Kythnos: The "Smart Island" project and the €30 million investment


It is requested that investments proceed on Kythnos, which has become popular for travellers as a destination near Athens in recent years.

It was in 2019 when the "Kythnos-Smart Island" project began with a budget of 8 million euros.

More than four years later, the project, with interventions in the area of ​​green energy, electrification, water resources, and waste management, is on its way to completion; however, it is certainly not sufficient enough to support the promoted investments on the island, which in recent years, especially after the pandemic, has risen very high in the preferences of travellers as a destination close to Athens with reduced ferry costs compared to other destinations in the Cyclades.

It is typical that based on the estimates of DEDDIE according to the network development program in the non-interconnected islands for the period 2023-2029, Kythnos is ranked among the islands with the highest increase in demand for the decade to 2028 with an indicative forecast of a +39% (with other less crowded islands such as Megisti reaching +54%, Gavdos at +40.5% and Antikythera with +40.1%).

DEDDIE predicts an increase in electricity demand in the non-interconnected islands in the coming years at a rate higher than in the interconnected system due to the development of tourism and the economy, with the increase being covered according to planning in the short term with generators and permanently with the gradual interconnection of the islands with Kythnos to be included in the planning for the interconnection of the western Cyclades (Milos, Serifos, Kythnos) with an expected date of 2025.

At the same time, the promoted investments on the island are also intensifying: The most emblematic investment, which can even reach 30 million euros, has to do with the old XENIA following the relevant competition of TAIPED, which was awarded with a long-term concession to the Israeli from Avraham Ravid in 2022, while on track for an implementation having recently received the relevant building permits from the competent Building Service of the Municipality of Syros-Ermoupoli are also new projects such as a new 5-star hotel in the Dryopida area, another 4-star hotel in the Lagada area, etc.

"Kythnos - Smart Island"

The results of the "Kythnos - Smart Island" project were presented last week at a related conference with reference to the six main axes of the project: clean energy and smart networks, transport and mobility, public lighting, interventions in buildings and public space, waste management and finally the sustainable management of water resources.

The island's lighting, as mentioned, was upgraded by replacing 1,200 streetlights with LEDs, while an additional 300 were installed. Plastic, glass and paper packages are collected separately, while a compression and baling machine for plastic bottles and cardboard has been installed to reduce the volume of waste.

According to the project staff, quantities of waste have already been recovered and transported for recycling either to local units or to cooperating recycling companies in Attica, and to date, in the context of pilot operation, they have recovered 54 tons of wood, 12 tons of bulky metals, 5.2 tons of bulky plastics, 13.5 tons of electrical appliances, 1,135 mattresses, and 50 couches.

In the field of water resources management, two brackish and seawater desalination units have been installed in Mericha and Agios Dimitrios, respectively. In contrast, in the transport sector, nine publicly accessible charging infrastructures and ten private companies with double power outlets of a maximum power of 22kW have been installed.

In addition, 12 new electrical outlets have been added to vehicles in the municipal fleet.

In Kythnos, 97% of annual electricity production is based on diesel thermal units. As part of the project, most of the island's public buildings and infrastructure have been upgraded with the installation of automatic zero-injection photovoltaic systems and storage units to cover the energy needs of the buildings.

The investment for XENIA

In the field of investments, a typical example of a symbolic investment - which, however, is already facing delays - is the reconstruction of the Xenia Hotel in Kythnos.

The Xenia hotel in the Baths of Kythnos and the two thermal springs it has are the first infrastructure of thermal tourism that operated in Greece, and it is a property with a particularly important historical and cultural value, given that it was built during the reign of Otto by the famous Danish architect, Christian Hansen.

Ernst Schiller modified the facilities in the period 1871-1891, and they have been designated as historically preserved monuments of cultural heritage.

The old XENIA project is facing several problems and long delays, on the one hand precisely due to the absence of essential infrastructure on the island and, on the other hand, due to its demanding licensing by the ministries of Culture and Environment, which seems to have caused serious problems for the investor and the progress of the project.

It should be noted that the final architectural study for the project is being redesigned since it was not approved by the General Directorate of Museum Restoration and Technical Works, requesting the researcher's modifications to the interventions so that they are consistent with the building designated as a monument, along with the additional necessary studies (static, maintenance etc.).

For the project, from 2022, when the TAIPED process was completed with the handover of the property to the investor, the goal was its gradual operation over a three-year horizon, in 2025, a goal that has now already gone backwards with the new milestone for the start of the works to be set towards the end of this year if the relevant approvals are received.

On the other hand, as competent sources report, the completion of such a project with an investment of 30 million euros on an island that until recently had a tourist product of -at most- 3 months could significantly strengthen the local economy due to the nature of the investment, it will attract many and "quality" visitors, increasing the season and creating on the island a global "brand" in thermal tourism.

Stefania Souki is a columnist for New Money

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