Israeli Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau has instructed the Israel Electric Corp. to advance a project that would connect the country to the European power grid by way of Cyprus and Greece. Officials of the state-owned power company are set to sign an agreement soon with DEI-Quantum Energy—an entity owned by Greece's largest utility, a Cypriot bank and private investors—for a feasibiilty study of the first 270-kilometer segment to connect with the Cyprus power network.
If the proposed EuroAsia Interconnector project is fully realized, it would be, at 998 km, one of the world's longest underwater power cables. According to the Israeli utility, it would have a capacity of up to 2000 MW.
The proposed line would extend from the Israeli city of Haifa on the Mediterranean coast to the southeastern coast of Cyprus, then to the northwestern coast of Crete and on to the Peloponnese peninsula of Greece.
Landau said the project would give Israel a much-needed power-source backup and connect the country's stand-alone network with Europe, significantly boosting its future energy security. "The project could have a tremendous positive impact on the Israeli economy," he said.
The overall cost of the project is estimated at 1.5 billion euros, with the Israel-Cyprus segment put at 500 million euros. Israel Electric officials said the investment would pay for itself within four years.
Other project components to be managed by DEI-Quantum Energy include construction of powerplants in Cyprus, Crete and the Peloponnese peninsula, with the cost to be covered by the firm, its partners and various Israeli investors.
"Considering Israel's and Cyprus' natural-gas discoveries, Greece's energy shortage and the massive demand for energy within Europe, for Cyprus, the sky is the limit," said Nasos Ktorides, DEI-Quantum Energy chairman. He said Israel is expected to exploit its natural-gas discoveries much sooner than Cyprus and that it would be prudent for Cyprus to find "decisive and productive ways to export the excess energy to an already established electricity grid."
The feasibility study is expected to be completed in 2012. DEI-Quantum said the project could be started in 2013 and completed within 36 months.
The proposed power cable and related projects were among "energy cooperation" issues dicussed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month during a one-day visit to Cyprus—the first such trip by any prime minister of the country.