Cyprus set to install its first battery storage and blockchain systems

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The University of Cyprus (UCY) announced in 2013 that it was going to build a 10 MWp photovoltaic park inside the United Nations buffer zone in the capital city of Nicosia. pv magazine has presented the project in detail.

After about six years, the developers appear to have gathered all the necessary licenses to start building. The updated plans come with two major changes, though, reflecting how much the energy sector has changed in the last few years. The first stage of the project will include 5 MWp of PV capacity with 2.35 MWh of battery storage, with plans to conduct testing for a blockchain program.

Solar PV and batteries

Cyprus’ energy regulator confirmed to pv magazine that the UCY project in the buffer zone is going to be the country’s first battery storage system. Venizelos Efthymiou, chairman of the research center for sustainable energy at the UCY, added that the university expects to publish the details of the project’s EPC tender in May. Efthymiou said the university is now working together with the distribution system operator, the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC), on the tender specifications.

The project has received European funds. Specifically, “the initial capital is part of a long-term loan from the European Investment Bank that was issued to the University of Cyprus for the current construction phase,” explained Efthymiou.

The goal is to use the project to cover the university’s electricity needs. For this reason, it will benefit from the so-called net-billing scheme, which the Cypriot government introduced last year. The net-billing scheme covers PV systems ranging in size from 10 KWp to 10 MWp and includes systems installed in commercial, industrial and public buildings.

When PV system owners have generated more electricity than the amount of electricity consumed in a given time period, they will receive payment credits from the EAC, based on a variable tariff called an “avoidance cost,” which is the amount of money the EAC saves by not paying fossil-fuel power plants to generate the power that will be produced by the PV system.

Blockchain testing

The PV and battery project in the buffer zone will also contribute to the testing of the E.U.-funded Delta research and innovation project, which aims to establish a more efficient energy demand-response solution for the electricity grid. A spokesman for the Delta project told pv magazine that it “will employ a permissioned blockchain system and utilize smart contracts to improve efficiency in demand-response settings, the aim being that aggregators can supply more flexibility to the grid from small- and medium-scale prosumers than currently available.”

The University of Cyprus and the Electricity Authority of Cyprus are two of 10 European partners that are developing the Delta IT system. As a result, Delta will have access to the data generated by the PV installation within the buffer zone, in addition to data produced by other UCY energy installations. This will contribute to testing of the Delta IT system and will help the project team assess the benefits of blockchain for aggregators and prosumers.

“Energy flexibility aggregated within the UCY campus, and optimized by the Delta system, will be available for procurement by other players on the market or on a bilateral basis to optimize their operations and portfolios,” added the Delta spokesman. “One of these use cases to be tested in Cyprus refers to procurement of flexibility by the local DSO, the Electricity Authority of Cyprus, which will employ flexibility to balance the grid and avoid congestions in a cost-effective way.”

“The aim of Delta and its collaboration with UCY and EAC is to offer more flexibility to the Cyprus grid, through innovative use of blockchain and demand-response technologies, rather than at a peer-to-peer energy exchange level. This testing at DSO level in Cyprus will be in tandem with testing in the United Kingdom with Delta’s aggregator partner, KiWi Power,” concluded the Delta spokesperson.

Cyprus’ electricity needs are primarily met via diesel and heavy fuel oil generators. The small island nation has also installed 175 MW of wind capacity, about 120 MW of solar PV and around 8 MW to 10 MW of biogas units. Should Cyprus aim to transition to a green energy system, it will need storage units and more efficient ways to use the grid.