Here we go again: Trump has found a way to deflect his mismanagement of the Coronavirus by stopping all flights and merchandise from Europe except the UK!! That is what the media and the world at large are going to talk about for at least the next week. But the world has already forgotten his vote, seeking removal of troops from Syria, the vacuum created allowing Turkey and Russia to move freely within that space and the new displacement of population that has given ground to Erdogan  to unleash a new wave of migrants towards the Greek border. The Greek government has reacted firmly in closing its borders and has been backed not only by Brussels, but by many individual countries that have offered physical support. If our land borders can be defended, the sea remains an avenue for these desperate migrants who are being deviously incited to leave Turkey for better shores. Whereas, it is legitimate to defend physical borders, it is unthinkable under our Christian values to throw back endangered people in a hostile sea. But this is increasing the load on our islands that already are sheltering a disproportionate number of migrants in overcrowded camps.

I cannot but remind readers of the recent Maximos’ article “Hot spots on deserted islets” which is in the Greek language and should be translated, as it deserves a wider audience in particular that of Brussels. The idea that I wish I had thought of is brilliant. Why not use some of the many uninhabited islands to set up proper settlements for refugees who could function as proper economic communities sharing the various skills of the population. This would not only relieve the tensions in our Aegean islands but would give some dignity to those people as they wait for calmer times to return to their devastated lands.

The use of abandoned islands had occurred to me a few years ago during the anergic previous administration as a way to help prop our economy through additional tourism and foreign investments. The idea was to use renewable energy to provide electricity not only for economic activity but for powering desalinisation plants to provide water in these dry islands. The only problem was that renewable energy is intermittent, whether it is wind or sun and that during slack periods there is no energy. The solution of course is energy reserves in other words stockage of energy which mean batteries. Although great technological advances have been made and the costs are rapidly coming down, they are still quite high and therefore the concept could be considered at the time futuristic.

However, as thinking over the problem, an interesting thought erupted in my mind as I was flying over northern Italy and saw two lakes close to one another but at slightly different altitude. If one could pump water from the lower lake at night when electricity is cheap and then dumping back the water through electric generating turbines one would have a natural battery. In fact, such systems exist in a few areas around the world like Australia, Wales and in the US where nature randomly has created such situations. Technology to harness such conditions has been in existence for almost a century. But no such settings exist over Greek inhabited islands let alone desolate rocky islets. It is then that a little brainstorm invaded me: All the islands have one thing in common: they are a mountain surrounded by the sea. The sea therefore would be the lower lake. All that was needed to be is to build an artificial lake a hundred meters or more above the sea and one would have the upper lake. There was the key to a natural battery. Checking further it was found that in Japan such an installation had been functioning for many years. This concept would be worth testing here with a small pilot project of 1 MW and may be Brussels might find such a venture feasible especially if it is coupled to a humanitarian goal.

But this may take some time and in the present situation time is of the essence. Maximos’ solution is practical: why not use in the short term some back up electricity generating plant. This way such a center could see the light much sooner.

The refugee problem is urgent and unlike Trump we must keep our eyes on the ball and not deflect from our goals, which is the rebuilding of our economy and the well being of our population. The concept of a refugee island should be tested as soon as possible. Thank you for considering it Prime Minister.

By Digenis 12 March 2020


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