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Greek island to run on wind, solar power

Technicians are conducting final tests on a renewable replacement system that will allow the island of Tilos to run exclusively on wind and solar power.

The park is all set to run exclusively on high-tech batteries that will be recharged by a wind turbine and a solar park. When the 800 KW wind turbine is operational, it will become the first in the Mediterranean to run exclusively on wind and solar power.

The sea horse-shaped Greek island, located between Rhodes and Kos has a winter population of 400. That swells to more than 3,000 people in the summer—which then puts an impossible strain on its dilapidated power supply.

The European Commission has stated that Tilos will be the first autonomous renewable green island in the Mediterranean. It has planned to use the project as a blueprint for other small islands across the European Union that have limited grid connection to the mainland. The EU has largely funded the project, providing $12.5 mn of the overall $15.7 mn cost.

“The innovation of this program and its funding lies in the batteries — the energy storage — that’s what’s innovative,” said project manager Spyros Aliferis. “The energy produced by the wind turbines and the photovoltaics will be stored in batteries, so that this energy can be used for the grid when there is demand.” He added.

The batteries store power during sunny and windy conditions, and then release it during periods of heavy demand and lower production — such as at nighttime and the peak tourist season — to keep the grid powered up.

Tilos stands for ‘Technology Innovation for the Local Scale Optimum Integration of Battery Energy Storage’. The project uses a prototype battery system that improves storage of the excess energy generated until it’s needed.

Currently, Tilos gets its energy from an underwater cable that runs from Kos to the island of Nisiros and on to Tilos. That creates an erratic, outage-prone service that routinely breaks appliances and has forced many businesses to rely on diesel generators.

While so far it lacks the appeal of other popular Greek islands like Mykonos and Santorini, Tilos — a 14-hour ferry ride from the mainland — is a quiet vacation spot that sees an average of 13,000 visitors a year. It’s known as a green island, popular with hikers and bird watchers, and most of it is now a protected nature reserve.

-GBO Correspondent.

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