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Israel eyes Cyprus’ electricity

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Due to estimated shortages in electricity generation capacity, Israel wants to fast-track its cable interconnection with Cyprus, said Energy Minister George Papanastasiou.

Confirming media reports, Papanastasiou said the issue was discussed at a meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Israel Katz, during his visit to the neighbouring country last week.

His visit explored possible natural gas imports from Israeli gas fields to Cyprus for electricity generation.

“The issue was discussed, and Israel expressed interest to receive electricity from various sources, additional to the electricity generated domestically and (the issue) was one of the first topics discussed”.

During the discussion, he was told the electricity shortage in Israel is estimated at 4 to 5 Gigawatts in the next four to five years.

“Israel seeks an electricity interconnection with Cyprus because it sees it as a potential electricity producer for export.

“For this reason, the issue was discussed thoroughly as we also discussed the issue of natural gas and the connection of the two countries”.

Papanastasiou recalled that Cyprus has been discussing the issue of “Gas-to-Power”, which is generating electricity from natural gas, pointing out that additional green energy produced by renewables, which the grid administrator often discards, could also be exported.

“We have ample electricity, which we sort of discard as our grid cannot absorb it.

“With the electricity interconnection, we will ensure that the excessive production from green energy, which is additional to conventional production, could be diverted to other countries in need.”

Papanastasiou said the Israeli side wishes to expedite the issue, recalling this will be discussed in the context of two expert committees, agreed by both sides, which begins work in July.

Asked about the construction of the EuroAsia interconnector, Papanastasiou said following the conclusion of a bilateral agreement on the cable route, the operator will proceed with its construction and the various substations.

He also said that the cost of the cable linking the two countries is estimated at just over €0.5 bln.

In March 2021, Israel, Greece and Cyprus signed a memorandum of understanding to build an undersea cable.

The European Union recognised the initiative as a Project of Common Interest to support it financially.

The cable would link the power grids of the three countries, providing backup resources in times of emergency.

It will be the deepest cable line at 2,700 metres and the longest at about 1,500 kilometres (900 miles) ever built.

As Greece is linked to other European grids, the cable would enable Israel to export electricity to Europe.

The EuroAsia cable comprises three sections — Israel to Cyprus, Cyprus to Crete and from Crete to mainland Greece.

The three signatories initially hoped for the cable to be constructed by 2024, which is no longer possible.

Israel, Cyprus, and Greece now hope to realise the construction by 2026.

The Israeli and Cypriot energy ministers are now focusing on advancing the construction of the first section.