THE latest hurdle to Cyprus’ efforts to import LNG for the Electricity Authority’s power plants was overcome on Wednesday when the Tenders Review Authority turned down the request for the freezing of the process. The request was filed by Aktor SA, which had been part of consortium that won the tender for the construction of a floating storage regasification unit (FSRU), a jetty for mooring of the FSRU and related facilities, but was subsequently excluded.
Aktor SA was excluded because it is a sister company Helector, barred in 2016 from all public tendering for five years because of its involvement in a corruption scandal related to the waste treatment plants in Paphos and Larnaca. Whether the public natural gas company Defa acted lawfully, in excluding the company after making its decision, will probably be decided by the courts, but now Defa could start negotiations with the winning consortium.
Efforts to import natural gas for the EAC’s power station started some 14 years ago and there was a string of failed attempts to secure supplies through tenders’ procedures. Meanwhile, during these years the cost of renewables has fallen drastically and it is puzzling why the government had not drawn plans for investing in clean energy production, given the objective is to lower carbon emissions. Experts say that even if we go ahead with the FSRU and finally import natural gas for power stations, we would still not meet the target of reducing carbon emissions by 24 per cent by 2030.
Why is there such a disregard for renewables technology, the adoption of which is the only realistic way of meeting the 2030 target? Cyprus has the perfect climate conditions for photovoltaics such as long hours of daylight and large tracts of empty land. Most importantly, renewable technologies can be combined with electricity storage which means the energy produced does not have to be used immediately. Have the authorities carried out an in-depth study of this option, which could be more economical than the construction of the FSRU and ensure a bigger reduction in carbon emission?
We do not know the answer but we would have expected the government to have explored this option if only to make sure it had made the right choice. Perhaps it feels obliged to import natural gas because the EAC had invested in the technology for gas-powered generators and needs to get a return, even if this does not fully tackle the issue of carbon emissions.