The EuroAfrica Interconnector is a high-voltage, direct current (HVDC) subsea cable system being developed to connect the electricity grids of Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece.
Traversing a total length of 1,396km, the trans-continental interconnector project is intended to transmit up to 2GW of electricity between Africa and Europe.
EuroAfrica Interconnector, the promoter and developer, is constructing the project in two stages with stage one covering the Cyprus-Egypt route and stage two the Cyprus-Greece route.
While the project was officially launched in May 2019, the Republic of Cyprus has issued the final building permit for the Egypt-Cyprus interconnection system in August 2020.
The Egypt-Cyprus section of the project is expected to be operational by 2023, while the Cyprus-Greece section is scheduled to enter service by 2024.
Estimated to cost €2.5bn ($2.70bn), the stage one development of the interconnection project will have a transmission capacity of 1GW, which will be further increased to 2GW in the next stage.
EuroAfrica Interconnector route and design details
The EuroAfrica Interconnector line will originate near Damietta in Egypt and run for 498km across sea to connect a HVDC convertor station at Kofinou in Cyprus. From there, it will run westwards and again take a subsea route to connect a convertor station at Korakia point in Crete, the largest island of Greece. The length of the Cyprus-Crete segment will be approximately 898km.
The lowest laying point for the subsea cable system will be 3,000m below sea-level in the Mediterranean basin making it the world’s deepest under-sea cable.
The project will involve the construction of three HVDC onshore convertor stations, one each in Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece, with multi-terminal operations.
Each HVDC convertor station will incorporate the voltage source converters (VSC) technology to convert electricity from AC to DC and vice versa.
The converter stations will convert electricity from DC to alternating current (AC) for feeding into their respective transmission grids.
The HVDC cable system will include all the required offshore and onshore joints for the project.
EuroAfrica Interconnector project background
EuroAfrica Interconnector and Egypt Electricity Company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the execution of the project studies in February 2017.
The project route of EuroAfrica interconnector was agreed between Cyprus and Egypt in March 2018. A strategic alliance agreement was signed between Elia Grid International (EGI), a subsidiary of the Belgium’s Elia Group, and EuroAfrica Interconnector for the development and implementation of the project in March 2018.
A construction and commissioning framework agreement was signed between Egypt and Cyprus in May 2019.
A 33-year land lease agreement for the HVDC converter station in Cyprus was signed at the Cyprus Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry in June 2019.
A joint declaration for supporting the project was issued at the seventh Trilateral Summit by the Governments of Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece in October 2019.
The energy ministers of Cyprus and Greece also reiterated keenness to sign a MoU to promote the EuroAfrica Interconnector on the sidelines of the eighth Trilateral Leaders Summit between Cyprus, Egypt, and Greece in October 2020.
EuroAfrica Interconnector significance
The EuroAfrica Interconnector project is intended to supply the European Union (EU) with the electricity produced from the gas reserves, as well as the available renewable resources in Egypt and Cyprus.
It will transmit enough electricity to power up to two million households while promoting the uninterrupted multi-directional flow of electricity through the integration of Cyprus with the Egyptian and the European networks.
Siemens was selected as the preferred engineering, procurement, construction and installation (EPCI) contractor for the HVDC convertor station in Egypt in April 2020.