Cyprus power grid can’t handle more renewables without upgrades, storage

Cyprus power grid can t handle more renewables without upgrades storage

Photo: Schipkeb from Pixabay


March 21, 2023






March 21, 2023





If there are no systemic improvements, the rise in the share of production of electricity from renewable sources will force Transmission System Operator Cyprus (TSOC) to disconnect such units more often, according to Executive Director Stavros Stavrinos. Furthermore, unforeseen changes in the weather can also lead to power shortages.

Pending the installation of the EuroAsia Interconnector and the planned link to Egypt, the electric power system in Cyprus is suffering more from instability due to a rising share of renewables than European countries within the continental grid.

On March 18, Transmission System Operator Cyprus conducted 15-minute rolling outages for an hour, with the media reporting the glitch was caused by sudden clouding, as it wasn’t expected in the forecast. It took a while for conventional power plants to make up for the shortfall, highlighting more challenges in the energy transition.

Namely, TSOC disconnected some solar power plants from the grid on an occasion in January when electricity production in the system was much higher than demand. The remote load control system for small facilities can switch off photovoltaic units of up to 85 MW in total out of 210 MW installed. Cyprus is also yet to introduce an open power market.

More production cuts ahead

The company’s Executive Director Stavros Stavrinos has told parliament that further production cuts would be needed in the renewables segment given the issues affecting power plants and the transmission and distribution systems, Cyprus News Agency reported. In particular, he pointed to periods of low demand, and said there would be more instability with more renewables in the system if the conditions in the network aren’t significantly changed.

The cuts within the remote load control system are set to lower the output of affected units by 6% to 8% this year

The cuts within the mechanism came in at 2% to 3% of production last year, the official revealed and estimated that the level is expected to rise to between 6% and 8% in 2023. The system still doesn’t allow flexibility solutions such as power storage, he explained and claimed it could solve the spikes in renewables generation. They only don’t occur in the summer, given the high demand then, Stavrinos noted.

Urgent need for funds, staff

TSOC’s boss added that when demand is 500 MW, at least half must be covered by conventional power plants. According to news reports, the unexpected clouds on March 18 slashed capacity utilization by 25% in Cyprus.

Stavrinos underscored that the company is seriously understaffed. The government has a plan to transfer a number of employees from the Electricity Authority of Cyprus, the main utility, to TSOC.

All in all, the deployment of renewables implies comprehensive improvements in the electricity system, especially the grid, and someone must pay for them and find trained staff. But governments and regulators need to enable the changes in time.

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