The importance of electrical interconnections and energy storage in the post-Covid era.
A presentation was given of the economic, geopolitical, environmental and development benefits of the Aigaio and battery energy storage systems (BESS) projects in the region of Western Macedonia by the EUNICE ENERGY GROUP (EEG).
“The exploitation of the wind potential in the island area gives us the opportunity to create significant investments in the island region and to stimulate the economies of (remote) islands and islets. A typical example of such investments is the offshore wind farm created by the EUNICE ENERGY GROUP (EEG) known as the AIGAIO Project, with a total value of € 1.5 billion. At the same time, the creation of high-capacity electrical interconnections is one of the most efficient strategies that will allow increased penetration of RES and the lifting of the energy isolation of both the Greek islands and Greece as a whole,” said Dr. George Pechlivanoglou, Vice President of EUNICE ENERGY GROUP (EEG) and Chairman of the Wind Energy Committee – ASME, speaking at the 31st annual Greek Economic Summit that was held online by the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce on December 1-3.
Speaking about the technical and strategic challenges and the opportunities created in the energy investment environment, he referred to the important project proposed by the EEG Group which concerns the interconnection of AIGAIO Project with Central Greece and Crete, with multiple benefits for the economic, geopolitical, environmental and labor future of the country.
AIGAIO Project: Interconnection Map
In addition, he stressed the importance of both central and decentralized energy storage, referring to the largest project of energy storage system in the region of Western Macedonia proposed by the EEG Group, with a capacity of 250 MW and a storage capacity of 1000 MWh, and to its decisive role in the wider region for the stabilization of the network and the provision of services both in Greece and to cross-border network operators.
The key points of Mr. Pechlivanoglou’s presentation can be summarized as follow:
- AIGAIO Project – electrical interconnection of Crete with Central Greece via the Dodecanese (Southern Aegean Interconnector – SAI), part of the ENTSO-e development plan with the support of both European authorities and the Greek Government, a project heading to join the European Projects of Common Interest (PCI) in 2021
- Creation of significant investments in the island region and the economic stimulation of (remote) islands and islets
- Commercial and economic development of remote areas
- Turning the country into an energy hub with the corresponding economic benefits
- Decentralized energy storage and virtual power plants that are crucial for the stabilization of the network and the provision of services to both Greek and cross-border network operators
The description below details out the points indicated by Mr. Pechlivanoglou in his speech.
Even before the incredible year we are currently going through, climate change and its dramatic effects had created the need for mass adoption of renewable energy sources and a phase-out of conventional power plants. In our country, one of the most characteristic examples is that of lignite and coal phase-out, which is the main goal of the government’s energy policy for the coming years.
Investing in renewable energy projects still faces several challenges, mainly in terms of finance and politics. However, it is worth to point out the technical and strategic challenges, but also the opportunities that are created in this investment environment.
The increased penetration of RES units in the conventional electricity networks and the simultaneous adoption of the target model require special attention to the design of RES projects as well as the utilization of areas with a high energy potential. Our country has one of the largest wind and solar potentials in the wider region of Europe and the Middle East. At the same time, its geomorphological peculiarity and the proximity of land and sea create an important opportunity for the adoption of terrestrial coastal wind farms, with extremely high energy efficiency and relatively reduced maintenance costs.
The exploitation of the wind potential in the island area gives us the opportunity to create significant investments in the island region and to stimulate the economies of (remote) islands and islets. A typical example of such investments is the offshore wind farm of the EUNICE ENERGY GROUP (EEG) known as the AIGAIO Project with a total investment value of € 1.5 billion.
Photorealistic picture of Wind Turbines on islets.
At the same time, the creation of high-capacity electrical interconnections is one of the most efficient strategies that will allow the increased penetration of RES and the lifting of the energy isolation of both the Greek islands and Greece as a whole. One of the most emblematic and significant projects is the one proposed by the EEG, concerning the interconnection of the AIGAIO Project with Central Greece and Crete. This interconnection project, known as the Southern Aegean Interconnector (SAI), with a total value of close to € 1.5 billion, has already been included in the ENTSO-e development plan and, enjoying the support of both the European authorities and the Greek government, is now heading towards full integration into the European Projects of Common Interest (PCI) in 2021.
Southern Aegean Interconnector (SAI)
This project for the electrical interconnection of Crete with Central Greece through the Dodecanese (SAI) creates multiple benefits, both in terms of energy stability and the penetration of RES and in terms of commercial and economic development of remote island areas. The creation of infrastructures for the accommodation of permanent staff on a variety of islands and islets in the area, for reasons of operation and maintenance of projects, as well as related port projects and telecommunications interconnections, can blow new life into these areas.
Picture of Ports` Infrastructures
In addition, the Southern Aegean Interconnector (SAI), in combination with other interconnections that are developed in the wider area of the SE Mediterranean as well as other interconnections or reinforcements of existing interconnections with Italy and Bulgaria, will make true what many envisaged for years, i.e. the transformation of Crete and our country as a whole into an energy hub with the related benefits for the economy.
However, apart from the issue of interconnections, another sector that currently experiences and will continue to experience great prosperity in the near future, is that of central and decentralized energy storage. In this field, EEG is already in the process of acquiring licenses for the largest – by far – energy storage system in the wider area with a power of 250 MW and a storage capacity of 1000 MWh, to be built in the region of Western Macedonia. This project has already been included in the 16 emblematic projects for the lignite phase-out and will contribute positively to the drastic increase of the RES penetration in our country, while at the same time it is an investment of about € 300m. With this project, Greece will be able to play a decisive role in the wider region in terms of network stabilization and provision of services both in Greece and to cross-border network operators.
In addition, virtual power plant (VPP) technologies, based on distributed fixed storage units or even reverse use of electric car batteries, will be able to act as an adjunct to the above central storage system, offering very large energy management stocks to the administrator.
In summary, we can say that the next day in the field of energy will create great reorganizations but also great opportunities, especially for the countries and organizations that will make the right moves at the right time, so that they can keep up with developments. At the EEG Group, we truly believe that the Greek area has huge potential in the field of RES, while the country’s human resources as well as its technology and energy companies have the opportunity to play a leading role in the wider region in the near future.
We therefore invite you to this very interesting technological journey, to create an sustainable space for energy and the environment with increased safety and successful adoption of new technologies for the benefit of citizens and the economic development of the region. After the Covid19 era, we are entering the era of energy interconnection, storage and security.