Cyprus has the potential to meet 40% of its energy demand through solar power by 2030, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Francesco La Camera said.
He told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) about the importance of interconnectivity of the energy grids of different countries, especially in the Mediterranean, to meet the demand and balance the system.
La Camera said that IRENA has been working with Cyprus and assessing the country’s potential in its transition to renewable energy.
He noted that besides solar energy, Cyprus could also have offshore wind or interconnectivity with other Mediterranean countries.
“We have estimated that 40% of energy can come from solar by 2030 because there’s a very good perspective”.
Cyprus is part of the Mediterranean Initiative MED9, which aims to make the Mediterranean a hub for future green energy, and IRENA has been working with Cyprus towards that goal.
He also emphasised the importance of modernising and strengthening the grid infrastructure and implementing specific policies to push renewables further.
“Storage is part of the tools we have to ensure more interconnectivity and flexibility within the grid.
“So is the connection with the other Mediterranean countries, which is also a prospect in the medium term. So there are many things that could be done together”.
Regarding better integration of renewables into the grid, La Camera highlighted the importance of energy storage.
He said storage technologies offer flexibility and interconnectivity, which can be achieved through local systems and cross-border collaborations.
La Camera stressed the crucial role of renewable energy in addressing the challenges of fluctuating energy prices and enhancing energy stability and affordability.
He argued that the recent spike in energy prices is a sign that fossil fuel reliance is ending.
“The traditional energy system based on fossil fuels is increasingly unable to support sustainable development and often leads to uncertainties, as witnessed in recent months.”
He highlighted that the transition to renewable energy was vital for reducing costs and providing greater energy stability.
“Renewables are the most cost-effective way of generating electricity globally, making them a convenient and affordable choice for consumers.
“The centralised systems based on fossil fuels were not very resilient to shocks, primarily because they had only a few actors in the market.
“Transitioning to renewables means that, more or less, everyone can produce renewable energy.
“This shift will lead us from a centralised to a decentralised energy system”.
IRENA’s primary mission was to support and promote the deployment of renewable energy.
The agency has produced knowledge and data on renewables, including their costs and capacities.
This has been crucial in helping countries align with the goals of international agreements like the Paris Agreement.
IRENA’s efforts also have led to the proposal to triple installed renewable energy capacity, which has gained support from the G7.
The agency, said La Camera, plays a significant role in building consensus on global targets for renewables at events like the upcoming COP28 in Dubai.
“So we are building consensus to include global targets for renewables as part of the outcome of COP28 to be held in Dubai.
“This constitutes an important area of our work. The other one is facilitating the funding for renewable energy projects”.
La Camera outlined several common challenges that hinder the global transition to renewable energy, including physical infrastructure to modernise and connect energy grids, implement supportive policies and legal frameworks, and develop institutional capabilities to promote renewable energy and the need for a skilled workforce.
He emphasised that these challenges are universal and apply to all countries, highlighting the need for changes in university curricula to prepare the workforce for the evolving energy landscape.
“Especially for Europe, there is a need for strengthening and modernising its grid system to be more interconnected, to ensure flexibility.”
He said that Europe has not yet put into the grid all the potential of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea and that the grids of the Mediterranean were still not connected to Europe.
He also referred to improvements in the alignment between Portugal, Spain, France, and Germany.
“There’s no doubt that interconnection is the future”.
La Camera said various renewable energy technologies, including solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, and green hydrogen, all have promising roles to play.
“The suitability of each technology depends on the specific characteristics and resources available in a region.”
He believes a mix of these technologies, combined with energy storage solutions, interconnectivity, and energy infrastructure modernisation, is essential to building a resilient and sustainable energy system.