Renewables

Household solar power systems overload Cyprus electricity grid

Household solar power systems overload Cyprus electricity grid

Photo: iStock

Published

January 27, 2023

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Published:

January 27, 2023

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Some small photovoltaic plants were disconnected from the grid in Cyprus for the first time in an emergency intervention to prevent network overload. The country’s distribution and transmission system operators asked for a freeze in issuing licenses.

Households in Cyprus are expressing increasing interest in installing rooftop solar power systems, with applications reaching 1,500 per month. The uptake has apparently reached the limit, as an emergency mechanism was triggered on January 23. Installations between 7.14 kW and 499 kW in peak capacity in the Paphos district that are in control of a remote system were disconnected for one hour to maintain grid stability.

Three days before the glitch, the Cyprus Transmission System Operator (TSOC) and the Distribution System Operator Unit of the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) asked the Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry to temporarily stop issuing licenses for solar power installations for self-consumption within the net metering scheme, Phileleftheros reported.

Outages may occur if operators can’t shut solar power plants off

Otherwise, the operation of the electric power system will face direct risk and it would “lead to unpleasant situations,” according to a subsequent memo. The TSOC and the power distribution authority also cited the possibility of extensive power outages. The bottom line is that the two grid operators need a broader mechanism for emergency disconnection of photovoltaics in particular segments and areas.

TSOC has the ability to temporarily cut off medium and large solar power plants. The remote load control system for small facilities can switch off 85 MW out of 210 MW, the report adds. Permits have already been issued for another 15 MW and 50 MW has been approved on top of that.

Over 30,000 households have installed rooftop photovoltaic systems.

Batteries would boost renewables capacity that grid can take in

TSOC pointed out that the electricity system in Cyprus is small and isolated. Its press representative Vrahimis Koutsoloukas said the absorbable volume of renewables would be higher if they were accompanied by energy storage systems.

The operator revealed that 400 MW of peak capacity is currently installed and that it counts on 510 MW in photovoltaics for December. TSOC estimated no change in wind power capacity this year – 157.5 MW.

The Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry Natasa Pilides responded by calling the demands unacceptable and accused both entities of spreading panic. The government doesn’t intend to freeze the activity in question but to ramp it up, she said.

The two operators must implement technical solutions as soon as possible, Pilides pointed out. More than 31,000 households have installed photovoltaic net metering systems so far, with a combined capacity of over 140 MW, she noted. It makes up more than 20% of the country’s total in the renewables segment, the minister said.

Grid overload from intermittent renewables is a common issue throughout Europe including Greece. With infrastructure being developed too slowly, electric vehicles and charging systems are also an increasing concern, as is the integration of a rising number of heat pumps.

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