COVID19: Lockdown causes drop in air pollution and electricity

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Cyprus’ lockdown has caused a big drop in air pollution due to the significant reduction in traffic congestion and a decrease in electricity demand.

This highlights the need for sustainable public transport and power generation solutions, say experts.

Head of Air Quality and Strategic Planning Section at the Department of Labour Inspection Chrysanthos Savvides told CNA, the air pollution in the city centres was significantly reduced during March-April compared to the previous months.

Especially during peak traffic hours (7 a.m. – 9 a.m.), the decrease in the concentration of nitrogen oxides (NOx), was up to five times lower than January emissions.

Average emission of nitrogen oxides in March was 33 compared to 53 in March 2019, while in April it was 16 compared to 42 in April 2019.

The drop in emissions, as Savvides said, proves that the use of cars is responsible for the poor air quality in urban centres and there’s a need to take measures to reduce it with the development of public transport, plus other solutions.

Besides a significant reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, there was also a significant reduction in Carbon Monoxide (CO), particles and benzene (C6H6) both in Nicosia and in other cities in Cyprus.

Electricity demand dips 15-20%

Demand for electricity during the tight lockdown reduced by 15-20%, spokesperson of the Cyprus Transmission System Operator (CTSO) Yiorgos Ashikalis told CNA, noting that there was a similar reduction in air pollutants.

He said that due to the closure of industrial and commercial enterprises since mid-March, there was a 15-20% reduction in electricity demand compared to what was expected.

While domestic demand increased only slightly, despite the stay at home decrees.

Ashikalis said that demand is expected to increase with the gradual lifting of the restrictive measures that began on Monday.

He said it is difficult to predict the demand for the summer since it is directly related to tourism and the use of air conditioning in the hotel industry.

“Due to these factors, there is a usually increased demand during the summer months, however, there’s still much uncertainty around tourism due to COVID-19 pandemic in Cyprus and abroad.”

Hotels and airports are scheduled to reopen in the third phase (from June 9) of the lockdown exit strategy.