The Aeolian Islands are volcanic origin archipelago, located in the Tyrrhenian Sea in the north coast of Sicily. The archipelago covers an area of 115 square kilometers and consists of seven major islands, including two active volcanoes (Stromboli and Vulcano), and a number of big and small rocks.
Administratively, the archipelago is divided into four municipalities: Leni, Malfa, Santa Marina Salina and Lipari. The Municipality of Lipari is the most populated, it counts 12,159 inhabitants and it manages also the islands of Alicudi, Filicudi, Panarea, Stromboli and Vulcano.
The Aeolian Islands climate is mild in winter, with the thermometer that rarely drops below 10° C, and dry in summer with temperatures above 27° C, while during spring and autumn the temperature is stable on around 20° C. The prevailing winds in the average are the mistral (NW), the sirocco (SE), and ponente (W).
The Aeolian Islands are a popular tourist destination, attracting up to 200 thousand visitors per year. The islands’ economy is closely linked to the tourism area, with several hotels and accommodations.
A big tourist attraction is also the presence of two active volcanoes, Stromboli and Vulcano, which led UNESCO to proclaim the archipelago a world heritage site. But the natural importance of the islands does not stop to the presence of active volcanoes and numerous craters. The islands in the past also had a significant agricultural production, but in recent years the only agricultural production is the grape used to produce wines like the “Malvasia”.
The Aeolian Islands are characterized by lush vegetation, typical of the Mediterranean. The peculiar fauna, with particular reference to the resident and migratory birds and numerous endemic species, have led to the establishment of reserves in all the islands and placing in Natura 2000 area classified as “Comunitary Interest’s Sites” (SIC) and “Special Protection Zone” (ZPS).
The Aeolian islands are virtuous in terms of the environment, as demonstrated by the large new desalination plant of Lipari, which will be partly powered by a 1.2 MW photovoltaic field, and environmental awards obtained by the small island of Santa Marina Salina. In 2014, in fact, Santa Marina di Salina has been awarded by the "5 sails" promoted by Legambiente and the Italian Touring Club for making a 'strict' waste separate collection, with the highest results in Sicily; the island realized a special system named "carretta carretta", with special trucks with scheduled stops in the town, facilitating the disposal operations by citizens. There are also many initiatives for the protection of public parks and beach cleaning, coastal preservation and cleaning of the precious seabed.
The islands are not self-sufficient in the energy production through the use of renewable sources, thus they are equipped with diesel power plants. The power plant is owned by ENEL, except for the island of Lipari, which has a private power plant. The power delivered to the islands is 4 MW of energy.
From the point of view of renewable energy use, Lipari has in Monte Sant'Angelo locality the largest photovoltaic power plant currently present in the Mediterranean smaller islands: over 1 MW (1120 kW) of electrical power to support the operation of new desalination plant. In this way, in addition to derive over 20% of the energy needed to desalinate seawater from solar energy, it avoids the import of three times higher quantity of fuel oil.
In Vulcano Island one of the first photovoltaic systems was installed in 1984, in order to show the complete reliability of photovoltaic even in difficult conditions like those of a small island. Even today the Vulcano photovoltaic plant inputs every day clean energy in the electricity network that immediately reaches the electric utilities of the island.
In 2004 it was completed the Ginostra solar power plant with a 100 kW photovoltaic system with a network of low voltage distribution , entirely underground, which feeds a total of 140 users.
Moreover, the Lighthouse of Strombolicchio in recent years has become self-sufficient and use 100% of renewable energy.
The Aeolian Islands municipalities have joined the SEAP (Sustainable Energy Action Plan), the Pact of Islands and the Covenant of Mayors, promoted by the European Union for the reduction of CO2, the establishment of an inventory of emissions and to take measures for renewable energy development. In particular, Santa Marina Salina Island, within the SEAP project, has started the construction of a buoy field for the Protection of marine Posidonia seabed, threatened by the wild docking. Finally, innovative night lighting systems and two control units for recharging electric bicycles were installed.
SOURCES: slepact.eu | qualenergia.it | wikipedia.it | comune.santa-marina-salina.me.it | comunelipari.gov.it | progettoambiente.org
Download the PAES (Sustainable Energy Project Plan) of municipality of Malfa and Lenì.
Smart Island is a project funded by the Ministry of Education, University and Research and carried out by CNR IIA which aims to find solutions to increase energy efficiency, economic and environmental sustainability of the whole system of production, management, distribution and use of the island of Lampedusa.