Cyprus’s Electricity Interconnection with the Mediterranean Countries is on its Way.

October 20, 2021

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The Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry of Cyprus, H.E. Natasa Pilides, and the Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Mohamed Shaker El-Markabi signed on Saturday 16th October in Cyprus a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish cooperation between the two countries in the Cyprus-Greece-Egypt electricity interconnection project.

H.E. Natasa Pilides affirmed that this is an important milestone in Cyprus-Egypt relations, advancing the transition of both countries towards a green economy, according to the commitments of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The EuroAfrica Interconnector project, which is the result of a long-standing process between Cyprus, Greece and Egypt, will enable the integration of renewable energies and improve the security of energy supply.

Early last week, Greece and Egypt signed a similar agreement, thus laying the foundations for the submarine cable (with a total length of 1,396 km), which will transmit energy produced from renewable sources from North Africa to Europe.

During the 9th Greece-Cyprus-Egypt Summit, held in Athens on 19th October, the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades, and the President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, signed a Memorandum of Cooperation in the field of Electricity Interconnection, confirming the well-established cooperation between the three countries on energy issues.

The EuroAsia Interconnector project (connecting Israel, Cyprus and Greece, via Crete) also received a strong acceleration, following the approval by the Council of the European Union of a 100 million euros grant, as part of the NRRP of Cyprus (whose 41% of the total budget of 1.233 billion euros is earmarked for the Green Transition), the last non-interconnected EU Member State, “to end its energy isolation and develop a green and sustainable economy”, as stated by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

As for EuroAsia, the European Commission has opened a tender that will allow sector companies to obtain funding from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The project has already been the subject of an agreement signed in March 2021 by the Greek Environment and Energy Minister Costas Skrekas, the Cypriot Natasa Pilides and the Israeli Yuval Steinitz, in the presence of Ioannis Kasoulides, chairman of the EuroAsia Interconnector Strategic Council and former Foreign Minister of Cyprus, along with high-ranking government officials and the heads of the Cypriot energy authorities. It provides for the electrical interconnection of the three countries through an offshore high-voltage direct current (HVDC) cable with a total length of 1.208 km and a capacity of 2000 MW, located in the Mediterranean Sea at a depth of 2.700 metres, and will serve as an emergency power source.

The project developer, EuroAsia Interconnector Ltd, headed by George Killas, CEO of Quantum Corporation and Quantum Energy, will be able to apply for and receive construction fundings up to 50% of the total cost. For the time being, the application for funding will concern the part of the project connecting Cyprus with Crete.

According to other sources, it would appear that the Minister of Transport has given the implementing body final approval and permission for the laying of the submarine power cable, with work commencing in January 2022, EuroAsia Interconnector having already obtained all relevant permits and licences, with binding bids from the world’s leading energy producers Siemens and high voltage cable manufacturers Nexans and Prysmian.

The European project of common interest EuroAsia Interconnector (PCI 3.10) ensures energy security for the EU by providing 2.000MW of electricity generated from clean resources, solar power and renewable energy sources, and it is part of the ‘Green Deal’ objective to reduce emissions and make efficient use of electricity.

The Cyprus-Greece (via Crete) PCI 3.10.1 interconnection will be commissioned by December 2023 and the Israel-Cyprus PCI 3.10.2 interconnection will be completed by December 2023; it is labelled as an ‘electricity highway’ and is eligible for subsidies from the 8.7 billion euros (2021-2027) ‘Connecting Europe Facility’ (CEF) fund.

With a view to sharing, Italy was one of the seven countries (along with Egypt, Greece, Israel, Cyprus, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority) to have signed, in September 2020, the charter of the East Med Gas Forum, for cooperation in the creation of infrastructure and development of energy markets. The agreement provides for the harmonisation of operating standards between the various countries during all phases to ensure the safety, sustainability and reliability of the electricity interconnection cable, making EuroAsia a key project in the Eastern Mediterranean energy corridor.

The Italian-Cypriot Chamber of Commerce works for the activation of all connections between Cypriot and Italian companies, useful for the implementation of the projects on the electrical and green interconnection. Some of the most relevant meetings were those with the Cyprus Hydrocarbons Company (CHC) and the Cyprus Natural Gas Public Company (CYGAS).

The President of the Italian-Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, Giuseppe Marino, emphasized the great positioning opportunities for Italian companies dealing with energy infrastructures, during the Smart Talk on ‘Energy Transition, Green Energy and Opportunities in the Mediterranean Area’, in which intervened as guests Alessandra Pasini, Chief Financial Officer and Chief International and Business Development Officer of SNAM and Mario Franchin, Senior Vice President Commercial Global Solutions of SNAM, one of the leading Italian energy infrastructure companies in the world. The meeting was moderated by Constantinos Taliotis, Partner of PWC Cyprus and Head of the Energy Team.

Cyprus’ National Energy and Climate Plan for 2021-2030 is implementing new strategies to modernise and liberalise the energy and electricity markets and EuroAsia Interconnector is an important investment opportunity in axis with European directives. “It will combine economic growth with environmental protection and facilitate the integration of additional renewable energy sources,” said Minister Pilides. It is one of the most ambitious European projects to achieve climate goals and inject funds into local economies.

While it is true that Cyprus was the last EU country not to have an electricity interconnection solving the emergency problems, it is now true that, thanks to the strategic plans that aim to diversify the current supply sources and to the policies of providing incentives for the development of alternative energy sources, investing in Cyprus is undoubtedly an unmissable opportunity for all companies that will cooperate in the construction of energy infrastructure in the Mediterranean area.

For further information regarding this article and about the activities of the Italian-Cypriot Chamber of Commerce: segreteria@camcomitacipro.it

Last modified: December 9, 2021

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