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Cyprus to join the wind club

Cyprus is expected to join the Mediterranean region's wind club next year. Hopes that 2008 would have been the year turbines started turning on the island have been dashed by slow bureaucratic procedures as local authorities get to grips with the rules for wind plant siting.

One of the first wind plants lined up for construction in Cyprus is a 12 MW project developed by Wincono Cyprus, a joint venture between local developer Ketonis and Germany's Wincono, at Mari on the southern coast of Larnaca district. Just one signature is missing before the plant can go ahead and it's the same story with another 31.5 MW the company has on its books, says Sylvia Trabert of Wincono Cyprus. "We have all the signatures but the land lease contract." The hope is to begin construction work on the smaller project in the autumn and to complete it sometime around mid-2009. Trabert expects the 31.5 MW wind plant to be up and running in 2010.

Both projects have qualified for Clean Development Mechanism status under the Kyoto Protocol, allowing their emission reduction credits to be sold to willing buyers overseas, providing the owners with another source of income in addition to the purchase price for wind energy. This has been set by government at EUR 0.092/kWh for the first five years. In the subsequent ten years, if the average of the full-load is 1750 hours a year or less, the rate remains at EUR 0.092/kWh. Above that level, the rate declines. By the time Cyprus actually joins the wind club, however, the current purchase prices may already be out of date. The government is busy revising them to a level that is expected to be more attractive. "We're waiting for one more signature," says Trabert.

Wincono Cyprus is one of the most active wind developers on the island, along with local developers like DK Windsupply and Greece's Rokas, now a subsidiary of Spanish wind giant Iberdrola. Rokas says it has made applications for about 179 MW in wind projects on Cyprus, about half that have been licensed by the energy regulator. The plant installation and production license from the energy regulator is the most important one for a project, but far from sufficient to begin construction.

"We've been working on these projects for the last ten years, and when we started there was absolutely no legislation," says Trabert. "The town planning policy for wind farm siting is still something that is new. They don't feel very confident when they have to issue permits, which is common in countries where wind energy is new."

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