As a small island nation in the Mediterranean, Cyprus needs to be proactive to ensure energy security for its citizens. With little over a million people, the country cannot take advantage of the economies to scale enjoyed by larger European states on the mainland grid. Its energy solutions therefore, need to be smart and sustainable, and arguably more so than most of its peers in Europe.
The Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) is one company which has the mandate to provide these solutions. Formed in 1952 by the British colonial government of the time, it provides over 4 million kwH of electricity to the inhabitants of the island without the help of any government subsidies through its growing network of power stations, wind farms and solar farms.
The EAC is now an integral part of Cypriot life, operating on a near monopoly and still managing to provide one of the lowest priced electricity services in the European Union – facilitating access for the island’s citizens and industry alike. Fulfilling that task meant we couldn’t but help be interested in seeing how the EAC operates, and whether it might provide an energy template for other small independent nations.
KEEPING CYPRUS ELECTRIFIED
Because of its current status as the only electricity supplier on the island of Cyprus, the EAC has always had to keep one step ahead of domestic demand. For example, in 2017, the island reached a historical high of electricity demand – as much because of a heat wave being experienced by the island as its annual influx of tourists – and the EAC was still able to comfortably deliver to all.
The EAC also negotiated lower prices with the Cypriot government, meaning that the electricity supplied on the island will become cheaper and more accessible than ever before. Where previously, prices rose on a scale according to usage, now Cypriots can take advantage of flat fees, ensuring the first kilowatt costs the same as the last – democratizing energy across the board.
In addition, an audit carried out on behalf of the government in advance of market liberalization – whereby the EAC will no longer be the sole supplier of electricity on the island – said that its corporate culture was a ‘healthy one’ where employees and customers were highly respected. In addition, the audit gave the company a thumbs up on its sustainability initiatives.
GIVING A GREEN LIGHT TO GREEN ENERGY
The EAC has never used its leadership position in energy provision as an excuse to sit on its laurels when it comes to sustainability. Instead, as the measures we’ve seen show, it is the driving force in Cyprus for a move towards a greener, environmentally-friendly future. In co-operation with the government, it has passed many landmarks over the past decade which show its commitment to sustainability.
The renewable energy component of Cyprus’ overall energy capacity currently stands at around 10%, all of it generated by the EAC. The EAC is working in conjunction with the government to ensure that the country reaches its stated target of 13% on this indicator by 2020. And given its current progress, that is eminently achievable.
In August 2017, for example, the EAC also announced that it had purchased Cyprus’ first electric cars. This small fleet alone will reduce carbon emissions from cars on the island by 5.5 tonnes per year but perhaps more importantly, introduces electric charging stations, creating an incentive for others to take on the mantle and begin driving electric cars – the trickle which eventually turns into a stream.
This commitment is matched elsewhere, as its range of renewable energy resources illustrate. By the end of 2015, a total of 1 914 photovoltaic systems had been installed, as well as some 14 Generation Units using biomass/ biogas with a total installed capacity of 9 714 kW. In that same year, the company’s six wind parks operating on the island generated 221 428 315 kWh.
Providing to over a million end customers is a challenge, and as always, the EAC calls on a number of partners and suppliers to help it deliver on its mandate. Because of its open economy – a requirement of successful island nations – Cyprus has been able to attract world-class talent, which has contributed to many indigenous firms, several of which are current partners of EAC.
These include Koncar DST, a Cypriot distribution firm, the Hellenic Cable Industry SA, which supplies and maintains cables for the EAC and ENECON Mesogios, a Greek-US provider of complex plastics used in the provision of electricity. Others include Premium Lubrication Services Ltd, Nortest (Cyprus) Ltd, Elmasco Ltd and Trust International Insurance Company (Cyprus) Ltd.
INITIAL RELUCTANCE TO FUTURE BOLDNESS
At the time of its inception over 60 years ago, the Cypriot people were reluctant to take on electricity, believing it to be unreliable and a move away from old traditions. It says everything about the success of the EAC that now the whole island is electrified, catering not only to the locals but also the many millions of tourists that visit the island every year, swelling the population to many times its normal size.
The EAC continues to innovate, often providing out-of-the-box solutions to energy problems which would not immediately occur to other energy firms. At Glastonbury 2017, its energy-harnessing toilets provided enough electricity to power the screens from concertgoers’ urea. In the space of 6 months, the innovation has been peer-reviewed in over 60 academic articles and providing a glimpse into how the EAC and Cyprus, could have an unlikely but influential say in the future of world electricity provision.
In 2017, the Cypriot government announced that the domestic energy market would be fully liberalized, allowing new entrants to enter the market in 2019, which the EAC had catered to until now. It’s a move which EAC management welcome, allowing it to share some of the burdens of energy provision, while gradually moving to more renewable forms of energy. Thanks to the EAC, any incumbent to the market will be entering a modern, vibrant and forward-looking market for energy.
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