The small southeastern Aegean island of Tilos, situated in the Dodecanese between the islands of Rhodes and Kos, will develop by May 2017 an innovative hybrid electricity production and storage plant, becoming the first in Greece and the Mediterranean to run almost completely on renewable energy, independent of outside supply and more environmentally friendly.

Project TILOS (Technology Innovation for the Local Scale Optimum Integration of Battery Energy Storage) is part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 program promoting sustainable energy and has received recently the green light from Greece’s  Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) to develop new energy sources on this island of 400-500 permanent residents and set up a hybrid electricity production and storage plant, which is expected to cover around 85% of the island’s energy requirements. The project is the first global blueprint for smart micro-grids facilitating increased participation of renewable energy sources under the optimum exploitation of energy storage assets, and could also serve as a model for other islands around the world that are dependent on supply from the mainland or from larger islands nearby. 

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The TILOS program, led by a research team from the Laboratory of Soft Energy Applications and Environmental Protection (aka The Lab) at the Piraeus University of Applied Sciences, involves 15 stakeholders from seven European countries and it was singled out among 80 competing companies in Horizon 2020 – the EU’s largest research and innovation program ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020).

According to Ioannis Kaldelis, head of The Lab, “The mounting points of the wind turbine and solar panels have been identified. We estimate that the whole system will be put into operation in May 2017. Work on the development of a ‘smart’ grid will begin immediately”. “Tilos is a small border island that faces many problems, receives little support and has great tenacity. Despite the setbacks, we always try to strive for the best. The TILOS program is an innovative project, consistent with our island’s commitment to protecting the environment, which will offer the island a place in global energy leadership, while opening new horizons in ecotourism and enhancing its image internationally,” said Tilos Mayor Maria Kamma- Aliferi.

Islands, due to their intrinsic characteristics, are often proclaimed as ideal test-beds for innovative technologies particularly in the fields of energy, tourism and transport & mobility, while being at the forefront of renewable energy development. Greek-German cooperation is lately very active in developing integrated strategies and innovative technological packages on renewable energy and energy efficiency in Greek islands.

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Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Athens published recently a study called “Islands as Test Beds for Innovative Energy Solutions“, based on a two day workshop co-organized by Aegean Energy Agency and the Network of Sustainable Aegean and Ionian Islands – DAFNI, which showed how sustainable, almost emission free development can be realized on the Greek islands, especially in the fields of smart grids, storage of electricity, electric vehicle infrastructures and public street lighting.