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Clean energy for EU islands
23 May 2022

Update: Clean energy for EU islands forum 2022 - Key Facts and Figures

Chalki Site Visit

Enjoy this short video about our EU island forum in Rhodes (April 2022). View it here

Executive Summary

The EU island forum 2022, was organised as an on-site event at the Rhodes Bay Hotel on Rhodes, Greece, and featured high-level keynotes by Greek MinisterKostas Skrekas and Commissioner Kadri Simson as well as MEP Tonino Picula - Chair of the SEArica intergroup, European Parliament, Chrysi Vitsilaki - Rector University of the Aegean and Antonis Kabourakis – Mayor of Rhodes, three plenaries (Act, Shape, Explore), four parallel sessions, and a site visit to the GR-eco-island Chalki.  

Key take-aways

Day 1

  • Welcome by Jan Cornillie, Project Coordinator of the Clean energy for EU islands secretariat;
    ind the recording here
  • Kostas Skrekas - Greek Minister for Environment and Energy welcomed all participants to the EU islands forum and set out the role of Greek islands as inspiring innovation labs – with a high number of low-carbon initiatives;
    ind the recording here
  • Commissioner Simson’s keynote emphasised the importance of the role of more than 2000 islands in the context that we have reached the 11th hour when it comes to high prices, and lack of security, stating our need for clean and secure energy systems for Europe. In this context EU islands can be a test lab for the energy transition;
  • Antonis Kabourakis – Mayor of Rhodes welcomed the audience on-site and online describing the importance of sustainable tourism for the Aegean Islands;
  • MEP Tonino Picula, Chair of the SEArica intergroup, European Parliament, spoke about investment and funding that is available for EU islands, the importance of technical;
  • Chrysi Vitsilaki - Rector of the University of the Aegean, focused on the need to turn the current crisis into an opportunity. Green and blue, and the need for a holistic green transition.
    Find the recording covering all three presentationshere
  • As part of the European Year of Youth Students of the University of the Aegean and pupils from Rhodes high schools were discussing and presenting their take on the energy and climate dilemmas;
    ind the recording here
  • An exciting site visit to Chalki was filled with motivating insights into Chalki's energy transition. The Mayor of Chalki, Evangelos Fragkakis Ευαγγελος Φραγκακης, welcomed the forum visitors and the deputy Mayor explained Chalki's clean energy transition plans to be the first GR-eco island - a project that aims to provide renewable energy to the Dodecanese Islands. Chalki has also founded the initiative Chalki On is aiming to electrify the mobility of the island, not only cars and scooters but also boats;
  • Eero Ailio (Advisor at European Commission DG Energy) held a short speech about EU policy and how it corresponds with the energy communities that the municipality of Chalki is creating.

Day 2 

  • Action Day (day 2 of the forum) focused on lessons learned from the technical assistance call that the EU islands secretariat delivers, learned more about regulatory barriers and opportunities on islands; find the welcome here.
  • Some of the key take-aways of this "ACT: Lessons learnt from Technical Assistance" session were, for example citizen engagement, energy transition leaders (having someone to get the process started), and having a solution to the energy needs of citizens,
  • "SHAPE: Regulatory - Conclusions from the regulatory deep dives" covered regulatory barriers that islands may face with starting or in the clean energy transition. Discussing questions such as What is needed on the national, regional & local levels to foster the energy transition? Which are the gaps and what is hindering or slowing down the transition? Find the recording here.
  • “EXPLORE Transition strategies for the islands” took a closer look at transition strategies for the islands. Speakers from the Åland Islands, Ireland, Belgium, and Spain spoke about their organisation's or island's #cleanenergy transition strategies, the challenges, and approaches. Find the recording here.
  • Two parallel sessions took place - the session EXPLORE "Innovation in Horizon2020 projects" included the H2020 project IANOS H2020 project, ISLANDER Project, VPP4ISLANDS, H2020 INSULAE Project, REACT Project EU and the session SHAPE "Financing e-mobility infrastructure" included discussions around how to finance projects, which technologies to use, and what chances and challenges there are. Challenges include, for example, the fast-changing technological landscape, historical or traditional building styles on islands and how to combine them with modern charging infrastructure, and saltwater possibly affecting the infrastructure. Find the recording here.
  • The second parallel sessions had two quite different topics; both were ACT sessions. One session was about "Setting up Island Energy Communities". It included speakers from various energy communities on EU islands.
  • The parallel session "Balancing interconnections and energy storage for the clean energy transition of islands" focused on more technical aspects of the clean energy transition. Key take-aways from this session was that there is a lack of regulatory frameworks for storage, which makes it hard to attract investment. Find the recording here
  • Final debate "What does RePowerEU mean for the islands?" with Eero Ailio, Søren Hermansen, Dr.Maria Kottari, Kostas Komninos, and Alexis Chatzimpiros as moderator. Eero Ailio introduced the package shortly and gave a broad overview of its contents and what islands can take from it. Søren focused on the community point of view and what the change in the industry means for the islands. Wind power plants are getting bigger and bigger while smaller islands will not need this much power. Kostas Komninos pointed out that many villages and cities on islands are cultural heritage and thus protected meaning that PV panels cannot be installed. Maria Kottari sees REPower EU as a long-term investment into our future. Find the recording here

Figures & additional info

  • The event had 300 participants over the whole two days on-site and online, the sessions were well attended and the feedback we directly received was very promising;
  • 160 registered participants for the on-site participation;
  • 97 participants took part in the site visit to the GR-eco-island Halki (including presentations from Evaggelos Fragkakis – Mayor of Halki Island & Vasilios Roussakis -Deputy Mayor of Halki Island as well as a presentation on the GR-eco island concept by John (Ioannis) Kaldellis - Vice Rector for Research University of West Attica (Greece); 
  • 2 Keynotes (Kostas Skrekas, Greek Minister for Environment and Energy, Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy EC); 
  • 1 Keynote session by islands stakeholders (MEP Tonino Picula - Chair of the SEArica intergroup, European Parliament, Chrysi Vitsilaki - Rector University of the Aegean and Antonis Kabourakis – Mayor of Rhodes  
  • 3 Plenaries and 4 Workshop Sessions;
  • 140 people attended the on-site event over the two days at Rhodes Bay Hotel on Rhodes, Greece and 160 people watched the live stream 
  • Part of the European Year of Youth: A deliberative session on energy security and climate transition with students of the University of the Aegean and pupils from Rhodes high schools.

After the forum, we created a questionnaire and sent it to the participants. We received very positive and valuable feedback:

  • The event overall was given an excellent ranking (4.5 / 5);
  • Both the location on-site and the online platform were rated very well;
  • The content, as well as the quality of the presentations and relevance of speakers, were ranked great;
  • Above all, the site visit to Chalki and the workshops on the first day were mentioned particularly often in the positive comments.