The government is working towards making Cyprus energy independent, Energy Minister George Papanastasiou said on Tuesday.
“The autonomy of a state is not only related with its finds and its wealth, and what is found in deposits or anywhere else, but should be combined with infrastructure projects, so this wealth can come to the surface and enter the markets,” he said addressing the 11th Energy Symposium in Nicosia. To this end, he called for investments to be made in Cyprus for the purpose of facilitating cheap energy production, saying “this is our purpose, this is why we insist on infrastructure. “The time has come for energy projects, especially for Cyprus, with its small and isolated energy market. We are making a really great effort to draw up and implement a long-term, integrated and sustainable energy strategy,” he said. “This strategy requires coordination and cooperation between the public and private sectors to effectively and adequately address the challenges the energy sector faces.” These challenges, he added, relate to issues such as costs and security of supply, as well as climate change.
In addition, he said, events in the Middle East have put Cyprus “on the verge of a new energy emergency. “Consequently, it is now indeed the time for energy projects. It is the time when each European Union member state, but also the EU collectively, is eagerly looking for ways out of potential energy crises and ways to free themselves from dependence from unreliable energy suppliers, to ensure an uninterrupted energy supply,” he said.
For this reason, he said, it is time for Europe to move quickly to exploit the energy riches of the Southeastern Mediterranean, as this region can provide an alternative energy corridor to the continent. “In this difficult equation, Cyprus can be the reliable energy arm of the EU in our region, contribute substantially to addressing the energy crisis, and ensure energy supply. We are convinced … that natural gas discoveries in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone and the wider region, if properly exploited, can be the catalyst for Cyprus to become an energy hub in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he said.
He added that Cyprus has a “common vision with its neighbours and partners” and that the energy corridor he wishes to create can be achieved “initially by transporting natural gas either through pipelines or ships as liquified natural gas, as well as transporting hydrogen produced in the area.”
Additionally, he said, energy created by renewable sources can be exported to Europe through electrical interconnectors. These include the planned interconnector between Cyprus, Israel and Greece, as well as potential future interconnectors going as far as Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
He also touched on the issue of climate change, saying “a great effort” is being made both within the EU and globally to halt its course.