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Renewable energy meets history on a Greek island by Prof. Dan Rohlf

Posted by: | June 3, 2014 Comments Off on Renewable energy meets history on a Greek island by Prof. Dan Rohlf |

Ikaria is an island in the eastern Aegean Sea. One of its key distinguishing features is its lack of significant human development relative to other Greek islands. Ikarians’ lifestyle is not too different than the way people have lived for thousands of years; perhaps as a result, this island is recognized as a so-called “blue zone” where it is common for people to live 100 years or more. [Side note: Most people on Ikaria eat a lot of organic produce that they grow themselves. They live a long time. Perhaps a connection there?] While tourists in the summer more than double the island’s 7,500 residents, relative to other Greek islands there is much less tourism and associated infrastructure, which has helped protect Ikaria’s excellent habitat for other species as well as people. Much of the island is protected under the European Union’s Natura 2000 program. The island is also designated as an Important Bird Area in Greece. It provides excellent habitat for several species of raptors and is an important migratory corridor for many birds.

Due to their isolation, energy is always a significant issue for islands’ human communities, and Ikaria is no exception. While there are two large solar photovoltaic arrays on the island, Ikaria’s residents currently get most of their electric power from a smoky diesel generator near the main town. However, construction is underway on a renewable energy project that would – if completed as originally envisioned – meet all of the island’s electricity demand for most of the year and nearly three quarters of the load during the busier summer months. But most Ikarians, as well as many environmentalists, oppose the project, setting up a clash similar to controversies that have increasingly arisen over proposed renewable energy projects in the United States as well.

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under: Energy, International

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