A VERY SUCCESSFUL AND PROMISING EVENT FOR THE CLEAN ENERGY IN THE ISLANDS – THE PIONEER TILOS PROJECT
The energy sector is very important and crucial for the European economy: energy prices affect the competitiveness of the whole economy and represent on average 6% of the annual household expenditure. It employs directly 2.2 million people, spread over 90,000 enterprises across Europe, which reflects a prosperous manufacturing industry, delivering the necessary equipment and services not only in Europe but also worldwide.
A transition to a clean energy system will benefit all Europeans. As part of the Clean Energy for All Europeans' package, the EU's Clean Energy for EU Islands initiative provides a long term framework to help islands generate their own sustainable, low-cost energy. The Clean Energy for EU Islands initiative was launched in May 2017 in Malta, when the European Commission and 14 EU countries (Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden) signed a Political Declaration on Clean Energy for EU Islands.
The inaugural forum of the initiative took place in Chania/Crete (Grand Arsenal) on September 22, hosted by Mr Dominique Ristori, the Director – General for Energy.
The event was very successful, with high-level participants such as Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece, Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, and Georgios Stathakis, the Minister of Environment and Energy of Greece.
The Forum provided a first opportunity for EU islands and existing EU initiatives to share best practices and showcase innovative projects in the areas of renewables, research and innovation, and energy efficiency. Many of the EU big and small islands, as well as a number of projects that have either been completed or are in progress, participated in the event, describing their own experiences and difficulties, highlighting the particular and diverse characteristics of different island regions and reflecting upon problems being faced in any effort to develop energy infrastructure in an island.
It was very interesting to conclude that the problems are in many cases the same or very similar. The order of magnitude of the islands is not enough to justify major interventions and the mechanisms, either legislative or financial, should really be transformed, expanded and widen to be able to handle situations like the ones being faced in the islands.
The venue, the organisation of the event, the possibility of the participants to walk in the area of the old Venetian Harbour of Chania, the excellent weather, have all contributed to the best communication of the key messages of the event: that European islands are unique geographical, historical and cultural areas that certainly need resources and commitment for the benefit of all European citizens.
TILOS Project has participated in the event with many of its partners; namely, the project coordinator PUAS (Prof J. K. Kaldellis, Dr D. Zafirakis) EUNICE, WWF and the Mayor of Tilos.
Prof J. K. Kaldellis made a presentation of TILOS Project and participated in the discussion – Round Table (Transitioning Small Islands) moderated by Mrs Mechthild Wörsdörfer (Director, Renewables, Research and Innovation and Energy Efficiency, DG Energy, EC).
It has been obvious that TILOS project, having recently gained two European awards, is among the pioneer projects for EU islands. TILOS will operate as one of the first completely autonomous hybrid energy systems after having successfully integrated technical excellence along with the solution of various procedural and institutional difficulties that any novel installation would have to overcome.
In his closing remarks, Mr Dominique Ristori, the Director – General for Energy, highlighting the key messages of the event, stressed the necessity for close synergies between technology development and implementation, energy efficiency, RES and energy storage, along with the introduction of novel legislation and the adjustment of regulations, the new and suitably designed funding tools that need to be developed, and also the encouragement of the private sector that will be the driving force for these new investments.
Certainly, the implementation of these new projects – not only for the islands but also for mainland, community regions, require professionals with excellent technical knowledge that will also have the experience and – most importantly - the mindset to identify the projects’ complexity and the requirement for integrated knowledge concerning their technical, legislative, financial, social and environmental aspects.
It is therefore believed that our PG Course in Energy and Environmental Investments, designed on the basis of this integrated approach, is in the front end of specialised courses. As such, it provides its students with a unique competitive advantage to develop their careers and exploit the new business opportunities that have already emerged in the field of clean energy projects.