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First energy storage systems get green light

green energy, solar panels 1

MPs heard on Tuesday that authorities have green-lit the first renewable energy storage systems, as suppliers of electricity generated from renewables complained that some €40 million is discarded every year.

Legislators heard that the first permits for such storage would be granted by year’s end.

Makis Ketonis, representing the Hydrogen Association, said that in 2022 cutbacks from the electricity grid – unable to absorb all energy generated from renewables – came to 8,000 megawatt-hours. This jumped to 67,000 megawatt-hours in 2023, while for 2024 it’s expected to reach 200,000 megawatt-hours.

Citing data from the Transmission System Operator, Ketonis said the value of the discarded energy works out at approximately €40 million, taking into account that the avoidance cost per kilowatt-hour is about €200.

At the same time, he added, the public in Cyprus pays some €300 million a year in greenhouse gas emissions ‘fines’.

Fanos Karantonis, of the Electricity Market Association, likewise criticised the procedures in place for licensing storage for renewables, saying these impacted businesspeople in the field.

The energy regulator (Cera) said it has already licensed autonomous power storage systems of 155 megawatts, with a storage capacity for 634 megawatt-hours.

It has also given the nod to the installation of solar systems of 388 megawatts overall. These systems have a storage capacity of 730 megawatt-hours.

Andreas Poullikkas, the head of Cera, noted that the path to licensing storage systems opened up with a law passed in 2021.

He sought to deflect blame on the Transmission System Operator, saying the agency knew as far back as 2017 that energy cutbacks for renewables would be substantial during the 2021 to 2030 period.

Meantime an official of the energy ministry told MPs of three grant programmes for energy storage, concerning residences and businesses alike. They come under the umbrella scheme dubbed ‘Save-Upgrade’.

The schemes are expected to be rolled out later this month.

According to the same official, the government is also planning a scheme to subsidise hybrid energy storage systems. He said that in 2021 the energy ministry submitted a plan to the European Commission regarding autonomous storage systems not connected to renewables production. The government is still waiting for approval.

Akel MP Costas Costa said the first discussions in parliament about energy storage and hydrogen date to three years ago. “Very little has been done since,” he noted.

“And yet we speak of the ‘green transition’ as we strive to attain the targets set by the EU, we do attain them, generate electricity from renewables, and then we throw it away because we don’t know what to do with it.”

Energy generated by renewables often has to be ‘rejected’ by the grid. Because energy storage is not available yet, discarding this energy is the only way the grid operator can ensure the system does not collapse at times when production exceeds demand.

For the grid to operate smoothly, at least one-quarter of the energy must be generated from conventional fossil fuels.

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