While some European countries are struggling to stop hydrocarbon production by 2040, the island of Samsø in Denmark live without oil for nearly 20 years!
The miracle recipe
In 1997 the Danish government launched a call for projects to achieve self-sufficiency with 100% renewable energies. A primary school teacher Søren Hermansen presents an energy transition project for Samsø. The project was selected and on this occasion the public agency Energy Academy was created to implement the ambitious project of the Samsingers (the 4000 inhabitants of Samsø).
Convince the inhabitants
The first employees of the Energy Academy then travelled around the island to convince the inhabitants of the benefits of this project… a difficult task with a population composed mainly of farmers and pig farmers.
“Only 50 people were at the first meeting, and then there was an increasing number of participants. The real trigger came with the closure of the slaughterhouses and the loss of 200 jobs. Suddenly, the prospects created by this transition – savings on energy and profits from its resale – interested people,”says Søren, to the point of convincing the majority of Samsingers.
Since the early 2000s, the island is covering its electricity needs and three quarters of its heating needs thanks to wind energy and biomass.
In the middle of the North Sea, Samsø bought 11 wind turbines that supply it with electricity. This investment was completed a few years later by the installation of offshore turbines, which are used to offset vehicle emissions through the resale of 60% of the electricity produced.
And to not being dependent on the wind, the Danish island has installed biomass boilers that supply almost 100% of households. The remaining minority is heated by solar or individual biomass boilers.
The island is now self-sufficient
Since 2000, the ecological transition has created 30 jobs each year on the island, one in ten residents has become an energy producer, and income from the resale of energy has allowed some farmers to reap more profits than what they earn from their farms! Finally, the Samsingers now hold the record for the highest number of electric cars per inhabitant in Denmark and even the ferries have banned oil in favour of natural gas !