The Greek island of Tilos is nearing 100 percent energy independence using only renewable sources with the help of EU funding. The investment, which has helped the island establish the TILOS (Technology Innovation for the Local Scale, Optimum Integration of Battery Energy Storage) Project, will make the Greek landmass the first island in the Mediterranean to achieve energy independence using only renewable energy.
The small island, more specifically located in the Aegean Sea, is home to merely 500 people. The population doubles during the summer months when the beautiful seascape is home to a flood of tourists from all around the globe. Despite renewable integration on such a small scale, however, the island is gaining international recognition for the adoption of a solar-and-wind-based energy system that has proven fault-free.
Originally, the island received its electricity through an underwater cable connected to the adjacent island of Kos. The neighbor’s diesel power plant proved unreliable because of tectonic activity that led to power outages for both islands. Aside from problem of being fossil fuel-dependent, the existing power grid’s blackouts were disrupting the island’s main income source — tourism.
The hybrid system taking over the island’s energy needs includes an 800-kW wind turbine and a 160-kW solar photovoltaic system. Together with a 2.4 MWh capacity battery storage, islanders and their sight-seeing guests will benefit from a consistent energy supply that will operate regardless of weather conditions or time of day.
Experts say the project is so efficient that the oil-powered island of Kos will soon be importing energy from its small neighbor instead of supplying it. According to project partners, TILOS “will set the foundations for the future development and replication of similar hybrid systems in island regions and remote communities facing energy-related problems.”
Other countries with islands participating in the project are Germany (Pellworm), Portugal (La Graciosa) and France (Corsica). A flyer for the German-based TILOS extension explained, “The overall idea is to create a special platform that will enable technological know-how transfer between islands, by also exploiting the experience gained from the smart grid system of Pellworm, and that will designate new opportunities for the development of similar systems in other islands.”
The island’s new system will start by supplying renewable energy at 70 percent of Tilos’ needs, and it will reach 100 percent in the near future — undoubtedly serving as a successful model for islands in the region and hopefully worldwide.