Businesses urge government to speed up green transition

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Businesses are urging authorities to quicken Cyprus’ transition to a greener economy to fight back against the rising energy costs.

The Cyprus Federation of Employers and Industrialists (OEB) has forwarded five proposals to Energy Minister Natasa Pilides on how government can push its green agenda and help businesses overcome challenges posed by an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

In comments to news site Stockwatch, OEB’s deputy general director Costas Christofides said: “The recent developments with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the coronavirus pandemic, have caused serious effects on the cost of energy and consequently on the cost of living”.

Christofides argued that OEB’s proposals could bring relief to businesses and households in the short term and reduce electricity bills in the long run.

OEB proposals have five pillars, including immediately increasing the contribution of Renewable Energy Sources in the island’s energy mix, liberalising the electricity market, adopting modern storage solutions, saving energy, and turning to alternative fuels.

The Employers Federation argues that authorities need to step up projects to modernise and upgrade the electricity network, to remove technical obstacles to the further penetration of Renewable Energy Sources (RES).

It also says the government needs to accelerate licensing procedures for connecting RES projects to the electricity grid to facilitate their financing process.

OEB said a functional “one-stop shop” for simplifying and digitising the licensing procedures for the inclusion of RES or conventional projects in the energy mix should be introduced.

Employers want authorities to stick to their commitment to installing smart meters for all consumers by 2025.

“The implementation of a liberalised competitive electricity market will help promote investment, introduce competition in the energy market and ensure better services for consumers,” said OEB.

As increased RES production will create a need for storing excess energy, authorities will need to explore storage options.

OEB believes the government has to encourage businesses and households to save energy.

Employers are suggesting lowering the VAT imposed on private energy-saving projects.

They said the efficiency of all public buildings should be upgraded to save energy consumed by the state.

The government should also ensure that Cyprus achieves climate neutrality by 2050 (Fit for 55).

This requires greenhouse gas emission levels to drop substantially in the next decades.

As an intermediate step towards climate neutrality, the EU has raised its 2030 climate ambition, committing to cutting emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

With the expected increase in the use of electric vehicles, it will be necessary to ensure the supply of electric recharging points comes from RES, said OEB.