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Energy Island, Samso

Søren Hermansen, Photo credit: EVOLUTION.skf.com

100% Renewable Energy Goal Achieved:

100% Renewable Electricity,
70% Renewable Heating.
100% Carbon Neutral Transportation

[Read more about the project ]


Interview with Søren Hermansen,
Director, Energy Academy, Samso

[Read more: Søren Hermansen – Island hero]




1. What inspired the decision for your community to pursue your 100% renewable energy goal?

The Danish Ministry of Environment sent out a competition to find a community that could change from fossil fuel to 100% renewable energy in 10 years. The Samso Municipality sent in a proposal formulated in a Master Plan. As the winner of the title, the plan was then realized with local financing and participation. The ambition was to create a green business development that would generate jobs and local development of new enterprises and businesses.


2. What mix of technologies have you used and/or do you intend to use? / Why have you made these choices?

The background idea was to identify the resources on the island and then plan what technologies would be useful to solve the problems in the transition to renewables. Wind is an option because of very good wind resources and the technology is proven to be usable. Wind power has an option in the planning that allows cooperation and shared ownership. This makes planning a lot easier because not only landowners can invest in wind power, but also people in general!
District heating instead of oil burners allows us to use biomass for heating. 75% of all heating is from biomass today - the rest is heatpumps. Heatpumps and
energy efficient pumps are used in the planning and installations, leaving us with minimum 20% savings.


3. What have been the greatest obstacles so far? / If you have overcome any of them, how did you do it? 

A local rural community is often quite conservative - changes are not considered positive at first, but gradually it changes, and when the first examples of changes are made, and it works according to budgets, it is convincing for people, and they will join - maybe slowly but steadily. Political support from national governments is a barrier if it works against renewables - feed in tariffs and long-term frameworks are needed to help a local commitment.


4. Were there policies that were particularly effective to helping your project advance? / Were there any policies or regulations that stood in your way, and if so, how have you handled this?

Feed in tariffs are useful, as are a general green policy including financing tools and bankable projects. National targets for renewables are a good help, too. Barriers can be if there, is there is too strict a planning structure where too many laws have to be abided by. Then a flow in planning can be so delayed that investors abandon the project.


5. What have been the greatest benefits of your projects so far?

We have created local jobs and businesses. The Energy Academy is employing 8 full time employees and receiving 4-5000 visitors per year.
In general, there is a very good feeling about the project. The local citizens are proud of the project and of their ownership of the project- "we did this together" is the general attitude. We changed the NIMBY (not in my back yard) to IMBY (in my backyard!!)


6.  What has the process been of financing your project?

The project has been financed from project to project. The energy academy developed an ownership structure, a budget and talked to banks and credit institutions and then presented the possible investments to the public who in a very positive way responded with investments. So far around 80 million US dollars of investments in renewables have been made, shared by 4000 people. 

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