Tilos: The first Mediterranean island to go off the grid

Tilos, an island with 500 inhabitants, produces all the energy it needs. [Shutterstock]

Tilos, in Greece, is the first island in the Mediterranean to be fully self-sufficient for its energy, thanks to strong investment in renewables. Its success is a lesson for all island communities in Greece and elsewhere. Euractiv Italy reports.

The small Greek island of Tilos, with a population of just over 500 people, and 13,000 tourists a year, has focused on renewable energies and by the end of the month will be able to achieve energy autonomy.

It is the first of all Mediterranean islands to have achieved such a result. Just 65 square kilometres, Tilos seems isolated from the rest of the world: it is part of the Dodecanese archipelago, to the south-east in the Aegean, not far from the coast of Turkey.

With its primacy in energy, Tilos will be an example for all of Greece. Since 2006, the island has been declared a natural park and registered in the European Network for the Protection of the Environment Natura 2000.

Tilos was chosen two years ago by the Piraeus educational institute to be an independent energy-producing territory, in order to participate in the Horizon 2020 European Research and Innovation Program.

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The island has received funding from €15 million in funding, including 11 million in European funds and 4 million contributed by private investors, according to Le Monde.

The Eunice Energy Group, the Greek pioneer of renewable energies, provided a wind farm and photovoltaic panels worth€1 million, despite the economic crisis that crushed Greece.

Every year the government spends €700 million for the electrification of the Greek islands. Pointing to renewables, Greece could make significant savings.

The solar panels installed in the center of the island have a maximum capacity of 400 Kw Wind power facilities, located opposite the Turkish coast, generated an estimated 800 Kw.

These days, batteries are installed to allow the storage of energy from renewable sources which respect the island’s fauna, which includes an estimated 150 species of birds.

The installation of wind and solar plants has been welcomed by the inhabitants of the island, unlike what has happened in other parts of Greece, and now employ about a dozen islanders. This may be because in the past Tilos was dependent on the island of Kos for its electiricity, to which it is connected with an underwater cable. There were supply problems. Often there were blackouts which could last for eight hours.

As of September, renewable energy production facilities cover 85% of the island’s needs. This will help to attract, it is hoped, quality tourism.

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