By Julie Simon.
In a bay of the North Sea, in the middle of Denmark, on an island called Samso, the wind blows and blows. On this windy island, lived a man named Soren Hermansen. He farmed some land and played guitar in a band, but mostly he thought about the planet. On the island also lived fishermen and dentists, shop keepers and ferry boat drivers, teachers and electricians, and of course children. The children loved to fly kites on the windy beach of the island.
The people of Samso were ordinary in many ways—especially when it came to thinking about and using energy. They drove cars that ran on gasoline. To power their lights, they used electricity carried by a big underground cable from the mainland. And during the long, cold nights of winter, they kept their homes toasty warm with oil brought to Samso by giant tankers. All of Samso's energy had to be made somewhere off the island.
Then one day, thinking about energy on Samso became extraordinary! The island was picked to be the energy demonstration project by the government of Denmark. From that day forward, Samso would work to use green energy and create all its energy right on the island—local energy—as much as possible.
Now Soren Hermansen, the man who thought a lot about the planet, knew making green energy locally would be less polluting for the island, Denmark, and the planet. He became Samso's champion for green energy. So he brought lots of people together to figure out greener ways to save energy and to make energy on their very own Island of Samso.
At first, many of the grownups on the island were not convinced it could be done. They thought green, locally-created energy would cost too much money. They thought it would take too much time out of their already busy days. They thought it would just be too hard and too much trouble. What could they do on such a small island?
But Soren Hermansen did not give up. He knew his country had a long history of co-operative community projects. So he continued to get people together. He asked the children for ideas. He asked the grownups for ideas. He asked for big ideas and little ideas. What about riding bicycles instead of driving cars someone suggested? What about collecting energy from the sun? How about using all the wind that we have on the island?
After several years of thinking and talking, a few residents decided it was time to start doing. One person put up a small used wind turbine in the backyard to make electricity to use at home. Another invested money to build a huge wind turbine. Then he sold the wind-powered electricity to the power company who connected it to the homes on Samso. Finally, Samso had two green energy projects! The island residents still used plenty of polluting power from other places, but it was a good start.
Then one winter night, an icy storm shut off electricity on Samso. All the lights went out and everywhere was dark. Except the house with its own backyard wind turbine. It continued its "whoosh whoosh" throughout the storm. After that, a lot more people on Samso got serious about green energy sources from right on the island.
Some people installed solar panels on their farms. Someone built a biomass furnace to burn straw from the fields rather than oil. And someone invented a way to make tractor fuel from plants that grow on the island, instead of using gasoline. More and more people jumped in and figured out what they could do to contribute to green energy right on Samso. Many pooled their money to build more big wind turbines. Today, 20 wind turbines on the island and in the sea around it help power Samso and even send extra green energy back to the mainland of Denmark.
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Last updated on Thursday, August 7, 2014.
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