Cyprus Mail
CyprusEnergy

Energy sector reform is urgent, regulators told

Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis

By Jean Christou

THE planned new rules for reforming the energy market in Cyprus need to be urgently put in place, Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said yesterday.
The minister was speaking at the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority (CERA) and its Austrian counterpart, E-control.

The urgency, Lakkotrypis said, was down to two reasons; “firstly, to facilitate the entrance of new players in the generation and supply of electricity and, secondly, to allow for renewable energy sources to compete on equal footing with conventional electricity generation.”

He added that recognising CERA’s need to have in place the necessary human resources in order to effectively exercise its tasks, the cabinet had recently decided to exempt the authority from the general restriction of the governmental and semi-governmental sectors on hiring new personnel.

Lakkotrypis said the EU was currently facing various challenges and member states were being called upon to proceed with coordinated actions to increase the Union’s energy security, to agree on a transition to a low carbon economy by 2030 and to take measures to improve energy efficiency.

Referring to the MoU, he said: “Obviously, the exchange of best practices and the transfer of valuable know-how from experienced and established regulatory authorities, such as Austria’s E-control, are supplementary to our efforts and demonstrate, in practical terms, solidarity between member states.”

Lakkotrypis said the energy sector in Cyprus was undergoing fundamental transformations concerning its structure and organisation, its institutional framework and the diversification of its energy mix from fossil fuels to renewables to natural gas.

The island has been working with the International Renewable Energy Agency to develop a ‘renewable energy roadmap’ which is due to be completed by the end of this month, the minister said.

CERA chairman George Shammas said that under the MoU, both the Cypriot and Austrian bodies would work together in several spheres including exchange of information relating to dispute resolutions, regulatory development and regional energy markets to bring forth potential. They will also collaborate to improve the performance of their institutional functions in market monitoring, competitive market structures, market integration of renewable energy sources, natural gas market, energy efficiency and smart metering.

E-control’s Executive Director Walter Boltz said Cyprus had a number of advantages such as its good weather, which boosted photovoltaic production more than most member states. “That’s a strength that you have to capitalise on without jeopardising security of operation,” he said.

Commenting on the island’s natural gas discoveries, he said: “You have to make best use of those natural resources which is maybe an even bigger challenge than you might think.”

He warned that many countries in the world had exploited such resources only to find years down the line that they had neglected to develop their energy sectors as whole.

“You should make use of gas resources as they come available for enabling a more competitive and more cost effective electricity production and maybe also industrial gas use,” he added.

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