Volkswagen delivered on Wednesday eight ID.4 electric SUVs to Greek island of Astypalea. The Mediterranean island was chosen by the Volkswagen Group to turn it into a model island for climate-neutral mobility.
To mark the official start of the transformation, Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the island. In the main village of Chora, Diess presented the local police force with their new service vehicle: The Volkswagen ID.4 is the first electric police car in Greece. And the port police, airport authorities and island administration are now also running on electricity.
The fleet includes electric cars and two SEAT MÓ eScooters. These are the first electric vehicles on Astypalea, with many more set to follow. Sales to private and business customers will start at the end of June. The next step will be the new mobility services: Both the fully electric car-sharing service and ride-sharing service are currently under development.
Volkswagen CEO Diess emphasised the significance of the project far beyond Greece: “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. The learnings will help to accelerate the transformation towards sustainable mobility and green energy in Greece. Worldwide, climate protection is gaining enormous traction. Volkswagen has been driving this change, offering the full range of sustainable mobility – from cars, to charging to sustainable energy solutions. Astypalea can become a blue print for a rapid transformation, fostered by the close collaboration of governments and businesses.”
Energy revolution to solar power
The transformation also includes an energy revolution to electricity generated renewably. Astypalea’s power is currently supplied almost exclusively by diesel generators, which produce almost 5,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. During the visit, the Greek government announced details of the new energy system. In future, power will predominantly come from solar energy. As an initial step, a solar field with an output of 3 megawatts will be installed by 2023. This will supply 100 percent of the electric cars and up to 60 percent of the whole island with green energy.
The new energy system also includes a back-up battery with a storage capacity of 7 megawatt hours (MWh), which will enable the network to be balanced and the solar energy to be used optimally. In step two, the proportion of renewable energy will be extended further by 2026, and will cover more than 80 percent of electricity requirements in future. The new energy system will not only reduce CO2 emissions, it is also expected to reduce energy costs. The Greek government envisages a potential saving of more than 25 percent.
Testing lab for transformation
The project is significant far beyond Greece. Astypalea can serve as a unique testing ground: The opportunities and challenges that governments around the world are confronted with as the economy and society transforms can be observed here as if in time lapse. To understand these factors better, scientists will be involved in the project.
Experts from the University of Strathclyde (Scotland) and the University of the Aegean (Greece) will regularly consult the people on Astypalea and gather their feedback on the changes. The study aims to help systematically incorporate the perspective of the island community and gain a fundamental understanding of the transformation process. The results will then be made available to the public.