Renewables

Cyprus failing to halt solar power projects in environmentally sensitive areas

Cyprus_solar power impact on environment agriculture

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Published

August 12, 2021

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Published:

August 12, 2021

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Photovoltaics are in rapid expansion throughout the world and environmentalists are warning of the negative impact of using agricultural land or natural habitats for the purpose. According to the latest data, authorities in Cyprus aren’t stopping a large number of such solar power projects.

Over the last five years, the Department of Environment gave the green light for the installation of 239 photovoltaic parks with a capacity between 150 kW and 10 MW in rural and irrigated areas, conservation areas and the land suitable for cattle farming, food production and quarrying, StockWatch reported. In most cases, the agricultural land is being cleared of trees to build solar power plants.

The environmental authority has specific conditions for the approval of spatial permits, but “hundreds of trees” that are several centuries old are being cut and there have been cases of illegal activity and irreversible damage in Natura 2000 areas, according to the article, which notes the reactions tend to be late. The maximum penalty is only EUR 5,000.

Environmental licenses are on hold in Cyprus since October

The Department of Environment froze the processing of applications for setting up solar power plants in October until a comprehensive spatial plan and an institutional frame are adopted for Cyprus. The strategic spatial planning study is about to be released for public consultation soon, according to the Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry.

Governments are still developing standards that would enable sustainable economic growth without endangering wildlife and rare plants or the production of food

Photovoltaics are in rapid expansion throughout the world and environmentalists are warning of the negative impact of using agricultural land or natural habitats for the purpose. Since the technology is relatively new, governments are still developing standards and rules that would enable sustainable economic growth without endangering wildlife and rare plants or the production of food.

Late with renewable energy targets

Earlier this month, the Cyprus Transmission System Operator told the news outlet that electricity output from renewable sources has a share of only 11% to 12%. The island country had a goal of 13% to be achieved by the end of last year. However, growth was above the world average, according to statistics from the International Renewable Energy Agency.

It aims to reach 40% by 2025 within the European Union’s plan to slash greenhouse emissions by 55% from the 1990 levels by the end of the decade and to become carbon neutral in 2050 at the latest.

The company said the six wind farms in Cyprus have a combined capacity of 157.5 MW compared to 260 MW in total in photovoltaic plants. The largest wind power plant, Orites, has 82 MW. It is located in the Paphos province. As for solar power facilities, 120 MW is in units with more than 500 kW each.

Last month the European Commission adopted a positive assessment of Cyprus’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan of EUR 1 billion in grants and EUR 200 million in loans. Measures that support climate targets make up 41% of the outlined expenditure.

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