Soon Tilos could become even greener: it’s set to be the first island in the Mediterranean powered by wind and solar energy. The island currently relies on oil-based electricity from neighbouring Kos, via a submarine cable that is vulnerable to faults. Power cuts are frequent. By installing a single wind turbine and small photovoltaic park, Tilos is creating a hybrid micro-grid that will generate and store energy. Installation is under way and an 18-month pilot begins in September, as part of a €15m project largely funded by the European commission. Eventually, Tilos could export excess power to Kos, and the goal is to roll out similar projects on other small islands in Europe.
Financial support has also been provided for Tilos Park, a non-profit residents’ association set up to protect and promote the island’s natural and cultural heritage, and upgrade the Information Centre, where visitors can pick up maps of nature trails, mountain bike routes, and the best spots for sighting rare birds, or sign up for canoe and kayak trips. It’s hoped that knock-on effects will include increased visitor numbers – which currently stand at 13,000 per year – particularly among eco-minded travellers.
“Tilos has many loyal ‘fans’ who’ve come every year for 30 years,” says Kamma. “Now we’re getting a lot more interest from young people who have heard about Tilos because of the renewable energy project. They like what we are doing and want to support the island.”