Since the re-construction of the island's largest power station at Mari, and the implementation of widespread solar and wind energy, producing electrical power has not been a major problem for Cyprus. Gas and oil reserves in the sea south of the island, in an exclusive economic zone known as the Aphrodite field have also boosted the potential of the island to become a future exo-Russia energy source for the European Union.
I would, however, like to raise the following problem - energy storage is much more difficult than energy generation - ion batteries are an expensive method for storing a relatively small amount of electricity. Likewise, it is not very safe to store large amounts of oil and gas in one place (to produce electricity from), as these are a huge fire / explosion risk.
Why would we want to store energy? I argue that energy storage will be a HUGE factor in future energy security concerns worldwide, because -
- With stored energy, you can save it up and then use it at a later date when you really need it.
- With stored energy, you can gather it when it is cheap to produce, and then sell it later when it is expensive for others to buy.
- With SECURE storage energy (what I refer to as SSE), you have found a way to store lots and lots of energy without risk of fire / explosion / pollution, and you can use it whenever you want.
So how do we create SSE or Secure Storage Energy?
A relatively basic concept in energy storage exists in the form of Pumped Storage Hydroelectricity (PSH) - which involves pumping water up to a reservoir at the top of a mountain (preferably at times when electricity for the pumps is cheapest). To make this worthwhile, you would pump literally billions of tons of water over time into that mountain reservoir, and also take advantage of free rainfall to help the job.
Then - well that's the hard bit done! The reservoir now has a huge force contained within it - called gravitational potential energy. Simply release some of the water downhill through siphons - the water drives hydro-electric pumps which create new electricity.
As a mountainous country, Cyprus should consider Secured Storage Energy as part of its long term energy security plans.
In winter, rainfall and cheap water can be collected by the Government in low-altitude reservoirs, which is then pumped uphill in summer when solar energy input reduces state energy prices.
For security reasons, Cyprus should consider building or modifying two strategic networks of SSE water hydro-electric reservoirs distributed across the Troodos mountains. Since these reservoirs are filled with water, they actually serve two separate storage purposes for the price of one - an energy stockpile and a water stockpile.
In an emergency, Cyprus could potentially generate an independent supply of electricity in the megawatts for several days - a situation that would have been useful during the Evangelos Florakis naval base explosion of July 2011, which knocked out the adjacent power plant.
Alternatively, Cyprus could generate an electricity surplus for export via cable to Israel, Turkey or even Greece - electrical cables placed undersea are far easier to implement than gas pipelines. She would simply store up lots of water in her uphill reservoirs during heavy rain / snow, or when electricity transfer costs are cheap. She would then generate hydro-electric energy when foreign demand for electricity export made the venture most profitable.
The future of Cyprus' energy bonanza is promising but uncertain. Solar power is plentiful to collect, but still expensive to implement. Wind power again is plentiful but involves expensive moving part which wear out. And as for hydrocarbons, we cannot rule out further acts of interference by Turkey in what may or may not turn out to be a pie she has no fingers in. The only thing that can be certain for Cyprus is that she will need the strategic capacity to store energy in the thousands of megawatts in order to guarantee her national security and perhaps, just perhaps, make a new export product for profitable sale overseas.