European Small Islands Federation

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Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.

This quote, often (falsely) attributed to Winston Churchill, fits well to special advisor Brendan Devlin’s ambitions for the meeting arranged in Brussels on the 5-6th of March 2018. The topic was the clean energy for EU Islands Initiative, the purpose was to listen to the islanders and Brendan Devlin has a particular interest in the EU islands’ potential for faster decarbonisation.

DG ENER’s vision is to speed up the EU countries’ move from fossil fuel dependency and they are starting with the islands.

15 million

Setting up a secretariat

Anna Colucci, Head of unit DG ENER opened the meeting which was attended by about 30 participants, representing both islands and EU institutions. How can we make the decarbonizing of all European the islands work? was the question asked, considering that islands are now seen as innovation leaders in this field. The Commission will set up a Clean Energy Islands Secretariat in Brussels. The 2 year secretariat with a budget of 2 millions will carry out benchmarking studies, awareness rasing and capacity building for islands decarbonization plans.

After this period, the intention is to replace the secretariat with an Island Facility through a tender or call within Horizon 2020 which will be worth 10 Millions euros.

A holistic view on energy

It was stressed that the energy concept covers energy in a broad and holistic perspective: it means heating, cooling, electricity, transport on islands and to and from islands as well as blue energy.  It is important not isolate energy from other issues, but to find and use synergies. “Good solutions are welcomed, not only future solutions”, said Brendan Devlin . “What is better might not be what is best, it has to be better than today´s situation.” Highlighting best practice being very important, to that end, presentations from the island of Öland’s biogas scheme and the ambitious wind and desalination schemes in the Canaries were made which elicited very good feedback.

Speakers from DG ENER, DG REGIO, DG CLIMA, DG INNOVATION AND RESEARCH DG ENVIRONMENT, all contributed their various perspectives, including simplification for administrations for new projects (where ESIN has been active) and the obligatory task for member states to have a One-Place-Stop for contacts/new projects.

Small islands are included

The issue of the smaller islands not being visible at NUTS level is taken into consideration as within the NUTs area definition there are only 700 islands when there in fact are 2,000 more, making a total of 2,700.

Denis & Camille.jpg

Denis Bredin and Camille Dressler, ESIN

What do islands want?

The islands were asked what were their main issues:

– ESIN, represented by chairman Camille Dressler and Denis Bredin from AIP/France, said the smaller island communities perspective is really important, making sure smaller renewable energy suppliers had access to the market and were able to reap the benefits locally.

– From the Netherlands, how to involve the user side of the energy issues was the question, It was not all about the supplier.

– The Balearic islands explained their plans for the further development of their ecotourism tax and a goal of total decarbonization by 2050 hampered by lack of national political will.

– The Greek islands would like DG ENER to consider microfinance and project consultation for smaller projects not just big ones as in Horizon2020 as a number of islands are very small and do not have the resources to participate in large projects.

– Storage was the main issue for the Azores.

– Cyprus wanted to see more cooperation between citizens and local authorities.

– The Faroes islands want to decarbonize their fishing fleet.

We appreciated DG ENER’s will to sit down and listen. This two-way discussion was promising, and another meeting is planned after the summer which will include a travel budget. In the meantime, DG ENER wants to hear from as many islands associations and organisations as possible.

There is a difference between listening and just waiting for your turn to speak. Thank you Brendan.

Brendan Devlin

Brendan Devlin, DG ENER

Cars fueled by hydrogen will be tested on Aran Islands


The SEAFUEL project, aimed at developing the use of hydrogen as a renewable energy source, has been launched by NUI Galway. It will see a fleet of cars powered by the fuel take to the roads in the Aran Islands, Madeira in Portugal and the Canary Islands.

The €3.5 million three year project aims to promote and support the shift towards a low-carbon economy by showing how it is feasible to power local transport networks using the hydrogen.

In particular the team wants to demonstrate the viability of producing, distributing and using the gas generated by renewable energy and sea water in Atlantic areas.

The €3.5m project led by NUI Galway will also see construction of a hydrogen plant on the Canary Islands, where up to 25kg of hydrogen gas a day will be produced, sufficient to power up to 10 commercially-available cars with a maximum range of 600km. The hydrogen will be generated using seawater and solar panels, and if successful, similar plants could be installed in offshore and isolated communities, including the Aran Islands.

The project is also being piloted in Madeira in Portugal.

Dun Aengus the prehistoric

The project aims to drastically reduce greenhouse emissions, particle matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), in line with the Clean Air Programme for Europe 2008/50/EC, and provide a pathway for isolated regions to become energetically independent, leading to future installations in other Atlantic regions. An alternative fuels model for islands will be developed to fulfil the requirements that each of the partner regions propose for their ‘Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS3), aimed at low carbon economy and efficient use of marine resources.

Dr Pau Farràs from the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, sais the project is aimed at establishing a business model to help offshore communities reduce energy imports.

“The plan for the project is to study if this model is a viable business model to export to other places within the islands and other regions,” he said.

“The Aran Islands already has electric vehicles, and we are looking at other possibilities including heat, but also for boats and ferries. We are focused on the islands because they are so dependent on imports.

“This is a carbon-free fuel which will be good for the island and will break the dependency.”


Islands Initiative Secretariat

Winter Island Stockholm

Thanks to the remarkable and unfailing work of Kostas Komninos and Alkisti Florou at DAFNI, the consortium in which ESIN is one of 26 partners and which is headed by CPMR, has submitted our application for the Islands Initiative Secretariat (re Call for Tenders ENER/B#2017-462). Small islands are part of a major European initiative.


No plastic bags for Christmas, please!


From Tilos to Samothrace and from Alonnisos to Lipsi islands, 49 schools across the Aegean Sea took part in a campaign organised by DAFNI – the Network of Sustainable Greek Islands, in collaboration with the Hellenic Recycling Agency.

It was part of the European Week for Waste Reduction and engaged 1708 students from 28 Greek islands. Teachers together with municipality representatives handed out ecological cloth bags to students, highlighting the importance of re-use for waste reduction – plastic in particular. During the action, participants delivered presentations and discussed the need for product re-use and repair, which will help islands transition into a circular economy path.

This is a particularly important for island regions, where the intense seasonal demand for services takes a heavy toll on both infrastructures and resources, making sustainable resource and waste management an imperative for sustainable local development.

Adding Greek islands on the EWWR map of areas that are frontrunners in waste reduction and responsible resource use is meant to also underscore the potential of islands to emerge as test-beds that can host pilot projects and produce knowledge on smart and efficient resource and infrastructure management, tapping the synergies between energy, transport, water and waste.

Thank you DAFNI and let’s hope for an un-wasted, happy new 2018!

Plastic on quai

“Islands are closed systems in need of an integrated approach.”

Wioletta-2.jpgWhen in Favignana for the Greening the Islands 2017, we met with Wioletta Dunin-Majewska who is a Policy Coordinator at the European Commission’s DG Energy, and a colleague of Brendin Devlin, well-known for us at ESIN.

She made a presentation entitled “clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative”, which we would like to briefly retell:

The Clean Energy Package is DG Energy’s biggest package ever. It comprises 8 legislative proposals under discussion in the Council and the Parliament.

The goal is for the EU to become a low carbon economy via transition of its energy system by:

– putting energy efficiency first

– achieving global leadership in renewable energies

– providing a fair deal for consumers

This package was presented by commissioner Marie Donnelly during the FOP22 meeting in  Marrakech on 14th of November 2016. She said: ”islands are in the package”, and we could the Commission urged the Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the European Investment Bank to consider that “islands and island regions provide platforms for pilot initiatives on clean energy transition and can serve as showcases at international level” (Work Programme Annex dated 30.11.2016).

This was followed by the Malta Declaration on May 17, where the Commission and 14 member States agreed to launch the “Clean Energy for Islands” initiative which will accelerate the clean energy transition on EU’s 2,700 islands, help islands reduce dependency and costs of energy imports by using RES, embrace modern and innovative energy systems, and improve air quality and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

At the Chania Inaugural Forum in Crete September 22, 2107, there was an overwhelming endorsement on highest ecehelon. The Package has thus move through the European political machine in just 10 months, which is a speed record.

The package is becoming more and more tangible. Islands are seen as innovation leaders. They can demonstrate how decarbonisation creates resilient energy systems, create new jobs and foster economic development.

The goal is ambitious: to decarbonise 1,000 island by 2030.

There will be a secretariat for the initiative to help launching decarbonisation plans on islands, host a stakeholder’s exchange platform, as well as organise yearly forums. An islands facility will be set up to support comprehensive energy transitions in preparatory and implementation phase under Horizon 2020, which will be the source of funding, both for making plans and to finance actions. DG Energy talks of a 2-directional approach: some 10 front-runners, and bottom-up partnership with national and regional organisations of islands.

Wioletta said: – “Islands are closed systems in need of an integrated approach.”

Favignanan Castle-1Favignana sunset

New funding for clean energy on islands

Samsö windmillThe European Commission has announced an increase in the budget for Europe’s islands amounting to an impressive 10 million euros.

In Brussels, MEP Tonino Picula met with Cristopher Jones (Deputy General Director of the Commission’s Energy Directorate) who confirmed this information and thanked him for the initiative so far.

The reason for this meeting was the continuation of the implementation of the Preparatory Action proposed by Tonino Picula last year, and for which 2 million has already been approved from the EU budget.

Namely, Picula, together with his colleagues Alfred Sant (MEP from Malta) and Michela Giuffrida (MEP from Italy) from the Inter-Group of the European Parliament for the Sea, Rivers, Islands and Coastal areas, of which Picula is responsible for European Islands, put in place an amendment, following a positive evaluation from the European commission and the European Parliament, ha managed to obtain the aforementioned 2 million euros for the islands.Tonino-1-2

“The goal of this action is to make the islanders [themselves] the leaders in the use of clean energy, to become the models for solutions at a European level. To help them make the most of the electricity they use by using local clean energy sources and thus become more autonomous in regard to their energy supply”, says Picula.

Tenders will be announced next month (November 2017) and funds will be allocated within the next two years. The deadline for applications is January 2018.



‘Small Islands are “the agents of change”  that can be trusted to make the low carbon revolution happen in Europe’ declared Brendan Devlin, Special adviser to DG Energy,  at the17th  AGM and annual Conference of the European Small Islands Federation.  It was held in Orkney islands on 11-13 September, and contributed an afternoon of talks on the theme of the Smart Islands for the prestigious Orkney International Science Festival.

The Orkney islands are well-known for their cutting edge leadership in Renewable technology, and on Tuesday 12 September, 32 islanders from 13 countries in Europe visited the small island of Shapinsay – 300 inhabitants where a local development trust was set up to bring income to the islanders through wind power. Their wind turbine, “Whorley”  brings  £90 000 annually to be spent on community projects, running a free minibus and electric taxi for islanders and visitors, and a 12 seats ‘out of hours’ ferry to allow islanders more flexibility in their travel to and from Orkney mainland. “ The quality of community engagement is really remarkable here ” enthused delegates from Greece and Brittany, “This is an inspiration to all our island communities.”

Mairtin O Mealoid of Comharchumann Chleire, the island development Cooperative of Cape Clear and Vice Chair of Comhdhail Oilean na hEireann the Irish Islands Federation said ” coming to Orkney and Discovering the Orkney food and produce brand as well as the Danish Island Produce brand was an inspiration. As a small island food producer myself, I am pleased that we are looking to introduce a similar designation for the producers in our small European islands. We have established a working group and intend to have an islands brand up and running in the near future. This will identify authentic island products that meet agreed criteria and will help with marketing and of course additional employment in the food and drink sectors on the islands”….

Best of all, was the quality of the exchanges between islanders from all corners of Europe. They found they had much in common in terms of opportunities and challenges. Discussing these in a formal as well as an informal setting felt to be of huge benefit: “Whenever we meet, we always learn something from each other” says Pia Prost, from FÖSS, the Finnish Southern archipelago, “by developing projects in small clusters and comparing results, we can advance by leaps and bounds.” Camille Dressler, Leader of the Scottish Islands Federation, who was re-elected as ESIN chair said: “We will be taking these results to Brussels next year and in the meantime, we will continue to push for the needs of the smaller islands of Europe to be recognised and addressed, especially in the context of the Territorial Cohesion Policy post 2020 and Brexit.

Camille Dressler, chairman of ESIN