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EAC’s new photovoltaic park inaugurated (updated)

Υπουργός Ενέργειαςweb
Energy Minister George Papanastasiou at the inauguration

The electricity authority’s new photovoltaic park which was inaugurated in Akrotiri on Tuesday will help the island move away from power generated from fossil fuels.

But, “the penetration of renewables in electricity production remains particularly difficult, due to the small and isolated size of the [Cyprus] market, the absence of storage systems, and seasonal demand,” Energy Minister George Papanastasiou said at the inauguration.

According to the minister, Cyprus is running behind its renewables target for the year 2030. In 2022 the share of renewables in gross final consumption of energy stood at 19.4 per cent – ranking Cyprus 16th in the EU27 bloc.

Speaking earlier to the CyBC, EAC spokesperson Christina Papadopoulou also said the PV park was a step in the right direction for reducing energy costs, but admitted the park’s contribution to the island’s energy mix would not make much difference to consumer bills for the moment.

“The more such parks are built, the more consumers will see the results and a decrease in the cost of electricity,” Papadopoulou added, saying that although the park was one of the largest in Cyprus, it was comparatively small.

The EAC spokeswoman said that the 12MW capacity park could supply 4,500 families – a far cry from the originally proposed 20MW mammoth park which would have supplied 70,000 households.

The current PV park has been in the works since 2013 when the EAC was able to sign a lease agreement with the Limassol bishopric.

Asked about the 11-year-long delay, Papadopoulou blamed glacial bureaucratic procedures.

eac solar park akrotiri
The new park

“As a semi-state organisation we are under obligation to follow all the procedures to a tee. It is hoped that it will be possible to streamline and speed up procedures in future,” she said.

The originally proposed far more ambitious project was to have been completed in 2020 by which time, according to EU objectives,16 per cent of the island’s electricity was to have been procured from renewable sources (RES). It was scaled down after a number of objections to it arose, including razing to the ground approximately 4,000 trees.

The new PV park avoids the purchase of 5,000 tonnes of fossil fuel, saving €2.8m annually based on today’s costs; reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 14,000 tonnes, and saves €1.1m annually from the purchase of carbon credits, Papadopoulou said.

Compared to the cost of production by conventional means, which now stands at 23 cents/kW, the electricity produced at Akrotiri costs a mere 5 cents/kW, Papadopoulou added.

Aside from the Akrotiri installation, the EAC also operates a 3MW capacity park in Tseri and is in the process of securing licensing in collaboration with the archbishopric for another 16KW installation in Ahera and a 5KW project in Ayios Ioannis Malountas.

Meanwhile, the EAC has also announced an open public contest aiming to secure land parcels of 30,000 square metres for lease from private owners to develop further parks. The public procurement effort has been under way for six months and is set to continue for another six.

Asked how many RES megawatts would be required before Cypriot consumers start to see a significant drop in their EAC bills, Papadopoulou demurred, saying that this was a matter up for study.

Papanastasiou added that last July Cyprus had submitted to the European Commission a draft of its national plan for energy and the climate. Brussels came back with some recommendations for improving the blueprint, and by the end of June this year the government must file its final plan.

He also referred to red tape delaying renewables projects, saying the energy ministry has set up a one-stop-shop for renewables and energy storage projects. At the same time, the government has completed the first stage of an electronic platform where applicants for renewables will be able to file all the paperwork.

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