Cyprus could be carbon neutral

Cyprus has vast potential for renewable energy from solar power, onshore and offshore wind and the rapidly developing marine power technologies. 

Within a few years from now Cyprus could quite easily become become the EU’s first carbon neutral nation.

 Cyprus could be the sustainable energy hub of the Eastern Mediterranean and make money from exports of carbon neutral electricity along the already-proposed underwater international power cable.

 What a great achievement that would be.

 So why are political leaders in Cyprus still focussed instead on a fantasy of huge wealth from exports of the gas discovered in the offshore Aphrodite field? 

The consortium which is supposedly going to develop Aphrodite has already put back the first possible production date to 2025 and further drilling this year could change the timetable again.

My prediction is that production from Aphrodite will never begin. Even if it does, no-one in Europe will buy the gas, because of cheaper supplies from elsewhere and the continued growth of renewable technologies, along with improvements in energy conservation and insulation.

Meanwhile, a huge proportion of the Republic of Cyprus’s 9,251 km2 would be eminently suitable for solar and wind power production. 

Much land in Cyprus stands barren and empty all the time, potently ready for solar panels and wind turbines.

On agricultural land,  crops could be grown around wind turbines and mobile photovoltaic panels could be spread across fields outside the rapid growing season.

None of Cyprus’s delicious fruit and vegetables need be lost to the country’s potential revolution in sustainabilty.

Cyprus homes and other buildings could play a big role too. The laws in Cyprus mandating solar water heating panels on rooftops have already shown how easy it would be to install photovoltaic panels up top. What an opportunity.

Offshore Cyprus has greater potential still. Offshore wind turbines are getting bigger and bigger and can produce vast amounts of electricity.

Cyprus has a vast unexploited offshore economic zone ripe and ready for windpower development.

When the happy day comes that the island of Cyprus is reunited, the offshore potential will be even greater, but already there is scope for offshore windfarms to produce much more power than Cyprus needs.Mostly, offshore windfarms stand securely on their own sturdy legs, but even where the seabed is deep it will soon be possible to locate floating turbines and I am sure tidal and wave power specialists would propose Cyprus projects too, if given the chance.

Instead of which, the Cyprus government is still paying fines to the EU for excessive carbon emissions from its power stations.

Then there is the cost of oil and gas to fuel those power stations, which could be sharply lowered with a better proportion of power from renewable sources.

Electricity users in Cyprus, ie all residents, have got used to surcharges on their bills to pay for slow changes to the generation activities of the Electricity Authority of Cyprus.

So far, the Cyprus government has only tinkered with renewable energy. Its targets have been very modest and at least one of its few forays has gone badly astray.

The EAC stupidly agreed a deal to guarantee some wind energy producers 16.6 eurocents per kilowatt hour, more than four times the going rate in capacity auctions in many countries in Europe, the US and Asia in 2019.

The Cyprus government should cancel this ripoff deal immediately and stand up to any legal repercussions.

What the government should be doing is calculating Cyprus energy needs over the next, say, ten or 20 years and inviting tenders for the supply, from all comers.

Suppliers of fossils fuels could still bid, but I am certain the lowest bids would come in from companies eager to exploit Cyprus’ enormous potential CO2-free energy resources, ie sun, wind and water.

Household and industrial electricity bills could fall sharply, giving people and companies more cash to spend in Cyprus’ hard-pressed economy.

Cyprus has the fortune to be warm for much of the year, keeping heating bills lower than in most European countries.

With a low proportion of heavy industry too, renewable energy production could quite soon surpass Cyprus’ own needs, allowing for exports and making Cyprus a carbon neutral or even carbon negative country.

Bring it on!

I will aim to look at some of the facts, figures and costs in future items.

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