The nations of Greece, Israel and Cyprus signed an initial agreement on Monday to build the world’s longest and deepest underwater power cable in an effort to link the electrical grids of the three nations.
The new link, which will traverse the mountainous Mediterranean seabed, comes at a cost of approximately $900 million.
“Euro-Asia Interconnector” Undersea Cable
The extraordinarily ambitious project, called the “Euro-Asia Interconnector,” will provide a back-up power source in times of emergency, according to Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who was in Nicosia to sign a memorandum of understanding with his counterparts.
Cypriot Energy Minister Natasa Pilides said it marked “a decisive step towards ending the island’s energy isolation, and consequently, our dependence on heavy fuels.”
The cable will have a capacity of 1,000-2,000 megawatts (MW) and is expected to be completed by 2024, according to Israel’s energy ministry.
New strategic partnership “significant”
Greece and Israel have recently strengthened their ties in the energy, security and other sectors, with a face-to-face meeting taking place between Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on February 8 of this year.
The two Mediterranean leaders spoke of security issues that have cropped up in the region of late, with the Greek PM stating afterward in their press conference that the new strategic partnership between the nations was “significant.” He then added that the Mediterranean “must remain a sea of peace for all countries.”
"EuroAsia interconnector will help build on more options for renewable #energy, contribute to energy security & in reducing energy prices” –
Energy Min @steinitz_yuval during signing ceremony of #Cyprus🇨🇾 #Israel🇮🇱 #Greece🇬🇷 MoU on EuroAsia Interconnector in #Nicosia pic.twitter.com/BHTrWL593W
— Israel in Cyprus (@IsraelinCyprus) March 8, 2021
At a length of approximately 1,500 km (932 miles) and a maximum depth of 2,700 meters 8,858 feet), it will be the longest and deepest subsea electricity cable to have ever been constructed, it said.
Steinitz said the cable “will allow us to receive electricity backing from the power grids of the European continent in times of emergency and more importantly will also support our ability to significantly increase reliance on solar power generation.”
The Israeli Ministry added that the European Union has recognized the cable as a “Project of Common Interest” and was willing to fund part of it.
Tη Δευτέρα 8/3/2021 οι Υπουργοί #Ενέργειας #Κύπρου, #Ισραήλ & #Ελλάδας υπογράφουν #Μνημόνιο Συναντίληψης για συνεργασία σε σχέση με το Έργο Κοινού Ενδιαφέροντος της #ΕΕ «EuroAsia Interconnector». @EuroAsia_HVDC
➡️ηλεκτρική διασύνδεση Ισραήλ, Κύπρου, Κρήτηςhttps://t.co/qf6OWuDmDU
— Υπουργείο Ενέργειας, Εμπορίου και Βιομηχανίας 🇨🇾 (@cyMECI) March 5, 2021
The Quantum Cable, which will ultimately run alongside the Euro-Asia Connector, is a 7,700-kilometer (4,800 mile long) undersea ultrahigh speed fiber-optic cable system connecting the Middle East to Europe via the Mediterranean.
It will connect Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, France and Spain when it is completed. The cable terminal points will be in Bilbao, Spain, where it is expected to be connected with the proposed transatlantic MAREA cable.
The Quantum Cable system will deploy transmission technology at an ultra-fast broadband speed of 160 Tbit/s (terabits per second), equivalent to the MAREA cable.
Experts say that that capacity is equivalent to streaming 80 million HD video conference calls at the same time. With that speed, 60 percent of the world’s internet traffic could be handled at peak time.
It is expected that the Quantum cable will have 40 times more capacity than the average capacity of existing internet cables in the Mediterranean, enabling it to support high speed for Data centers, Cloud providers and Online services.
During the Greece-Cyprus-Israel trilateral summit in June of 2017, the Greek Digital Policy Minister, Cyprus’ Transport and Communication Minister and Israeli officials responsible for digital policy issues discussed a strategic plan about inclusion fiber optic cables in EuroAsia Interconnector.
They pointed out that EuroAsia Interconnector together with the cable is strategically important for Greece, upgrading her status into a regional electricity and telecom hub.
The then-Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and the President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades, met in the Greek city of Thessaloniki on June 15 of that year, agreeing to support the deployment of the new fiber optic undersea cable as a critical link between Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
The Route of the Quantum Cable
The fourth Cyprus-Israel-Greece tripartite meeting took place on May 8, 2018 in Nicosia. The Prime Ministers of the three countries reconfirmed their support for the timely implementation of the EuroAsia Interconnector and the accompanying fiber optic Quantum Cable.
The Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo in meeting with CEO Quantum Cable Nasos Ktorides, also expressed support for the Quantum Cable and interest in the creation of the cable landing station in Gibraltar.
The Quantum Cable will be laid at a depth of 3,000 meters (9,843 feet) at the same time, and in parallel with, the 2,000 MW EuroAsia Interconnector.
Former Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, who served from 1997—2003, and again from 2013— 2018, who is head of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Working group, joined the Quantum Cable project on March 29, 2018 as Chairman of the Strategic Council.
The former Cyprus Minister of Transport, Communications and Works Marios Demetriades has also joined the Quantum Cable Strategic Council.