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Greek Island of Tilos Wins EU Environmental Award

The Greek island of Tilos, in the Dodecanese archipelago. Credit: Tasos Aliferis, CC BY 3.0/Wikimedia Commons

The small island of Tilos in the Dodecanese archipelago, near Rhodes in the southeastern Aegean Sea, has been awarded an EU RESponsible Island Prize for its efforts to use local renewable energy.

The mayor of Tilos announced back in 2017 that the island would in the future rely solely on wind and solar power for its entire electrical usage.

The EU office in Athens said in a Tweet on Friday after the announcement of the island coming in third place: “The innovative energy model of Tilos and the commitment of its residents to sustainable energy will inspire other islands and local communities.”

The European Commission announced on Friday that the Danish island of Ærø was the first-place winner of the EU RESponsible Island Prize for 2021.

Ærø achieved this recognition for its innovative energy solutions and its contribution to a sustainable and climate-friendly country within Europe. The prestigious award was announced during the event called “European Research and Innovation Days 2021.”

The first-place prize comes with a €500,000 cash award funded by Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation program for the years 2014 – 2020.

The second prize of €250,000 was awarded to the island of El Hierro, which is part of Spain’s Canary Islands, which dot its Atlantic coast.

The third place prize, which goes along with a €100,000 stipend, went to the island of Tilos in the Dodecanese.

Tilos embarked on renewable energy campaign in 2017

The Prize officials stated that the three islands at the top of the awards have all demonstrated important achievements in the transition toward clean energy. They have also engaged their local communities in the transformation toward fully renewable energy production, according to the European Commission.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth stated in the announcement of the winners “Islands can be inspiring examples of how to involve local communities and citizens in realizing the ambitious goals of the European Green Deal.

“This, together with the transformation of local energy systems with innovative renewable energy technologies, is what the RESponsible Island Prize is all about. I warmly congratulate the prize winners, who will inspire other islands and energy communities.”

The efforts of Tilos were also assisted by the University of West Attica. Its Rector, Professor Panagiotis Kaldis, pointed out that the University assisted these efforts through the appropriate planning and implementation of pioneering research projects.

He pointed out the contribution of the University through the TILOS Horizon 2020 program which promotes a zero carbon footprint.

Tilos has engaged in a campaign to accelerate its transition to clean energy in part because of the strong commitment shown by the local municipality, together with the pro-environmental culture that is prevalent in all those who live on the island.

Using an innovative energy model, employing wind and solar power on an island-wide scale, with battery storage and advanced energy management, the EC states that what is happening on Tilos should inspire other islands and local communities to do the same.

Tilos first Mediterranean island to become entirely self-sufficient in energy

Back in March of this year, the beautiful Greek island in the Dodecanese archipelago became the first in the entire Mediterranean to become fully self-sufficient in energy, thanks to a strong investment in renewables.

With a population of just over 500 people, with the addition of 13,000 tourists a year, Tilos was the first out of 80 total projects chosen to receive funding under an EU program called “Horizon 2020.”

The main goal of the Tilos project was the creation of Greece’s first hybrid power station, which produces energy from its very own wind farm and solar power generators that it later stores in batteries.

With the project now completed, Tilos can boast of becoming completely self-sufficient in energy.

“I am very proud of what we have achieved,” Maria Kamma- Aliferi, the mayor of the island, told Greek Reporter.

“Our success is a lesson for all island communities in Greece.”

By producing its own power, entirely derived from renewable energy sources, the island has significantly reduced its own carbon footprint while simultaneously reducing the costs carried by the local people.

“The benefits to the islanders will soon be made apparent as their electricity bills will be reduced,” Kamma-Aliferi told Greek Reporter.

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