European concerns about China strengthening its presence in the Greek energy market appear to have played a key role in blocking the electricity interconnection between Crete and the power grid on mainland Greece.
While the Independent Power Transmission Operator (ADMIE), whose strategic stakeholder is China’s State Grid, had signed a memorandum of cooperation with EuroAsia Interconnector, which is implementing the connection of Greece with Cyprus and Israel, the latter also signed an MoU with ADMIE’s German counterpart. In early April it even proclaimed the Crete interconnection project without ADMIE.
There is also the indirect involvement in the project of China Energy: It has acquired 50 percent of the Copelouzos group’s renewable energy sources portfolio, which includes permits for the installation and operation of wind farms on Crete with an annual capacity of 1,000 megawatts. These permits necessitate involvement in the interconnection project too, otherwise they will be annulled. China Energy has a strong interest in Crete’s wind farms and has huge funds.
Consequently the rift was just a matter of time. Now the country’s Regulatory Authority for Energy must find an alternative solution within two months, as any further delay may put Crete at risk of a total blackout after 2020. RAE looks likely to concede the project directly to ADMIE.