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Photo: Christian Juhl/VisitSamsø

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Samsø - a climate neutral island

Samsø is renowned for delicious local produce and beautiful scenery. However, the Danish island in Kattegat is also an extremely climate friendly travel destination. In fact, Samsø has been 100 percent energy self-sufficient with renewable energy for over 10 years – and visits to the island are completely CO2 neutral.

Twenty years ago, Samsø switched from being dependent on fossil fuels to become 100% self-sufficient in renewable energy. 

It all started in 1997, when Samsø accepted a government invitation to become the island that, with the use of approved technology, public support and applicable legislation, could become 100% self-sufficient with renewable energy within 10 years. 

Photo. Jeanette Philipsen/VisitSamsø

Samsø needed a radical rethink at that time. When the project began, the island was heated by oil and received coal-fired power from the mainland, and the island economy was vulnerable to fluctuations in the price of oil. 

In transitioning to green energy, the islanders chose to invest in wind turbines, and 90% of the island’s wind turbines are owned by the local population. This means the money remains on the island instead of going to a large energy company.

These environmental and financial benefits ensured local support and the switch from fossil fuel to renewable energy from wind turbines, straw-fueled heating plant and solar power was completed in 2008. Accordingly, Samsø became the first island in the world with 100% renewable energy.

Energiakademiet (The Energy Academy) are behind Samsø's green goals. This building is, of course, sustainable - among other things. It gets its energy from solar cells on the roof and the island's wind turbines. it also uses rainwater for toilet flushings. Foto: Christian Juhl/VisitSamsø

The island produces more clean energy than it consumes today. Ten offshore wind turbines are so productive that this island can both export energy to Jutland and at the same time, offset the CO2 emissions caused by traffic and other sources on the island. Samsø is therefore 100 percent CO2 neutral, and on average, the islanders have an annual carbon footprint of minus one ton each. By way of comparison, the average mainland Dane has a carbon footprint of 6.8 tons per year. 

And there are more and more green initiatives on Samsø. Such as a circular project that’s in the pipeline, Bio community Samsø, where the aim is to recycle all resources as part of a circular economy, with the least possible waste. A biogas plant is going to convert food waste, vegetation waste and grass into biogas, which will be used as fuel for the ferries, and residual products can become fertilizer on farms. 

The ferry from Jutland to Samsø runs on gas and is named after Princess Isabella. Photo: Jeanette Philipsen/VisitSamsø

The next long-term goal for Samsø is to become totally fossil fuel free by 2030. This means that all transport to, from and on the island will be electric or biofuel driven. And this process has already been started - 90% of local authority vehicles are electric today, while the ferry from Jutland to Samsø runs on gas. 

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