Why Samso is the Greenest Island

In 1997, the Danish Energy Agency sponsored a contest in Denmark to choose an off-shore island with the best plan to run 100 percent on renewable energy in a ten-year period. The 40 square-mile island of Samso, population 4,000, was chosen. The islanders raised 80 percent of the money to fund the venture from local investors, and relied on the government for laws and regulations.

Today the islanders use wind turbines for energy, and for heat they burn straw which creates very hot water that is then pumped underground to homes. The island's total energy needs are met 100 percent from renewables. Samso is estimated to have reduced its emissions for carbon dioxide by 142 percent, sulfur dioxide by 71 percent, and nitrous oxide by 41 percent. The island transfers its extra kilowatt hours of wind energy to the country's main power grid. 

The islanders have experienced an overall improvement in their quality of life as a result of the project. Studies show that the cost of heating is 20 percent cheaper than buying heating oil. The renewable energy projects created new markets which in turn created new jobs. 

Transportation is still largely fossil-fuel based. However, the islanders are involved in two different projects to address the problem: using canola oil as biofuel for tractors and ferry boats, and developing a hydrogen plant to power other vehicles on the island. 


Robert van de Walle said...

Wow, what an inspiration! I'm going to do some research on Samso. Cuba is a good example of sustainability in a tropical climate. Perhaps Samso is showing a way towards the same in a temperate climate.

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