A fractious exchange between the minister of energy and the electricity transmission operators (TSO) took place late last week following publication of a letter sent by the latter to the ministry.
In the letter, the TSO operators jointly exhorted the energy minister to immediately halt further installations of photovoltaic (PV) systems in residences, citing imminent danger to the security and stability of the grid.
TSO spokesman Vrahimis Koutsoloukas, explained that the current infrastructure can only handle a certain amount of energy from renewables (RES), and this limit, quantified in 2020, is very close to being reached.
The current infrastructure cannot absorb all the energy created by RES, he said. Therefore integration of cut-off systems into unregulated installations, is a temporary fix, and gives time to review longer term solutions, such as storage capacity.
It is almost inconceivable that at this stage of the game and the urgency of implementing RES that we are talking about ‘long-term solutions’.
Cyprus has sat on its hands for 20 years failing to set up the infrastructure to make all this work. Now, under pressure from Brussels, the government is racing to hike the island’s share of RES so it at least looks good on paper in order not to lose green EU funding.
That is why energy minster Natasa Pilides responded by calling the letter “unacceptable” and “panic-inducing”, and she declared the government had no intention of stopping the PV installation programme.
Of course she said that as there is no longer any choice in the matter and the government is running to make up for its energy failures, and the failure of successive governments of the past to take the move to RES more seriously by preparing the correct infrastructure for a smooth transition.
A similar situation is playing out in the transport sector. The cabinet last week approved a bill that opens the way for them to usher in the end of private cars. The way this is being presented is the promise of cleaner air through the use of electric vehicles that even with a subsidy, however, are still out of reach of most.
But instead of solving the environmental problems by offering the public more options, which is what should have been done well before now, the fact is the method being used is that of removing choice rather than having added options by creating a proper public transport system.
Will the transport minister, any other minister or MP walk, or take their lives in their hands on dangerous roads by cycling to work in 40C heat or will they get on a sweaty bus with the hoi polloi? Not very likely.
Yes, people in Cyprus probably need to walk or cycle more for health reasons but it should still be a personal choice when it comes to how far, for what distance and in what weather conditions.
In both these instances the infrastructure to make these viable options should have been put in place a long time ago.