Greece – smart island microgrid coming to Tilos

A hybrid renewable energy and battery storage system will form the heart of a smart microgrid on the Greek island of Tilos.
Published: Thu 22 Jun 2017

With their small size and limited populations, islands are an ideal environment for developing and deploying microgrids.

With the opportunity to deploy renewable energies on islands, storage makes up a crucial element for the management and optimisation of the use of that generation.

With this in mind the TILOS project has been initiated on the Greek island of Tilos in order to demonstrate the potential of local/small scale battery storage to serve a multipurpose role within an island microgrid that also interacts with a main network (macrogrid).

TILOS (Technology Innovation for the Local scale Optimum integration of battery energy Storage) is coordinated from the Piraeus University of Applied Sciences in Greece.

The project involves a total of 13 participants from seven European countries and is supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research programme.

Island microgrid

Tilos is part of the Dodecanese island complex in the southeastern Aegean Sea and has a population of about 500.

The island’s electricity needs are served currently via an undersea interconnection to the host grid of Kos and Kalymnos islands, where a diesel oil power station is operated. However, outages are frequent and often long lasting due to cable faults.

The main objective of the TILOS project is the development and operation of a prototype sodium nickel chloride (NaNiCl2)-based battery system to support multiple use cases. Among these are microgrid energy management, maximisation of renewables penetration, grid stability, export of guaranteed energy and ancillary services to the Kos main grid.

The battery system will perform both stand alone and grid connected operation while proving its interoperability with the rest of the microgrid components such as demand side management and residential heat storage in the form of domestic hot water. Different operation strategies will be tested in order to define the optimum system integration.

In the event of a cable fault, a smart energy management system will be able to isolate the island and reconnect it to Kos as soon as the fault is restored.

In the first step, the TILOS system will cover approximately 70% of local demand in stand-alone operation, with the aim to rapidly scale it up close to 100%.

The project, which is about to get under way, is expected to offer potential to other Greek islands that are dependent on oil-based energy imports.

“We are establishing a new energy paradigm for island regions, looking at the development of a scalable, versatile, community-level energy solution that can be replicated in numerous islands across the globe, making them more energy resilient,” says Dr Dimitrios Zafirakis, project coordinator of TILOS.

The project is already of relevance to islands more widely and in particular will engage the islands of Pellworm in the North Sea off the coast of Germany, Portugal’s La Graciosa in the Azores, and Corsica in order to share implementable results and the transfer of technological experience. Both Pellworm and Corsica have mainland interconnections, while La Graciosa’s is a weak island grid.

Customer engagement

An important element of the project will be to engage the local population on Tilos. The aim is to gain deeper understanding of the perception and acceptance of renewables and the role of consumers as active participants in the energy system with a view to facilitating the implementation of the microgrid as well as possible future novel business models.

“Engaging the local population is essential for project success,” points out Zafirakis. “We have been in constant communication with the locals, training them in the technical aspects of the smart microgrid. For example, this deeper understanding of system operation is the driver for effective demand side management strategies. We have also started exploring the idea of an energy cooperative, investing in the system to reach renewable shares close to 100%.”

Renewables for Mediterranean islands

In addition to the TILOS initiative, the island of Tilos also forms part of the Promoting Renewables Integration for Smart Mediterranean Islands (PRISMI) initiative.

The 18-month project, which kicked off in November 2016, is also focused on tackling the fossil fuel dependence of islands in the Mediterranean with renewables, with three key objectives.

These are to develop an integrated toolkit to assess and map local renewable energy sources for the targeted elaboration of energy scenarios and to support the design and implementation of energy action plans.

In addition, a network of specialised agencies, public authorities and scientific institutions is being established to increase and exchange knowledge, skills and acceptability of renewable energies in these islands.

In addition to Tilos, the other islands to which the PRISMI methodology will be applied are Akamas Peninsula of Cyprus, Korčula and Vis Islands of Croatia, Favignana Island off Italy and the Gozo Region of Malta.

PRISMI is being primarily funded as part of the European Cooperation Programme for the Mediterranean Area. Project coordination is at the Sapienza University of Rome.

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