Cool things

Renewable Island

Samso landscape with wind turbines. Not my image.

Samso landscape with wind turbines. Not my image.

Samso is a small Danish island with about 4,300 residents.
What’s remarkable about this place? It’s 100% powered by renewable energy.

That’s one hundred percent! What a fantastic achievement!

With a combination of off-shore and on-shore wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal pumps and locally grown biofuels, they’ve managed to secure full energy sufficiency from sustainable sources. They do use some fossil-fuel powered cars, but the whole island’s still carbon neutral because they sell excess wind energy to mainland Denmark, effectively offsetting their remaining emissions. They’re actually implementing electric cars as we speak, and they plan to be completely independent from fossil fuels by 2030. If that includes the carbon involved in agriculture and consumer goods, then it’s an ambitious goal – but definitely achievable.

Samso Energy Academy is a visitor attraction, education centre and conference suite where politicians, scientists and businesspeople can meet to discuss renewable energy.  I’m sure anyone that has the pleasure of visiting this centre would be bowled over by the success of the energy projects undertaken on the island.

They have a smart grid, connected to the mainland. Denmark itself is light years ahead of my country when it comes to renewables. Roughly 28% of their current energy is from renewable sources and they’re at the forefront of intelligent grid technologies. These smart grids have an interactive digitised system which allows the fluctuating supply characteristic of renewables to be balanced with the rising demand of our times. Denmark’s grid is connected to nearby countries so they can export when there is a surplus and import when production dips.

I’ve always thought localised energy systems are much more robust than centralised ones. I think this is especially true with renewables because wind, sun and wave energy production is most efficient with many small generation plants rather than a few massive ones. Also diversity between the many different forms of renewables energy is paramount to avoid shortages. But having localised energy generation does not have to mean you can’t also have a smart inter-regional and even international grid – think of it as a vast web with thousands of nodes, all connected but not relying on any centralised system.

I’m incredibly impressed by Samso. The projects were actually instigated by the residents, which makes it even more impressive than if it was the Danish government forcing clean energy on unsuspecting islanders! Here are people that are truly forward thinking, proactive and inspirational. Although the island only has a 4,300 residents, I see no reason why their successes couldn’t be scaled up for larger communities. We’ve all got a lot to learn here.

Here’s some more information about the island. This lovely image is created by I’m sorry it’s kind of too small, but I can’t figure out how to enlarge it any further.

For more information about how Denmark’s getting ahead of the energy game, check out State of Green.


5 thoughts on “Renewable Island

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