By Constantinos Psillides
The University of Cyprus aims to become completely energy self-sufficient through two solar panel parks, Rector Constantinos Christofides said on Tuesday during the launch of the ‘Phaethon’ photovoltaic park.
The park, made up by 1,645 solar panels, has the capacity to produce 632,000 kWh of electric energy annually. All the energy produced will go towards reducing the institution’s electricity needs.
A planned second solar panel park to be named ‘Apollon’, which will have a 10MW capability is also in the works, Christofides said.
“This city of Knowledge we want to establish is a green one. We are developing the necessary infrastructure that will allow us to increase our productivity and efficiency in the areas of teaching, research, innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Christofides, adding that the goal to be regarded among the best universities in the world when it came to environmental progress.
“We are responding to the great environmental challenges of our day by cultivating an environmental conscience. This is what we are trying to achieve with Phaethon and the planned Apollon solar panel parks. Both these projects are expected to make the University self sufficient,” he said.
He told the Cyprus Mail that the university planned to invite tenders for the Apollon solar panel park within the next four to five months. “This is our big project. Nine months after awarding the tender we expected the project to be completed,” he said.
The ‘Phaethon’ was officially opened by Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis on Tuesday.
According to Lakkotrypis, the state has secured €52 million in EU funding for the 2014-2020 period, specifically aimed at completing projects and approving schemes regarding energy saving and employing renewable energy (RES) options in public buildings, businesses and homes.
“This government policy, along with a variety of initiatives from the private sector have contributed in increasing our energy output from renewable energy sources to 8.7 per cent of our total output for 2014, which is well above the 7.45 milestone set by the EU for 2015-2016. This brings as near to our national goal of 13 per cent in 2020,”
In his speech Lakkotrypis also focused on how the government was trying to open up the energy market by introducing incentives for energy producers other than the state-owned Electricity Authority of Cyprus, as well as entrepreneurs operating in the renewable energy field.
“Today, the installed capacity of renewable energy systems for electricity production amounts to 61 megawatts from photovoltaic systems, 147 megawatts from wind farms and 10.4 megawatts from biomass,” the minister said.
“The energy sector in Cyprus is currently facing many challenges. Despite the recent downturn in electricity prices due to the fall in the international prices of crude oil, the cost of electricity in our country remains among the highest in Europe, mainly due to the dependence on fuel imports used in electricity, and the lack of effective competition in the electricity market.”
Lakkotrypis said that although the process of market liberalisation started ten years ago, the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) still holds a monopoly on the market but steps were now being taken for a shakeup, he said.
The government has also, in cooperation with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), launched a roadmap for the development of RES on the island, in which various scenarios were considered for the ‘energy mix’ that would work in Cyprus. The roadmap examines issues such as energy storage, electrical interconnection between Cyprus and other countries, the advent of gas and the use of electric vehicles.