Already the new blue-green government in Austria has vowed to make that country CO2 neutral by 2030. That’s quite a challenge but Cyprus too could achieve that target if it set out a proper plan instead of obsessing with fantasies of vast wealth from gas lying underground in the deep-water Aphrodite field.
Here are a few details of how the Cyprus government and state-owned Electricity Authority of Cyprus should go about getting rid of CO2 from their power stations. And ‘state-owned’ is important here because no large private generator would still allow its three main power plants to carrying on spewing out greenhouse gases from burning heavy oil and gas.
For power-producing arrays of solar panels, construction times are a matters of weeks or a few months after permissions are in place. See: https://www.infinityrenewables.com/solar-construction-process.html
Wind turbines can be erected in as little as a year for medium ones, eg 55kw, while a big 500kw turbine should be up in two years. See: https://www.renewablesfirst.co.uk/windpower/windpower-learning-centre/how-long-will-the-whole-project-take/
EAC’s own power generation system consists of three fossil-fuel power stations with a total installed capacity of 1480mwe. The latest figures I can find show that renewable energy sources contributed 9.72% of Cyprus electricity generation in 2017 and was projected to increase only slowly.
Those figures show there is a lot to but those onshore constructon times prove it would be perfectly feasible for Cyprus to reach 100% renewable energy by 2030. And it would all be onshore, avoiding clashing with Turkey in any way.
Yes, renewable power is variable but NO that won’t be a problem because companies bidding to supply renewable energy can be asked to provide their own storage to ensure they provide a steady supply of electricity to the grid.
The geography of Cyprus makes it suitable for various existing storage options, eg hydro, whereby excess daytime or windy-day power pumps water uphill to lagoons, from where it flows back to generate power at night or on a calm day. See electricmountain.co.uk for how this works. Several other storage systems are developing rapidly too – large batteries, heating mineral salts and so on.
I do see a challenge in strengthening the Cyprus power grid to make sure it can handle the input of electricity from the various wind farms and solar arrays that are needed but the Cyprus government does have a target of reducing carbon emissions by 30% by 2030 and already needs to act urgently to make sure the grid can cope with a lot more renewable energy.
The EAC deserves praise for its plans to save energy, to increase energy efficiency and roll out smart meters. But the government’s fantasy about a fabled gush of golden gas from the deep water Aphrodite is still the main focus, though it is a dangerous diversion from meeting Cyprus’ long-term energy needs and few now expect Aphrodite to bring huge wealth from gas exports.
There is a much more certain way of Cyprus making money from energy exports. The seas all around Cyprus, near to the shore as well as in deep waters like Aphrodite, are a blank canvas for potential huge production of wind power. I am certain many skilled and experienced offshore wind farm developers would be thrilled to be given a chance to bid for rights.
The risk of heightened disputes between Cyprus and Turkey over offshore wind power would no greater than those currently besetting the zones where Cyprus has allocated offshore oil and gas exploration and exploitation rights.
For one thing, Turkey could hardly interfere with wind farm licensing in zones just off the south coast of Cyprus, say off Pafos, Larnaca or Famagusta (Agia Napa). And if agreement could be reached, it could lead to a bonanza of wind farm development in all Cyprus zones and in Turkey itself in zones nearer the Turkish mainland.
Cyprus has already agreed to back the EuroAsia Interconnector between the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids and this cable could be used to export Cyprus’ electricity without further technical development.
More details about Cyprus’ offshore power potential in my next post, along with thoughts about wave and tidal power. Meanwhile, if Austria reckons it can be carbon neutral in 10 years, so can Cyprus. Cyprus is warmer, has much more sunshine per hectare than Austria and the Alpine country has no coast and thus has zero potential for offshore wind power.
Come on Cyprus government and EAC. What is holding you back?