Giorgos Papanastasiou underlined that the Government's aim is to reduce energy costs for all consumers
We are intensifying our efforts to bring natural gas to the island, in liquefied form as a first stage and in the next stage in gaseous form, from our own fields or those in the region, said the Minister of Energy, of Trade and Industry Giorgos Papanastasiou, underlining that the Government's aim is to reduce energy costs for all consumers.
At the same time, the Minister of Energy stated that the EastMed pipeline does not have a “payback horizon” because the European green agreement is coming, while he announced the preparation of a national energy policy for “smaller projects that will bring natural gas in Cyprus” but also the creation of a small gas liquefaction project.
He also expressed his opposition to the natural gas of the “Aphrodite” field going to Egypt and was in favor of coming to Cyprus to reduce energy costs.
In his greeting at the conference co-organized by OEB and Top Kinisis Conference & Events, in collaboration with the Energy Office of Cypriot Citizens, on the topic “Green Transition and Entrepreneurship – Opportunities and Challenges towards a Sustainable Economy” and in which the Ministers of Transport, Communications and Works, Alexis Vafeadis and Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment also spoke, among others Petros Xenophontos and the President of CERA Andreas Pullikkas, the Minister of Energy said that there is an ongoing discussion with the European Commission about “the role that our country can play, but also the fields of the South-Eastern Mediterranean in general, in the Union's independence from Russian natural gas”.
He said that in order to stir up private capital and promote green investments, it has been determined in the national Recovery and Resilience Plan “Cyprus _ Tomorrow” that 41% of the budgeted resources should be invested in the green transition.
He added that the Ministry for the Programming Period 2021 – 2027, has secured a total of approximately 590 million euros, an amount five times what was secured during the previous programming period 2014 – 2020.
“Our goal is to provide substantial incentives to households, businesses and public bodies to invest in green energy, as well as in energy efficiency measures,” he said, adding that in this way, our stated and main goal of reducing of the cost of the energy they consume.
Referring to the main pillars of the Ministry's energy policy, Mr. Papanastasiou said that these are the strengthening of the security of the country's energy supply, the removal of its energy isolation and the operation of the competitive electricity market and the internal natural gas market.
At the same time, he stated that the aim is to reduce costs for all consumers, with the policies we implement, as he noted, “aiming to overcome, as far as possible, the objective difficulties we face as a small island country, with an isolated energy system, limited wind potential, lack of water resources for hydropower generation and limited availability of land for large energy projects”.
Through the above policies, we have so far managed to achieve almost all the goals set in the National Energy and Climate Plan for 2021, both for RES and energy saving. Stating that the challenges and realities have become even more demanding due to the pandemic and the energy crisis, Mr. Papanastasiou said that for this reason “we are moving forward with the revision of our National Plan, so that our goals become even more ambitious “, based on the European Union's “Fit for 55” policy.
Referring to important measures, as well as reforms, promoted by the Ministry of Energy, Mr. Papanastasiou said that these include, among others, the preparation of Grant Plans, amounting to 80 million euros, to promote large energy storage systems and the implementation of the National Action Plan , amounting to 98 million euros, for the transformation of the Cypriot economy into a circular one, adding that the budget includes a fund of 35 million euros for the installation of smart meters, as well as a fund of 100 million euros for investments in the electricity network, in order to support the green transition .
He also said that the establishment of a Single Service Service (one-stop-centre) for the licensing of RES projects is progressing, which will be under the Business Facilitation Unit and will operate through an electronic platform that will be ready soon, while he referred to the extremely important project as he said , of the electrical interconnection of Cyprus, Greece and Israel, which will remove the energy isolation of Cyprus and create the conditions for an even greater penetration of Renewable Energy Sources.
He also mentioned that in our Sponsorship Plans we place special emphasis on vulnerable households, with increased sponsorships and the list of beneficiaries expanded by 50,000 people.
In addition, the Minister of Energy said that in addition to the adoption of virtual net metering for households and farmers, from April 1, 2023 “we have also adopted virtual net billing for businesses” and “included as beneficiaries of virtual net metering, the wine-making enterprises”.
Finally, he said that “our approach around the use of natural gas as a transitional fuel is being revised and in the mix for use in the domestic market we are introducing the natural gas found in the Eastern Mediterranean, and more specifically in the EEZ of Cyprus”.
Answering a question about the EastMed pipeline, the Minister of Energy said that the pipeline is “a geopolitical project” and added that “in order for a multi-billion investment pipeline to survive it must have a payback horizon”, which it “does not have because it is coming the green deal, which has an expiration date “for all product that will flow through the pipeline.”
Referring to a second reason for EastMed's survival, Mr. Papanastasiou said that “he wants gas on one side and several buyers on the other side”, adding that “there is neither one nor the other because from here the buying side has found other solutions and has not agreed to pour gas into such a pipeline” .
Stating that “those that survive are small projects”, the Minister of Energy added that “our policy change that will be set in a strategic policy which will become a national (energy) policy, is with smaller projects that will bring natural gas to Cyprus ” and we will plan to use some of the natural gas flow from the area for power generation to bring down the cost of power generation.”
He noted that since the investment is very large “we are thinking next to this to do a small gas liquefaction project to export product to Europe and others.
“Aim to have low-cost energy in Cyprus to help the household, the industry and the local economy”, he added.
He also stated that he disagrees with the natural gas of the “Aphrodite” field going to the Egypt and added that “correct states first think of themselves and then of their neighbors”.
He said that “there is infrastructure in Egypt does not mean that you can easily get our natural gas in Egypt with the existing infrastructure”
Only with the participation of everyone will the transition to zero emissions, says the Minister. Georgia
Besides, in his speech at the conference, the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment Petros Xenophontos said that our pursuit is the evolution of our economic model, so that we can move to a modern, circular and competitive economy, with zero net greenhouse gas emissions.
He stated that this goal will only be achieved if this transition is implemented with the active participation and involvement of all participants who contribute to the economy of the state, including the private sector, business and professional associations, Non-Governmental Organizations, academia sector and civil society, while the empowerment of the private sector in the fields of green entrepreneurship is of great importance.
“Using financial funds and innovative green tools and methods that are offered, the companies of our country are given the opportunity to proceed with targeted green investments to protect the environment”, he underlined.
Mr. Xenophontos said that the Ministry of Agriculture implements integrated policies and measures that cut across economic activities.
He said that the State has developed the National Energy and Climate Plan, which sets ambitious targets for all economic sectors of the country, and added that the recent revision of national emission reduction targets to more stringent levels to contribute to the European target of 55% reduction by 2030 compared to 1990, is a major challenge in the upcoming revision of the National Plan.
“Equally important is the transition to the circular economy, which is a huge opportunity to create competitive advantages on a sustainable basis”, he said and added that the proper management of municipal waste is an important pillar of the circular economy.
The Minister of Agriculture said, among other things, that the main objective of the State is the gradual transition to a circular economy on the basis of the European objectives to increase the preparation for reuse and recycling of municipal waste to 55% by 2025, 60% by 2030 and 65% by 2035, and reducing the amounts ending up in landfills to 10%.
He added that the implementation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy, Trade and Industry, of the Action Plan for the Circular Economy 2021-2027, which will contribute to the modernization of industry and take advantage of the opportunities offered by the circular economy, is equally important.
Mr. Xenophontos said that important projects are being implemented in the areas of water supply, irrigation, drainage and recycled water and added that to address the problem and improve the reliability of water sources for domestic and irrigation uses, the optimal use of non- conventional water resources, such as desalination and water reuse, while efforts are being made, through research and development, to integrate renewable energy sources into desalinated water production.
Emphasis on public transport, encouraging the use of electric vehicles
Speaking at the conference, the Minister of Transport, Communications and Works, Alexis Vafeadis, said that our hope is that with the elimination of gas emissions “we will succeed in making our economy independent from the use of fossil fuels” and added that Cyprus' binding goal vis-à-vis the EU is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32%, annually, while he stated that Cyprus produces approximately 4 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, of which 50% is attributable to transport.
Mr. Vafeadis said that the Transport sector must take a lot of responsibility towards this goal, while he mentioned some tools to achieve this goal such as the sustainable urban mobility plans through which we try to achieve sustainable cities, to deal with the climate change, to reduce gas emissions and to have a more efficient use of clean energy.
He said that for the implementation of sustainable urban mobility plans “we will emphasize public transport” and added that emphasis will be placed on buses, the introduction of boulevards and cycle paths, transfer stops and improving accessibility in all city centers.
“If we manage to convince the citizen that it is a faster and more economical way to use public transport then we will have achieved the double goal of reducing congestion on the roads and reducing pollutants”, he underlined.
The Minister of Transport also said that the goal is to continue to encourage the use of electric vehicles with an emphasis on smaller cars and expressed the need to place as many electric vehicle charging points as possible in all cities and if possible also at gas stations.
Mr. Vafeadis called on businessmen to take seriously the green transition and added that the Government is already moving towards this goal, while he noted that if we do not achieve these goals, the fines will amount to 200-250 million euros per year.< /p>
Installation of smart meters in all households, CERA calls for
The President of the Energy Regulatory Authority (CERA) Andreas Pullikkas he first referred to what is the electricity system and what is the natural gas system of Cyprus.
In relation to the electrical system, Mr. Pullikkas said that in Cyprus there are installed steam turbines and internal combustion engines that use fuel oil but also wind turbines and combined cycles that use crude oil and are ready to use natural gas when it comes to Cyprus.< /p>
Regarding RES, the President of CERA said that 433 MW of photovoltaic systems, 157 MW of wind systems and 13 MW of biomass are installed in Cyprus, while he noted that the total installed capacity of conventional production is 1,483 MW.
Regarding the natural gas system, he said that the regulatory framework has been drawn up and “we are waiting for the arrival of natural gas”.
Regarding the development of the electrical systems, Mr. Pullikkas said that in the future electrical system there will be storage either in batteries or in the form of hydrogen (electrolysis of water) and this energy will be used during peak hours.
He also mentioned the need to produce hydrogen with regional agreements from natural gas and later from RES, which will be used either for power generation and pipeline to Europe or by exporting it to Europe.p>
Mr. Pullikkas also said that CERA has adopted the EU target model for the electricity market and the start of Cyprus' competitive market is expected in the coming months, adding that CERA has called for the installation of smart meters in all households, while the framework for electricity storage and the redesign of the transmission and distribution system has been prepared.
He also mentioned that a regulatory framework is being prepared for the energy communities, RES communities and electricity interconnections, while launching the regulatory framework for the hydrogen market and a tool for consumers to compare prices from different suppliers.