Innovation, local development and new financing tools featured prominently in the discussions held during the 2-day workshop “Islands as test beds for innovative sustainable energy technologies”, organized by the Aegean Energy Agency and the Network of Sustainable Aegean and the Ionian Islands – DAFNI under the auspices of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung on 9-10 November in Athens, Greece. An important driver of the discussions was the need to strengthen Greek-German cooperation allowing actors from both countries to jointly develop innovative technological packages and deploy projects on Greek islands.
More than 100 participants from the European Commission, national and local authorities, the business sector, financial institutions and academia took an active part in the discussions. The workshop was structured around four thematic sessions, each addressing one of the four technologies, namely Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles, Smart Grids, Public Street Lighting and Energy Storage Technologies.
Participants identified barriers (technological, institutional and financial) related to the penetration of these technologies and proposed concrete solutions, taking into account Greece’s economic stagnation. Further, participants highlighted the role island authorities can play in order to ensure these innovative technologies contribute to islands’ sustainable development, thus benefitting island local economies and communities in the long run.
During the workshop, it was commonly agreed that islands have competitive advantages favouring the deployment of these innovative technologies. Some of these advantages are the current high cost of energy production, the substantial renewable energy potential, the well-determined travel distances and the seasonal use of lighting infrastructure. At the same time participants recognized the inherent challenges facing islands, such as the widely dispersed settlements, the small scale of local economies, the seasonal energy demand and the limited capacity to manage complex projects at the local level.
The workshop produced policy recommendations to make the regulatory framework in Greece more conducive to deploying these technologies on Greek islands, facilitated the exchange of knowledge on innovative financing tools (crowdfunding) and schemes (cooperatives) and catalyzed the joint development of projects.
Ilias Efthymiopoulos, Director of the Aegean Energy Agency, Kostas Komninos, Director of DAFNI Network and Nicole Katsioulis, Head of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Greece ensured the smooth running and successful completion of the workshop. Participants’ recommendations and proposals for the next steps will be incorporated in a final report to be published by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.