ECONOMY

Threat of electricity shortages

Greece may face serious problems in its power supplies and distribution, particularly in the peak summer months, as a result of Bulgaria’s planned shutdown of two nuclear reactors in the Kozloduy complex at the end of next month. Electric power imports constitute a basic pillar for the sufficiency of Greece’s power grid, as demand exceeds production capacity. According to reports, Bulgaria informed Greek authorities about 15 days ago that as of January 2007, their power exports will have to be cut from at least 400 megawatts presently to 100 MW. The minimum of 400 MW was considered necessary for ensuring the sufficiency of the system and was guaranteed by long-term contracts. Nevertheless, imports at times reached as much as 1,000 MW through short-term deals. Bulgaria is the biggest power exporter in the region. In 2005, it exported 8 billion kilowatts, 3 billion of which went through Greece. The importance of these imports for Greece cannot be overstated; on July 22 of this year, a fault in the grid in Kosovo put the Greek grid connection with Bulgaria out of action, resulting in a blackout for the greater part of Attica and Thessaloniki, the country’s two main urban centers. Questioned by Kathimerini, the president of the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE), Michalis Karamanis, acknowledged the likely problem but argued that it will be minimized by the start of operations by Aluminium of Greece’s 300 MW power plant next summer. Other solutions being looked into are imports from Italy – at rates up to three times of those from Bulgaria – and the purchase by the Public Power Corporation of turbines, which also have high operational costs.