UEA has partnered up with the University of Applied Sciences in Piraeus, Greece to create a new green energy supply on the island of Tilos.

Tilos is one of the smallest Greek islands with a population of only 200 during the winter months; the number jumps to 1,500 during summer with the tourist influx. The purpose of the project was to give the island a consistent supply of energy. Before the scheme, Tilos’ energy was supplied by unreliable oil fuel wires that connected the island to the larger island of Kos.

Dr Konstantinos Chalvatzis, senior lecturer in climate change for the Norwich Business School, is the Principle Investigator for UEA on the scheme.

According to Dr Chalvatzis Tilos’ previous energy source source caused “frequent black-outs and surges”, a major source of inconvenience to the islanders. However, now the island will be the first Mediterranean island to be powered solely by wind and solar energy. The aim is to be able to roll out this system to other Mediterranean islands.

The system is the first of its kind using completely recyclable batteries, that give off no toxic emissions, to store left-over energy. When there is a higher supply than demand, the batteries are charged; for instance, when there are strong winds overnight or during summer when heating is not needed but solar energy production is high. Then when supply is higher than demand the stored energy can be used to make up for any shortages. These batteries are of high interest owing to their recyclability, their by-products consist of nickel and iron which can be used to create stainless steel alloys as well as salt and ceramic that are used in road beds.  

Dr Chalvatzis said: “We are confident that renewable energy and smart grid technologies now allow us to produce zero emissions energy. Innovative business models for these systems provide record breaking prices in new countries every few months. Through proof of concept like TILOS we demonstrate that there is further room for improvement in the business case for decarbonising our economies and slowing down devastating climate change.

“We now have a blueprint for generating sustainable energy in a profitable and scalable way, so the benefits can be felt across the world, whether that’s other islands, faraway communities or even by providing clean and efficient energy for refugee camps or remote hospitals.”