Samsø is more known for potatoes than turbines. Photo Maloutte @ flickr
To Danes and other Scandinavians, the island of Samsø sitting in the geographical middle of Denmark is better known for its strawberry fields and its early potatoes than it is for being the "largest carbon-neutral settlement on the planet" as Wikipedia puts it. In this week's New Yorker, climate writer Elizabeth Kolbert travelled to Samsø to figure out why its 4,200 inhabitants have been able to achieve on their 114-square-kilometer island what the rest of the world seems reluctant to take on: clean, low CO2 living.
Early adopters to communally-owned wind
As Kolbert explains, Samsingers didn't volunteer to turn to renewables - a zealous Danish engineer (not even an island resident) submitted an application to a renewable energy contest in Denmark which he thought Samsø would be perfect for (as did contest judges. At first there was no rush to set up windmills and solar panels and switch to geothermal heat. Only after a critical mass of early adopters warmed to the idea of generating their own energy did it become a sort of contest between residents to see how close they could get to carbon neutrality. About a dozen offshore turbines and a dozen land-based ones are the key electricity generators on Samsø - some communally owned - while heat pumps and biofuel-based boilers provide warmth.Islanders not fans of efficiency or conservation
What is most interesting to note about Samsø's inhabitants is that they have not achieved much in the realm of conservation, according to Kolbert's article, and they don't see themselves as innovators (they also still drive gas-driven vehicles and use other fossil fuel equipment, but offset that usage by the extra wind power they produce). Via ::New Yorker
Read more on other self-sufficient "islands":
Welcome to Eigg: The World's First Fully Self-Sufficient Island
Wind Produces 123% Of Residential Energy Demand In Rock Port, Missouri