The Danish island of Samsø has become one of the first industrialized places on Earth to qualify as completely energy self-sufficient.
The tiny island — just 30 miles long and 15 miles wide — first began its push toward sustainability in 1997. In just over a decade, Samsø erected 21 electricity-producing wind turbines and a heating system fueled by wood chip- and straw-burning furnaces accompanied by several small solar panels.
Eleven of Samsø’s turbines are onshore and ten are offshore; all generate one megawatt each. The onshore turbines produce more electricity than the island consumes — enough to offset 690,000 gallons of oil — while the offshore turbines produce enough power to handle the island’s transportation energy budget.
The island invests excess power in new energy projects.
If that’s not enough, the Samsø experiment has also inadvertently transformed the island’s workforce into green collar workers. Plumbers and carpenters regularly perform energy-efficient home conversions, and their expertise has allowed them to work on green projects elsewhere, including mainland Europe.