A unique way of thinking sustainability into every part of society has drawn attention to the Danish island of Samsø from all over the world. Innovation and energy optimisation are key elements in achieving the ambitious goal of becoming completely inde¬pendent from fossil fuels.
When you say “Samsø”, the whole world listens carefully. Politicians, journalists and innovators alike have heard of the small island with 3750 residents in the middle of Denmark. And many have been here, where the postman drives an electric car, the municipality is reducing its electricity usage drastically and the golf course is watered using pumps powered by the sun.
“We are doing something quite unique, and lots of people want to know more about it. We have successfully created a positive culture where all elements of society have realised that it pays off to think sustainably,” says Søren Hermansen, director of Samsø Energy Academy and one of the architects of the green change the island has been undergoing.
Specialised in saving energy
At the island’s major heating and sanitation firm, Brdr. Stjerne, the familiar array of taps and toilets is supplemented by solar cell systems, pumps and other energy saving products. One of the owners, Ole Hemmingsen, explains how the adventure began in 1997, when Samsø was declared Denmark’s first renewable energy island.
“Initially it was just a few committed people who promoted the green initiatives, but today almost everyone thinks this way and is implementing sustainable solutions,” he says.
In less than 10 years the Island has become self-sufficient from renewable energy and the goal is to be completely independent from fossil fuels in 2030.
Green value for tax money
Brdr. Stjerne has therefore specialised in offering all forms of energy saving solutions and one of the customers is Samsø Municipality, who wanted to save money following an energy check carried out in cooperation with Grundfos. A review of the installations in the municipality’s buildings, such as the town hall and the sports centre, made it fairly easy to convince the municipality to replace pumps and heat exchangers.
“We whittle away the taxpayers’ money if we don’t take energy optimisation seriously. The modern Grundfos pumps have such a short payback period that you can convince even the most critical politician that it’s a good idea. For instance, we can show that the energy optimisations at our public school have saved us 151,600 kWh in total compared to last year,” says Technical Director Søren Stensgaard.
A key display window
Gregers Johansen, Grundfos Group Vice President, has been working closely with the Energy Academy to find the right solutions for the islanders:
“Samsø is a display window for the most innovative solutions available, and hence a logical place for us to be involved. In order to gain knowledge, but also to demonstrate how our solutions can be used in the community. The unique mindset of the people involved can be used to propel the solutions from the relatively small island context up to a larger scale, so we all can learn how to live in a more sustainable way,” he says.