Romanian citizens will soon respond to an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report on a proposed 400-kV transmission line between Gadalin and Suceava which could help bolster export capacity to Moldova. Consultations will be held in the towns of Dumitra and Ilva Mare in Bistrita-Nasaud County on April 25 and on April 26 respectively.
State-owned transmission system operator Transelectrica plans to build 259 km of cable through the Transylvanian counties of Kluj and Bistrita-Nasaud, before finishing in Suceava on the border with Moldova. It is one of around 20 major transmission projects that Transelectrica expects to deliver between 2016 and 2018, and will form part of a planned 400-kV ring-route across Romania.
Transelectrica is seeking to channel 5 billion lei (US$1.18 billion) into building a number of new lines between 2016 and 2026, to complement a pan-European development programme published in 2014. Local media reported that the cable would pass through two protected areas of forestry, and could destabilise bird migration patterns unless electromagnetic fields are properly contained.
“The main advantages of achieving this line [include] operational flexibility, eliminating overloads and [reducing] electricity losses in the entire national power system,” Transelectrica was quoted by Timponline.ro as saying on April 14.
Romanian grid losses hovered around 12% between 2009 and 2013, and Transelectrica believes upgrades are needed to allow it to develop wind power generation without risking system collapse. The Gadalin-Suceava cable is also included in the European Network Transmission System Operators (ENTSO) blueprint for grid cohesion across the continent. It would connect to the Moldovan grid via a proposed interconnector between Suceava and Balti in Moldova. Moldova’s TSO, Moldelectrica, launched a feasibility study for the interconnector in December 2015, alongside another cable from Straseni to Iasi, and a back-to-back interconnection at Isaccea/Chisinau. The project’s cost is estimated at 132 million euros (US$141.6 million).
Moldova’s energy sector is heavily dependent on Russian gas imports, with most of its electricity supplied from a gas-fired thermal power plant (TPP) in the Russia-backed breakaway region of Transnistria. Chisinau hopes greater transmission capacity to Romania will help reduce Russia’s energy clout, but there remain concerns over whether Moldovan regulations will allow Romanian exporters to compete on level terms.
On the other hand, Romania can be expected to target the Moldovan market vigorously as a net exporter of electricity. Romania has since 2014 participated in the 5M market coupling project with Central European markets, but will also want to build on close cultural ties with its northeastern neighbour.