Strathclyde to evaluate the impact of Volkswagen Group sustainable transport initiative on Greek island

Jun 2021 — The University of Strathclyde will evaluate a new sustainable transport initiative, led by the Volkswagen Group and the Greek government, which will see transport on a Greek island become fully electrified. 

Two research centres at Strathclyde, the Centre for Environmental Law and Governance (SCELG) and the Centre for Energy Policy (CEP), are working with the University of the Aegean and social enterprise Island Innovation to undertake a consultation with residents of the island of Astypalaia.   

The study, funded by the Volkswagen Group, will evaluate the initiative’s impact on the people of Astypalaia’s lives. Through a series of surveys and consultations, the research will examine the citizens’ views on e-mobility and their readiness to switch to an electric vehicle, providing a deeper understanding of the key levers and barriers of the transformation. 

The final results will be made public and can help to accelerate the switch to e-mobility in other regions. 

Dr Francesco Sindico, Project Lead and Director of SCELG, said: 

Transport-related greenhouse gas emissions are one of the key drivers of climate change so sustainable transport initiatives such as the one being implemented on the Greek island Astypalaia led by the Volkswagen Group and the Hellenic Republic are very welcome. 

Our research, undertaken with the University of the Aegean and Island Innovation, will bring important insights into the relationship between the people of Astypalaia and the project and how it impacts on their lives over the next three years.  The learning from this project can also be used to inform similar transport initiatives elsewhere.

In an interview with VW, Dr Sindico highlighted the critical importance of ongoing engagement around the initiative with island communities throughout the duration of the project. 

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess, Deputy Foreign Minister Costas Fragkogiannis and island’s mayor Nikos Komineas attended the launch of the initiative on 2 June 2021, where the first electric vehicles were taken into service and the public and private charging points were inaugurated.  The first vehicles are being used by the police, the airport authority and by the island’s municipality. 

The sale of electric vehicles to private customers will start by end of June and plans are underway for a fully electric car sharing service and a ride sharing service. 

The Hellenic Republic also announced its plans for the transition to green energy. The energy system will be transformed to renewables in two phases; by 2023, a new solar park will provide about three megawatts of green energy, covering 100% of the energy needed to charge the electric vehicles and more than 50% of the island’s overall energy demand. By 2026, the new energy system will be further expanded to more than 80% of the total energy demand. In addition, a battery storage system will help to balance the grid and make full use of the solar park. 

As a result, the CO2 emissions of the island’s energy system will be significantly reduced, while energy costs could fall by at least 25% percent. The island is currently supplied with energy from diesel-generators. 

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