Concentrated solar energy system invented in Cyprus

Cyprus is attracting worldwide attention for a breakthrough research energy programme on a concentrated solar power (CSP) desalination plant, which could solve Cyprus’ energy and water supply headaches.

The programme looks to use solar energy to simultaneously produce electricity and desalinated water, with the potential of producing up to 5 million extra litres of fresh water a day, according to the British Science Museum’s description.

ITN News is currently presenting an overview of the research programme online and signalled it out from a number of other studies, currently included in the British Science Museum’s “Water Wars” exhibition.

The programme, whose studies were conducted by The Cyprus Institute (CYI) in the village of Pentakomo, is funded by the European Commission, under the EU 7th Framework programme. Research started in November 2008 and its final reports were issued in June 2010.

CSP is achieved with the use of strategically placed mirrors, which reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a central receiver. This transforms solar energy into thermal energy and is stored. This thermal energy is subsequently used for the production of steam and electrical energy through steam turbines.

At the same time, the energy concentrated by the photovoltaic receivers is used to warm seawater, thus separating it from salt through evaporation.

The combination of the two processes is the breakthrough many scientists have been waiting for, as it is seen as the answer to many flaring issues faced by the planet, such as the energy crisis and drought. ITN News was positive that more desalinised water would result in higher agricultural production and subsequently a way to tackle hunger.

“This is a promising technology that is still absent in the Mediterranean region” said a CYI source. “It is quite a revolutionary invention.”

The technological review and feasibility studies of the two-year research showed that the programme was worth the costs and it has already been given the go ahead by the government to proceed with its implementation on a small-scale level. The state has committed to include costs for the full-scale implementation of the plant in its next budget.

Alexis Pantelides,