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Volkswagen is making an attempt to assist a Greek island go inexperienced

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Astypalea, Greece

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The Volkswagen Group and the government of Greece plan to roll out an electric transport system on an island in the Mediterranean, with an agreement between the two parties signed this week.

The project, which is slated to last for an initial period of six years on the island of Astypalea, will work toward the goal of developing “a model island for climate-neutral mobility.”

Based around the development of an electrified transport network, the scheme will include an all-electric ridesharing service and a vehicle sharing service providing electric cars, e-scooters and e-bikes. Users will be able to book these kinds of transport using a “mobility app.” 

Commercial vehicles and those used by the police and emergency services, as well as public fleets, will also go electric, while Volkswagen will develop both public and private charging infrastructure on the island. All in all, around 1,500 combustion vehicles will be swapped for 1,000 electric cars. 

A green shift

The island itself covers just under 100 square kilometers and is home to around 1,300 people, according to Volkswagen, but attracts over 70,000 tourists per year.

At the moment, its public transport service consists of two buses, with the German automotive giant stating that “energy demand is almost entirely met by fossil fuel sources.”

The idea is for a combination of electrified transportation and charging infrastructure powered by renewable sources such as solar and wind to help change this.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he strongly believed in partnerships.

“Governments can’t deliver on their own and the private sector isn’t the answer to every question,” he added. “That is why this ambitious endeavor is the result of the close partnership between the Greek state and Volkswagen Group.”

The plan being hatched by Volkswagen and Greece aims to redevelop the transportation infrastructure of a whole island.

In the U.K., similar projects are also being sized up. Back in September the Scottish city of Aberdeen — known for its close links to the North Sea oil industry — said it would work with experts from energy major BP to cut emissions and “become a climate positive city.”

That collaboration will focus on a number of areas such as: The use of hydrogen in transportation and for heat and power; the development of “solutions for clean, low emission vehicles”; and boosting energy efficiency within buildings.

Small changes, big impact? 

And other, much smaller, projects focused on the integration of sustainable technologies into the built environment are also in the works.

In the English city of Worcester, for example, the city council has overseen the introduction of 22 solar-powered compaction bins and 20 recycling units.

The “solar bins” charge a 12 volt battery which in turn powers a compactor, helping the bin to store larger amounts of waste compared to a conventional one.

“The solar-powered bins, which compact waste so they can hold more, will allow Council workers to spend less time emptying bins and more time cleaning streets and looking after other areas outside the city centre,” councilor Andy Stafford, who is vice chair of Worcester City Council’s environment committee, said in a statement on Thursday.

 

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Katherine Clark