Southeastern Mediterranean countries, including Cyprus, “can pioneer the hydrogen economy”, Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority (Cera) chairman Andreas Poullikkas said.

Poullikkas was speaking at a conference on the subject of energy security and green development in Athens, and said countries in the region can, through embracing hydrogen, “become climate neutral and export sustainable energy to the European Union.”

To this end, he said “in order for Cyprus to become climate neutral, it needs regional cooperation,” adding that there is a combination of natural gas deposits and renewable energy sources in and around Cyprus and that this provides the island and the region with a “comparative advantage”.

He said cooperation can be achieved “by drawing up a joint long-term strategic plan with a horizon beyond 2060, which will take into account, among other things, the connection of Southeastern Mediterranean countries with Europe through electrical interconnectors, natural gas pipelines, the integration of sustainable technologies, and hydrogen after 2030.”

Additionally, he said that until Europe and the region can transition fully to renewable sources, natural gas reserves in the Southeastern Mediterranean can be a “transitional solution” as the European Union attempts to free itself from dependence on Russian natural gas.

He went on to mention that a sixth of Cypriot energy consumption in 2022 came from renewable sources, and added that this figure is set to increase in 2023 and in the coming years.

With this in mind, he pointed out that a third of Cyprus’ production capacity concerns renewable sources, with 606 megawatts worth of solar panels, 157 megawatts worth of wind turbines, and 13 megawatts worth of biomass systems now in operation on the island.