16 May 2007 - 11:47
  • News Code: 104802

Battered by winds in the waters off eastern Denmark, the picturesque island of Samsoe has broken free of its dependence on oil and gas and, thanks to devoted residents, is now powered solely by renewable energies.

A former Viking stronghold with rolling hills, small villages and vast golden fields of rapeseed, Samsoe touts itself as a model to follow in the fight against global warming.

The air is “cleaner here“, say residents of the 114-square-kilometer island.

Samsoe is entirely self-sufficient for its electricity, 100 percent of which is generated by 11 one-megawatt wind turbines installed on the land in 2000, while 70 percent of its heating comes from solar panels, hay and biomass.

The island is also “carbon-neutral“, which means that it offsets its own carbon dioxide emissions by investing in Kyoto Protocol-style projects that reduce pollution elsewhere, AFP reported.

“We became carbon-neutral in 2003 when we installed 10 offshore wind turbines that generate 2.3 megawatts each, which enabled us to compensate for 140 percent of emissions from transport on the island by offering offshore electricity to the rest of Denmark,“ said Soeren Hermansen, head of the project.

The Danish government in 1997 designated Samsoe to become a “sustainable energy island“ by 2008, a goal it already achieved in 2003--five years ahead of schedule--by fully involving the 4,200 residents in the ambitious objective.

“The involvement of residents in this adventure from the beginning“ has been a crucial aspect of Samsoe’s success, said Hermansen, noting that “more than a quarter of them have bought shares in wind turbines“.

“People are so involved that sometimes they call me in the middle of the night if they see a wind turbine that is not turning when it is windy,“ he said.

The island’s “greenest” resident is Erik Andersen, a 60-ish organic cattle farmer who together with his wife has invested 60,000 kroner (US$10,950) in wind turbines.

He is proud to show off his home in the village of Besser, which is run “100 percent on alternative energy“. His car and tractor both run on organic rapeseed oil.

“I make this environmentally-friendly fuel with a machine that I bought for 30,000 kroner and I give the leftover paste to the cows,“ he said.

Some residents have gone so far as to buy their own wind turbines, such as Brian Kjaer, a 30-year-old electrician who erected one himself on his land.

With the wind turbine and solar panels, his home, which sits next to a flowering rapeseed field, is now entirely energy self-sufficient.

“I believe in the idea of a green island, and my wife even more so. She waits for the wind turbine to start turning before she switches on the washing machine, instead of plugging in to the island’s electricity grid,“ he said.

But Hermansen acknowledged that “not everyone is an idealist“.

“They were skeptical in the beginning. But they saw that we were involving them closely in the project, and that they could save a lot of money by preserving the island’s environment. So it was a win-win situation,“ he said.

 

PIN/Iran Daily

News Code 104802

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