The prospects of terminating energy isolation through the creation of an energy union, together with its potential impact on enhancing energy security and contributing to lower energy costs for consumers were discussed during a seminar at the EU House in Nicosia, Financial Mirror reported.
Already, three projects for Cyprus – a subsea cable and two natural gas endeavours, have been included in the European Commission’s list of Projects of Common Interest (PCIs). In his remarks at the conference, energy minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said that the government continues the implementation of its strategy to exploit the hydrocarbon reserves, discovered in its exclusive economic zone. He also said that the ultimate goal is to achieve lower energy prices for consumers.
The event was also addressed by Neoklis Sylikiotis, member of the European Parliament, who welcomed the inclusion of several energy projects of Cypriot interest in a European Commission priority list, unveiled a fortnight before. Lakkotrypis referred to the 10% electricity interconnection target, which forms part of the Energy Union goals, saying that this needs to be achieved by all member states. Cyprus must be part of the internal energy market, he noted, adding that this facilitates Nicosia’s energy plans. He further talked on the aspect of upholding member states’ sovereign rights, with regard to their energy sources, adding that this provides Cyprus the opportunity to properly utilize its local resources.
The minister also talked about Cyprus’ energy isolation and the market’s small size which impeded competitiveness to a significant degree, resulting in higher fuel and energy prices compared to other EU countries. Speaking on energy infrastructure, the minister referred to the 195 energy PCIs. The list includes the EuroAsia Interconnector, a joint venture between Greece’s PPC, Quantum Energy and the Israel Electric Corp., providing for the interconnection of Cyprus with Israel and Greece through an electric cable, as well as to two natural gas projects. These projects can benefit from speedy licensing and environmental assessment procedures, and may eventually receive funding from the “Connecting Europe” facility.
On the energy projects of Cypriot interest, Lakkotrypis said that approving necessary studies was important, however that significant work had still to be done.
The seminar was also addressed by the Head of the European Parliament Office in Cyprus Andreas Kettis and the Head of the European Commission Representation in Cyprus Georgios Markopouliotis, who said that the EU’s commitment to reduce carbon emission by at least 40% by the year 2030 now seems realistic which will also contribute to energy security and help protect the environment.
The design for the EuroAsia Interconnector project has already been included in the EU’s Projects of Common Interest. Undersea cables are laid in trenches along the seabed to prevent their disturbance by ships’ anchors. The work is carried out by robotic technology. The first phase of the project involves connecting Crete with Athens and Cyprus with Israel, while the second phase will see the linking of Crete with Cyprus. The cable will transfer electricity produced from natural gas in both directions.
Greece’s Hellenic Cables is set to participate in the EUR 3.5 billion project. The underwater cable with a total length of 1,500 kilometers will be laid at depths of up to 2,000 meters below sea level with a capacity of 2 GW. “The demand for electricity in Europe is phenomenal… we think that in the future even a second cable might be required,” said Nasos Ktorides, chairman of DEH-Quantum Energy, a joint venture of Cyprus’s Quantum Energy and Greece’s DEH (Public Power Corporation – PPC).
The target is to complete the first phase of the project within 36 months from the launch, for the first connection in 2017, Ktorides had stated in 2013. The link would be able to transmit power in either direction and would primarily focus on electricity generated from natural gas. But electricity from renewable sources could also potentially feed into the network, Ktorides said.