In a sign of the growing significance of renewable energy for Cyprus, the country’s president, Nicos Anastasiades, addressed attendees of the recent Renewable Energy Applications for Island Tourism conference, stressing that "establishing and enhancing energy cooperation with neighboring countries is one of our top priorities."
Organized by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Cypriot government, the event, which took place May 29-30, presented a wide variety of renewable energy applications and solutions for island nations burdened by the high costs of imported fossil fuel and isolated power grids but blessed with great clean energy potential.
Anastasiades told the audience of international policymakers, renewable energy industry representatives and government officials that closer energy cooperation with neighboring countries was of the utmost importance for Cyprus, which, as a small island nation in the Eastern Mediterranean, has an energy system isolated from the European and regional grids and remains dependent on expensive energy imports.
IRENA established the Global Renewable Energy Islands Network (GREIN) in 2012 as part of its Malta Communique in an effort to pool knowledge, share best practices and find innovative solutions for the accelerated uptake of cost-effective renewable energy.
Some 120 guests and participants from around the globe, including representatives from as far away as Fiji and Tonga, attended the event, held at the Aphrodite Hills Resort Hotel near the city of Paphos.
"I have no doubt that through the discussions held and the resulting exchange of knowledge and best practices, this important event has already ushered a new era of bilateral, regional and international cooperation on renewable energy between island countries and territories, all over the world," Anastasiades said.
The president added that "by highlighting the significance of the contribution of renewables to the tourism sector, the workshop is actively supporting the ongoing efforts made by such countries, including Cyprus, in introducing and accelerating the deployment of renewable energy sources in their energy mix. Our shared vision is that through IRENA networks and support, the private sector will be greatly facilitated in developing the viable business models necessary to expand the energy market in the crucial tourism industry."
Cyprus became a member of IRENAs Policy and Strategy Committee in 2011 and this year it was selected as a council member of the agency. Cyprus has also been a GREIN member since the networks inception in 2012.
Pointing out that Cyprus enjoyed more than 300 days with 75% of sunshine annually, the president added that the country had the highest solar heating capacity installed per capita of all European countries, with approximately 93% of households and 53% of hotels being equipped with solar water heating systems.
The "accelerated deployment of renewable energy sources, in conjunction with tourism activities, can play a pivotal role in overcoming our countrys current economic troubles," Anastasiades stressed.
The president said Cyprus trajectory targets on renewable energy sources had already been met and exceeded, adding that the countrys new National Action Plan set even higher renewable energy penetration targets.
Cyprus’ 2020 target calls for a 13% renewable energy sources contribution to its gross final energy consumption. With a current renewables share of about 9% (160 MW), the country is well on its way to achieving the goal.
Anastasiades said the success of the countrys renewable energy policy relied on three main pillars:
- Public consultations that involves the active participation of all public and private sector stakeholders.
- The promotion of synergies among the various sectors of the economy, including agriculture, heavy industry, tourism and financial institutions.
- A strong and credible government commitment that is necessary to support renewable energy development and energy efficiency measures and to attract further private investment.