“The Israeli side wishes to expedite the matter, the technical committees will start their work in July”
Due to estimated shortfalls in domestic electricity production in the coming years, Israel wants an electrical interconnection with Cyprus, which it sees as a potential electricity producer, Minister of Energy, Trade and Industry Giorgos Papanastasiou said on Sunday.
Invited on the sidelines of the fourth annual memorial service of the former President of the Republic Dimitris Christofias, in Strovolos, to comment on the reports, which bring Israel, due to the deficits in electricity production, to wish to import electricity from Cyprus, Mr. Papanastasiou said that the issue was discussed during his visit to the neighboring country last Wednesday.
“The issue was discussed and in particular Israel expressed interest in receiving electricity from various sources in addition to the electricity that is produced in Israel and it was a one of the first topics we discussed,” he said, confirming the related reports.
Saying that during the visit they were told that the deficit is estimated at 4 to 5 Gigawatts that will be missing from Israel in the next four to five years, Mr. Papanastasiou added that “because Israel's intention is to use electricity as the prime mover power for his industry, he wants to have an interconnection with Cyprus” because “he sees Cyprus as a potential producer of electricity which will be for export”.
“And for this reason the subject was discussed strongly, we talked about the issue of the electrical interconnection of the two countries, as we talked, as you know, about natural gas and the connection of the two countries with natural gas”, he added.
Mr. Papanastasiou noted that in Cyprus there has always been talk of the “Gas-to-power” project, which means converting natural gas into electricity, and he also pointed out that green energy produced from renewable sources can also be exported which is rejected.
“We”, he continued, “have a lot of other electricity, which we reject in a way, because our grid can't handle it” so with this particular proposal, but also because of our intention to connect the two countries electrically “we will make sure that this – essentially – overproduction of green energy in Cyprus is channeled to countries that need it, in addition to the conventional production, which will be produced by natural gas”.
When asked if there is a timetable for this project, the Minister of Energy said that the Israeli side wishes to speed up the issue, adding that for this reason technical committees are being formed which will begin their work in July.
He also said that Israel has more or less nominated its own members to the committees and we are now trying to find the right people to be on these committees.
Saying that the timetable will be jointly agreed with Israel, Mr. Papanastasiou noted that “solutions must come very quickly because Israel is in a hurry”.
In response to a question how long it takes to install the pipeline, Mr. Papanastasiou said that it is a matter of agreeing the framework regarding an interstate agreement between the two countries. In this context, he continued, the implementation will be included, which essentially concerns the routing of the pipeline and then the implementing body will find out how to produce the electric cable and apply it to the routing.
He noted that they will need substations built by special companies, so again the implementing body will come in for some arrangements to produce first the cable and then the substations, so that the cable can start to be placed on the route that will be agreed upon.
Finally asked about the cost of the cable, Mr. Papanastasiou stated that he estimated that based on similar projects done in the world, the value of the project might exceed half a billion euros.