The leaders of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Hungary and Romania signed an agreement in Bucharest to build an underwater electric cable under the Black Sea. The ambitious project could support the EU’s diversification efforts by creating a corridor for green energy.
“This agreement will bring the European Union closer to our partners in the South Caucasus region, and it will help both our regions achieve the clean energy transition,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission who attended the signing that took place in Bucharest on Saturday.
“Since the beginning of Russia’s war, we have decided to turn our back on Russian fossil fuels and to diversify towards reliable energy partners, like the partners here around the table. And it is working,” she pointed out.
She underlined that the project will also help reinforce the EU’s security of supply by bringing electricity from renewable sources to the block, via Romania and through Hungary.
Once built, the 1,100-kilometre cable – which would be the longest underwater electric cable in the world – will provide Azeri energy for the rest of the continent. A feasibility study is already underway, it is expected to be ready by the end of next year. Then, the project could be completed within three to four years.
Azerbaijan is producing 27 gigawatts (GW) of wind and solar power and the country is developing projects that should increase this capacity by 4 GW by the end of 2027, 80 per cent of which will be exported. By 2037, Azerbaijan aims for an additional capacity of at least 6 GW, highlighted Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
The Black Sea electric cable holds many promises. It would create stronger electricity interconnections and therefore help the integration of a growing share of renewables. It could also transform Georgia into an electricity hub and integrate it into the EU internal electricity market. Additionally, the project could bring electricity to Moldova and to the Western Balkans and it could even help start rebuilding Ukraine’s energy system.
Therefore, the EU is very supportive of the investment and an estimated 2.3 billion euros in funding is already earmarked for the Black Sea strategic submarine electricity cable from the 17 billion euros economic and investment plan of the Eastern Partnership (EaP).