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Gas, RES, electricity interconnector our policy pillars, says Energy Minister

The import of natural gas, the expansion of the use of renewable energy sources and the electricity interconnection with neighbouring countries are the main pillars of the Government's energy policy, the Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry Minister George Papanastasiou has said.

He was giving an address at the breakfast workshop on "Presentation of Incentives to Businesses for Sustainable Development", which was organised in Nicosia by the Cyprus Association of Energy Saving Businesses in cooperation with Ernst & Young and the Bank of Cyprus, under the auspices of the Minister of Energy on 27 May.

According to Papanastasiou, the ministry is working to complete the review of the national energy and climate plan, which he said includes all the measures and policies by which Cyprus will achieve its new targets by 2030, and which is expected to be completed next month, with a particular focus on promoting energy efficiency investments in all sectors.

He added that the ministry's main actions in the current period include a number of targeted grant projects, which will be mostly funded by the EU's Recovery and Resilience Mechanism and the THALIA 2021-2027 programme, such as the plan for energy upgrading and enhancing the competitiveness of large enterprises with a total budget of €17 million, the plan for the circular economy in small and medium enterprises with a total budget of €14.4 million, and the second call for the "Save-Upgrade" project for SMEs and non-profit organisations with a total budget of €20 million.

Papanastasiou also made a brief reference to the Ministry's plans for the coming months and years, noting that the aim is to reduce electricity costs on the basis of three pillars.

The first pillar, according to the Minister, is the immediate need to import natural gas in liquefied form through the terminal under construction, which he described as a project of excellent value for the implementation of the above pillar, despite its increased cost, as it will significantly reduce emissions and consequently the cost of electricity generation, with the second pillar relating to renewable energy sources with the creation of photovoltaic parks, the energy self-sufficiency of homes and businesses and the strengthening of the grid with energy storage provided by renewables, while the third pillar concerns the electricity interconnection with neighbouring countries, which, he said, has both a geopolitical and a security of supply dimension.

He added that to get the benefits that consumers expect, the first two pillars should be combined with the competitive electricity market, which will be implemented by July 2025.

"The pressure that Europe is putting on itself in terms of green technologies is also placing a burden on itself, so that its economy and its industry are no longer competitive, something that the EU understands and has made a correction so that the green transition can be more sustainable," Papanastasiou noted, adding that in his personal view, green technology should coexist with natural gas technology.

Acting Director of the Department of Environment Lakis Mesimeris referred in his address to the European Green Deal, whose goal, he said, is to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, and to the "Fit for 55" package of 15 legislative proposals covering all sectors of the economy that will lead to a more competitive economy.

Among these proposals, he highlighted the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme, which he said has produced excellent results since 2005, with energy-intensive industries at EU level having been able through carbon pricing to find alternatives that have led to clean technologies, energy savings and a 47% reduction in emissions.

For Cyprus in particular, he said that the failure to use this tool has been detrimental to the economy, citing for example that 30% of the hotel industry's operating costs are related to electricity costs, undermining the competitiveness of the sector.

He added that if we want to see solutions regarding the national targets and the utilization of institutional tools, we must start with energy conservation and that the Department of Environment will support any action in this direction.

Finally, the President of the Cyprus Association of Energy Saving Businesses George Georgiou said that Cyprus has set ambitious targets as regards the effort to tackle climate change, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 32% by 2030 and the increase of the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption to 33%.

He also stressed that saving and the rational use of energy is the only way to achieve the objectives of the European energy policy and to ensure the country's energy sufficiency, and that improving energy efficiency in buildings and businesses reduces operating costs.

(Source: CNA)

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