How One Greek Island Could Unlock
July 26, 2022
3 minute read
With climate change threatening environments across the globe, a small Greek Island may hold the key to realizing future mobility that is carbon neutral: Astypalea.
Located just south of the island of Mykonos and home to 1,300 local residents, Astypalea is becoming the world’s first community to rely solely on smart and sustainable mobility. Enabled by local government’s expansion of renewable energy infrastructure, Astypalea’s smart and sustainable island project, which kicked off in 2020, is leveraging Volkswagen’s zero-direct emission, all electric ID. Buzz and ID.4 vehicles—alongside e-bike and e-scooter technologies—to transition the island toward a fully integrated, eco-conscious transportation system.
The perfect test site
Known for unique natural beauty that draws more than 36,000 tourists annually, Astypalea is an ideal location for putting smart and sustainable mobility to the test, thanks to its small land size (37.4 square miles), low population and limited amount of energy consumption used by those residents.
These factors, paired with residents’ desires to protect and preserve their local eco-system, make the island’s total transition to e-mobility an incredibly attainable goal. In fact, EVs are already widely adopted by locals, tourists, police, airport authorities, municipality, ambulance services and taxis.
“Astypalea [is] the perfect testbed for the green transition—energy generated entirely from nature powering an all‑electric, fully integrated transportation system. [This is] a circular energy system that will provide valuable insights and lessons that we hope in time will be scaled more widely across Greece and beyond.”Kyriakos MitsotakisPrime Minister of Greece
A real-world laboratory
In just two short years, Astypalea has become a research lab for mobility of the future, with all parties involved demonstrating how CO2-neutral mobility is possible if politicians, companies and society work closely together.
Starting with electric vehicles, Volkswagen and Greek leaders introduced two green transportation options on Astypalea earlier this year: a ride-sharing service called ASTYBUS—powered by the ID.4 and ID. Buzz—and a vehicle sharing service called astyGO. Leveraging the astyGO app, customers can book e-bikes, electric cars and e-scooters to take them anywhere on the island, while the ASTYBUS shuttles groups to more than 30 destinations—much more than the average city shuttle bus.
According to Astypalea’s mayor, Nikolaos Komineas, locals now not only have more transportation options, but tourists can now explore more parts of the island, businesses are saving on transportation costs and the unique beauty of the island is better preserved and protected than before.
“We have seen that the CO2 emissions have been neutralized and let us not forget that the noise pollution has been reduced as well, so the first impressions have been very positive,” said Komineas during a recent press conference. “The ride sharing services have also created more room for people to ‘live’ as fewer cars on the road means less space sharing. For these reasons and more, both locals and tourists have reacted to this new way of life positively.”
The road ahead
Within the next four years, Astypalea will become home to 1,000 VW electric vehicles, along with a new solar park that will power 80% of the island’s total energy demand by 2026. According to Volkswagen Group and the Hellenic Republic, the installation of this solar park will effectively reduce up to 50% of the Island’s carbon pollution.
While still in the early stages of gathering insights on the project, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess, along with other industry leaders, is hopeful that this model—which is set to run through 2026—will be a microcosm for how the rest of the world could soon participate in rapid decarbonization fueled by renewable energy and clean transportation.
“What is happening here is a revolution, a groundbreaking change that is very important,” Mitsotakis said. “Many things are going to happen for the first time anywhere in the world here on Astypalea.”