It was announced recently that the Greek island of Tilos will become the first Mediterranean island to be powered exclusively by renewable energy sources in the next four years, thanks to the installation of a hybrid renewable energy system power station that will both generate and store energy.
The initiative is a multinational effort comprising 15 enterprises and institutes from around Europe and is headed by a team of experts in the field of soft energy and environmental protection from the Piraeus University of Applied Sciences. It was selected out of 80 projects competing to be included in the Horizon2020 program, the EU’s largest research and innovation program with nearly 80 billion euros available for funding.
“The Tilos program is one of the European Union’s most innovative energy policy projects,” said Nikos Mantzaris, WWF Greece’s climate and energy officer. “The success of this program will provide a novel example of a living economy which we hope will be adopted not only in Greece but throughout the Mediterranean, with the aim of fostering independence from fossil fuels, energy security and an improved quality of life.”
Taking special care not to disturb the habitat of the unique avifauna native to the island, the team is searching for the ideal location for the photovoltaic park and wind turbines that will generate the electricity for the microgrid. The battery storage system will be used as a backup for the locals when the hybrid RES system does not produce sufficient energy due to unfavorable weather conditions.
The island has long been running on electricity transferred underwater from the diesel oil power station on the nearby island of Kos, a system which has resulted in frequent and often long power outages. Particularly during the summer months, when the islands of the Aegean also host thousands of tourists, it is difficult to meet the high demand for water and electricity, so a system like the one proposed by the program is a welcome change.
“The Tilos program is an innovative breath of fresh air, consistent with our island’s tradition of environmental protection,” said Maria Kamma Aliferi, mayor of Tilos. “It will provide new opportunities for ecotourism and enhance our island’s status internationally.”
If the project develops as planned, power outages are expected to become a thing of the past and Tilos will become the first “green” Mediterranean island. Due to the financial crisis, as well as the waves of migrants they have recently received from countries such as Syria and Afghanistan, Tilos and other Greek islands are under increasingly unbearable pressure without adequate funding to cope with the circumstances.
Experts hope that the Tilos program will provide an antidote to this situation and boost both the local economy as well as ecotourism on the island and eventually have a ripple effect throughout the Mediterranean.
Speaking to Kathimerini English Edition, Stefanos Garifalakis, Chief Operator Officer of Eunice Laboratories, member of EEG (Eunice Energy Group), said that in a few years Tilos will become the first truly sustainable Mediterranean island with autonomous energy production exclusively powered by renewable sources. He said Tilos “will become an example for many Mediterranean islands that face problems with energy production and it will lay the foundations for the development of similar ‘green’ energy production systems around the world.”