Rob’s globe-trotting energy observations continue…

Rob Lewis

The Mediterranean is a joy for cycling. Gorgeous vistas with mountains rising from the clear turquoise seas, wonderfully warm people, great food and lots and lots of sunshine. With the latter in mind it was no surprise to see solar panels  – but nonetheless I have been surprised at the sheer quantity of them. Going through Cyprus it seemed that almost every rooftop had a solar water heater. I even came across a solar powered phone box, which is a bit of a first.  

When you get as much sun as they do here, the Government doesn’t need to introduce any kind of tariff systems to encourage uptake of PV and solar thermal technologies; the conditions make investing in solar attractive for all households, not just the environmentally conscientious.

For example, in Cyprus a typical solar hot water systems will pay for itself through savings in around four years. Doing a quick search online I could only find old figures but in 1999, approximately 92 per cent of the households and 50 per cent of the hotels in Cyprus had solar water heating systems – quite a contrast to the UK where it is still a niche product.

Our cycling voyage took us north into Turkey where the solar panel prevalence continued. When I was working at the Energy Saving Trust we always used to talk about creating a ‘one stop shop’ for renewables.

Well, cycling through Milas, a small Turkish town in the mountains i came across just that; a shop selling all kinds of microgeneration technologies. Perhaps I could open up a similar enterprise on Oxford Circus in between Topshop and H&M when I return…Any investors out there?