BUSINESS

China stakes a strong claim in the Greek electricity landscape

CHRYSSA LIAGGOU

TAGS: Privatizations, Energy

The strong presence of Chinese firms came as a surprise in the tender for the concession of 24 percent of power grid operator ADMIE, given that the interest of both Italy’s Terna and France’s RTE had been taken for granted.

China entered the race for a stake in the Greek grid through two giants, the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) – which was also present in the first tender for 66 percent of ADMIE – and China Southern Power Grid, which was not expected to weigh in as it does not fulfill the basic condition of the tender for participating in the European interconnection system of ENTZO_E. Sources say the latter Chinese company has expressed an interest in entering a consortium with one of the other companies that fulfill the conditions.

Government sources describe the Chinese interest as very significant and associate it with Beijing’s strategy to acquire stakes in energy infrastructure projects in Europe. In contacts made by the Greek side during the prime minister’s recent trip to China, Beijing is said to have expressed its interest in the acquisition of a 17 percent stake in Public Power Corporation (PPC) – whose tender will follow ADMIE’s – as well as in the joint construction of new electricity units with PPC in Greece and the Balkans.

The Chinese have also shown an interest in the renewable energy sources sector, which they combine with the connection of the Greek islands to the continental network. They appear disposed to finance the cable for the connection of Crete with the Greek mainland, along with other investment plans for the interconnection of the Cycladic islands, which will allow for the optimal utilization of the rich wind and solar capacity of the Greek islands.

If Chinese interest continues, and given that the final criterion for chosen bidder for ADMIE is the price offered, it will be very hard for the European bidders (Terna and RTE) to rival the Chinese companies. In the previous tender for 66 percent of ADMIE and with the grid operator’s valuation at just over 900 million, SGCC was ready to offer more than 600 million euros, reaching up to 800 million under certain conditions, while Terna offered 300 million euros.

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