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A Soothing Story




Relax for a moment.


This time of year can become quite a frenzy at the best of times and we are well aware that these are not necessarily the best of times. Many of us are feeling quite anxious, aren't we? Hardly surprising ....... there's a lot to be anxious about.

  • Covid 19 is still lurking

  • the climate crisis has not gone away

  • the build up to Christmas can be quite stressful

Maybe time for something soothing?


Let's have a fairytale for our time.

This is worthy of a Disney production, but we don't have that kind of budget, so if we give you film notes, could you please add in your own sound effects.


Let's begin...


As we all, as individuals and as whole countries, aim to be net zero, our production takes you to a magical world where everything is wonderful and everyone has gone even better, and now has a negative carbon footprint.


We are in Samso, the Danish island and world leading green energy community where, over the past 20 years, residents have become carbon negative.


Each of the island's almost 4000 residents now emits an average of negative 3-7 tonnes of greenhouse gas per year.



Cue the shimmering effect that tells us we are going back in time.


We are in 1997, the year this remarkable story began.. 1997! Can we just say that that was 8 years before the celebrated Paris Agreement on Climate Change! Anyway, where were we ..... oh yes, this remarkable journey began when the Danish government launched a national competition to find a Danish Renewable Energy Island, an island or area with the most achievable plan for becoming 100% self-sufficient in energy production, with funding coming from the Danish Energy Authority.


So, how have they done it and what can we learn from them?

  • importantly, the plan had to involve civic participation with local businesses, the council and community organisations all demonstrating their support

  • it was a 10-year plan - these things take time

  • the funding paid for a co-ordinator, a role that was taken by a local farmer, who had been born and brought up on the island

  • they moved quickly, within two years 11 wind turbines were due to be installed (enough to generate sufficient power to make each of the island's 22 villages entirely self-sufficient)


Now, like all the best fairy tales, this one had its ups and downs. Enter the baddie ..... and cue the dramatic music


  • there was initial resistance from the community

  • residents feared the expense and the challenge

  • they had concerns about the potential noise and visual impact of the turbines


Enter the Good Fairy, her arrival announced by a lovely tinkling sound


  • the team undertook extensive public negotiations over the location of each turbine

  • they literally gave the residents ownership of the turbines - nine were purchased by individuals and two were purchased by co-operatives. This means that the money generated remains on the island instead of going to a large energy company


In our story, everyone is now happy. They are working and playing together. The sun is shining.....


Next scene:
  • With stage 1 complete, in 2002 a further ten offshore turbines were installed in order to offset emissions produced by the island's cars, tractors and ferries

  • two of them are co-operatively owned by the islanders

  • the municipality owns five, which generate income for the local government to re-invest in sustainability measures, including smarter methods of heating and incentives to buy electric cars


The island now has the highest number of electric cars per capita in Denmark and the municipal fleet is powered by solar panels.



The whole cast gets together, full of good cheer, smiles and maybe even a song.


Most fairytales would finish on this happy ending, but this one continues

  • the islanders plan to be completely independent from fossil fuels by 2030 - two decades ahead of the rest of Denmark

  • the municipality has recently bought a new ferry, the first of its kind in Denmark, that has a dual-fuel engine

  • the ferry can run on locally produced biogas, so in the future Samso could have a ferry powered by the methane produced from household waste or pig manure (any extra will be used as fertilizer on the farms)

  • the island aims to recycle all resources as part of a circular economy


Looks like they will all live happily ever after.




The End


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