By Michele Kambas
THE first phase of an EU-backed plan to lay the world’s longest subsea electricity cable could be completed by 2017, project managers said on Thursday.
Some 820 nautical miles of cable making up the EuroAsia Interconnector will link energy-hungry Europe with power generators tapping into vast quantities of natural gas found in Cyprus and the rest of the eastern Mediterranean in recent years.
The European Commission on Monday included the €3.5 billion plan in a list of 250 power and gas projects designed to curb reliance on Russian gas imports and create a single energy market.
The cable will carry electricity generated in Israel and sent via Cyprus, Crete and Greece to European grids.
“The demand for electricity in Europe is phenomenal…we think that in the future even a second cable might be required,” said Nasos Ktorides, chairman of PPC-Qauntum Energy, a joint venture of Cyprus’ Quantum Energy and Greece’s Public Power Corporation (PPC).
Israel has reported some of the largest gas finds worldwide in the past decade and Cyprus has just confirmed a discovery – making them both potential exporters.
The EuroAsia Interconnector will run at depths of up to 2.2km with a 2,000 megawatt capacity.
“Our target is to have completed the first phase of the project within 36 months from the launch, for the first connection in 2017,” said Ktorides.
The first phase included the two ‘ends’ of Crete-Athens and Cyprus-Israel, Ktorides said. The second phase would be the Cyprus-Crete link, a distance of 475 nautical miles.
The link would be able to transmit power in either direction and would primarily focus on electricity generated from natural gas. But electricity from renewable sources could also potentially feed into the network, Ktorides said.
The link, conceived after more than half of Cyprus’ energy generation capacity was wiped out in an explosion in 2011, would end the energy isolation of Cyprus, Israel and Crete, Ktorides said.