The EU islands have enormous potential to benefit from the clean energy transition and become front runners in it, the participants of the inaugural Clean Energy for EU Islands forum concluded. There are more than 2,200 inhabited islands in the EU, which have access to various renewable energy sources, but still rely on fossil fuel imports. However, some of them, like Greek island of Tilos, have already started its energy transition.
The Clean Energy for EU Islands forum was held on September 22, in the island of Crete, in Greece. It marked the launch of this EU initiative, which aims to accelerate the clean energy transition on islands, ensuring secure and cheap energy to their citizens, and create local jobs.
The forum was attended by the EU and Greek officials as well the officials of other EU member states and institutions, representatives from EU islands, island associations and the energy industry.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said at the forum that Greece is determined to contribute to the action against the global warming and participate in the energy transition.
“We are determined to implement swiftly and fully the Paris climate agreement & take an active role in the global transition to clean energy. Inequalities in clean energy access find a reflection in social inequalities. Affordable clean energy for everyone is empowering”, he said.
EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Arias Cañete told the forum that the potential for reducing energy costs on islands and moving towards energy autonomy has never been greater due to the evolution of technology. He added that the Clean Energy Island initiative was set up to assist and accelerate this process.
The participants discussed how to reduce the islands’ dependence on fossil fuel imports, how to enable them to generate more energy from renewable sources, improve energy efficiency, and deploy low emissions transport solutions. Examples of best practice and current research were also reviewed as well the new technologies.
The initiative was launched in May 2017, when the Political Declaration on Clean Energy for EU Islands was signed in Valletta by the European Commission and 14 Member States. The initiative is part of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package, and provides a long term framework to help islands generate their own sustainable, low-cost energy.
The initiative’s goal is to reduce energy costs and increase production of renewable energy, thus improving energy security for islands, which will be less reliant on imports.
Those efforts should also result in improved air quality, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and less impact on islands’ natural environments. The initiative should also contribute to the creation of new jobs and business opportunities, boosting islands’ economic self-sufficiency.