With Denmark poised to hand over the EU presidency to Nicosia, the conference highlighted Copenhagen’s renewable energy strategy, whilst also discussing the future energy needs for the island, with pitches for both wind and solar power.
Opening the event, Ambassador Kirsten Geelan spoke of Denmark’s drive to reduce carbon targets for 2020, with a new set of goals designed to wean the country off oil and gas.
Copenhagen recently announced that it is aiming to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 34 per cent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels and decrease energy consumption by more than 12 per cent compared to 2006. It also aims to supply 35 per cent of its total energy from renewables, with half of its electricity delivered by wind farms.
Speaking at the conference, Anders Hasselager, senior policy advisor to the Danish Energy Agency said the rapid progress made in Denmark appears to be strongly linked to public attitudes towards green energy.
“Now we are in a climate crisis and an economic crisis, so for Denmark a green future and more jobs are our priorities. I think people are very much in favour for the green future, but of course there has been some reaction because we have to pay up-front for achieving this,” he said.
“But the majority of the Danish people have agreed to pay more now and understand they will save when fossil fuels become more expensive.”
Manthos Mavrommatis, chairman of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce, says the development of new energy sources will have a major impact in the way the state plans future policy, especially given the soaring costs of electric for consumers, increased climate concerns and ever rising oil prices.
“I strongly believe green energy is important, firstly because it will take many years before gas becomes available here, which can then be used for the production of electricity and secondly because the EU targets for renewable energies are set, so this is the way we have to move.”
Hasselager agreed, praising Cyprus for ‘doing well’ but adding that there could be more room for wind turbines and other renewable sources.
However, it became apparent during discussions with delegates and the audience after the conference that there is a measure of disappointment that the government pumped so much cash at large scale wind farms at the expense of photovoltaics, which some claiming it is proving a colossal waste of the taxpayer’s money.
The majority of funds levied through EAC electricity bills for renewable energy sources go to the wind farms, with three currently producing electricity, but working on average at a paltry 25 per cent of their capacity.
Although Peer Gelser did not openly criticise the wind farms, he pressed the case for Cyprus opting for a future of solar-produced electricity, arguing that the island was already by far the highest user per capita of thermal heating in Europe, with a figure that was double that of its nearest rival.
He said Cyprus was the “obvious and logical” choice for a solar future, with a daily average of 5.4 kilowatt-hours (KWh) production of energy per square metre of land and around 92 per cent of households already being equipped with solar water heaters.
“The state has certainly heard it and they have acknowledged it,” Gelser says. “I find that the governmental institutions are working really well here, but Cyprus needs assistance now – they have acknowledged using solar for water heating, but now it needs to go into the electricity grid – and that really is a must for Cyprus.”
Gelser, who has a vested interest in developing solar power in Cyprus as a consultant for energy developer DanSolar, added solar will create jobs, such as in the local metal production trade and the pre-cast industry.
“We want Cyprus to become the region’s Green-Tech specialist, a solar development centre,” he added, saying that Cyprus could even be in a position to export solar produced energy to countries such as India and Greece.
“I think a combination of solar energy and wind power would be ideal,” Mantos Mavrommatis added, “although because of our location, solar energy has a bigger potential for Cyprus, vis-à-vis wind energy. But, wind energy does have a role to play in Cyprus as well.”
Some time was devoted to a German military report on “peak oil”, which forecasts a world catastrophe when fossil fuels starts to dry up. The document warns of shifts in the global balance of power, of the formation of new relationships based on interdependency, of a decline in importance of the western industrial nations, of the "total collapse of the markets" and of serious political and economic crises.
“It is said that within a few years the world is going to be in a disastrous situation, it is not solely the German report that causes concern, there is also a British report which is just coming out,” Gelser said.
The term "peak oil" is used by energy experts to refer to a point in time when global oil reserves pass their pinnacle and production begins to terminally decline as resources dry up. This would result in a permanent supply crisis and fear of it can trigger turbulence in commodity markets and on stock exchanges. Although the date of the ‘peak oil’ is not known, most analysts agree it will be within the next 10 to 15 years.
Wind energy in Cyprus
2010: 82 MW
2011: 134 MW
2012: 154 MW