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Greece Launches Project to Turn Halki Island “Green”

Greece's Halki turns green
The port at Halki. Credit:Николай Максимович. CC BY 3.0/Wikipedia

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis launched on Friday the GR-eco project on the island of Halki, scheduled to turn the island “green”.

The project, which will include other islands in the future, aims at providing residents with lower electricity bills, reducing environmental pollution, and upgrading energy and telecommunications infrastructure.

Halki is a little island in the Dodecanese archipelago, located just 6 km (3.7 miles) west of Rhodes. Still untouched by mass tourism, Halki is the perfect destination either for relaxing vacations away from the bright lights or for a quick getaway from Rhodes island.

The benefit of the project for Halki is estimated to be a total of 180,000-250,000 euros per year, while the “green” energy from the solar energy power plants replaces the electricity production from oil resources from the Rhodes units, resulting in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 1,800 tons per year, the Greek government says.

Halki and the Dodecanese Islands will become sites of dynamic investments in green and cyclical economies, Mitsotakis said, which means cheap electricity and new jobs for the residents.

Residents will work with municipalities to produce the energy they consume, practically nulling the cost of the energy, he explained. “This model of energy democracy can and must become an example for every island, reducing costs on residential bills,” ushering in the era of prosumers, or producers/consumers who take advantage of natural energy sources without additional expense, Mitsotakis noted.

For example, he said, a power bill of 407 euros will drop to 157 euros, “a bold response to the challenge of climate change and to the rise in prices of oil and natural gas.”

Greece island
Mitsotakis meets residents at Halki. Credit: Greek MP Press Office

The crisis can become an opportunity under these circumstances, while Greece’s strategic location makes it a hub of energy transfer. “This is the meaning of the recent agreement with Egypt – such agreements turn into shields defending our borders as well,” the premier underlined, urging additional islands and their councils to join the GR-eco islands model.

Earlier in the week, during a speech at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change COP26, he noted that “our pioneering strategy, GR-eco, will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 10 million tons, gradually turning our islands into 100% green and sustainable, autonomous destinations.”

Private companies join forces to turn Greece’s island green

Halki, with a population of around 500, has historically been dependent on its larger neighbor Rhodes for its basic needs, including energy. With an area of only 28 square kilometers (11 square miles), it is the smallest inhabited island of the Dodecanese.

Many locals have over the years emigrated to Rhodes, mainland Greece and abroad. In July 2021, however, the islanders celebrated as they welcomed the first baby born there in almost 50 years.

They now hope that the public-private partnership behind the GR-eco project would give more hope for the island.

At Halki, the Greek Public Power Cooperation (PPC) covered the cost of equipment for the construction of the solar energy plant.

Greece green island Halki
Mitsotakis inspects the solar panels at the new power plant. Credit: PM Press office

Other companies, including Akuo Energy and Omexom / Vinci Energies, were responsible for licensing, developing, and constructing the solar energy plant.

Citroën and ALD Automotive donated the electric vehicles to the Municipality of Halki for the upgrade of the fleet of the Police and the Coast Guard.

Vodafone Greece has completed the upgrade of the island’s connectivity to 5G, and launched the Telemedicine Program so that the inhabitants of the island have free access to e-health services.

The GR-eco project at Halki also includes an electric boat, sponsored by the tobacco company Papastratos. The boat uses energy from the sun through its built-in solar panels.

Aegean Airlines also contributes to the initiative, with a new generation aircraft which will link the island to the mainland, creating a 23% lower CO2 footprint, per seat, compared to the previous generation aircraft of the same type.

Related: A Magical Getaway to the Aegean Island of Halki

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