In green: a suitable location in Mesaoria for a 1GW power plant

A 1GW solar thermal project in California is well under way in planning and approval, and is set for mass signatures this October. The area of the project is a little over 7,000 acres, the projected cost is $6 billion, and the time to complete all phases is 6 years.

Solar thermal technology with heat storage and gas boiler backups is baseload electricity that a country can rely on. For added power security, the numerous dams we have in Cyprus can be converted to store electricity (pumped hydro is the cheapest form of mass electricity storage at a capital cost of about $100 per kWh: lift water up when excess supply of electricity is available, let it fall through a turbine when there is excess demand). At night, or when the sky is temporarily overcast, the plant still produces electricity because a large buffer of heat is always kept in storage. If the sun is not shining for any extended periods, the operator can fire the gas boilers.

Financially, the $1 billion a year (for only 6 years) that it would cost to build such a plant is of the same order of magnitude as the total annual fuel bill currently paid by the EAC (Electricity Authority of Cyprus) to produce conventional fossil-fuel based electricity. Since 1GW is also of the same order of magnitude as our current installed capacity, after this plant is operational, the external current account of Cyprus would improve to the tune of a billion dollars a year, offset temporarily by the need to repay foreign lenders for the capital and interest related to the construction of the plant. Once the capital offset is gone, Cyprus can enjoy a current account surplus because we no longer have to spend money we don’t have on fuel we can’t afford.

And once peak oil hits, Cyprus will be prepared. Our economy will not suffer the power cuts and our society will not go through the wrenching instability that will afflict other, less prepared nations.