Cyprus inaugurates 10 new PV parks

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The inauguration of 10 new PV parks in Cyprus took place at the weekend. The parks were installed by Ergo Energy Ltd and GeSolar Ltd in Athienou and Pseudas Municipalities, and the overall cost of the projects reached €2.7 million (US$3.5 million).

The Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) will buy the energy generated providing an annual income of €590,000.

EAC’s purchase of the electricity produced is publicly funded through the Cypriot Special Fund for the development and promotion of renewable energies and energy efficiency with the tariffs set by the Cypriot Energy Regulatory Authority (CERA).

The new parks are expected to generate up to 2 million kWh of energy annually.

Installed PV capacity in Cyprus has reached 25 MW and this figure is expected to become five times bigger within two years, Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, the minister of commerce, industry and tourism said at the inauguration of the parks. This is partly due, Lakkotrypis added, to the Cypriot renewable energies tariff scheme but also due to the net metering program introduced in April.

25 MW via net metering

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism announced in early June the funding of 2,000 households to install solar PV rooftops via net metering.

The scheme, Lakkotrypis said, will fund each household to install up to 3 kW of solar PV, at €900 per installed kW, which Lakkotrypis said equates to half the cost of each installation. These installations will be completed in 2013, adding 6 MW of new capacity.

However, the minister added, the total number of households in the net metering program is expected to reach 5,000. These installations will also be completed in 2013, adding a further 9 MW of newly installed PV capacity. The ministry will only fund the first 2,000 households, and will select the next 3000 applicants on the basis of income criteria.

Presenting the net metering program at a press conference in Nicosia yesterday, Lakkotrypis said the ministry will also receive applications for the installation of 10 MW of PV systems via net metering for commercial and industrial buildings.

These installations can be up to 1 MW each and the application procedure will be managed by CERA.

The net metering program will expand in 2014 and subsequent years, the minister announced yesterday. The reason the program needs to expand gradually is the stability of the electricity system and this, the minister added, is a problem for all European countries.

New challenges for the electricity system of Cyprus

Yiorgos Siammas, CERA’s president, said recently at an Electricity Authority of Cyprus meeting that the country’s electricity system faces new challenges. Firstly, Siammas said, energy demand in Cyprus has been reduced by 20% due to the country’s ongoing economic and financial crisis, a situation CERA has not seen for 35 years.

Secondly, the renewable types of energy have started penetrating the system rapidly and extensively. The auction of 23 photovoltaic parks on January 30 showed this type of energy can compete at very low prices, Siammas said.

CERA has been arguing for years renewables subsidies should be gradually lifted through participation in a competitive electricity market. For this reason, Siammas added, CERA has asked consultants to examine the Cypriot energy model and suggest changes to improve competition while providing energy security and securing consumer interests.