EU to assess Cyprus’ opening up of power generation sector

Cyprus’ move to open up its power generation market and boost the share of renewable sources in its energy mix will face its first big test next year, when the European Union’s executive arm assesses the project.

Cypriot lawmakers in October approved a law aimed to decouple the power grid operator from the state-run Electricity Authority of Cyprus and enable private power generation companies to supply homes and businesses.

The decoupling was among the reforms Cyprus pledged under its national Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) that European leaders approved in July.

The European Commission told the Associated Press in an email Friday that it will “formally assess the compliance of this reform with the (RRP) commitments” when the Cypriot government seeks EU funding next year.

Previously almost exclusively dependent on fossil fuels for power generation, Cyprus has made strides in boosting the contribution of renewables. This year’s target of a 13% share in overall electricity generation was exceeded by 4 percentage points, according to Energy Minister Natasa Pilides. Solar and wind energy are the two primary renewable sources.

Cyprus is also keen to introduce natural gas as a cleaner-burning alternative fuel as the country continues to search for possible deposits off its southern shores.

University of Cyprus Economics Professor Sofronis Clerides said another key reform that Cypriot authorities need to undertake is to streamline how the Electricity Authority runs itself. That, he said, would reduce the type of nepotism and clientelism that political parties rely on to bolster their power base by meting out jobs to supporters.