The Director General of the Ministry of Energy, Trade and Industry, Marios Panagidis, reported where Cyprus stands today in relation to these goals
Upgrading the existing grid, installing energy storage systems and cross-border electricity interconnections are key to meeting the 2030 and 2050 climate targets, experts said Friday at a panel discussion at the 7th International Conference on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RESEE2023), which takes place from Thursday to Saturday in Nicosia.
The Director General of the Ministry of Energy, Trade and Industry, Marios Panagidis, reported where Cyprus is today in relation to these goals and the Ministry's actions to achieve them.
He said that Cyprus has achieved almost all its intermediate targets for RES and energy efficiency. Specifically, in 2021, the share of RES in the total final energy consumption reached 18.42%, surpassing the national forecasts. In addition, the production of electricity from RES increased by 20% compared to 2020, mainly due to the significant number of new photovoltaics installed for domestic use and commercial production.
Regarding reforms promoted by the Ministry, the Mr. Panagidis mentioned the successful aid plan for the production of electricity from RES for domestic use, while he also referred to the financial support plan for the installation of photovoltaics and the enhancement of energy efficiency, as well as the energy upgrade plan for households of vulnerable consumers. He also mentioned the new plan, “photovoltaics for all”.
He also mentioned the creation of a digital one-stop shop platform, which provides guidance throughout the licensing process to applicants for RES projects.
Regarding hydrocarbons, Mr. Panagidis said that the costs for the development of a single network of gas pipelines and investments for the electricity transmission system for the period 2023-2032 amounts to €231 million.
He also referred to the EastMed pipeline, which will connect the Eastern Mediterranean with Greece, via Cyprus and Crete, and he also referred to the Euroasia Interconnector, for the electrical interconnection of Cyprus and Crete, which is planned to start operating in 2029, while he noted that other possibilities of electrical interconnection with countries in the region are being considered.
Venizelos Efthimiou, head of the FOSS research center of the University of Cyprus, focused his speech on the advantages of energy storage technology for the penetration of RES in the grid. He noted that there is a shift from the existing centralized energy system to one where energy is produced locally.
He said that even based on today's prices and existing technology, the use of photovoltaics together with a storage system is already more competitive, compared to other technologies, considering the initial capital investment as well as the operating cost.
Regarding battery life, he said that if used judiciously, based on the manufacturer's instructions, with existing technology, battery life can be up to 20 years.
He also pointed out that the electric mobility goes hand in hand with energy storage, noting that in 2-3 years the total lifetime cost of an electric car will be equal to that of a petrol one.
Asked what Cyprus' priorities should be, he said that photovoltaics for all, combined with the judicious use of storage systems, is a top priority, as distributed energy generation reduces grid overcrowding problems. As a second priority, he set the need to upgrade and digitize the network.
Also, he noted that it is possible, based on the current performance of RES, for Cyprus to achieve 30% of its goals in RES from the installations alone photovoltaics on the roofs, while to achieve the rest of the goal, the RES installation will not need more than 1% of land, he said.
In turn, Charles Ellinas, CEO of eCNHC, focused on the necessity of upgrading the grid, also mentioning the need for energy storage systems and electrical interconnection.
He said that there can be no green future in Europe. without upgrading the network, noting that the lines in Cyprus were built in 1953 and the network remains old and obsolete. He noted, therefore, the need to upgrade and digitize the network.
In addition, he said that the lack of batteries and interconnection creates a bottleneck in RES production, delaying the energy transition. “The transition to green energy can only happen if the necessary infrastructure is in place,” he said.
He underlined the need to move from planning to action, noting the importance of open, transparent tenders for projects infrastructure, while he noted the importance of speeding up public tender procedures.
He stated that Cyprus has huge potential in terms of RES, and can exceed the 2030 targets, given that the problems mentioned will be solved.
On behalf of the Ministry of Energy, Giorgos Partasidis, trade advisor of of Cyprus in Dubai, said that Cyprus leads the market in solar water heaters. He noted that Cyprus is first in solar energy from roofs, if combined photovoltaics and solar water heaters are taken into account.
He also stated that it is not enough for the Ministry to announce plans. Industry itself needs to lead the green transition and give its plans to government. He said that, after conducting interviews, he concluded that businesses in Cyprus do not seem to make long-term plans.
Regarding the Euroasia interconnector project and its importance, he noted that the electrical interconnection is the only way for Cyprus to become an energy exporter, while its cost is only part of what the storage alternative will cost. He added that RES penetration will double if we have electrical interconnection. “Energy efficiency can reach a point, RES can make you energy independent and make you an exporter,” he said.
On behalf of EAC, Konstantinos Rouvas noted that the energy policy must is effective and efficient, minimizing costs.
He said that renewable energy will be the main engine of the energy transition and underlined the need for energy storage systems.
Grid digitization is also important, he said, noting that smart meters are important to build further policy. “You can't control what you can't measure,” he said.
He expressed doubts about the Cyprus interconnection, citing that it is technically difficult and expensive.
He concluded by saying that it is possible to achieve decarbonisation targets by 2050, noting that electricity demand will double by then. He stated that 9% needs to be invested in the green transition in the coming years, in order to achieve the 2030 and 2050 targets.
Akis Ellinas, President of the Cyprus Wind Energy Association said that flexible government policies are needed, in in relation to RES licensing. He stated that there is not enough land in Cyprus for large RES projects, noting that the Ministry of Interior has stopped renting government land for RES.
He also noted the need to upgrade the network, noting that there is no point in other projects are built if this is not done. He expressed hope that the one-stop shop platform of the Ministry of Energy will solve many of the problems, while he said that conventional power plants need to continue to coexist with RES, to support and stabilize the system.