10 MW installation in Cyprus buffer zone

02. January 2013 | Applications & Installations, Global PV markets | By:  Ilias Tsagas

The University of Cyprus has secured United Nations (UN) permission to build a 10 MW PV park within the UN buffer zone.

A crossing point at the Dead Zone in Cyprus with a police sign.

Land in The Dead Zone will be put to good use with a photovoltaic installation.

pv magazine has learned that the U.N. has granted permission to the University of Cyprus to build a 10 MW photovoltaic park inside the U.N. buffer zone in the capital city of Nicosia. The University of Cyprus confirmed the news with pv magazine recently, adding that they, “are planning to start building [the photovoltaic park] within the next few months and our aim will be for it to be ready by the end of 2013.” Apart from permission by the U.N. Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), the University of Cyprus also confirms they, “have secured all the planning permissions from the Cypriot authorities as well,” e.g. the Cypriot Energy Regulatory Authority (CERA) and the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC).

Importance of the project

There are a number of reasons why the project is being viewed of as important. Firstly, the University of Cyprus photovoltaic park will transform the academic institution into an energy independent and carbon free one. According to the University of Cyprus' calculations the park is expected to produce about 17 million kWh of green electricity per year. The University's current energy needs are about 16 millions kWh per year (this demand figure is expected to rise in the future though as the University plans to expand).

Secondly, the University of Cyprus PV park will be the first infrastructure project to be built within the U.N. buffer zone. Some locals call the U.N. buffer zone The Dead Zone. The University of Cyprus campus occupies an area next to The Dead Zone as well as a big piece of land within the U.N. buffer zone too. The idea to build a photovoltaic park within the U.N. buffer zone, the University of Cyprus told pv magazine, “came solely from the University of Cyprus and the success [regarding the United Nations decision to back the project] came as a result of the intensive and methodical work from all parties involved. We did indeed pursue this with passion and we managed to convince the United Nations of the great benefits that this project would bring, not only for our institution, but also for Cyprus.”

Funding

According to a joint press release from the University of Cyprus and the Athanasios Ktorides Foundation, the photovoltaic park is going to cost around €14 million: €7 million will be donated to the University of Cyprus from the Athanasios Ktorides Foundation, and an extra €7 million will be offered to the University of Cyprus by the Ktorides Foundation as an interest free loan. Katerina Nikolaidou, head of the communication office at the University of Cyprus, said to the that the financial arrangements are still valid and that the two parties, “are currently finalizing the contracts, making only minor changes the financial contribution.” Soon, Ms Nikolaidou adds, “we will open tenders for the project coordination and we will make sure that the company to be chosen will not be costly, while at the same time it will offer excellent standards and quality.”

The photovoltaic park's charitable character

The University of Cyprus and the Ktorides Foundation have agreed the income gained from the photovoltaic park (the produced power will be sold to the Electricity Authority of Cyprus) to be spent towards clearly charitable purposes. Thus, a first part of the income will provide scholarships for undergraduate and postgraduate students and for post-doctoral researchers at the University of Cyprus. A second part of the income, €500,000 euros per year, will fund the University of Cyprus Institute of Advanced Studies. The rest will be spent paying off the interest free loan.

Future plans

Professor Constantinos Christofides, Principal of the University of Cyprus, argues that solar power is the most reliable energy source for the country. In a press release of the University of Cyprus, the Principal claims that “0.1% of the island's land is enough to satisfy the country's energy needs 100%.” The University of Cyprus photovoltaic park's high energy efficiency, he adds, “will only highlight that solar power is the right energy policy choice” and for this reason this PV park is only the first of a series of actions that the University plans to undertake in order to promote solar power in Cyprus and in the whole of Europe.

Ms Nikolaidou, of the University of Cyprus press office, commented told pv magazine, “we strongly believe in the alternative sources of energy and specifically in the power of sun and in the great role that it could play in the economic growth of our country. So, the University of Cyprus will continue paving the way for the rest of the Cypriot society to follow with innovative ideas.”

Edited by Jonathan Gifford


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