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Samsø, a Danish island 300% renewable

One of the most responsible countries on the energy transition is, without a doubt, Denmark


The scientific community, through the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has warned us that, if we want to avoid the most disastrous effects of climate change, we must urgently carry out “unprecedented and far-reaching changes” in the the decarbonisation of our economy and our energy system. The most responsible governments have taken this warning seriously and are acting accordingly.

In this sense, we congratulate from these lines the recent approval of the Law of Climate Change and Energy Transition of the Balearic Islands, which, although it can be improved, is a good starting point to transform the current Balearic energy system into a much healthier one, clean, safe and sustainable because it will be based mostly on efficiency and renewable energies.

One of the most responsible countries on the energy transition is, without a doubt, Denmark. The Danes have been advancing along this path with good results for many years and their final objective, widely agreed at the social and political level, is to get 100% of their energy from renewable sources in the year 2050, to be totally free on that date of fossil fuels.

Since 1997

And within Denmark, marking an excellent example to follow, in terms of energy transition, for other territories and especially for the islands, is the island of Samsø. The energy transformation that since 1997 is being achieved in this ancient Viking enclave is worthy of praise from every point of view. It is an experience that, due to its similar territorial scale, could serve as a reference for Formentera, if this island would also like to become 100% renewable in the medium term.

The island of Samsø is located 15 kilometers from the Jutland peninsula, has an area of ​​114 km²; and a population of 3,724 inhabitants (data from 2017). In comparison, Formentera has 83.24 km²; and 12,216 inhabitants (in 2018). The main activity in Samsø is agriculture and livestock, although also around 75,000 tourists visit it between June and August.

In 1997 Samsø was totally dependent on oil and coal, both imported from the continent. But that same year, the Environment Minister of Denmark, Svend Auken, launched a kind of competition for local communities or islands to present realistic plans to achieve self-sufficiency with renewable energy. Samsø became the winner and received funds from the Danish Energy Authority for the elaboration of a detailed plan.

Participatory process

Ten years later, in 2007, Samsø had achieved, thanks to a highly participatory process that they feel especially proud of, not only that all their electricity came from renewable energies (mainly wind and solar), but also generating more electricity than they consumed. . These surpluses are exported to the Danish electricity system through an underwater electrical cable that interconnects them with the Jutland peninsula.

In fact, in addition to 11 onshore windmills and various photovoltaic solar installations, 23 MW of offshore wind turbines were installed, more than three kilometers from the coast, to compensate CO2 emissions from the transport sector, including automobiles, agricultural machinery and the ferries of the island that connect it with the continent (emissions that were not yet able to avoid). The result is that currently in Samsø the per capita rate of CO2 emission is negative: -3.7 tons per inhabitant.

Therefore, renewable energies today cover 308% of the electricity consumption on the island, the sale of surpluses also allows them to recover their initial investments and have economic benefits.

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