Greek island goes 100% renewable

A tiny Greek island nestled between Kos and Rhodes will become the first island in the Mediterranean to be powered by wind and solar energy alone, with zero carbon emissions.

For many vacationers, the Greek islands are a paradise of white beaches and blue seas. But in summer months, high numbers of tourists cause a considerable strain on local energy supply, leading to frequent black-outs and power surges.

The tiny Greek island of Tilos is no exception.

“The island’s population is only around 200 in the winter but rises to more than 1,500 in the summer when the tourists arrive,” Dr Konstantinos Chalvatzis, senior lecturer in business and climate change at the University of East Anglia, said in a statement.

“But while its remote location makes traditional ways of providing power so challenging, it also makes Tilos ideal for our pioneering work.”

The ‘pioneering’ work that Chalvatis refers to is more like a renewable energy revolution. Thanks to an initiative by the University of East Anglia and the University of Applied Sciences in Piraeus, Greece, Tilos island is on its path to becoming the first island in the Mediterranean to be powered by renewable energy alone.

At the moment, it relies on unreliable oil fuel electricity supplied via cables from Kos.

The project is receiving a lot of attention for its unique system, which uses wind turbines and solar panels to store energy in batteries, allowing it to provide everything from lighting and hot water to, ultimately, electric cars and bikes.

“The uniqueness is not in the way we generate the electricity but in the way we’ve developed the technology to make it cost-effective, reliable and completely green,” said Chalvatzis.

“For example, normal batteries will last around five years and are filled with non-recyclable chemicals, but ours have a much lengthier lifespan and are completely recyclable.”

According to Chalvatis, most Greek and other Mediterranean islands also depend on oil-based electricity, so the Tilos project is to present a model that can be adopted by small islands across Europe and beyond.

“We now have a blueprint for generating sustainable energy in a profitable and scalable way, so the benefits can be felt across the world, whether that’s other islands, faraway communities or even by providing clean and efficient energy for refugee camps or remote hospitals. This technology could truly change people’s lives.”


Image credit: The Hamster Factor via Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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