By Dr Panayiotis Michael, municipality of Aradippou, Cyprus
driving an ambitious local energy transition by engaging local actors as well
as national and European partners. The municipality aspires to establish
one-stop shops that provide comprehensive solutions for homeowners, encouraging
them to engage in upscaling renewable energy projects and increasing energy
efficiency. The municipal projects also aim to unleash financial and
technological capacity to establish a ‘smart grid’. Involvement in various
European projects is allowing the city to access European funds and
partnerships which will equip it to reach net carbon-neutrality by 2030.
Aradippou is the
second largest municipality in Cyprus in terms of area, with 20,000 inhabitants
living in an area of some 174 km2. Situated near Larnaca’s
international airport, it has industrial and free trade zones which account for
a significant amount of its energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
has been a member of Energy Cities, the European Association of local
authorities in energy transition, since 2015.[i]
The city’s plan for a locally powered energy transition is in line with EU
goals: it aims to become net-zero carbon-neutral within the next ten years, by
encouraging its citizens to install photovoltaics and increase their homes’
A ‘Smart City’ project and
solar energy for Aradippou
with the Electricity Authority of Cyprus, Aradippou aims to establish a ‘smart
grid’, connecting the main industrial zones and the airport with residential
areas, in order to monitor overall energy use and balance demand.
A commitment to
increasing renewable energy generation by fostering photovoltaic development
lies at the heart of the municipal strategy. The plans for the smart grid
feature new technological approaches enabling the construction of photovoltaic
parks with energy storage, and the city plans to support the installation of
solar panels in 2,000 homes.[ii]
Aradippou is experienced in implementing photovoltaic plants and is currently
developing two solar parks which are expected to be producing 3MW each within a
Soft loans as innovative
As in other
European regions, one of the biggest obstacles that citizens face is the large
upfront investment required to switch to renewable energy sources.
High-interest loans make investment a financial risk for many. After
complicated negotiations on interest rates, the municipality had designed an
innovative financial mechanism specifically intended to encourage solar energy
production. A soft loan scheme, which was established in cooperation with the Cyprus
Cooperative Bank and the Larnaca Chamber of Commerce and Industry,[iii]
has secured a pilot budget of €1 million. Ensuring efficiency, fairness and
accountability, each new ‘soft loan’ is set up in consultation with municipal
employees and can be adjusted based on citizens’ feedback.
In order to fund
these solar energy and energy efficiency improvements, the municipality also
developed a plan which was submitted to and successfully selected by the
Ministry of Finance of Cyprus, to be supported by the European Fund for
Strategic Investments (EFSI).[iv]
This, in turn, enables the municipality to secure further funds issued by
European finance consortia supporting clean energy infrastructure as part of
the overarching EU Smart City strategy. In general, the programme is designed
to reduce citizens’ energy bills, fostering a demand-oriented economic process
that is expected to boost the local economy by creating jobs in renewable
energy, smart technology and the construction sector.[v]
INNOVATE: A one-stop shop
encouraging citizens to invest in photovoltaics and energy efficiency
homeowners are generally open to the idea of retrofitting their homes, but the
volatile energy market, high interest rates, numerous regulations and a lack of
time and technical knowledge often curtail their ambitions.
In order to
overcome these difficulties and accelerate the retrofitting of residential
units, Aradippou joined 11 European pilot cities as a learning partner in the
INNOVATE project. The main objective of INNOVATE, which is coordinated by
Energy Cities, is to empower municipalities to use their local knowledge about
the population, existing building structures and available energy sources.
INNOVATE supports cities to deliver tailored energy advice packages adapted to
the needs of local consumers and homeowners, bridging the gap between people’s
motivation and practical feasibility. It facilitates the establishment of
‘one-stop shops’ in cities like Aradippou, where trained employees provide
comprehensive solutions helping to minimise individual residents’ efforts and
One central pillar
of these packages is coordinating homeowners’ efforts throughout the energy
efficiency investment period, using municipal resources to monitor the process
and ensure high quality service. By offering innovative financial solutions to
homeowners, the energy packages Aradippou develops are expected to attract
Energy efficiency in low-income households
participated in the EU-funded project ELIH-Med, which was completed in 2014.
Partners from seven countries in the Mediterranean region jointly improved
energy efficiency and promoted energy savings in low-income households. Across
Cyprus, 25 houses were renovated, to include smart electricity meters,
photovoltaic installations, double-glazing, energy-efficient fireplaces, and
waterproof and energy efficient insulation. As a result, participating
households were able to save 40% of their energy consumption, reducing their
bills and environmental impact at the same time.[viii]
Education in Smart City
technologies in Aradippou for a climate-neutral future
In order to
realise the ‘Smart City’ project more effectively, Aradippou cooperates with
national educational authorities, such as the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute,
which undertakes educational actions relating to energy and environmental
protection to raise awareness among the population – a key aspect of
The municipality has also established an Erasmus programme to give students the
opportunity to exchange knowledge in the field of ‘Smart City’ development.
Aradippou is comprehensively integrating energy transition policies into its wider ‘Smart City’ project. Its approach encompasses measures to increase energy efficiency and the share of renewables. It is also developing innovative and accessible financial mechanisms to encourage citizens to invest in solar energy. With the support of EU projects, the city is able to offer comprehensive packages to citizens, featuring soft loans and well-coordinated energy projects.
About the author:
Dr Panayiotis Michael holds an MBA (including Environmental Management) and a PhD in Computer Science from the University of California. Dr Michael has extensive experience in Foreign Direct Investment Facilitation and his work has been commended by the World Bank. Currently, Dr Michael supports Aradippou Municipality in its progress towards becoming a Smart City, including attracting investment in environmental sustainability and strategic actions to promote ‘smart’ specialisation. Dr Michael is Aradippou’s Project Manager for the INNOVATE Horizon 2020 project.
This blog article was
co-created by Lukas Toedte and is part of the mPOWER blog series in which
cities and towns share how they are building better energy futures.
mPOWER is run by a consortium of Glasgow University (UK), Platform (UK), Energy Cities (EU-wide), IPE (Croatia), Transnational Institute (Netherlands), University of the Basque Country, and Carbon Coop (UK).
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement number 785171. This project follows the EU data protection & security law, which is enforceable since 25 May 2018.