Tilos (Greece) (AFP) – In the calm of Tilos, wind turbines slowly snore in front of the silver sea as the scorching sun hits the hill surrounded by photovoltaic panels. The green Dodecanese, the energy leader, semi-autonomous, wants to “be a role model” for its little Greek sisters, some of whom are already taking the lead.
“It’s the future of no oil dependence,” said Vasilis Okonomo, at his port’s coffee shop. Like most of Tilos’s 780 residents, the 40-year-old is happy that his “island is so self-governing” that it no longer “relies on the surrounding islands” for energy.
In the Dodecanese archipelago, facing the Turkish coast, this remote land of 65 square kilometers is the first in the Mediterranean to produce almost all of its electricity from renewable energies, thanks to 11 million euros from European funds and 4 Greek private investors .
This week Telus won its third European award for best energy transition after the Danish and Spanish islands.
“Tilos has given the example and is the solution to the small islands of our country,” proud Maria Kama, Mayor of Tilos. “All residents are winning, the cost of energy is reduced and there are fewer blackouts than before,” she told AFP.
Connected by a submarine cable to the neighboring island of Kos, Tilos is “100% energy-independent most of the time, but in the peak tourist season it’s fairly 70%”, the city council acknowledges.
Benefiting from the sun and wind, Telos, which “officially owns the first hybrid power plant” in Greece, “produces and stores energy,” welcomes Spyros Alifris, an engineer from Eunice Energy, the Greek renewable energy specialist that supplied wind turbines and solar panels.
“The project has been working perfectly for two years,” the engineer pointed out to the storage batteries, with his 400-kilowatt panels, and his 800-kilowatt wind turbine.
“This is an example of a small island that can only run on renewable energies,” he told AFP.
Astypaléa and soon Chalki
About a hundred kilometers to the west, the island of Astypalaia rose to the challenge, hoping to reach “70% of its energy needs within 3 to 4 years,” the Greek deputy foreign minister told AFP. Foreign Affairs, Costas Frakogiannis, initiator of the government project.
On this butterfly-like land, which straddles the Dodecanese archipelago and the land of the Cyclades, some 1,300 islanders must eventually get rid of the diesel generators that still power their homes and be equipped with wind turbines and solar panels.
But unlike Telus, the €10 million project, including 6 in government funds, plans to switch to all-electric car traffic, in partnership with Germany’s Volkswagen.
At the foot of the Venetian castle and the small white houses that slope towards the port, there are already stations for recharging the first electric cars.
‘model for the world’
The entire project foresees a reduction in CO2 emissions of 70% and a reduction in energy costs of 25%. “It is for us a model for the world,” adds Mr. Fragkogiannis.
The opposition Syriza party has criticized Volkswagen’s “advertising campaign” on the “strange theater” in Astypalea.
“This is not a Volkswagen Island,” the deputy minister insists, “all car manufacturers can participate and sell their own cars.” The politician assures us that “there will be no exclusivity, neither in Astypaléa nor in Chalki”.
Because the next step in the Greek government’s green plan is on the small island of Chalki, west of Rhodes, with European funding, this time in cooperation with French car manufacturer Citroën, according to sources at the Greek Ministry of Energy and Environment. .
Volkswagen and Citroen are seeking to turn the page on the equipped diesel scandal.
France’s Vinci Energy and Greece’s Ako Energy should also be involved in installing a hybrid power plant on the 26 square kilometer island lined with rainbow-coloured homes.
The Franco-Greek agreement should be revealed in Chalki next Friday, but “the idea is to follow in the footsteps of Telus and Astypalaia,” according to the same sources.
The goal here too: to become independent in renewable energies.
Even if it’s for now, carrots turning green don’t have any hindsight.
For Prodromos Trikilis, a Tilos coffee maker, “It’s a bit too early to judge this attempt to make the island’s energy independent.” “You have to be patient and eventually the results will be,” he told AFP.