CSIRO installs solar thermal plant for Cyprus Institute to undertake joint solar research

Australia’s CSIRO scientists have designed and installed a solar field in Cyprus which places the island nation at the frontier of solar energy research in Europe.

The Project

It took CSIRO, with local help, five weeks to construct the solar thermal field, which spreads out over a half-acre plot of land at the south of the island, on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Consisting of 50 heliostats, the heat generated by the field could bring a two litre kettle to the boil in less than five seconds. This is a suitable size for the Cyprus Institute (CyI), the country’s premier research institute, to conduct their research, with expansion planned for the future.

Cyprus Hill – Pentakomo solar-thermal field timelapse


CSIRO solar research leader Wes Stein said:

“This project was a big step for CSIRO as it’s the first time we’ve deployed this cutting edge technology outside of our own backyard. It’s also the beginning of an exciting collaborative research program, having signed a MoU to undertake joint solar research with the Cyprus Institute.”

Wes Stein added:

“By working collaboratively through exchange of ideas and researchers, and now with common solar concentrating research infrastructure, we can accelerate the deployment of this technology and make big inroads in reducing global emissions of carbon dioxide.”



The Cyprus Institute (CyI) was awarded in February 2015 a European Research Area (ERA) Chair grant of 2.5 million Euros in the field of Solar Thermal Energy (STE).

According to Cyprus Institute, the grant is intended to allow CyI to develop excellence on a European level in the relevant field; it constitutes recognition for the successful research work being pursued at CyI in this very important research area.

The secured European funding will enhance and upgrade the already existing substantial activity in solar energy at the Institute, establishing the organisation as an innovation hub for Cyprus, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

The principal focus of this work will be on Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technologies for electricity production, desalination, air conditioning and heating, either in isolation or in cogeneration modalities.

Of particular importance is the research being pursued at the Institute in thermal energy storage and the design of high efficiency solar receivers with integrated storage capability.

A significant part of the approved research program will be carried out at the unique coastal experimental concentrated solar power and desalination facility of CyI at the south coast of Cyprus (Pentakomo), which is currently under commissioning. The Pentakomo facility and the ERA chair program hold the promise to allow Cyprus to distinguish itself as one of the few countries in Europe and the world with pioneering facilities and research in the emerging innovative field of solar thermal energy.

To satisfy European legislation, 13 per cent of Cyprus total energy consumption must be derived from renewable sources by 2020. As Cyprus suffers from droughts and is highly dependent on oil to generate electricity  “increasing the penetration of solar energy is an attractive option both in terms of energy affordability and lowering greenhouse gas emissions”, remarked Professor Costas Papanicolas, President of the Cyprus Institute.

The experimental facility will be initially used for demonstration purposes by the Cyprus Institute, with a view to longer-term commercial use of the technology in Mediterranean islands and the Middle East.


Source: Press Releases by CSIRO and Cryprus Institute.  Image Credit: CSIRO. Video Credit:CSIRO via YouTube.