Samsø Denmark / by Michelle Linden




Samsø, Denmark has been in the news recently due to their incredible development of green energy. Since the late 90s when Samsø's energy was derived mostly from imported coal based electricity and oil, the island has opted to make a concerted effort to become more environmentally friendly. The island, which has about 4300 inhabitants was coaxed into green energy little by little, through town meetings and such. Soon, as more residents were using green energy it became the thing you do... whether you erect a micro turbine in your yard, or install heat pumps at home. Now, with 11 land based turbines (which produce enough electricity for the entire island) and 10 off shore turbines (which counteract the island's other energy use, plus some), Samsø has an incredible amount of wind generated electricity for such a small population. Additionally, the island has wood chip and straw burning plants, burning items that would have released CO2 into the atmosphere anyway, but this time getting heat in return. The island has become a bit of an experiment/showcase for Denmark... But really, this 'experiment' could be used as a standard all over the world.
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Recently, I've been traveling to Hawaii for work (don't bother telling me how bad it is to fly - I already know). Whenever I fly into Maui, I think about how sad it is that I don't see more photovoltaics. I mean, if Hawaii isn't the best place on earth for solar energy, then I don't know what is. There is consistent sun year round, and solar energy would really help the cost of electricity, which is huge on the islands. On my last trip as I was lamenting the lack of panels, I noticed a string of wind turbines high on the mountain. I guess they have been there for a few years, but this is the first time that I noticed them. A little research, and I discovered that the turbines are providing 20% of the island's energy. Now imagine if they combined the 20 existing land based turbines with some off-shore turbines and more solar panels... the island could be nearly carbon neutral!
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