Cyprus rooftop solar could power all homes

Solar power generated from photovoltaic panels on roofs of Cyprus homes and outbuildings could provide enough electricity to meet the needs of all domestic users – if we use the vast hidden potential across the Republic.

That would mean commercial solar power plants would only need to generate the electricity wanted by industry and agriculture, and could undoubtedly also produce a large amount of power for export.

There is much more potential from homes than you might think if you just look at the many apartment buildings in Cypriot towns, but lets start with them. Replace the water heating panels with photovoltaic panels and already you could generate a large proportion of the electricity used by occupants of the building.

In other homes, the residents’ entire needs and more could be met from their rooftops. The many villas in Nicosia, Strovolos and Cyprus’s other urban areas and big villages could be self sufficient without any difficulty.

On top of these opportunities, so where is the hidden scope for solar power? It comes from the homesteads and family land owned by thousands of Cyprus residents and expats in Troodos and other districts.

We all know people who admit they don’t do much with their historic family plot, but are too attached to it to sell up. This includes many Cypriots in North London, as they will freely concede. And one thing is certain: both sets of Cypriots would leap at the chance to make money from their old rural homesteads.

Without making claims about what the feed-in-tariffs might be in the long-term for ‘Troodos power’, it is clear that all electricity fed into the grid from such locations would be pure 100% profit, once the installations costs have been met for the photovoltaic panels and wiring.

Overall, power generated at country retreats and homesteads plus electricity from regularly-occupied urban and village properties would more than make up for any shortfall on generation above apartment blocks for the occupants below.

The amount of electricity each Cyprus home can generate will vary widely, depending on whether the panels face due south – though east or west is quite good too – and other factors like the size of the roof, shed, backyard or the aspect of the building.

But here are some general indications. A three-bedroom house I own in the UK had room on the roof for 10 photovoltaic panels, with a theoretical generating capacity of 4.1 kwh per hour. Of course, full capacity is never reached, but they have generated a bit more than 3,500 kwh in each of the last three years, ie around 10 kwh a day.

On a good day, the panels produce more than 20 kwh. While in Britain good days are few and far between, on Cyprus the majority of days are bright, sunny days and annual output from a similar array in Cyprus could usually generate more than 6,000 kwh of power.

Again, estimates of average household consumption in Cyprus vary widely, but personal experience suggests 6,000 kwh a year should be plenty, if you live a modest lifestyle and your home is decently insulated, admittedly something which is not universal in Cyprus.

It is clear that including holiday homes, country homesteads and all domestic buildings, residential property in Cyprus could easily produce enough power for all the residents.

Naturally, the power wouldn’t always be produced at the time it is needed but that is where the Electricity Authority of Cyprus comes in. It needs to start planning now to be able to accept large amounts of surplus rooftop production into the grid, and then to feed it back at times when more electricity is needed.

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