A planned 1GW electricity cable project linking Italy and Switzerland is not necessary considering the existing transmission capacity available on the border, Swiss system operator Swissgrid has told ICIS.
Complex planning and approval requirements for the Greenconnector project, together with uncertainties about funding, also make a 2020 commissioning of the new link “highly optimistic”, Swissgrid said late on Friday.
Any market impact of a delay, or even potential cancellation, is likely to be minor however, because if Swissgrid deems more cross-border space unnecessary, this indicates ample capacity is already in place to allow power to flow between the two markets. Therefore adding more would not have a major pricing impact.
And in addition, a larger 2GW link between the two countries being driven by the two national transmission system operators (TSOs) Swissgrid and Italy’s Terna, is scheduled to come online in 2022.
The company behind the Greenconnector project, also called Greenconnector – a special-purpose offspring of Swiss energy group Worldenergy – was initially aiming for a late-2017 or early-2018 commissioning date, despite construction permits from the Italian government for works on the Italian side lasting until August 2019 (see EDEM 10 September 2014).
The 1GW cable, which can reach a peak overload of 1.2GW, is one of 15 interconnector projects proposed in Italy in recent years, and one of two in place for the Swiss border (see EDEM 2 September 2015).
“At the time being, grid capacity on the Swiss-Italian border does not show an urgent technical and economic need for this project,” a Swissgrid spokeswoman said.
The TSO will be ready to reassess the potential benefits of the project were a demand for increased cross-border capacity emerge in future, the spokeswoman added.
In a document published in 2015, Swissgrid said the project was unlikely to be “technically necessary nor economically sensible … until 2035”.
Greenconnector was not available for comment on Monday.
The border with Switzerland is already Italy’s most interconnected. The nominal net transfer capacity (NTC), or maximum exchange available, for Italian imports on the border goes up to 4.2GW in winter months and 3.4GW in summer months. This makes up 47% of an overall 8.9GW winter NTC and 46% of 7.4GW summer NTC available to Italy for imports, when also considering France, Austria, Slovenia and Greece, data from Italian TSO Terna shows.
Switzerland is also Italy’s largest export destination by available NTC, with up to 1.9GW in winter and 1.7GW in summer on the border out of a winter total of 4.4GW and summer total of 4GW. This is 43% of the total in both cases.
Italy is a net importer from Switzerland, which made up more than 50% of Italy’s total net imports in recent years.
The other Swiss-Italian project, a 2GW link between Baggio in Italy and Airolo in Switzerland proposed by TSOs Terna and Swissgrid, is scheduled to come on line by 2022.