Danish Island Achieves Carbon Neutrality

The Danish island of Samso is known as "Energy Island" by voluntarily going carbon neutralEuropeans are far ahead compared to North Americans when it comes to adopting green living standards by large groups and local communities. The case of the Danish Island of Samso is a brilliant example of how a self sufficient lifestyle can be adopted by a community within a relatively short space of time.

The island, located in central Denmark, is home to 4,000 people who by collaborating are not only totally self sufficient,  but are generating more power than they’re using because of unexpected strong winds. The island is run entirely on renewable energy generated by wind turbines placed in green fields as well as in the surrounding coastal waters of the North Sea. The houses in which the inhabitants live are heated with natural resources such as rye, wheat and straw. The roofs are paneled neatly with solar panels. All this has been completed in the last decade. A report by Reuters comments that Samso is living proof to the rest of the world that there is ‘an effective way to deal with the carbon problem’.

What’s particularly amazing is that the islanders have done it all without any government loans or subsidies. The individual households coughed up the 400 million Danish crown ($84.35 million) investment in renewable energy all by themselves. The investment averages at just over $20,000 per citizen, which is rather hefty.

The outside world meanwhile is eager to find out all the ins and outs of how the community got their act together so fast. Visitors to Samso will find that the inhabitants have put in plenty of effort to achieve self-sufficiency. One islander, a self-styled ‘milk producer’ called Jorgen Tranberg, says what’s most important is that you have determination and can-do spirit. That, plus a solid economic basis makes it possible, according to Tranberg.

He says he’s also the owner of a number of wind turbines that operate at top capacity, which probably amounts to a seizeable portion of that economic basis. Owning shares in the wind turbines is a lucrative issue because they are going around at 10 to 15% higher speeds than originally anticipated. This literal windfall bonus also will reduce the amount of time needed for the turbines to pay back the investment, originally believed to be eight to ten years. The Samso Energy Academy calculated that a wind turbine generates about 500 crowns per year in income but in reality it might be more than that thanks to the wind. Tranberg also said that commitment amounted to attending plenty of meetings to discuss ongoing issues as well as advice from outside experts with other community members.

The island’s fame is spreading because of a popular song called Energy Island, which you can listen to here.

Image Credit: Reuters

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