In a groundbreaking move set to reshape the energy landscape, Egypt is poised to bolster its own energy infrastructure while propelling Europe towards a cleaner, greener future. The ambitious endeavor, known as the GREGY interconnector, seeks to create a pioneering subsea electricity cable linking Egyptian solar facilities to the European energy market via Greece. This project, gaining significant traction during discussions between Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Greek counterpart at the recent UN General Assembly, marks a critical stride in reducing Europe’s dependency on fossil fuels.
The visionary GREGY interconnector initiative is spearheaded by the Copelouzos Group, a prominent Greek conglomerate, in collaboration with Infinity Power, a joint venture between UAE-based renewable energy firm Masdar and Egyptian company Infinity. The proposed subsea power cable, stretching approximately 1,400 kilometers, is poised to transmit a formidable 3,000 MW of solar and wind energy generated by Infinity Power to Greece and, subsequently, the broader European market.
Carlos Torres, the Head of Gas and Power Markets Research at consulting firm Rystad Energy, underscores the immense potential the GREGY interconnector presents for Europe. He highlights Egypt’s strategic geographical advantage and superior solar energy potential, offering an ideal backdrop for the development of solar systems, unlike many European nations. A 2020 World Bank study corroborated this assertion, singling out Egypt, alongside other Middle Eastern and North African countries, as possessing the world’s greatest solar energy potential.
Europe’s fervent quest to curtail its reliance on fossil fuels, further exacerbated by geopolitical tensions and energy security concerns stemming from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has been well-documented. Meanwhile, Egypt grapples with its own energy challenges, as demonstrated by a series of debilitating blackouts during the summer—an unfortunate consequence of years of insufficient investment in energy infrastructure to accommodate its burgeoning population.
Notwithstanding these hurdles, Egypt remains resolute in its pursuit of various energy projects, including the construction of its inaugural nuclear power station. Torres posits that these endeavors are anticipated to fortify Egypt’s position, ensuring it can satisfy domestic energy demands while simultaneously exporting surplus power.
The GREGY interconnector initiative forms a part of a broader strategy to interlink North Africa with Europe. Two subsea cables transmitting electricity between Morocco and Spain are already operational, with several other projects in the planning stages, including propositions to deliver power from Tunisia to Italy.
Noteworthy is the fact that, should the GREGY interconnector come to fruition, it would outstrip all existing subsea transmission lines in terms of length, nearly doubling the size of the present record holder—an undersea link recently completed between Denmark and Britain. While longer than most existing interconnectors, the GREGY project adopts a more pragmatic approach, transporting electrons generated in Egypt to the closest point on the European mainland, thus ensuring a more efficient power supply to other European nations.
In contrast, the alternative project, conceived by UK-based start-up Xlinks, envisions an undersea cable spanning a staggering 3,800 kilometers along the western edge of Europe. Such extensive distances can lead to significant energy losses during transmission, even with recent technological advancements aimed at mitigating these losses.
Conversely, the GREGY interconnector adopts a more streamlined approach by transporting electrons generated in Egypt to the nearest point on the European mainland, guaranteeing a more efficient and reliable power supply to other European countries.
As developers explore diverse strategies to tap into North Africa’s abundant solar resources, it becomes evident that these resources will remain a central focus for energy-hungry European governments in their quest for green alternatives to Russian gas. Carlos Torres predicts an upsurge in high-voltage, long-distance connections in the near future, further solidifying the ties between Europe and regions boasting substantial renewable energy potential.
The GREGY interconnector, championed by Egypt and Greece, marks a momentous stride towards sustainable energy collaboration and European energy diversification, paving the way for a greener and more resilient energy future for both Egypt and Europe.
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