Solar power in Cyprus

Easy Power, yesterday presented their plans for the construction of a photovoltaic (PV) park and a concentrated solar power station, which could more than quadruple Cyprus’ current installed solar energy capacity. As of last year, there was a total of 10.5MW of installed PV comprising hundreds of smaller units of various sizes.

What Easy Power wants to do “is the biggest work of its kind ever submitted for approval in Cyprus,” said its general manager Pavlos Liasidis.

However, Easy Power is not asking for state funding and wants to bypass the usual procedures necessary for projects which get subsidised by the tax payer. Currently, all consumers contribute to a Renewable Energy Sources (RES) fund by way of a special levy on electricity bills.

Proceeds go to the fund and help support a subsidy scheme whereby people set up RES systems and sell the electricity produced to the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) at a higher profit than what the EAC makes selling electricity to its customers. This was set up to encourage applications when initial set-up costs were significantly higher. However, costs since then have nosedived because of technology advances, among others, and at any rate the energy regulator, CERA, is still processing applications from 2010 and has not been accepting any new ones.

But Easy Power “is not asking to be subsidised by the RES fund,” Liasidis said, a fact which the group hopes will mean their applications can get processed, without the restrictions placed on the applications which have asked for subsidy.

There are two separate projects in the pipeline, a 21 MW concentrated solar thermal power station, which will be able to harness solar power for heat, and PV installations totalling 25.5MW.

The PV installations will be part of a complex of four neighbouring parks in Potamia-Ayios Sozomenos, in what Liasidis said would be part of a bigger project, eventually reaching 50MW in PV installations. The initial 21MW have been budgeted at €30 million.

The solar thermal station, which will go by the name of Nicosia Sterling Engine Park in the Ayios Sozomenos area, should take two years for the solar thermal station to reach full capacity.

Easy Power’s vice head, Nikos Savouris, said the technology is new to Europe but is ideally placed to make use of the island’s heat.  The EAC will also be a partner in the €114 million project.

Easy Power has secured €37 million from the EU NER300 scheme and has gone through the first stage of a European Investment Bank evaluation, Savouris said.

CERA states on its website that applications to license the production of electricity via RES are examined in the order of their receipt. The Cyprus Association of Renewable Energy Enterprises (CAREE) said last year that there were 1,500 applications pending from 2010 (for systems up to 150kW) adding that only 50 were approved. Easy Power submitted the PV application on May 16 and the concentrating solar thermal park application in March last year.