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Tilos, the Green Island of Greece

  • August 8, 2023
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Tiny Tilos is a pioneer. This remote Dodecanese island is leading the way when it comes to sustainability, becoming the first island in the Mediterranean to be entirely self-sufficient in energy.

Back in 2017, we reported on the inception of the TILOS Project. Now let’s take a look back to see what’s happened since then. How has our authentic little Greek island become a champion of sustainability and gained the moniker, ‘the Green Island of Greece’?

Tilos, the Perfect Candidate

Few people may have heard of this little horseshoe-shaped island, midway between Rhodes and Kos. But while Tilos may be petite, it’s long been a forward-thinking place.

Thanks to the efforts of former mayor, Tassos Aliferis, its habitats are a haven for migratory birds, and the entire island and surrounding islets are a protected Natura 2000 Reserve. The island boasts over 150 species of resident and migratory birds, along with over 650 plant species. Hunting is outlawed.

And it’s not only nature. Tassos Aliferis conducted the first same-sex weddings in Greece back in 2008, long before they became legal in 2015. Meanwhile current mayor, Maria Kamma, continues to champion human rights, extending an open invitation to Syrian refugees to settle on the island and helping them to integrate into the community. 

However visitors to Tilos, drawn here by the nature and walking, were subjected to regular electrical outages, overflowing landfill sites, and a particular problem with plastic waste.

These issues, coupled with the islanders’ pioneering nature, made it the perfect place to test green tech.

Update on the TILOS Project

Prior to 2019, Tilos was reliant on undersea electrical cables fed from a diesel power plant in Kos. Frequent faults caused power outages, which led to emergency diesel power generators being installed – at further cost to the environment.

In 2017, Tilos was awarded EU funding for the TILOS Project (Technology Innovation for the Local Scale, Optimum Integration of Battery Energy Storage). This led to the construction of a medium-scale wind turbine (800kW), a small-scale photovoltaic park (160kW) and, crucially, a battery storage system of 2.4 MWh.

The system went live in 2019, and Tilos is indeed the first Mediterranean island to be entirely self sufficient in energy, offering a blueprint to other islands. In a win-win scenario, the island has significantly reduced its carbon footprint, while reducing costs for local people.

Other Projects on the Green Island of Greece

So successful is the project that the hybrid power station has generated a surplus of energy, which can be used for all kinds of other initiatives. Tilos now has three charging stations for electric vehicles, along with a smart new electric bus to replace the old diesel one. All municipal vehicles are also electric, while solar panels power the bus stop information boards.

The sweeping promenade at Livadia is lit by solar energy, which is also used in municipal buildings. And Livadia beach has a solar-powered Seatrac ramp, allowing disabled people to swim in the beautiful, clear waters.

What’s more, Tilos is now in a position to sell excess energy to the Greek Public Cooperation (DEI), thus making a profit.

The success of this project led to Tilos being awarded third place in the EU RESponsible Island Prize, winning €100,000.

Just Go Zero on Tilos

So how about the landfills, overflowing with single-use plastics? In 2021, Tilos was chosen for a two-year pilot project, aimed at creating a zero waste economy. Run by the Polygreen company, the Just Go Zero project issued bags and containers to locals so waste can be separated into recyclables, biowaste and non-recyclables.

Rubbish is collected from homes and businesses several times a week and taken to a new recycling centre, built on the site of a former landfill. Here it’s separated into 25 streams for processing.

In 2022, Tilos was declared a global leader in recycling with 86% of its waste recycled, and organic waste composted and locals given fertiliser for use in gardens and fields. The remainder is sent to Athens and used in energy production.  

In 2023, Tilos received a Zero Waste Certified City status, the first place in Greece to achieve the status, and the first island anywhere in the world.  What a superb achievement – we’re so proud of all the islanders and our wonderful little green island!

Visit Tilos, the Green Island of Greece

If you’re curious to find out more about Tilos, the Green Island of Greece and the first zero waste island in the world, read our ultimate guide to Tilos.

Perhaps you’ve been inspired to visit this small Greek island that’s become a role model for sustainable tourism? Then peruse our Tilos accommodation to find your dream stay on the island.

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


Jo worked on Tilos in 2006, as the last Island Manager for Laskarina. She now runs a travel writing business and travel blog, The Wandering Wordsmith, and spends much of her year travelling. But Greece, especially Tilos, will always hold a special place in her heart.

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