Anyone doubting the potential of renewable energy need look no further than the Danish island of Samsø. The 4,000-inhabitant island nestled in the Kattegat Sea has been energy-positive for the past decade, producing more energy from wind and biomass than it consumes. Samsø’s transformation from a carbon-dependent importer of oil and coal-fuelled electricity to a paragon of renewables started in 1998. That year, the island won a competition sponsored by the Danish ministry of environment and energy that was looking for a showcase community – one that could prove the country’s freshly announced Kyoto target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 21% was, in fact, achievable. The contest didn’t bring with it funds to bankroll the energy transition. But it did pay for the salary of one person tasked with making the island’s 10-year renewables master plan a reality. Electricity generation wasn’t the only goal. Between 2002 and 2005, three district heating systems were built. These now supply – via “miles of miles of piping” – three-quarters of the island’s houses with heating and hot water from centralised biomass boilers fuelled with locally grown straw. Meanwhile, houses outside of the heating districts have replaced old oil furnaces with solar collectors or biomass boilers of their own.
Guardian 24th Feb 2017 read more »