Denmark's Energy Efficient Poster Child

The Danish island of Samso is the poster child of clean energy. Its residents generate more energy than they consume. Now the Danish government wants to export that model back to the mainland.
October 25, 2009, 9am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Samso is a laboratory where the Danish government launched a social and technological experiment 12 years ago. Before that, heating oil was brought to the island by ship and electricity, mainly from coal-burning power plants, was transmitted through cables. For each Samsinger, 11 tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide were pumped into the atmosphere each year. The goal was to reduce those 11 tons to zero within 10 years, without special subsidies.

The Samsingers joined forces, erecting the wind turbines and attaching solar panels to their roofs. They built central straw burners, and they installed machines to harness geothermal energy and the heat from cow's milk to heat houses, and to extract rapeseed oil from plants grown on the island to produce fuel for their tractors.

Eight years later, they were already producing more energy than they consumed, which made them climate-neutral, and today they produce 40 percent more energy than they consume. Only two questions remain. Can the approach used on the island, which comprises 22 villages, 4,000 residents and a small cannery, work elsewhere? And does the rest of the world even want to emulate the Samsingers?"

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Published on Thursday, October 22, 2009 in Der Spiegel
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