Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Mediterranean Gas: Energy Options for Northern Cyprus.

Cyprus - forever divided.

In the true spirit of rapprochement Greek Cypriot style, the south Cyprus regime now plan to initiate a feasibility study to assess the merits of transporting gas from the Eastern Mediterranean to European markets, via Crete. This would – for the Greeks – mean cutting out Turkey and Turkish Cyprus from the gaseous sub-marine fruits of the earth that are in reality, co-owned. It would also put paid to any notions, slim though they are, of an equitable settlement on the Cyprus Question in general. But this Greek initiative is wholly typical of the species.

It has to be the bitterest ironies of all time, particularly in relation to historical Greco-Turkish affairs, that the island of Crete is being suggested as a node point for gas transit given that during the 19th century, some 200,000 ethnic Turks were ‘displaced’ from the island, with Turkish Cypriots next in line for similar ‘treatment’ during the 20th century. The Biden visit notwithstanding, it would not be unreasonable to speculate that US ‘interests’ would be sated even if the Med gas gets to Europe via Greece, because that really is the sum of United States ambitions in the region; that of the complete control of energy resources. Denied much of a bargaining chip, Turkish Cypriots would be frozen out completely. Ostracising Turkey in this manner however, is a very high risk strategy.

As previous and recent articles by this column have suggested, Turkish Cyprus does have tricks up her sleeve in relation to energy conversion. Presently, the total energy requirement for Northern Cyprus is 250 MWH which is just inside the maximum current capacity of 295 MWH that Turkish Cyprus can produce. However, with the advent of the water pipeline which will form the physical connection between motherland Turkey and Turkish Cyprus this September, there will be a requirement for a further 20MWH to pump the water through the infrastructure. There is little remaining in the energy bank, so to speak, for any further economic growth in the north of the island: Additional resources are needed and soon.

There is already a Waste to Energy plant under construction in Northern Cyprus which once completed and operational will consume the waste material from the Hellim cheese production industry and waste food in general.  The latter is being built by a German company and is funded by a German bank. To a degree, solar power is also making a contribution but far more could be derived from this source alone. In his recent article entitled “Waste to Energy: A responsible solution for lower energy costs” the writer explains how a Municipal Waste to Energy plant could be built to consume up to 1000 metric tonnes of waste feed per day, which in turn would yield 25 MWH of electricity.

There will of course, be those who climb aboard the ‘nimby’ wagon and condemn such proposals on grounds of visual blight and emissions from what they, as laymen might label as an incinerator. In fact, emissions from this pyrolysis waste processing plant are fully EU Directive compliant. Furthermore, the entire plant can be completely housed within a Solar-clad dome building which not only has the effect of dampening ambient noise levels, such as they are, but also ‘softening’ visual impact too. A further plus here, is that the solar panels too produce electricity. This would so clearly be a win-win situation all around especially for the wider and mixed Turkish Cypriot community in general.

Additionally comforting for Northern Cyprus is, that if acted upon quickly a Waste to Energy plant could be fully operational well before even so much as a whiff of gas is smelt in commercially viable quantities, to the south-east of the island. A combination of both existing and proposed renewable sources, together with a HEP connection along the water pipeline from Turkey, rather than playing catch-up, Turkish Cyprus becomes the energy-leader on the island and at long last, would be ahead of its game in relation the ongoing battle of wills with their recalcitrant and oft belligerent neighbours, the Greek Cypriots.

As always and perhaps not unreasonably, the question of project finance arises and a Municipal Waste to Energy plant, at approximately $4.5M per Megawatt is not a small amount to fund, nor too is the solar dome that could house such a facility. As with the German W2E plant alluded to above, project funding is also available for Municipal Waste with Solar Housing too. One such funding method is by way of a Power Purchase Agreement which is based upon the feed-in tariff but there are also European Banks who are geared up to fund energy-conversion projects and the status of the TRNC as such, is no bar to international funding, as has been seen previously. Given the entirely divergent nature of the current ‘Settlement Talks’ process, the opportunities that now present to the Turkish Cypriot Government, are too valuable to be over-looked.


Chris Green

Beşparmak Media Services