High temperatures are the enemy of the electricity authority (EAC), spokeswoman Christina Papadopoulou said on Friday, noting that the heat causes damage to the network and underground cables causing power cuts.

Papadopoulou explained that the high temperatures, which reach or exceed 40 degrees, combined with the increased needs and – by extension – the increased current flow, affects the connections of the EAC’s underground cables, due to contraction and expansion.

This has the consequence of causing damage to some connections and consequently damage to the network, she said.

Asked if the damage can be predicted, Papadopoulou said that there can’t be constant maintenance on the underground cables since those are in central urban areas, mostly under walkways.

Regarding if there are any alternatives to underground cable technology to avoid the problem, she noted that underground cables must be installed with joints.

She added that damage to underground cables can be caused by other factors, citing as a recent example the case of damage to a cable in Limassol, when it was hit by a contractor’s excavator, which again resulted in a power cut.

Papadopoulou assured that the existing network can meet electricity needs. She mentioned, specifically, that the network of underground cables located in urban centres reaches 12,500 km, while the overhead cables, which also cover rural areas and forest areas, reach 16,000 km.

She also noted that for the overhead network there is regular maintenance, especially in forest areas, where it is expected to be intensified with the decision to establish a competent committee, with members from the Forestry Department, the Fire Department and the EAC.

Commenting to Cyprus News Agency, Dr Nestoras Fylaktos, a researcher at the Cyprus Institute said that the increase in air conditioning needs in cities due to high temperatures causes a corresponding increase in pollutant emissions and puts a particular strain on the electricity grid, as the maximum demand for electricity in Cyprus in the summer is approx. 2.5 times higher than the minimum in spring and autumn, reaching 1.25 GW.

He added that heatwaves also influence the energy production systems themselves, as they reduce the efficiency of the production units, which implies higher fuel consumption and pollutant emissions respectively for the same amount of energy produced.

He added that the same applies to the efficiency of photovoltaic systems, but also to the degree of efficiency of the energy transfer from the network.

Fylaktos said that the Cyprus Institute has developed a mathematical simulation model of the energy system of Cyprus, offering scientific data to the relevant ministries for the preparation of the National Energy and Climate Plan, which is under consultation.

Regarding the actions that can be taken at the regional level, he said that for three years an initiative of the Cyprus Institute has been underway with the aim of the governments of the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean agreeing on a road map of actions to deal with and adapt to climate change in the region, adding that what has been agreed so far includes the study of the possibility of electrical interconnection with other countries in the region for a more balanced distribution of energy demand and cooperation in preventing and fighting fires.