Final discussions around the subsea Israel-to-Europe power cable are underway in Nicosia, Cyprus. Representatives include the national Infrastructure Minister of Israel, Uzi Landau, Cypriot commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Neoklis Silikiotis and the Greek Deputy Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change.
Greece and Cyprus have agreed to Israel’s request to erect a power cable to Europe via the two Mediterranean countries. The Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) and PPP Quantum Energy, controlled by the Greek power utility and Cypriot companies, will construct the cable. Israel and Cyprus signed an agreement to lay the cable in March.
The cable’s total length measures 870km (540 miles) and its depth is over 2,000 meters (656 feet). Between Israel and Cyprus, the cable will be 270km long. Electricity will flow in both directions at a capacity of up to 2,000MW. Another cable will connect Cyprus and Crete which forms part of the Greek electricity grid. As a result, Israel will be connected to the European electricity grid. According to Yakov Hain, Senior Vice President of engineering projects at IEC, the cable is “one of the biggest in the world.”
Electricity lines will run from Israel to Cyprus to Crete, and then through the existing cable to mainland Greece. This will enable the connection of European and Asian electricity supplies. The project will cost approximately US$1.9bn (€1.5bn), one third of which is the cost of the Israel-Cyprus cable. The amount is expected to be recovered within four years.
For both Israel and Cyprus, connecting the countries through an underwater cable will provide electrical stability for two energy islands, according to Athanasios Ktoridis, chairman of the board of DEH Quantum Energy. IEC chairman Yiftach Ron Tal explains that Israel will now not only be connected to the two Mediterranean nations but will also eventually join the European grid, paving the way for “more cooperative projects.” Ktoridis says Israel will become a major energy provider to the European continent.
The system will be fully operational by 2016.
Since 1811, countries have been laying electrical lines underwater. The first cable was laid in Germany. The longest cable runs between the Netherlands and Norway, measuring 580km. Currently, there are plans to connect the Scottish and English power grids via the Irish Sea, which is due for completion by 2015.
It makes sense for Israel to join the European super grid which will, through the sharing of resources, enhance energy security for all. Consumers across the continent will also benefit from increased competition between European utilities. This will only benefit countries like Israel where consumers are forced to use one supplier [Read Engerati’s “IEC Needs Competition and Vigilant Management”]