Imported petroleum products currently contribute over 90 percent of the island-nation’s energy consumption. The European Commission has ranked Cyprus as one of the most vulnerable countries in the EU in terms of energy dependency, and security of energy supply, but concerted moves are being made to provide a sustained shift to a more energy independent economy, with a focus on sustainable and renewable resources.
Cyprus has the highest potential for solar power of any European Union country, but currently imports most of its energy requirements. It currently has a 10 percent renewable energy share, with a target of 16 percent by 2020. But according to the Cyprus Renewable Energy Roadmap, the island could generate between 25 to 40 percent of its needed electricity supply by 2030 via RES.
Spearheading the drive to meet this target is an increase in using battery systems, to store excess energy and create a ‘powerbank’ for the nation. Despite having massive potential in terms of both solar and wind energy, one of the problems in utilising these energy sources, is being able to deliver them close to the point of consumption, where they are actually needed.
Photovoltaic (PV) batteries, which store the power created by solar panels, offer a solution to this, and an innovative EU project is supporting the development of these battery systems in Cyprus, as well as in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. The StoRE project aims to significantly increase the use of PV power in the Mediterranean region, by combining energy storage with energy stability.
In May of last year, the first energy storage system was connected to the electricity system in Nicosia – the first of which experts hope will be many moves to connect storage systems to the general electricity network.
With the country’s electricity network heavily fuelled by oil and diesel generators, the Government has moved into action, with both alternative fossil fuels, in the shape of offshore natural gas, and has also provided funding and focus on renewable energy sources for the general public. The 2019 budget for this sector is set at 64.96 million euros, with 58.61 million euros committed to subsidies, of which 29.81 million euros are directly related to generating electrical power from renewables.
The 29.81 million euros figure includes 25 million euros for a new subsidies plan design, to encourage the use of renewable energy sources for houses (net metering and roof insulation), and promoting ‘green’ transport – such as plug-in electric or hybrid vehicles.
The Chair of the Energy Committee, Andreas Kyprianou, said that the new scheme for roof insulation would grow from 3.5 million euros allocated in 2018, to 6.5 million euros in 2019. The scheme will subsidise a household’s expenses on roof insulation up to 30 percent, with a maximum of 1,500 euros per house. For photovoltaic installations on rooftops, the maximum contribution per household will be 4,500 euros, up from 3,600 euros last year.
On a local level, recently in Nicosia, an EU funded roadshow took place between May 8th to the 15th, to create links between experts in various fields and the local community, with the objective of getting residents to develop their own sustainable city agendas. Craig Martin, who leads the project, said that radical solutions are required to achieve the much-needed change towards a healthier environment in any city, and these solutions are best achieved when working with those who live within.
”It is the citizen at the heart of the project, not the expert – we leave every city clearly having shown what the question is, and potentially what the answers are”, he added, saying from then on it is up to residents and local officials to decide on the next step. The project brought together a wide range of specialities, from sustainable architecture, carbon accounting, energy mapping and sustainable technology.
“It can be as simple as [on] which route you take your kids to school”, the project leader added. “In the case of Cyprus, one thing we have to look at is the huge climate potential of the empty rooftops, and what we can do with the abundant sun. It is not about rebuilding Nicosia, but to see what can be done with existing technology.”
On a pan-Mediterranean level, a dedicated regional conference on transitioning energy in the Mediterranean area, takes place in Sardinia between the 28th to the 30th of the month, and will focus on topics of interest for the energy challenges of the Mediterranean. It intends to address the vast technological changes in all areas of the electric energy business; products, equipment, methods, and so on. SyNERGY MED 2019 is intended to provide a forum for discussion among researchers, policy-makers, regional and local authorities, renewable energy clusters, and main actors/stakeholders about the energy technology challenges in the Mediterranean region.