The Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) must “change” to become a competitive organisation by the time the electricity market opens up, the energy minister said on Tuesday.

“Our vision is for the EAC, as the largest energy producer in Cyprus, to be able to drive down electricity costs,” the minister said.

George Papanastasiou was speaking during a press conference to present the EAC’s operations during 2023.

Cutting costs means, among others, taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and weaning off conventional fuels.

“This organisation needs to change,” Papanastasiou stated, heralding the opening up of the electricity market by July 2025.

In the push towards adopting renewables, the energy ministry in cooperation with the Renewable Energy Sources (RES) Fund has unveiled – and is expected to unveil – schemes with a budget of €148 million over the 2024-2025 period.

The minister also referred to the Photovoltaics for All scheme where people can pay off solar panels in installments via their utility bills.

EAC chairman Giorgos Petrou outlined the key short-term challenges ahead. These include the anticipated liberalisation of the electricity market and consequent competition, electrical interconnectors, the arrival and use of natural gas for power generation, upgrades to the Dhekelia power station, and the installation of a new turbine at the flagship Vasiliko power plant.

At the same time, said Petrou, the transition to green energy and the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is a “top objective” for the EAC.

Summarising this aspect of operations, the EAC boss referred to the solar park in Tseri that came online last year. Meanwhile another solar park in Akrotiri, Limassol, generates electricity at a cost of just 5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

In tandem, the EAC has applied to the regulator for a permit to install and operate a large energy storage system in Dhekelia. The state-run power corporation has applied for a town planning permit, and hopes to get a response soon. It’s also in the process of pre-selecting the contractor – the supplier of the storage batteries.

Regarding the EAC’s financials, Petrou said the organisation’s total revenues in 2023 came to €1.3 billion while expenditures amounted to €1.2 billion. Operating profit was €61 million, while net profit clocked in at €36 million. These numbers represented an improvement on the previous year.

Meanwhile, the EAC, in partnership with the education ministry, has completed the installation of solar panels at 405 schools across Cyprus with a combined capacity of 4.9 megawatts.