The damaged Vasilikos power plant provided over half of Cyprus's electricity

Cyprus over the worst of power crisis

Daily power cuts in Cyprus are coming to an end a month after the island's principal power plant was put out of action. 

Daily power cuts in the Republic of Cyprus are gradually coming to an end a month after the island's principal power plant was put out of action by a massive explosion at a nearby military base. 

The Vasilikos power station supplied over half of the country's electricity, and its loss has had a severe impact on businesses and industry as well as private individuals.

The Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) is bringing temporary generators online and hopes to see a further boost in supplies by the end of August that should see an end to the rolling power cuts that homes and businesses have been enduring since the blast on 11 July at the Evangelos Florakis naval base, which killed 13 people including the Commander of the Navy and caused extensive damage in the surrounding areas.

Since the event, two smaller and older plants have struggled to serve the greater part of the island, while EAC has repeatedly had to urge people to minimise their energy use, turn off air conditioners at home and at work and do their washing and ironing in the evening. 

Supply was prioritised first to essential services such as hospitals, airports and water pumping stations and then to the main tourist areas and industrial zones.

Some heavy industries, such as cement plants, closed for a month at the beginning of August.

In the immediate aftermath of the event, the Cyprus Transmission System Operator established a link with the grid in the north of the island, which is supplying up to 120MW to the south depending on availability. 

The politically controversial arrangement had to be brokered through intermediaries because the Cyprus Government does not recognise the authority of the northern administration.

Investigations have revealed that 98 containers of munitions, seized from a ship sailing from Iran to Syria, had been held at the south coast military base since 2009, exposed to high temperatures and in breach of numerous safety standards.

As a result of deterioration and decomposition of the gunpowder, explosive gases formed and self-ignited in one container, with effects that spread rapidly to all the others. 

The subsequent blast left a crater 60 metres across and 15 metres deep.

Vasilikos, which was severely damaged, was a modern plant, less than 10 years old, comprising two combined cycle gas turbine units and three burning heavy fuel oil. 

EAC is hoping to have one of the CCGT units repaired and operational by the end of the month, providing 35MW.

In addition, diesel generators from Greece with a capacity of 70MW are being connected into the grid, along with 95MW from US firm Energy International and 10MW from Bank of Cyprus generators.

The Greek generators have been installed at Vasilikos, but could not start running until firefighting systems had been restored. 

In addition, technicians have had to modify the plant so that unused fuel oil could be pumped out and taken by tanker to the other plants, making room for diesel to be stored in its place.

Full restoration of the plant is expected to take two and a half years and cost up to EUR700 million.

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