Greece’s Independent Electricity Transmission System Operator (IPTO) has acquired 25% of the share capital in EuroAsia Interconnector Holdings Limited (EuroAsia), a move that is expected to expedite the completion of what is being called the world’s longest HVDC cable.
The transaction sees IPTO acquire up to 25% of the share capital of the project promoter, Cypriot-based company EuroAsia Interconnector Holdings Limited.
The EuroAsia interconnector, initially announced in 2021, is a €2 billion ($2.2 billion) major energy project to build the first transcontinental subsea electricity interconnection, linking Greece with Cyprus and Israel.
The project will lay a 1,208km high voltage direct current (HVDC) cable which, upon completion, is expected to be the longest in the world.
IPTO’s official entry into the project, through Greece, ensures the “technical and financial adequacy of the project and lays the foundations for its timely completion,” state the ministries of energy of Greece and Cyprus in a joint press release.
IPTO has been assisting the project since 2021 as a technical consultant, advising on design and providing financial support.
Their quarter stake equity participation is expected to accelerate the signing process with selected contractors for submarine cables and conversion stations in Crete and Cyprus.
Completion of the project, expected by 2027, will mark the electrical interconnection of Cyprus – the last non-interconnected EU member state – with the European transmission system, ensuring for the island an energy shield.
And Israel, which the ministries state does not have any electrical interconnection with its neighbours, will strengthen its security of supply, gaining the possibility to increase renewable penetration within its energy system.
Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright advised IPTO on their participation in the project.
Ed’s note: Why the EuroAsia Interconnector is important
Commenting on the announcement was minister of energy, trade & industry of Cyprus, George Papanastasiou, who noted: “This development marks the successful completion of a milestone towards the implementation of the strategic project of the Greece-Cyprus-Israel electrical interconnection, which further strengthens the cooperation of the three countries in the field of energy and remove the ongoing energy isolation of Cyprus.
“This interconnection is a key element for the achievement of our country’s wider energy planning to reduce the cost of electricity for the benefit of the Cypriot economy and for a rapid transition to green energy. I would like to thank the Greek Government for its support and, of course, the European Commission for the funding.”
Added minister of environment & energy of Greece, Thodoros Skylakakis, who commented on how IPTO’s participation in the project “is a very positive milestone for the deepening of strategic relations cooperation of Greece-Cyprus-Israel. Greece has been a reliable and systematic supporter of the efforts of the Republic of Cyprus, in terms of strengthening the maturity of its electrical interconnection with the European energy market.
“This happened from the first inclusion of EuroAsia in the list of Projects of Common Interest (PCI) in 2013 until the reinforcement of the project in 2021 with €657 million ($719.9 million) from the Connecting FundEurope Facility (CEF). We are, in particular, satisfied with the successful conclusion of the negotiations and remain ready to contribute, further, to the implementation process of the project.”
The announcement of IPTO’s participation came three weeks after Israeli Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, Israel Katz, and the Cypriot Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry, George Papanastasiou, discussed the importance of electricity interconnection.
The ministers committed to initiating technical discussion through two expert groups for electricity and gas pipeline interconnection with the aim to convene in July.
Said minister Papanastasiou: “We discussed about how the current energy crisis highlights the need for energy diversification, security of supply and increased interconnectivity, and we agreed to expedite our discussions in various levels, in a result-oriented manner in order to create a reliable energy corridor from the Eastern Mediterranean.
“In this framework, we focus on the electrical interconnection between Cyprus and Israel as well as how Cyprus can serve as a Gateway for Israeli gas to Europe.’
Added Minister Katz: “The enduring alliance and shared vision between Israel and Cyprus resonate powerfully, and in the present era, the energy sector assumes a pivotal role as a bedrock for fortifying the bonds between our nations.
“With great anticipation, I eagerly look forward to forging ahead, achieving significant milestones in our collaborative endeavours spanning the domains of natural gas and electricity.”
IPTO’s acquisition also follows the completion of a Greece-Bulgaria electrical interconnection, which IPTO announced earlier last week.
IPTO and the Operator of the Bulgarian Electricity Transmission System ESO EAD energized the 400kV electrical interconnection between Greece and Bulgaria; energy transmission through the new Line commenced on Friday, June 30.
This is the second Transmission Line connecting the two countries, which increases the margin for energy exchanges between the neighbouring systems of Greece and Bulgaria.
In the following period, a permanent working group staffed by all Operators in the region will determine the new, gradually increasing, available amounts of transmission capacity on the Greece-Bulgaria border.
The new line is expected to start contributing to cross-border trade from the end of Greece’s summer season.
The total length of the international interconnection, which starts from Nea Santa EHVC in Rodopi and ends at Maritsa East Substation in Bulgaria amounts to 151km, out of which approximately 30km extend within the Greek Territory.
The second interconnection between Greece and Bulgaria, the domestic part of which cost €11.3 million ($12.4 million), is a project of pan-European interest that was included since the beginning of its planning in the Ten-Year Development Program (TYNDP) of ENTSO-E as well as in the list of Projects of Common Interest (PCI) of the European Union.
Commented Greek minister of environment and energy, Theodoros Skylakakis: “The second, international ultra-high voltage electrical interconnection of Greece-Bulgaria, is an important energy project of pan-European interest.
“The immediate benefits of this cooperation include: enhancing cross-border trade and strengthening energy security in Southeast Europe and the Balkan Peninsula. More international interconnections will follow, which will further upgrade our country on the European energy map”.
Added chairman and CEO of IPTO Manos Manousakis: “IPTO in cooperation with the Bulgarian Operator have completed an important energy project that greatly increases the interconnectivity of the two countries and strengthens adequacy on a regional level.
“With a strategic goal to upgrade the country’s position on the European energy map, over the coming years IPTO is launching new international interconnections with all neighbouring states while at the same time supports major intercontinental interconnection projects in the Eastern Mediterranean, with Greece being the main hub.”