Cyprus needs comprehensive energy planning – Article by Neoklis Sylikiotis, AKEL Political Bureau member
Sunday 20 November 2022, “Haravgi” newspaper
The two ruling DISY party presidential candidates [A.Neofytou and N.Christodoulides] are engaged in desperate efforts to convince the Anastasiades government of the correctness of its handling of energy issues. After 10 years of inaction, they are trying to cultivate the illusion that they have developed an energy strategy, while continuing their sloppy improvisations. They have abandoned the comprehensive strategy they had inherited from the Christofias government, and in doing so destroyed the opportunity to turn Cyprus into an energy hub. They have let 10 whole years go to waste, failing to proceed with the handling of the first commercial deposit that we had discovered since 2011. The Aphrodite deposit is still at the bottom of the sea without being extracted!
Unfortunately, after 10 years of the government ruling forces rule, Cyprus has gone from being a frontrunner on energy issues to lagging far behind. We have been overtaken by other countries in the region. The EU, seeing that Cyprus is unable to respond directly by playing a role in strengthening the Union’s energy security, is turning to other states in the region, such as Egypt and Israel, to meet its energy needs.
At the same time, the Cypriot people are being asked to pay out of their own pockets for the ten years of the government’s inaction and the absence of a comprehensive energy plan. Dependent on oil imports by 93.1%, Cypriots are seeing energy prices soar, while more and more people are being driven to energy poverty.
The long delay in the arrival of natural gas costs tens of millions of euros per year, which is borne by consumers. The unsatisfactory penetration of renewable energy sources in our energy mix and the obstacles to the development of energy storage create enormous financial costs, which are again being paid for by taxpayers.
For 2022, the state is expected to collect around EUR 250 million from the auctioning of pollutants and, although under a European directive it is required to spend 50% on promoting renewable energy for the benefit of society, it prefers instead to focusing on making budget surpluses.
According to figures released from the European Statistical Office, Cyprus ranks second from the bottom of the table with regards electricity consumption from renewable energy sources, with only 12%, which reflects the abject failure of government policy in the energy sector.
Andreas Mavroyiannis is the only candidate who puts forward coherent positions which provide a solution to our energy problems on the basis of an integrated and comprehensive strategic energy planning.
I particularly point to the exploitation of the deposits in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus. The natural gas in the Cypriot EEZ can and should act as a catalyst for the solution of the Cyprus problem. Priority must be given to the arrival, at last, of natural gas from our own fields to meet all our domestic needs, including those of the Turkish Cypriot community.
Cyprus must at long last cease lagging behind in the implementation of energy objectives. We cannot afford to fail again!