A plan for a transmission projects to bring electricity from Egypt and Israel to Greece is getting a fresh boost as Europe seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian energy.
An energy link from Egypt and Israel to Europe via Cyprus is considered important for energy security amid deteriorating relations with Moscow, an EU ban on seaborne oil imports and Russia cutting off gas supplies to some buyers in the region. One of the transmission cable projects is planned to transport only green energy, helping the EU advance its €210 billion energy plan with renewable energy at its core.
Manos Manousakis, CEO of Greek grid operator ADMIE, said in an interview in Athens, “Connecting electricity to Europe from other sources will clearly provide an opportunity to reduce Russian energy dependence. If Europe is to pursue green energy, then it cannot ignore the huge solar potential in North Africa and the Middle East.”
These projects have the potential to replace not only all the gas that Greece receives from Russia but also the supply from some of its neighbors. The surplus electricity passing through the cables will be transported to other parts of Europe and will play a role in securing energy supplies. The cable project to connect to Egypt is currently already supported by the local government and the Greek authorities and now requires funding from the EU.
Project developer Elica SA, part of the Greek Copelouzos group, has submitted an application to include the cables in the EU’s list of so-called projects of common interest, which will help to secure permits and funding. The company estimates an investment of around €3.5 billion and Greek banks and the European Investment Bank have already indicated their willingness to participate. ADMIE and the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company are working together to design a direct path to mainland Greece.
“The project requires European funding and it is hoped that an application for financing will be submitted to the European Commission within the next 12 months,” Manousakis said, adding that construction could begin as soon as approval is received and that the EU “will need to show flexibility in its traditionally rather slow approval process. ”
The transmission project was reportedly first planned in 2008, but was delayed due to the change of government in Egypt. Based on the timeline for similar projects, a 3 GW capacity transmission project would take approximately six to eight years to complete.
Manousakis said ADMIE was also working to ensure that infrastructure was upgraded and expanded to allow for the transmission of excess power to other parts of Europe. ADMIE and Italy’s Terna are studying the feasibility of the second connection of up to 1 GW between the two countries. It has also started to study a new connection with Albania and to expand the existing link with North Macedonia. Additional connections between the European and Turkish power systems are also being studied.
A more advanced project, Manousakis said, is a Euro-Asian interconnector linking the electricity grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece. The 1,208-kilometre cable will be able to provide electricity produced using gas reserves from Cyprus and Israel as well as renewable energy sources.
The first phase of the project is expected to cost around €2.5 billion and will have a total transmission capacity of 1,000 megawatts, which will be doubled after the next phase. Construction is due to be completed by the end of 2025, with commissioning in the first half of 2026.
The EU agreed in January to provide €657 million for the section linking Cyprus to the Greek island of Crete. This amount is on top of the 100 million euros already allocated by the EU’s Renaissance Fund. Cyprus is currently the only EU member state not connected to the European grid.