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Tilos: The Most Eco-Friendly Island in the Mediterranean

Tilos: The Most Eco-Friendly Island in the Mediterranean

You may have noticed our lovely little Dodecanese island of Tilos has been making quite a splash in the news recently.

From herbs and myrrh in ancient times, to fragrant honey and incredible biodiversity today, Tilos has long enjoyed impressive green credentials. The entire island and surrounding islets are a protected nature reserve thanks to the vision and determination of the late major, Tassos Aliferis.

But it’s the innovative TILOS project that’s making headlines today, as Tilos is on track to become the first Mediterranean island to be entirely powered by renewable energy.

Tilos’s Green Credentials

Tilos is an island people rarely visit just once. Many of our clients have been returning to this enigmatic island for 30 years or more. Like many Greek islands, Tilos has friendly, welcoming locals, delicious Greek food, and crystal-clear turquoise waters lapping at its beaches. But Tilos has something extra, too.

With a network of underground springs, Tilos is a physically green island compared to the neighbouring barren islands of Symi and Halki, which need water transported in. This has encouraged an impressive biodiversity with c.650 plant species found on the island, including a number of rare orchids.

Since Tassos Aliferis, a committed environmentalist, banned hunting, it’s also become a haven for rare and endangered birds, and a popular stopping point for migratory birds.

At the late mayor’s request, the Tilos Park Association, NGO, was set up in 2003 to cultivate and protect the island’s natural environment and the birds and other wildlife that live there or pass through.

The TILOS Project, Part of Horizon 2020

However, as many of our clients know only too well, electricity on Tilos has always been a bit of an issue. Like many Greek islands, Tilos isn’t connected to the country’s main electricity supply. Instead, it relies on diesel-generated electricity supplied via submarine cable from neighbouring Kos. The supply is vulnerable to faults, power cuts are a common occurrence, and it’s not especially environmentally friendly.

But all that is changing. Tilos is set to be the first Mediterranean island that’s entirely powered by wind and solar energy, as part of a €15 million project largely funded by the European Commission.

The TILOS Project is part of Horizon 2020, the EU’s largest research and innovation funding program. Tilos beat off competition from a pool of 80 applicants to win funding, which is paying for the installation of an innovative hybrid micro-grid, powered by a single wind turbine and a small photovoltaic park, which will generate and store energy.

Installation is underway and the 18-month pilot begins in September 2017. The initial aim is to produce approximately 70% of the island’s energy needs, increasing to 100% in the future. It’s believed that eventually Tilos will be exporting its green energy back to Kos and other remote Greek islands.

The Most Eco-Friendly Island in Greece and the Mediterranean

Tilos’s mayor, Maria Kamma, said of the project, ‘The TILOS Project is an innovative breath of fresh air, consistent with our island’s tradition of environmental protection. It will provide new opportunities for ecotourism and enhance our island’s status internationally.’

Maria Kamma is hoping the positive publicity will generate more income, which will be used to introduce electric bikes and motorbikes for municipal staff, and install solar-powered street lighting and even charging points for electric cars.

Tilos Park is also benefitting from the TILOS Project, with an upgraded information centre where visitors can learn more about Tilos’s wonderful biodiversity, and pick up nature trails, mountain bike routes, and find information about spotting rare orchids and finding popular birding spots.

EU Sustainable Energy Awards

Tilos’s drive to be the most eco-friendly island in the Mediterranean has taken another giant step as the island was the proud recipient of two EU Sustainable Energy Awards at the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) in late June. It was named the best Energy Island project along with scooping the Citizens’ Award, which is voted for by the public.

We’re proud of our longstanding association with Greece’s green island, lovely little Tilos, and we look forward to introducing this charming island to more ecotourists, nature lovers, and those seeking a little peace and tranquillity on an unspoilt Greek island.

To find out more about Tilos, see our Ultimate Guide to Tilos.

If you’re experiencing a little eco-wanderlust and would like to experience Tilos’s green revolution for yourself, see our Tilos accommodation.

For more information or to book your holiday in Tilos, contact Nissia Holidays on 01455 289421 or email us: info@nissiaholidays.com.

Joanne Amos

Jo worked on Tilos in 2006 as the last island manager for Laskarina. Today she’s a freelance writer at The Wandering Wordsmith and travel blogger at The Road to Wanderland. She has a passion for travel and curiosity about the world, but Greece holds a special place in her heart.

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