Greece took its first step toward a “greener future” on Wednesday, starting with the delivery by Volkswagen Group of eight electric vehicles to the South Aegean island of Astypalea.
Greece joined forces with Volkswagen Group last year for the materialization of a pioneering pilot project aimed at transforming the Dodecanese island into the first smart energy and green island in the Mediterranean and ensuring, at the same time, energy autonomy.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Volkswagen Chief Executive Herbert Diess attended a special event for the launch of the ambitious “Astypalea: Smart & Sustainable Island” project on Wednesday, to run for five years and aimed at establishing Astypalea as a model for climate-neutral mobility.
With some 1,300 inhabitants, Astypalea hopes to cover a significant part of its energy needs through renewable energy sources by 2026 and go fully green after replacing its current transport system with electric vehicles and renewable power generation.
“Greece on a Mission to Transform”
“Greece is on a mission to transform its economy and society into ‘Greece 2.0’, by leading the green revolution and harnessing the latest digital technology. Our plans are bold. Astypalea will be a test bed for the green transition: energy autonomous and entirely powered by nature,” said Mitsotakis.
The police, airport, the coast guard and the municipal authority will be the first to use the electric vehicles which can now be charged at 12 charging stations across the island.
Among others, the plan also foresees:
– replacing the island’s bus service with a ride-sharing scheme
– the availability of 200 electric cars for rentals
– government subsidies for islanders who replace their vehicles with electric alternatives
– replacing about 1,500 combustion-engine cars with electric alternatives and reducing vehicles on the island by a third. Locals will be able to purchase electric models (Volkswagen e-up!1, ID.32, ID.43, SEAT MÓ eScooter 1254) by the end of the month
-12 charging points have been installed and 16 more are set to follow.
The deal is based on a memorandum of cooperation signed between the Volkswagen and the Greek government last November. The terms were not disclosed.
Astypalea: A Reference Point for “Green” Change
Diess underlined the importance of public-private partnerships, adding that the project will serve as a “blueprint for a rapid transformation, fostered by the close collaboration of governments and businesses”.
“Astypalea will be a future lab for decarbonization in Europe. We will be researching in real time what motivates people to switch to e-mobility and which incentives are needed to transition to a sustainable lifestyle,” he said.
Mitsotakis noted that research carried out for the project by the University of Strathclyde in Scotland and the University of the Aegean in Greece will give “vital insights that will help us to create incentives for change on our journey to a cleaner, greener and more sustainable future.”
Study results will be made public in hopes that these will help accelerate e-mobility transition in other regions across Greece.
“Today’s inauguration is a historic moment from which a very interesting and promising journey begins. The Astypalea project is a turning point for the South Aegean Region and for Greece,” said South Aegean Region Governor George Hatzimarkos.
Earlier this year, Deloitte Greece announced its “Astypalaia 4.0” strategic development plan which focuses on four key areas: the development and improvement of infrastructure, enhancing local economy and entrepreneurship, actions towards sustainability and environmental protection, and digital transformation and networks upgrade. The plan, which also includes 18 strategic actions, aims to transform the Greek island into an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable destination for residents and tourists.