Greek Island Astypalea & Volkswagen: Kick-Off for Transformation to Smart, More Sustainable island

  • First Volkswagen electric vehicles put into service on Greek island with the goal of full transition to e-mobility
  • Academic study to monitor the transformation of Astypalea
  • Solar Park will provide 3 MW by 2023
  • Herbert Diess, CEO Volkswagen AG: “Astypalea is a future lab for Europe”

Astypalea (Greece) — Astypalea is on course to become a smart, more sustainable island. The first electric vehicles, including the first fully electric police car in Greece, were put into service today in the presence of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Volkswagen AG (“Volkswagen Group”) CEO Herbert Diess, and Deputy Foreign Minister Kostas Fragkogiannis. The first public and private charging points were also inaugurated. The event marked the launch of the transition to full electrification on Astypalea. In the coming years, the island wants to switch to smart, more sustainable mobility and completely modernize its energy system. Volkswagen Group and the Greek government signed a memorandum of understanding to this effect last November.

“Astypalea will be a future lab for decarbonization in Europe”, said Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen Group. “We will be researching in real time what motivates people to switch to e-mobility and which incentives are needed to transition to a more sustainable lifestyle. The learnings will help to accelerate the transformation towards more sustainable mobility and renewable energy in Greece. Worldwide, climate protection is gaining enormous traction. Volkswagen has been driving this change, offering the full range of more sustainable mobility – from electric vehicles with zero direct emissions, to charging, to more sustainable energy solutions. Astypalea can become a blueprint for a rapid transformation, fostered by the close collaboration of governments and businesses.”

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said:

“Greece is on a mission to transform our 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. This beautiful island is a central pillar in that transition, and I am enormously grateful to the local community for their continued support for the project. Our unique partnerships with Volkswagen, one of the world’s most dynamic and innovative car companies, and with the brilliant research teams at the Universities of the Aegean and Strathclyde, will give us vital insights that will help us to create incentives for change on our journey to a cleaner, greener and more sustainable future. Together we will harness the wind and the sun to power that brighter future.”

Transition to renewable energy from the sun
Police, the airport authority and the island’s municipality will be using the first electric vehicles. The sale of electric vehicles to private customers will start by end of June. Customers can choose from the Volkswagen models e-up!, ID.3 and ID.4, as well as the SEAT MÓ eScooter. The Greek government is also supporting the switch to e-mobility with attractive subsidies. Next, new mobility services will be launched—preparations are already being made for a fully electric car sharing service and a ride sharing service. As a global mobility company, the Volkswagen Group provides the entire range of future mobility solutions, including cutting-edge energy solutions by MAN SE.

The Hellenic republic also announced their plans for the transition to cleaner energy. The energy system will be transformed to renewables in two phases: By 2023, a new solar park will provide about 3 megawatts of energy, covering 100 percent of the energy needed to charge the electric vehicles and more than 50 percent of the island’s overall energy demand. By 2026, the new energy system will be further expanded to cover more than 80 percent of the total energy demand. In addition, a battery storage system will help to balance the grid and make full use of the solar park. CO2 emissions of the island’s energy system could be significantly reduced while energy costs could fall by at least 25 percent. Today, the island is supplied with energy from diesel generators.

Kostas Fragkogiannis, Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece, said: “This project symbolizes the realization of our vision for Greece in the years to come, a snapshot of the future before the future. Our country has become a reliable investment destination and the public and private sectors are working together in an exemplary way.”

Academic study will monitor transformation
Scientists from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland and the University of the Aegean in Greece will be monitoring, and systematically evaluating, the transformation on Astypalea. The study will focus on the people of Astypalea and their attitudes towards the transformation. A series of surveys will examine the general views on e-mobility and the readiness to switch to an electric vehicle, providing a deeper understanding of the key levers of and barriers to the transformation. The final results of the study will be made public, and can help to accelerate the switch to e-mobility in other regions.

Over the next five years, Astypalea will be transformed into a smart, more sustainable island. Mobility will be electric, powered by locally-produced renewable energy sources. New mobility services like car-sharing and ride-sharing will replace the existing basic bus service. The goal overall is not only to improve mobility but also to reduce the number of vehicles on the island by about one-third.

Image courtesy of The Volkswagen AG (“Volkswagen Group”)

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