With its 6,000 islands and terrain which is 80% mountainous, Greece presents obvious challenges for energy transmission. Despite these challenges, the country has long provided a stable electricity supply to 100% of the population. For the past two decades, the transmission of the country’s electricity has been the mandate of ADMIE, the operator of the Hellenic Electricity Transmission System.
Celebrating 20 years of operation in 2020, the company has entered an exciting new phase of its own development, and by extension, that of Greece. Manos Manousakis, the Chairman and CEO of IPTO, the parent company of ADMIE, was kind enough to speak with Business Excellence about the changes which the company is undergoing and indeed, the progress that it has been making on several fronts.
As the opening paragraph alluded to, the mission of ADMIE is the operation, control, maintenance and development of the Hellenic Transmission System, to ensure that Greece is supplied with adequate quantities of energy in a safe, efficient and reliable manner. IEA statistics suggest that it is exceeding this mandate, delivering 58TWh of electricity in 2019 and doing so by producing less CO2 than at any time since the 1980s.
These results owe much to the company’s stellar network of transmission lines: At the end of 2019, it managed just under 12,000 kilometres of transmission lines traversing the country and its thousands of islands, between overhead lines, submarine cables and underground lines. Add to this, its 356 substations and 42,000 transformers, and the company already has a lot on its hands before its 10-year development plan is even taken into account.
10-Year Network Development Plan
The network development plan outlined by ADMIE, which is projected to run between 2021 and 2030, is the centrepiece of the company’s 5 billion euro investment plan. Mr. Manousakis says of the plan: “This is going to have a huge impact. It will be one of the longest interconnectors in the world at over 176 kilometres in length with a cable laid one kilometre beneath the surface.”
With a total budget of 4.4 billion euro, the project has been divided into three sub-phases, respectively due for completion in 2027, 2028 and 2030. Its scope is ambitious - connecting Crete and the Cyclades (known as the Ionian Islands loop), as well as connecting the Greek electricity system to that of Bulgaria. Integration with the European system is expected to occur in 2023, and will allow Greece to export any excess electricity on its grid.
It is little wonder that Mr. Manousakis continuously returns to the word ‘impact’; he tells us: “the impact, first of all, has to do with the environment because the conventional units that are used now use petroleum. From 2020, the security of supply is going to be smoother and easier for the island. We’re going to have new wind farms. Crete is also going to produce energy for the Greek mainland and the perspective is also for Europe.”
He continues: “The island is going to become an energy hub, as now it is interconnected. This is the first step - other steps are going to happen in the future. Last but not least, because of the reduction in the PSOs, in the magnitude of around 300 million euro, all Greek citizens are going to pay less for their electricity.” As part of the broader single European market for electricity, this also means cheaper electricity for European citizens outside of Greece, which is another positive impact of the project.
New Corporate Identity
It seems fitting that this next phase of ADMIE’s development occurs under a modern corporate identity that reflects where the company is headed. At the end of July 2020, the company held a gala event to launch its new logo and website, which was attended by Greece’s Deputy Minister of Environment and Energy Mr. Gerasimos Thomas. Mr. Thomas noted that the logo effectively marks the transition of ADMIE from a Greek firm to an international one, a sentiment echoed by Mr. Manousakis:
“With the renewal of our corporate logo, we want to capture this transition to a new era - an era where electricity becomes cleaner, more efficient and even more reliable for everyone. With the motto "Interconnecting the future", IPTO, drawing strength from the past, turns to the future, exploring new growth prospects on the road to de-lignification and the green transition."
The outbreak of Covid 19 at the beginning of 2020 brought a challenging, sometimes tragic, set of circumstances that showed ADMIE’s impressive ability to adapt quickly to its environment. M Manousakis says:. “From day one of the COVID-10 crisis in our country, ADMIE was mobilized to support Public Hospitals, which bear the greatest weight of this unprecedented crisis. The Operator will assist with all its means our fellow citizens who are affected more by the disease.”
First and foremost, it prioritised the health of its own 1,600 employees, allowing as many to work remotely as possible and offering help to them affected by the pandemic. Most notably however, was its donation of equipment worth nearly 900 million euro to the Greek Health System, consisting of personal protection equipment, ventilators, bedside monitors, negative pressure chambers and prefabricated structures. The gesture brought widespread public acclaim and even a personal tribune from the Greek Minister of Health.
Partners and Suppliers
From one point of view, everybody in Greece is a partner of ADMIE: the country cannot move without the energy that it provides. However, as a lean operation of less than 2,000 employees for a quite massive operation, drafting in partners and suppliers to help manage its projects is key to ADMIE’s success. This is even more true with the 10-year transmission project.
These include a number of Greek energy and telecoms industry firms such as Unicorn Systems, Powertec S.A., Telmaco S.A. and Grid Solutions Hellas Α.Ε., as well as some European ones as is befitting for the company’s internationalisation, including ABB (Sweden), Prysmian Powerlink S.r.l. (Italy), Verescence (Spain) and Nexan (Norway). For auxiliary services such as in-house technology and security, it turns to local companies like Nodalpoint Systems and Mega Sprint Guard, respectively.
Interconnecting the Future
The mandate of Manos Manousakis runs to 2025, by which time, ADMIE’s major infrastructure development will be halfway to completion. Greece’s islands will be fully integrated with a clean, modern energy system. He says: “For the next decade, however, the islands lie at the core of growth strategy with almost no Greek island will be isolated or burn dirty fuels to produce electricity by 2030.” What a legacy he will leave behind.