The Greek island of Kythnos has recently launched its Smart Island project with the support of the Sustainable Islands Network – Laurel. The project includes investments in electricity generation and consumption, waste and water resource management, transport and street lighting. The project will be coordinated by the DAFNI Network and the Research Institute of Communications and Computer Systems of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the National Technical University of Athens, and is funded by a Compromise Agreement between the Hellenic Republic and Siemens.
With a budget of € 8 million, the project will finance the following interventions:
- Facilitating an automated and efficient operation of Kythnos's electrical system, promoting higher penetration of locally generated renewable energy, the future integration of storage units and the flexible management of electricity demand.
- Smart electrical appliances (particularly air conditioners and washing machines) and smart meters will be installed in a number of homes and businesses. The operation of the devices will be adjusted flexibly based on the availability of electricity produced from RES in the electrical system and the need to shift demand to avoid intense spikes that make the operation of the electrical system economically and technically inefficient. The operation of the devices will be done in a way that ensures optimal functioning of the local power system, without hindering the daily routine of consumers.
- Reconstruction and modernization of the existing micro-network in Gaidouromanrah, the installation of a small wind turbine, the replacement of existing batteries and the replacement of photovoltaic panels and possibly other necessary interventions are foreseen.
- Enhancement of the energy efficiency of the existing water desalination plant and installation of a photovoltaic plant, small wind turbine, and energy storage system, which will significantly cover the energy demand for the desalination plant.
- Optimization of the existing solid waste recycling system on the island, promoting composting of organic waste at home and creation of processing plants for the production of biogas, soil improvers, water for re-use and other by-products.
- Installing electric charging stations and supplying electric vehicles both to replace the conventional vehicles of the municipality and to activate a sharing system for electric vehicles which can be used by visitors to the island. The port of Mericha will host a charging station that will provide power to a small electric boat connecting the harbor to the famous Kolonas beach.
According to DAFNI, these interventions will contribute to the promotion of Kythnos as a destination for alternative tourism, and broaden the tourist season whilst also supporting the functional interconnection of the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors as part of the transition of the local economy into a smart, sustainable and environmentally friendly production model.
Overall, the coordinators highlight that "the project will have a significant footprint in the national economy – firstly because it will be implemented by local and national research and technical experts, secondly because it will provide solutions to the continuous challenges of managing the infrastructures of Kythnos. It will further act as a replicable example for other islands and isolated areas (mountainous and rural) as well as for urban centers, contributing to the emergence of "smart cities" of the future.