Grids reconnected

ERNESTINOVO, Croatia – European energy officials yesterday praised the reconnection of Southeastern and Western Europe’s power grids and said they would work to expand the single energy market further to Turkey and Russia. Power flows between Southeast Europe and the rest of the European Union were reconnected in October through a repaired power station in Ernestinovo, eastern Croatia, 13 years after transmission was halted by war in the former Yugoslavia. After one month of test work, the Union for the Coordination of Transmission of Electricity (UCTE) gave the go-ahead for full commercial use, which started yesterday. «This is a big step forward because a bigger grid brings bigger security, stability and better functioning. Electrical unification also underlines the path to political unification,» UCTE President Martin Fuchs told the ceremony at Ernestinovo. «This will most likely not be the last expansion of our grid. We are planning to bring UCTE to Turkey… And the most challenging request for expansion is from the Russian side, together with the Baltic states and Ukraine,» he said. «But it has to be crystal clear that we will do this only if it does not jeopardize the dynamics of the system,» he added. Reconnection brought together UCTE’s Zone 1 – Western Europe – and Zone 2, including Albania, Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Romania and Serbia and Montenegro, creating a single energy market of more than 400 million users. Greece’s leading power utility, Public Power Corporation, said in October it planned to start exporting power to Germany, Europe’s biggest energy market. Bulgaria’s state-owned NETC also said it planned power exports to Europe. Croatia, which hopes to start European Union membership talks next year, repaired the key power station at Ernestinovo, damaged in the war, several years after the war ended in 1995. «This is extremely important in the political and economic sense, as an illustration of how the region is integrating,» Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader said.