ATHENS – A project to interconnect the Greek island of Crete to the mainland’s electricity system that was proposed over 20 years ago could now be implemented using private investments to utilise the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), said Anastassios Kallitsantsis, the vice chairman of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV).
“This project has been in the drawers of ADMIE (the Independent Power Transmission Operator) for the last 20 years, but it has not been a priority – while for us it should be a first priority,” Kallitsantsis, who is also the chairman of Ellaktor, told New Europe. He was speaking on the sidelines of an investment conference in Athens on occasion of the visit of European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen to Greece.
Kallitsantsis added that “the conditions are ideal” for the Greek project given that Energy Union and interconnectors are on the top of the European Commission’s priorities, especially after the Ukrainian crisis. Moreover, the Investment Plan for Europe or Juncker Plan supports investments with the participation of the private sector in high-risk countries like Greece “unfortunately is today,” he said.
Kallitsantsis presented the “Interconnection of Crete to the Mainland’s Electricity System” project at the investment conference in Athens. He highlighted the significant problem in Crete’s electrification during the busy tourist season and the high cost of operation, which is at least three times higher than that of mainland Greece.
The electricity needs of the island are covered by three high-cost, diesel-fired plants. “They’re low performance and very polluting in a very touristic area and I think we should show greater sensitivity,” Kallitsantsis said.
He said the interconnection of Crete project has a good economic performance, requiring an investment of €850 million with a return investment of 20%. “It’s an investment in growth and development,” he said.
A preliminary study by ADMIE updated in 2014 proposes the connection of Crete with two 380-kilometre 500MW cables. The first cable could be completed in 3.5 years and the second cable in another 1.5 years. “This can be done sooner if the private sector has the initiative,” he said.
He also stressed that “the interconnection of Crete enables us to take advantage of the huge capacity for renewables. This huge potential could very well be channeled into the continental system”.
This project would first and foremost meet the electricity needs of Crete, especially in the summer months, he said. It will reduce by €400 million the cost of producing electricity throughout Greece, saving 8% of the electricity bills for the consumers; it will further reduce the electricity dependence of Greece from imported fuel and correspondingly it will help the foreign account balance and it will mitigate the environmental protection, he said, adding that by reducing the energy cost it would boost the competitiveness of the local companies.
Kallitsantsis said this project is also a first step for the interconnection of Cyprus and the more ambitious programme: the interconnection of Europe with Asia – continental Greece, Crete, Cyprus and Israel. “This is of course a bigger project which depends greatly on the natural gas deposits that have been found in Cyprus and Israel,” he said.
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