Cyprus and Greece are vital for the European Union to tap into Israel’s vast renewable sources of energy that will help reduce the EU’s dependence on Russia, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a visit to Israel.
According to a EuroAsia Interconnector press release, the Commission’s chief said that will be achieved via the EuroAsia Interconnector electricity link, co-funded by the EU, and a hydrogen-natural gas pipeline in the Eastern Mediterranean.
During a ceremony in which an honorary doctorate degree was conferred on her at Ben Gurion University of the Negev this week, von der Leyen said: “We are now exploring ways to step up our energy cooperation with Israel. We have two major projects in preparation: the world’s longest and deepest underwater power cable, connecting Israel with Cyprus and Greece. This will over time become electrified by renewable energies. That is where the investment has to go.”
In January the EU earmarked 657 million euros for the construction of the 2,000-megawatt EuroAsia Interconnector underwater electricity cable to link the power grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece, utilizing funds from the Connecting Europe Facility.
Commission spokesperson for energy affairs Tim McPhie said the memorandum of understanding signed between the EU, Israel and Egypt on transferring Israeli natural gas to Egypt, where it will be liquefied and transferred to the EU, could potentially include gas from member-states.
Responding to a question in Thursday’s midday briefing in Brussels on the role Cyprus has to play in the Commission’s energy diversification strategy, McPhie said the memorandum “covers gas from any source in the region and that would include potentially those from EU states.”
McPhie also underlined that “the deployment of gas resources from the Eastern Mediterranean is an important part of our diversification strategy that we’re working on at the moment.” He explained the trilateral memorandum could potentially increase volumes delivered to the EU from about 5 billion cubic meters today to 7 bcm by the end of the year, and double those volumes going forward. On the potential for gas imports to Cyprus, McPhie said the floating storage and regasification unit in Vassiliko is expected to become operational next year, with a potential capacity of around 2 bcm.