Cyprus doomed if it stays en­ergy in­ef­fi­cient

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - OPINION -

It is no use talk­ing iso­la­tion of Cyprus.

This can­not be done ei­ther through am­bi­tious and strate­gi­cally sen­si­tive gas pipe­lines, or by way of elec­tric­ity in­ter­con­nec­tors to im­port (or some­day ex­port) cheap en­ergy from clean sources, if there is no dis­tinct na­tional en­ergy pol­icy to take the is­land into the next decade and trans­form it into a ‘green des­ti­na­tion’ for in­dus­try, busi­ness, ship­ping, farm­ing and tourism.

The govern­ment and public util­i­ties have fallen be­hind the EU re­quire­ments to con­vert 10% at first and ul­ti­mately 20% of our en­ergy out­put to gen­er­a­tion from re­new­able en­ergy sources (RES).

Some 92% of na­tional pro­duc­tion is from con­ven­tion power sta­tions (ie. liq­uid fuel), with just over half of the re­main­ing 8% pro­duced from wind farms and a tad less from so­lar parks.

We have yet to de­cide on im­port­ing nat­u­ral gas to drive the EAC’s power sta­tions, which have, by the way, the pro­vi­sion to switch from diesel to LNG al­most overnight.

The cur­rent in­stalled ca­pac­ity ac­cord­ing to the Trans­mis­sion Sys­tem Op­er­a­tor is 1,105 megawatts (MW) of which some 75 to 80MW is from so­lar parks and 30-50MW from wind farms.

The only times out­put reaches the ca­pac­ity peak is in the hot sum­mer months of July and Au­gust, when air con­di­tion­ers are at full blast

Imag­ine, then, if the op­po­site had been true, whereby we would have so many pho­to­voltaic

about

end­ing

the

en­ergy in­stal­la­tions through­out this all-sun is­land that 8090% of our elec­tric­ity needs would be gen­er­ated from so­lar, wind farms and re­cy­cled bio­fu­els, slash­ing elec­tric­ity bills by half, if not more, and con­tribut­ing to a dras­tic im­prove­ment in pro­duc­tiv­ity rates in all sec­tors of the econ­omy.

Read­ing be­tween the lines of last week­end’s sovereign up­grade by Stan­dard and Poor’s, to a notch above ‘junk’, the rat­ings agency warned that Cyprus needs to re­solve its over-re­liance on the con­struc­tion sec­tor and tourism, while public sec­tor debt (civil ser­vice pay­rolls and what lit­tle is spent on “de­vel­op­ment”) is ap­proach­ing dan­ger­ous lev­els, sug­gest­ing that a neg­a­tive out­come could re­sult in a rat­ings down­grade yet again.

By im­prov­ing en­ergy ef­fi­ciency by way of low­er­ing the cost of elec­tric­ity, a sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tor to any small to medium-sized en­ter­prise’s spend­ing, pro­duc­tiv­ity rates could im­prove to pre-cri­sis lev­els.

Fuel im­ports will re­main where they are now, an in­creased bur­den on the fleets of small and large busi­nesses alike, while cheap public trans­port will never be­come a re­al­ity un­less our buses run on en­ergy-ef­fi­cient plat­forms, bio­fu­els or even elec­tric­ity.

Fur­ther­more, the poor state of our road net­work and the ab­sence of an ef­fi­cient grid for bus sys­tems make this mode of trans­port an unattrac­tive op­tion.

So, let’s in­vest in cheap en­ergy gen­er­a­tion, en­er­gysav­ing sys­tems and im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity be­cause this is much more im­por­tant for the well­be­ing of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions than the hag­gling over state teach­ers’ work hours and their cry-baby tac­tics to get their way.

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