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12° Nicosia,
22 May, 2024
 
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Kato Pyrgos aims to become Cyprus' first energy self-sufficient community

Inspired by Tilos Project, the community seeks to pioneer a renewable energy initiative for sustainable development

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Inspired by the success of the Tilos Project, the first operational renewable energy initiative that achieved energy independence for the island of Tilos, Kato Pyrgos aspires to become the first energy self-sufficient community in Cyprus.  According to a report by Maria Erakleous and published in Kathimerini's Sunday edition, a meeting held between the community council and Energy Minister George Papanastasiou in October 2023 initiated the proposal for an energy upgrade in the area, including the creation of a photovoltaic park to provide cost-effective electricity to residents and businesses.

Regulatory framework and legislative hurdles

The ambitious project, however, faces regulatory challenges. The regulatory framework for the operation of energy communities is yet to be defined, pending approval from the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAEK). While the legislation has been approved by the Parliament, the specifics of how energy communities will operate within the broader electricity market require RAEK's determination. Energy Minister Papanastasiou anticipates developments on this front by the end of March, bringing clarity to the operational landscape for such projects.

Technical challenges and community impact

The Kato Pyrgos project aims to utilize local solar energy production, incorporating storage systems to meet the community's energy needs. The lack of smart meters, unresolved issues related to the distribution network's capacity for photovoltaic production, and the absence of a framework for energy storage pose challenges. The community's transition to energy self-sufficiency is envisioned to not only reduce electricity costs but also stimulate local developments, potentially reversing the decline and abandonment experienced in Tilliria communities in recent years.

Market transition timing

Despite the enthusiasm for energy communities, hurdles remain, including the absence of smart meters, the capacity of the distribution network, and the evolving electricity market. The Energy Minister anticipates the competitive electricity market's implementation by the end of the year or, at the latest, the beginning of 2025, a timeline that aligns with the community's aspirations. However, different estimates exist, with the transmission system operator proposing a competitive electricity market opening in the fall of 2025.

Community vision for sustainable development

The mayor of Kato Pyrgos envisions that achieving energy autonomy will incentivize residents and attract potential investors, leading to overall development in the area. The community's plan involves meticulous recording of energy needs and variations, ensuring that locally produced and stored energy adequately meets the demands of Kato Pyrgos throughout the day and across different months.

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