Attica-Crete leg of Mediterranean super grid due mid 2025

Greece is envisioning an extensive interconnector network that stretches from the Middle East to the core of Europe. pv magazine explores the recent progress towards a Mediterranean super grid and its potential impact on the participating regions.

Greece’s interconnection strategy is characterized by great imagination. Recent announcements regarding the plans to link the Greek grid with networks in Saudi Arabia, Austria, and Germany demonstrate significant ambition.

Additionally, the country has been actively working to establish connections with Cyprus, Israel, and Egypt in recent years.

The concept of an electricity interconnection between Saudi Arabia and Greece was publicly introduced in July 2022 during a state visit by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Bin Salman expressed the potential for linking the electricity grids of the two countries to provide Greece and southwest Europe with more affordable renewable energy.

He also highlighted the collaboration on hydrogen, positioning Greece as a hydrogen hub for Europe, which he described as a game changer for both countries.

After a year and a half of discussions and meetings, these ideas are now materializing.

In February 2024, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Saudi Electricity Company established a new company, Saudi Greek Interconnection, in partnership with Greece’s Independent Power Transmission Operator (IPTO), to conduct studies on the commercial viability of developing a Saudi-Greek electricity interconnection via a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) cable.

The new company, based in Athens, is jointly owned by National Grid S.A. and IPTO, with an initial capital of €500,000 ($544,452). The two entities signed a shareholders’ agreement in September 2023.

The proposed plan to connect Greece to Cyprus and Israel through an advanced international interconnection is being led by IPTO subsidiary Great Sea Interconnector.

The project will consist of three segments: linking mainland Greece to Crete, then Crete to Cyprus, and finally Cyprus to Israel.

Construction is already underway for the subsea cables connecting Attica in mainland Greece to Crete, with full commercial operations expected to start by mid-2025.

Financing for the project to Crete was secured with the announcement of €250 million from the European Union’s Regional Development Fund in February 2024, along with support from other European Union and Greek funds.

A tender process has also been initiated to involve private investors in 20% of the project, which is currently owned by IPTO.

This new interconnector project follows the recent completion of a subsea connection from Crete to the Peloponnese in Greece, which had a transport capacity of 2×200 megavolt amperes (MVA).

Efforts are now being made to secure financing for the interconnector from Crete to Israel, with the European Commission approving €657 million for the construction in 2022, and the Cypriot government committing an additional €100 million.

The segment connecting Crete to Cyprus alone is estimated to cost €1.58 billion.

In December 2023, IPTO signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with United Arab Emirates power and water company TAQA and Cyprus’ Ministry of Energy, Trade and Industry, aiming to involve them in the Great Sea Interconnector project.

Furthermore, in February 2024, Greece’s Ministry of the Environment and Energy announced that US International Development

In 2021, there was a formal proposal to connect the grids of Greece and Egypt, which was discussed at a meeting between the energy ministers of both countries in Athens.

The project, known as the Greek-Egyptian interconnection project (GREGY), is now under the management of Elica SA, a subsidiary of the Greek infrastructure investor Copelouzos Group.

In 2023, IPTO and Elica entered into an agreement aimed at involving IPTO in the GREGY project with a 33.3% stake.

As per the MoU, the two companies are also required to engage in discussions with Egypt’s transmission system operator to ensure that all three parties have an equal one-third ownership of the GREGY line.

Both the Great Sea and the GREGY Interconnectors have been selected by the European Commission to receive expedited permits and regulatory processes.

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has shown interest in the project and urged the parties to accelerate their cooperation efforts during a meeting with the chairman of the Copelouzos Group in January 2024.

Greece is also exploring the possibility of connecting to Austria and southern Germany through the proposed Green Aegean Interconnector, a DC line that has been under discussion by the Greek government since 2022.

The initial capacity of the interconnector is envisioned to be 3 GW, with potential to increase to 9 GW later on.

The rationale behind this interconnector is to leverage the greater solar resources in Greece and the Middle Eastern countries, along with the wind power potential in Austria and Germany, for the benefit of all involved parties.

On Feb. 29, 2024, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) released a preliminary list of interconnection and energy storage projects that could bring economic, environmental, or security of supply benefits to Europe, including the Green Aegean Interconnector.

The proposed route starts in Preveza, Greece, travels undersea via the Adriatic to Slovenia, and then continues on to Austria and Germany. Greece’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has been advocating for the project in discussions with other European leaders and the European Commission.

Discussing at a policy event in Washington, DC, in February, Greek leaders emphasized the significance of balancing geopolitics and business interests.

Source Attica

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