Proper risk management for public health, security and safety and environment protection are Cyprus’ main concerns as regards the use of nuclear energy as a green energy source, Environment Commissioner Klelia Vasiliou told the Cyprus News Agency.
She spoke to CNA on the occasion of the Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act which was tabled by the European Commission early February, specifying the technical screening criteria under which certain economic activities in the natural gas and nuclear energy sector qualify as contributing substantially to climate change mitigation or climate change adaptation and not causing significant harm to any of the other relevant environmental objectives.
Vasiliou pointed out that we must be very careful on issues related to radioactivity levels, nuclear waste management, the issue of nuclear reactor replacement as well as the full range of mechanism and safety.
The Commissioner said that there is an incomplete database regarding the management of these issues, which is what is required for public health, safety and the impact on nature and the environment.
Invited to comment on the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant under development in Turkey, very close to Cyprus, Vasiliou stressed that there are significant concerns and Cyprus government exerts the necessary pressure to safeguard at least its proper operation through the European security mechanism.
She said that our concerns are already being raised by Cyprus’ MEPs. DISY MEP Loucas Fourlas, she said, tabled a question and the Parliament replied that the evaluation by ENSERG – The European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group – will be completed in 2022. A new question will be raised by the MEP, Vasiliou said.
The Commissioner said that the question of energy production from other forms of renewable energy sources (RES) is something that has always concerned the government. She stressed that we must invest more to this end and clarified that each region and each country must determine the ways and means by which to introduce RES which serve the benefit of energy production with the least possible environmental impact , protect the public health and address the safety questions.
Vasiliou said that Cyprus, as a very limited geographical area, is called upon to combine many and parallel environmental needs and therefore the aim should concern the exploitation of many and smaller RES systems. She expressed the opinion that supporting livestock farmers in the exploitation of livestock waste for energy production is a priority. At the same time, she placed as a priority the exploitation of household waste for the same purpose.
Asked about the criticism against the government for the use of RES she said that the government is in a constant effort to adapt infrastructure as well as administrative tools for the integration of RES in Cyprus’ energy balance. Vasiliou said that of course there was a delay and a mismanagement in the strategic planning ten years ago, locking the energy strategy in specific RES funds. She said that these issues have been addressed and there is an effort to correct them.
The Commissioner said that last January the Cabinet approved three important bills submitted by the Minister of Energy, which encourage the use of RES, of fuel emissions and operation of the Renewable Energy Sources and Energy Saving Fund. She pointed out that these bills serve in contributing to the goals set in the context of Cyprus’ wider green policy and transition to green economy.
Environment Commissioner said that of course we have not reached this goal but it is understood that there will always be much more to do in the dynamic and constantly changing sector of energy.