Electricity

Greece’s IPTO seeks shares in TSOs of North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro

Greece's IPTO seeks shares in TSOs of North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro

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December 14, 2023

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Published:

December 14, 2023

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The Greek Independent Power Transmission Operator (IPTO) aims to expand its presence in the Balkans and the wider region of Southeastern Europe.

Chairman and CEO Manos Manousakis said recently during the OT Forum that talks are already underway for IPTO, also known for its Greek acronym Admie, to acquire shares in neighboring transmission system operators – TSOs.

The 2018 Prespa Agreement between Greece and North Macedonia provides the basis for the Greek company’s possible entry, while the prospect of Western Balkan nations joining the European Union also opens new opportunities.

Manousakis promises a “win-win” result for any operator willing to cooperate, arguing that IPTO has a large capital base and healthy finances for supporting the energy transition and investments in grids and regional interconnections. He named North Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro among the countries with TSOs that the company he leads would buy stakes.

So far, preliminary negotiations have taken place between IPTO and North Macedonian MEPSO, however the government in Skopje is hesitant to sell part of its TSO to foreign investors. It is a strategic company that can partly affect the country’s security, so it needs to remain under government control, Minister of Economy Kreshnik Bekteshi said.

IPTO’s expansion in the Balkans tied to the Eastern Mediterranean

Earlier this year, IPTO took the reins of the EuroAsia Interconnector, a 2,000 MW undersea cable project that is envisaged to connect Greece, Cyprus and Israel. In the meantime, the Cypriot government and TAQA, or Abu Dhabi National Energy Co., a state-owned utility from the United Arab Emirates, signed memorandums of understanding to become shareholders.

Manousakis: We have been approached by American and global funds

Furthermore, the project has been renamed to Great Sea Interconnector and its construction is now expected to begin in 2024. IPTO is also in talks with other investors in Israel and the Middle East who have expressed interest in participating. Their inclusion would be considered especially helpful, since it would send the message that it is a truly international project with benefits reaching far beyond the three original countries.

Manousakis revealed that investment funds from the United States and elsewhere have approached IPTO lately and expressed interest in becoming shareholders.

The Great Sea Interconnector is one of the Greek government’s flagship projects that will allow the country to become an energy hub in the wider region. The goal is for green energy from North Africa and the Middle East to find its way to Greece and then northwards all the way to Central Europe, as part of a so-called vertical power corridor. It is precisely why IPTO seeks new partnerships in places like the Western Balkans.

IPTO’s Vice Chairman Ioannis Margaris has said that interconnections to North Africa and the Middle East only make sense if electricity can reach Central Europe.

Connections with neighboring countries to be upgraded

Another aspect has to do with upgrading existing interconnections between Greece and its neighbors. A second 400 kV line with Bulgaria was completed this year between Nea Santa and Maritsa to increase power trade between the two countries.

According to IPTO’s ten-year development plan, the connection with Italy will be upgraded from 500 MW to 1,500 MW. The new connection with Albania is scheduled to increase flows by at least 200 MW by the end of this decade.

Talks with Turkish Electricity Transmission Corp. (TEİAŞ) were also held recently with a goal to build a 400 kV line by 2029 that would increase flows by 600 MW.

There are also two private underwater cable projects, GREGY and the Greece-Africa Power Interconnector (GAP), for links to Egypt. IPTO began exclusive negotiations this year about buying 33.3% of GREGY.

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