to increase this stake to 33 percent.

Papanastasiou, the Cypriot minister, noted IPTO’s entry into the Euroasia Interconnector consortium serves as a vehicle for the Greek State’s involvement in the project. For the time being, the Cypriot State officially remains absent from the project.

“For us, it is inconceivable that the Republic of Cyprus should not be involved in such a project,” Papanastasiou noted.

Nevertheless, he emphasized that the Cypriot government is diligently assessing the matter. Given the project’s significant expenses, any decisions will be made after a comprehensive evaluation of the project’s technical and financial aspects.

The minister rejected claims suggesting the project would result in significant electricity tariff increases for Cypriot consumers, noting preliminary calculations indicate a cost increase of approximately 0.7 cents per KWh, which is just a fraction of Cyprus’s current retail electricity prices, reaching 35 cents per KWh.

Crucial studies for Greek-Egyptian GREGY link in autumn

Extensive attention paid to the prospective grid interconnection that would link Greece and Egypt through the 3.5 billion-euro GREGY Interconnector project at a meeting yesterday between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi in El Alamein reaffirms the strategic importance of this project.

So, too, does the involvement of Nikos Tsafos, the Greek PM’s special adviser on energy matters, and two Egyptian ministers, Tarek El-Molla, minister of petroleum and mineral resources, and Mohamed Shaker, minister of renewable energy, in working groups staged during the visit.

The GREGY Interconnector was recently favorably assessed by the European Commission for inclusion on its PCI/PMI list, but a series of challenging steps lie ahead.

Three crucial studies considered pivotal for the project’s prospects are planned to be staged in autumn – an environmental study, a final engineering study, and a seabed mapping survey, the trickiest and costliest of the three that will involve imaging of the seabed with a special vessel along the project’s 954-kilometer subsea route.

This latter survey is expected to require at least six months to complete. A vessel to take on the seabed mapping is expected to be commissioned in autumn through a tender.

Great water depths, such as those to be encountered in this East Mediterranean region, require expertise and experience possessed by few companies in the world.

Elica, a subsidiary of the Copelouzos group established to promote the Greek-Egyptian GREGY Interconnector, has come up with a budget estimate of 15 million euros for the seabed scan.

However, given the survey’s deep-sea nature and the fact that the proposed route’s seabed remains largely unknown as the area it covers has never before been scanned in detail, survey costs could escalate beyond initial estimates. Bad weather could also delay the effort. At best, a Final Investment Decision should not be expected before mid-2024.

EuroAsia Interconnector funds threatened by project delays

EU authorities appear to have issued a strict warning to Cyprus over major delays in binding scheduling terms for EuroAsia Interconnector, a project of strategic importance planned to interconnect the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids.

According to sources, the EU has warned the Cypriot government that if appropriate decisions are not taken immediately to ensure that the project can be put back on track, then a decision offering 657 million euros worth of Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funding for the PCI-listed project would need to be reviewed.

In response, Cypriot president Nikos Christodoulides held an emergency meeting last Friday with Nasos Ktorides, CEO of the EuroAsia Interconnector consortium, and the country’s energy minister George Papanastasiou.

Though no official announcements have been made, Cypriot press has reported that the government intends to engage directly and vigorously at the highest political level to secure the planned funding for the project.

Delays include Greek power grid operator IPTO’s entry into the EuroAsia Interconnector consortium with a 25 percent stake. A strategic agreement was announced at the end of June but the matter has not progressed further as due diligence remains unfinished.

The EU has insisted on IPTO’s participation as, on the one hand, the project will be connected to the Greek operator’s networks in Crete, and on the other, IPTO, it is believed, would ensure the project’s technical integrity and operational viability.

EuroAsia Interconnector has also been held back by the consortium’s delay in signing a contract with Norwegian company Nexans, to manufacture the project’s subsea cable.

This delay threatens to deprive EuroAsia Interconnector of its intended production slot at Nexans because the manufacturer faces high demand for cables from countries such as Germany and the Baltic countries as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine.




Temporary solution for DESFA tariffs, new WACC level still not set

Gas grid operator DESFA’s WACC figure for the next regulatory period, covering 2024 to 2027, remains undetermined, while, furthermore, a final decision by the operator on its tariffs for this four-year period will be subject to two outstanding issues, DESFA’s operating expenses and the socialization cost-coverage percentage at its Revythoussa LNG terminal.

RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Waste, Energy and Water, has requested additional information from DESFA concerning its operating expenses for the next regulatory period in order to calculate the operator’s allowed revenue.

As for the socialization rate at DESFA’s Revythoussa LNG terminal, RAAEY has proposed keeping it unchanged at 50 percent for the 2024-2027 regulatory period.

Based on EU terms, DESFA’s tariffs ought to have been set by June 5, ahead of international tenders, on July 3, to offer capacities at three gas grid interconnections.

Consequently, in order to meet this deadline, DESFA has set provisional tariffs based on the WACC level it has proposed, 9.14 percent.

These tariffs have been uploaded onto the platform for national grid users so that they can have a rough idea on network usage fees when preparing bids for capacity reservations.

Brussels wants Egyptian RES progress to fund Greek link

The European Commission wants to see clear progress in Egypt’s RES development plan before committing to any financial support for the Greek-Egyptian GREGY Interconnector, a 3.5 billion-euro project being promoted by Elica, a subsidiary of the Copelouzos group, reliable sources have informed energypress.

Brussels has informed all parties involved in the GREGY Interconnector of its prerequisite for funding support, the sources noted.

Europe needs green energy, which is why the European Commission is backing Egypt’s electricity interconnection with Greece, but investment plans for the development of RES projects in Egypt need to proceed and this progress should be reflected and confirmed by concrete data, the sources informed.

European officials consider the GREGY Interconnector to be feasible as the cost of green energy in Egypt is much lower and EU demand for low-priced electricity is high.

However, the European Commission is also taking into account Egypt’s slow development of electrified RES projects, totaling just 6 GW, a modest figure given the country’s size and rich solar and wind energy potential. Greece, a far smaller country, has so far amassed almost double the capacity of operating RES facilities, currently offering 10 GW.

Egypt, according to the country’s official energy strategy, plans to develop RES projects with a total capacity of 61 GW by 2035. Brussels will be waiting to see clear signs of this plan’s implementation.


Full support for GREGY Interconnector’s PCI/PMI bid

The GREGY Interconnector, a 3.5 billion-euro project being promoted by Elica, a subsidiary of the Copelouzos group, to link the Greek and Egyptian grids, is fully backed by the Greek energy ministry, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, Egypt and Bulgaria, a presentation in Brussels last Friday of European projects seeking PCI/PMI list inclusion has shown.

This Greek-Egyptian grid interconnection, whose cable is planned to cover a 950-km distance, promises to transmit green energy to Europe.

Greece, it has become apparent, favors the development of the GREGY Interconnector over the Eunice Group’s alternate GAP Interconnector for a Greek-Egyptian grid link.

Hundreds of European projects seeking PCI/PMI list inclusion, which will secure EU support funds, were presented at last Friday’s Brussels event, staged by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy.

Support for PCI/PMI list candidate projects by relevant ministries, respective national regulatory authorities, as well as states involved will weigh heavily in the European Commission’s overall assessment.

The GREGY Interconnector should score highly in this department, given the comprehensive support of the project by all parties involved.

Besides official Greek and Egyptian support, the GREGY Interconnector has also received Bulgaria’s backing as it promises to export Egyptian-generated green energy to the country.

Brussels’ shortlist of PCI/PMI projects is expected to be announced in June, while a finalized list should be announced late in the year.


DG Energy initial assessment of PCI/PMI list projects April 21

At least seven prospective interconnections concerning Greece and other major domestic projects for which PCI/PMI list inclusion is being sought by local officials are expected to be assessed by European Commission authorities following this weekend’s Greek Easter break.

These projects are among hundreds of energy infrastructure projects around Europe which related officials hope will be given the green light by Brussels’ Directorate-General for Energy for inclusion onto the PCI/PMI list, promising EU support funds. The list’s coverage was expanded this year to include projects also concerning non-EU countries.

Brussels officials are expected to make an initial assessment of PCI/PMI list candidate projects on April 21 before announcing a short list of candidates in June. A finalized list is scheduled to be announced in November.

As part of the initial assessment procedure, DG Energy officials will hold talks with contractors behind projects as well as government and regulatory officials for related information.

The Greek-Egyptian GREGY Interconnector, a project being promoted by Elica, a subsidiary of the Copelouzos group; an update of the Greek-Italian power grid interconnection, a project involving Greek power grid operator IPTO and Italy’s Terna; the EuroAsia Interconnector, planned to link the Cretan, Cypriot and Israeli electricity grids; an Egyptian-Cretan grid interconnection planned by the Eunice group; development of a crucial power transmission line from Filippoi to Nea Sanda in northern Greece; a pumped-storage station in Amfilohia, northwestern Greece, planned by TERNA Energy; as well as a power grid interconnection upgrade by IPTO between Meliti in northern Greece to Bitola in North Macedonia, are the seven Greek and Greek-related projects for which PCI/PMI list inclusion is being sought.


Crete unable to take on more grid links, IPTO informs GAP Interconnector

The Cretan grid cannot take on any further interconnections as power grid operator IPTO’s Crete-Peloponnese and Crete-Athens grid links, plus the Cyprus-Crete subsea cable connection planned by EuroAsia Interconnector have exhausted the island’s capacity, IPTO officials have underlined.

IPTO officials, at a recent meeting with representatives of the Eunice Group, heading the effort for development of the GAP Interconnector (Greece-Africa Power) project, informed of Crete’s inability to take on any further interconnections, according to IPTO sources. An alternative route for the GAP Interconnector not involving Crete will, as a result, be needed, the IPTO officials have asserted.

GAP Interconnector officials want to develop their project as a means of importing RES-generated energy from Egypt to mainland Greece via Crete.

The plan entails installing two subsea cables, offering a 2,000-MW capacity, from coastal Matruh in Egypt to Crete’s Atherinolakko, a distance of approximately 450 kilometers.

Any new major grid interconnection involving Crete would hamper the local grid’s ability to operate safely and reliably, while also endangering the grid, itself, and interconnections, IPTO officials warned.

Greece promoting power corridors linking Europe’s north and south

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is pushing for an expanded and reinforced European grid that would facilitate the transfer of RES-generated electricity northwards from the continent’s south, energy minister Kostas Skrekas and the Greek leader’s special adviser for energy, Nikos Tsafos have revealed at the ongoing Power & Gas Forum organized by energypress in Athens.

The plan entails developing European energy networks for the transfer of RES-generated electricity from north African and southeastern Mediterranean countries to Europe via Greece and other southern European countries.

Electricity interconnections from Egypt and Tunisia are in the pipeline but their effectiveness would depend on the development of a greater number of higher-capacity transmission lines by EU member states.

The Greek proposal is based on data provided by ENTSO-E, the European Network of Transmission System Operators, according to which an additional overall capacity of 64 GW can be added at 50 cross-border electricity interconnections in Europe between 2025 and 2030, a development that would boost the European grid’s efficiency by 55 percent.

The Greek initiative, placing emphasis on the development of electricity corridors linking the continent’s north and south, would enable more consistent green energy supply all over Europe throughout the year. At present, scattered and differing RES yields generated by wind and solar technologies in various parts of the continent have limited reach.

An upgrade of the continent’s grid would enable continual flow of RES-generated energy between European countries of the north and south, maximizing RES efficiency.


GAP Interconnector promising additional Greek-Egyptian grid link

The GAP Interconnector project, planned to link Egypt with Greece, via Crete, promises to serve as a further step towards transforming Greece into an exporter of green energy to the rest of Europe, officials of the Eunice Group, heading the project, budgeted at 1.3 billion euros, have highlighted at a news conference.

It represents an additional Greek-Egyptian grid interconnection project, following the GREGY Interconnector, a 3.5 billion-euro project being promoted by Elica, a subsidiary of the Copelouzos group.

The GAP Interconnector project promises to reinforce Greece’s geostrategic role, making it a transmission hub to the rest of Europe for RES-generated electricity from Egypt, Andreas Borgeas, the project’s chief executive and a former California Senator, told journalists.

A feasibility study has already been conducted for the GAP Interconnector, as have oceanographic studies to map the areas concerning the project’s route, the Borgeas informed.

Two cables to offer a 2,000-MW capacity and run from coastal Matruh in Egypt to Crete’s Atherinolakko, a distance of approximately 450 kilometers, will serve as the project’s backbone. Converter stations will be installed at both these locations.

The project, whose subsea cable installations will reach as deep as 4,445 meters off Crete and 3,500 meters off Egypt, was described as “challenging” by Borgeas, the project chief, who added advanced deep-sea cable installation technology is now available.

The aim is to establish a multinational consortium for the GAP Interconnector project and induct, as a first step, the US company McDermott, one of the world’s biggest developers of subsea projects, Borgeas informed. French, Greek and Italian companies are also expected to soon join this consortium, the official added.

The GAP Interconnector project and the GREGY Interconnector are not rival projects but they will compete for points concerning PCI-PMI lists, Borgeas pointed out.

A direct, straight-line connection from Egypt to Crete planned for the GAP Interconnector offers it a comparative advantage as it is shorter and subsequently lower in cost, Borgeas noted, adding the project lies entirely within the boundaries of the Greek-Egyptian exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

It is planned to be complemented by the Southern Aegean Interconnector (SAI), a 1.5 billion-euro project to connect Athens, the Dodecanese islands, and Crete.

Greek-US energy agenda focused on 3 projects

Three energy infrastructure projects, the Alexandroupoli FSRU in Greece’s northeast, an oil pipeline running from the Alexandroupoli port to Burgas, on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, and a Greek-Egyptian grid interconnection, were focal points in talks yesterday between Greek and American officials, as part of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s official visit to Athens.

The two sides, meeting for the 4th round of a Greece-US Strategic Dialogue, appeared determined to push ahead with the three projects, propelled by Russia’s war on Ukraine, which has prompted Europe to move in a direction ending its reliance on Russian fossil fuels.

It was agreed that Athens and investors need to accelerate efforts for the aforementioned projects to further marginalize Russian energy supply to Europe.

Besides offering full support for the three energy infrastructure projects, US officials also expressed satisfaction about the recent launch of the Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas pipeline as well as ongoing plans for a pipeline to run from Greece to North Macedonia.

However, the US officials kept a distance from the discovery of gas deposits by Israel, Cyprus and Egypt in the east Mediterranean, as well as the East Med gas pipeline plan – which would connect Israel, Cyprus and Greece before crossing to Italy visa the Poseidon pipeline – presumably to avoid upsetting Turkey, despite problems that have weighed down US-Turkish ties of late.


Greek-Egyptian grid link prospects gaining ground

A prospective Greek-Egyptian subsea grid interconnection, planned to exclusively transmit green energy from Egypt to Greece as a means of increasing the energy-mix share of renewables in Greece and the wider region, while also bolstering energy security in Europe, has gained further ground on a number of key fronts.

Political support has been expressed, progress is being achieved on the project’s engineering study, and the Copelouzos group, seeking to develop the project, is in talks with potential investors.

As for the technical side, agreements are being worked on for a detailed engineering study as well as a feasibility study for the project, whose cable installation will reach as deep as 2.7 kilometers at certain sections.

A Copelouzos group team headed by its president, Dimitris Copelouzos, has held talks in Cairo with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and other leading Egyptian officials on regions where wind and solar farms could be developed to feed the Greek-Egyptian subsea cable.

The focus of these talks, also involving Egypt’s minister of electricity and renewable energy Dr. Mohamed Shaker El-Markabi, was on developing wind energy facilities in areas offering wind speeds of more than 10 meters per second. Such speeds are exceptional, well over those of locations hosting Greece’s best-performing wind energy facilities, where wind speeds reach 6.5 to 7 meters per second.

As for the solar energy sector, production tariffs of between 15 and 17 dollars per MWh offered at previous auctions in Egypt, a country offering flat land, are extremely competitive compared to prices in the Greek and Italian markets, even if energy transportation costs to Europe are taken into account.

Solar and wind energy investments offering a total capacity of 9.5 GW are planned to be developed in Egypt by the Copelouzos group, with partners, at a cost of approximately 8 billion euros. European, US, Middle East and Japanese companies have expressed interest to join the Copelouzos group for these projects.

Though investor interest for the Greek-Egyptian grid interconnection is strong, the European Commission’s stance will be crucial as it will be called upon to decide on the project’s inclusion in the projects of common and mutual interest (PCI/PMI) list, which would ensure EU funding support.

The Copelouzos group submitted its application last December. Brussels is expected to release PCI/PMI short lists in June, followed by finalized decisions in November.

Month-ahead pricing prevents electricity prices from falling

Greece’s month-ahead pricing model in the energy market has prevented a recent 40 percent plunge in natural gas prices from pushing down electricity prices, currently at 248.24 euros per MWh, as has been the case in numerous other European countries.

Rigid electricity prices in the Greek market have sparked political debate, prompting the main opposition party, leftist Syriza, to claim speculative trading is at play.

However, Greece’s month-ahead energy pricing model can be attributed to this lack of correlation between gas and electricity prices in Greece, making the country an oddity in the European energy market.

As a result of the lack of an international spot market in Greece, electricity producers in the country purchase natural gas for each forthcoming month at price levels valid in the preceding month.

Electricity being produced at present factors in natural gas price levels from November, when purchased, instead of the current spot market price for natural gas, which has fallen to a ten-month low, not reached since last February.

Natural gas prices were consistently above 100 euros per MWh in November, peaking at 146 euros per MWh, but price levels yesterday, for January contracts, fell to less than 80 euros per MWh, continuing a downward trajectory that has been recorded over the past eight days.

Insufficient grid interconnections between Greece and neighboring markets, limiting the size of the Greek market, are a key reason behind the absence of an international spot market here.


IPTO set to join EuroAsia Interconnector by year’s end

Power grid operator IPTO is expected to join EuroAsia Interconnector, a Cypriot company established to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids, by the end of the year.

IPTO’s anticipated board approval of the company’s agreement with EuroAsia Interconnector is the next step in IPTO’s process of acquiring a stake in the company, expected to be at least 25 percent.

EuroAsia Interconnector accepted an official proposal submitted by IPTO in late July. Speaking at the recent Thessaloniki International Fair, IPTO president Manos Manousakis noted EuroAsia Interconnector’s acceptance of the Greek power grid operator’s terms ensures IPTO’s participation in the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grid interconnection, a project of strategic importance.

Once the IPTO board approves the agreement, the operator will need to conduct due diligence, expected to take place within the next month or two.

The deal for IPTO’s acquisition of a stake in EuroAsia Interconnector is expected to include terms for a further stake increase in the Cypriot company.

The agreement’s technical and financial details promise to propel the development of the Crete-Cyprus segment of the overall project, the most mature of all segments.

The Crete-Cyprus segment will end the electricity isolation of Cyprus, the EU’s only remaining member state still disconnected from fellow member states, and also boost Greece’s role as an electricity transmission hub in southeast Europe.

A total of 898 kilometers of subsea cables are planned to be installed at a depth of up to 3,000 meters for the Crete-Cyprus grid link.


Greek-Italian grid link repair work subduing power prices

The Greek-Italian grid interconnection’s temporary disruption for repair work is offering partial protection against wholesale electricity price increases in Greece.

The temporary-closure period for the grid interconnection, which has been sidelined towards both directions since August 19, has just been extended until September 3 following a request made by Italy’s power grid operator Terna, according to an announcement made by IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator.

Last Friday and Saturday, the wholesale electricity price was 300 euros per MWh higher in Italy compared to Greece.

Under normal conditions, price differences between neighboring markets prompts electricity export activity towards the lower-priced country.

Greek electricity exports were considerable in July, reaching 500 GWh, data provided by IPTO showed. Of this total, 351 GWh was exported to Italy, 253 GWh to Albania, 184 GWh to North Macedonia and 90 GWh to Bulgaria.

Electricity export figures will be subdued in August as a result of the disruption of the Greek-Italian grid interconnection. The link has been closed down for repairs on numerous occasions in recent years.



Four offers for Serifos, Milos, Folegandros grid links

Power grid operator IPTO has moved ahead with the second stage of a tender for a grid interconnection to link the islands Serifos, Milos and Folegandros with the mainland. This project represents part of the fourth phase of the Cyclades interconnections.

IPTO’s tender is divided into two parts, the first concerning mainland and subsea cable installations for interconnections linking coastal Lavrio, in the wider Athens area’s southeast, with Serifos and, by extension, Serifos with Milos. The second part of the tender concerns subsea cable installations linking Milos with Folegandros and Fologandros with Santorini.

According to sources, a total of four offers have been submitted to the tender’s two parts, two for each.

A tender for the installation of three substations, on Serifos, Milos and Folegandros, is also in progress. A total of six offers have been submitted to this tender. Their technical and financial details are currently being appraised.

IPTO hopes contracts for the two tenders can be completed within the current year so that the projects can be developed in 2023.

The fourth phase of the Cyclades interconnections includes a project for Santorini. Its development has been in progress since early May and, according to IPTO president Manos Manousakis, is expected to be completed in the first half of 2023.

Damco Energy and China’s Xian Electric were awarded the Santorini project’s substation contract, while Hellenic Cables has taken on the cable installation work.


Ten Greek grid link, storage projects on ENTSO-E list

A total of ten Greek grid interconnection and storage projects have been included in development plans set by ENTSO-E, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, for up to 2030 and 2040.

They include an extension to the line running to Italy, the Euroafrica and Euroasia grid interconnections, an interconnection project for the south Aegean and its possible extension to Africa, new lines connecting Greece with Bulgaria and Turkey, a pumped-storage station in Amfilohia, northwestern Greece, two Cretan interconnections, as well as the GREGY north African interconnection.

In addition to 23 GW in transboundary grid interconnections being planned in the EU by 2025, authorities have also identified the need for a further 64 GW in projects, including storage units, at 50 European borders by 2030 and 132 GW by 2024.

Overall, the ENTSO-E plan includes 141 grid interconnection projects and 23 energy storage projects.


Tender for 20% stake in IPTO subsidiary Ariadne imminent

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has approved the terms of a tender to offer a 20 percent stake in power grid operator IPTO’s subsidiary firm Ariadne Interconnection, established specifically for the development of the Crete-Athens interconnection.

The authority’s approval, offered after IPTO met observations made by RAE, paves the way for the tender’s announcement, expected imminently. Roadshows pitching the tender and also gauging the level of interest of prospective buyers will precede the sale procedure’s announcement.

IPTO had originally planned to offer a 40 percent stake in Ariadne Interconnection before halving this offering.

State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), IPTO’s strategic partner with a 24 percent stake, which had expressed early interest in the upcoming Ariadne Interconnection tender, is believed to remain very keen.

SGCC’s existing involvement in IPTO prompted a series of obstacles that required RAE to turn to the European Commission for its approval before giving the green light for the tender.

The Crete-Athens interconnection, budgeted at one billion euros, is planned to be launched in 2024.



IPTO given permission to revise Cyclades grid link budget

Power grid operator IPTO has received permission to revise its budget concerning the fourth phase of the Cyclades islands grid interconnection following approval of a request submitted to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

IPTO needs to revise the project’s budget as a result of sharp construction-cost increases brought about by higher prices of materials, equipment and energy.

According to Manos Manousakis, IPTO’s chief executive, the infrastructure cost for three remaining island grid interconnections has now reached 399 million euros (345 million euros for the project’s subsea cables and 54 million euros for three substations to be constructed on each of the three islands).

The updated budget’s finalization will enable the completion of the final round of tenders, already announced by IPTO, concerning the fourth phase of the Cyclades islands grid interconnection.

IPTO is expected to inform participants about a new and final deadline extension for binding bids, to be set for June 7, according to sources.

Egyptian grid operator team in Athens for Greek grid link talks

A team of highly ranked officials from the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC), headed by president and CEO Sabah Mashali, is in Athens for two days of talks, beginning today, on the development of the Greek-Egyptian grid interconnection.

The EETC officials are scheduled to meet today with a team of Greek power grid operator IPTO officials, headed by president and CEO Manos Manousakis, for a discussion on technical details concerning the grid interconnection.

Tomorrow, the EETC team is scheduled to meet with Greece’s energy minister Kostas Skrekas as well as development and investment minister Adonis Georgiadis.

A first step for the project was taken last October when the Greek and Egyptian energy ministers signed a related Memorandum of Understanding. As part of the agreement, the power grid operators of both countries have assembled a working group to conduct necessary preliminary work.

The group’s responsibilities, according to the MoU, include technical coordination to ensure the grid interconnection’s compatibility; facilitating the project’s licensing matters; as well as providing support for the project’s classification as an EU Project of Common Interest, which would ensure EU funding support.

The Greek-Egyptian grid interconnection is planned to exclusively transmit green energy from Egypt to Greece as a means of increasing the energy-mix share of renewables in Greece and the wider region and also bolstering energy security in Europe, prioritized following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, during a recent meeting with European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, stressed the importance of the Greek-Egyptian grid link, noting it should receive European backing.


Greece, Cyprus, Israel prepare to discuss East Med, power grid link

The East Med gas pipeline and a subsea electricity grid interconnection to link Israel with Greece and Cyprus, projects whose prospects have grown as a result of the EU’s new energy policy, aiming to end the continent’s reliance on Russian gas as soon as possible, are expected to dominate the agenda at an upcoming trilateral meeting between the energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

The session is planned to take place in a fortnight’s time or immediately following the Greek Easter period, culminating on April 24.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi recently stressed that development of the East Med gas pipeline, a prospective 2,000-km pipeline planned to carry natural gas to Europe via Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Italy, needs to be pursued as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A consortium formed by Greek gas company DEPA and Italy’s Edison is continuing its studies on the East Med project plan.

As for the subsea electricity grid interconnection, Cyprus and Israel have pushed for its development to end their energy isolation. The European Commission has already approved funding worth 657 million euros for the prospective project’s section to run from Greece to Cyprus.

Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and energy minister Kostas Skrekas will be involved in two key meetings in Athens today, to focus on energy matters as a result of Russia’s war on Ukraine, with Israel’s alternate prime minister and foreign affairs minister Yair Lapid, as well as US under secretary of state for political affairs Victoria Nuland.


Copelouzos’ Greek-Egyptian grid link backed by leaders

The Elica Interconnection, a Greek-Egyptian grid interconnection planned by the Copelouzos Group, has received the backing of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, entrepreneur Dimitris Copelouzos, founder of the group, has informed journalists.

A preceding teleconference between the leaders of the two countries, with participation from the president of the European Investment Bank Werner Hoyer, is expected to result in EU funding for the project.

According to Copelouzos, the project is budgeted at more than 3.5 billion euros, of which 1.5 billion euros will be provided by a group of Greek banks. The project is also a candidate for the PCI list, enabling EU funding support.

The Copelouzos group had set its sights on this project from as far back as 2008. Its double subsea cable, to stretch 954 kilometers from El Sallum to coastal Nea Makri, northeast of Athens, promises to transmit low-cost green energy with a 3-GW capacity, of which one third will be provided to local industries and the other two thirds exported to fellow EU members.

More specifically, on the exports, 1 GW will be transported through the Greek-Italian and Greek-Bulgarian networks, while the other 1 GW will be used for hydrogen production, most of which will be exported to other parts of Europe.

Licensing and financing procedures for the project are being hastened as a result of Russia’s war on Ukraine as the Elica Interconnection promises to offer Greece and the rest of the EU yet another alternative energy source as part of the continent’s effort to restrict its dependence on Russia.

The Elica Interconnection is planned to be completed by late 2025 or early 2026.

EC stresses need for increased LNG imports, diversification

The European Commission, according to an official document that was recently leaked, has called for wider energy source diversification in Europe, greater LNG imports, as well as better utilization of infrastructure by EU member states, which would reduce the amount of Russian gas needed in the EU.

The number of LNG facilities and interconnections has increased since a previous crisis in 2009, enabling all European countries to have either direct or indirect access to LNG terminals, the document notes.

Europe’s improved grid interconnectivity has proven crucial over the past few months in the continent’s ability to tackle the latest energy crisis, the document highlights.

The European Commission has proposed an increase in LNG imports, noting terminals and interconnections are not operating at full capacity.

The European Commission is currently holding talks with gas-producing countries and gas transit countries (USA, Qatar, Japan, Egypt, Azerbaijan and Turkey) to facilitate gas trade by making the international gas market more flexible.

The Brussels document also proposes the conversion of European natural gas projects into hydrogen projects as well as the establishment of green hydrogen agreements with countries that are ready to produce hydrogen on a large scale for supply to Europe, including Australia, Chile, Morocco, Namibia, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Ukraine.


Egypt appears keen to accelerate plan for natural gas pipeline to Greece

Egypt’s minister of petroleum and mineral sources Tarek El-Molla (photo, right) has underlined the potential of energy-sector collaboration between Cairo and Athens and the significance of an MoU signed by Egypt and Greece for joint development of energy infrastructure.

The Egyptian minister was speaking at the annual Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypts, before 2,000 attendants from 65 countries, among them top-ranked officials from multinational energy giants.

Agreements already signed between Egypt and Greece pave the way for the development of a subsea natural gas pipeline linking the two countries, El-Molla noted.

According to diplomatic sources, this special mention by the Egyptian minister highlights his country’s interest to push ahead with the natural gas pipeline project, which, on the one hand, would facilitate Egyptian natural gas exports to the EU and, on the other, help the continent further diversify its energy sources.

A further increase in activity between Athens and Cairo for an acceleration of procedures leading to the gas pipeline project’s development has not been ruled out by the diplomatic sources.

In addition, the potential of a subsea electricity grid interconnection between the two countries also seems to be gaining momentum, the diplomatic sources noted. Greek power grid operator IPTO and Egyptian counterpart EETC are collaborating on this latter project.

The current Russia-Ukraine problem once again highlights Europe’s need for further energy source diversification. Russia, through gas giant Gazprom, covers approximately one third of European natural gas consumption in the household and business sectors.


Peloponnese West Corridor grid deviation still awaiting approval

Power grid operator IPTO’s virtually completed grid infrastructure upgrade in the west of the Peloponnese, a crucial project promising to foster development of regional RES projects and also enable smoother functioning of power utility PPC’s natural gas-fired power station in Megalopoli along with its lignite-fired units, remains on hold, awaiting the energy ministry’s environmental-permit approval of a project deviation forced by monks at a nearby monastery.

The grid project, budgeted at 110 million euros and known as the Western Corridor, runs from Megalopoli to Patras, northwestern Peloponnese. It is planned to link the Megalopoli high-voltage center in the Peloponnese with an existing 400-KV line running across mainland Greece, from Acheloos to Distomo. Just two more pylons, of 400 in total, remain to be installed for its completion.

A court ruling following legal action taken by five monks forced project planners to reposition these two pylons, originally planned for installation approximately 500 meters from the Agion Theodoron monastery in Kalavryta, northern Peloponnese.

The project was initially included in the grid’s plan back in 2006 but its development did not commence until 2018. A related subsea line linking the Peloponnese with the mainland was installed in 2019.

At present, the Peloponnese is mainland Greece’s only area without a high-voltage (400 kV) connection. It is interconnected to the wider Athens area with 150 kV lines, like links used for islands, inhibiting green investments and large infrastructure projects planned for the country.