In this week’s New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert wrote about the Danish isle of Samsø, which over the past 10 years, has gone from exclusively using fossil fuel energy sources, to living exclusively off renewable energy. Using a combination of onshore and offshore turbines, private mini-turbines, solar panels, straw-burning furnaces and biofuels, the 4,300-resident island has become a sort of a sandbox for green experimentation.
The man responsible for Samsø’s shift is Søren Hermansen, who after deciding farming wasn’t for him, became an environmental sciences teacher, and then a renewable energy expert. Growing up on the island and seeing the impact the people were having on the environment, Hermansen felt he could talk the residents into making some changes. The public response was favourable, and the transformation began. The island now has 11 onshore turbines, a biomass plant, and a straw burning plant, which are invested in by the residents of Samsø, as well as outside, private investors. All the while, this green movement has brought in a constant flow of researchers, scientists and sociologists trying to figure out Samsø’s mojo.
And for those in the giant turbine market, I think it’s worth noting that giant turbines come with panoramic sunroofs. Not sure about power locks and cruise control, however. [New Yorker]