| Ai Stratis in Pioneering Role|
May 16, 2008
Expert explains initiative to give Greek island energy solely
from the sun and wind
A floating desalination plant has been positioned off the
island of Irakleia for a year and a half. Experts from the
University of the Aegean’s Informatics and Naval Electronic
Technology Department are behind the project.
By Costas Deliyiannis - Kathimerini
A Greek professor from the University of the Aegean’s
Informatics and Naval Electronic Technology Department is the
brains behind a project involving a floating desalination
plant that has been positioned off the islet of Irakleia for
Recently the authorities decided, on the basis of another of
his initiatives, to provide funds to make the island of Ai
Stratis (Aghios Efstratios) the first Greek island powered
solely by solar and wind energy. Nikitas Nikitakos has the
support of the inhabitants of both islands.
What is the significance of Ai Stratis becoming the first
“green” island in the Aegean?
We thought that Ai Stratis could become the Greek version of
the Danish island of Samso, where environmentally friendly
means are not only used to produce energy and heat buildings
but in farming and livestock breeding.
Ai Stratis is ideal for such an undertaking. It has a small
population and we can try out various solutions that are
environmentally friendly, such as ecological waste management
or limiting the use of plastic. Moreover, since the daily
consumption of electrical energy is low, our goal is to meet
all the island’s power needs from renewable sources (RES).
The island is not linked to the mainland power grid, so I
believe that will help us do away with various myths about
renewable sources. For example, it is generally believed that
RES can only meet part of an area’s power needs; the rest must
come from the mainland grid. But that means that islands like
Ai Stratis would need to be connected, which is financially
prohibitive. In such a case, a percentage of the power
produced by RES is wasted if it is not consumed immediately,
as the grid takes up a specific amount of the energy produced.
That happens, for example, with the power produced by wind
turbines on an island at night when demand is low. Therefore
our plans for Ai Stratis are to exploit ways of storing that
surplus with hydrogen batteries, so it can be used when
So are you planning to use technology on Ai Stratis that has
not been used before?
We have several ideas in mind that could initially be tried
out on Ai Stratis and in future used on larger islands or even
in mainland areas. If I don’t go into more detail it is
because the project is still in its early stages as we have
not yet reached an agreement with the local authorities
regarding the specific technology to be used. We want the
local community’s approval of everything we do.
Why are local communities often opposed to RES, as in the case
of wind farms on the Aegean islands?
Opposition to these ideas is often because locals are not
sufficiently informed and that is not their fault. It is
inconceivable that dozens of foreigners have seen new
technology at conferences, while people in the area where it
is to be used don’t understand it.
Sometimes the plans do not have the locals’ interests as a top
priority. Life in the provinces has certain disadvantages
which for some is offset by proximity to nature. How can we
persuade them that their future view will be a forest of wind
turbines when they know that the power being produced is
destined mainly for urban centers?
What are the needs of the inhabitants of the islands?
The increasing frequency of drought, which means not only a
shortage of drinking water but irrigation problems. Also, the
production of energy for local consumption, particularly on
isolated islands such as Ai Stratis. These two problems are
often linked, since conventional desalination plants only
worsen the problem as they require considerable amounts of
power at a time when, particularly in summer, the islands
barely manage to meet their energy requirements. The
inhabitants of Irakleia have first-hand experience of these
problems. That is why they agreed at an assembly to accept the
first floating desalination plant when we explained that it
operated on a wind turbine without chemicals so as not to harm