100 Percent Renewable? One Danish Island Experiments with Clean Power [Slide Show]

One small island in Denmark is technically 100 percent powered by sustainable sources of energy. Could the experiment succeed anywhere else?
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Three coal-fired power plants surround Samso to the east, west and south and provide electricity when the wind doesn't blow. Just one of these plants emits as much CO2 in less than a month as all of Samso saves annually with its innovative efforts.....[ More ]


The Energy Academy is now running an experiment to turn wind electricity produced at night when prices are low into hydrogen via an electrolyzer (in the shed here) to be turned back into electricity when prices are higher—or as a stored supply to fully wean Samso off of electricity produced by burning fossil fuels elsewhere in Denmark.....[ More ]


One of the keys to enabling the renewable energy transformation was improving the insulation of Samso's homes. Often, the contractors used a special, sustainable material made from paper (pictured here) for the purpose.....[ More ]


The Nordby district heating plant also employs sunlight when it's available, harvested by 2,500 square meters of solar panels for heat and hot water; it also used a specially-insulated 800-cubic-meter tank, capable of holding at least a day's worth of heat, or roughly 50 megawatt-hours.....[ More ]


The remaining district heating plant in Nordby relies on wood chips to create hot water and heat for the villagers. Many rural Samsingers also install highly efficient wood boilers, stoves or fireplaces in their homes if they cannot be connected to one of the district heating plants.....[ More ]


Samsingers in the villages of Brundby and Ballen, 260 in all, get their heat and hot water from such hay-burning. The boiler is capable of producing up to 1.2 megawatts-worth of power and temperatures reach 92.7 degrees Celsius inside.....[ More ]


This machine slices and dices the straw before a vacuum sucks it through the small pipe to the boiler in the room next door. As many as 12 bales a day can get burned on the coldest days of winter compared with one or two for hot showers in summer—all of it carbon neutral because the CO2 emitted when the hay is burned is the same as the CO2 incorporated by the wheat or rye during growth.....[ More ]


Seven Samso farmers have signed five-year contracts to provide wheat and rye straw to three of the four district heating plants on the island, explains Soren Hermansen, pictured here in front of the stacks of half-ton hay bales.....[ More ]


Climbing one of the land-based wind turbines to its nacelle and popping the top reveals the tiny rudder that steers the massive machine into the wind and the wind meter that measures speed—as well as, tiny in the distance, the 10 even more massive offshore wind turbines.....[ More ]


The 10 land-based wind turbines tower some 50 meters over the surrounding patchwork quilt of fields and villages. "Hills from my childhood are just bumps because you have these big turbines sticking up there," says Soren Hermansen, director of the Samso Energy Academy.....[ More ]


The island of 22 villages and roughly 4,000 people boasts 11 land-based wind turbines capable of producing one megawatt of power each and 10 offshore wind turbines that can individually produce more than two megawatts.....[ More ]


A modernist take on an old barn, complete with south-facing solar panels, houses the Samso Energiakademi (Energy Academy). This institute aims to educate the more than 500,000 tourists who visit the island in summer on how its inhabitants achieved their renewable revolution.....[ More ]


The Danish island of Samso has converted almost entirely to electricity, heat and hot water generated from renewable resources, all while maintaining the quaint charm that makes it the summer destination of choice for many Danes.....[ More ]

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