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The International Writers Magazine:
Climate Conference

On Wind and Climates
Marianne de Nazareth at Samso

As we come in for the COP15 in Copenhagen, every morning from Malmo, Sweden, the sight of lines wind turbines in an off shore wind farm visible through the panes of the train window, never fail to stun me.


Those enormous blades moving slowly and gracefully in the middle of the sea are an awesome sight to behold. And for a journalist who has been covering Climate change for the past several years, its exciting to know that those windmills are silently generating clean and renewable energy which can very easily replace the ‘dirty’ energy we are so used to using every day.

So the kiosk of the Global Wind Energy Council drew me like a magnet at COP 15 to learn more about the increase in the use of wind energy across the world. Apparently there are over 140,000 wind turbines now operating in more than 70 countries in the world, generating 121GW of wind power. Then, when the ICFJ invited me to visit Samso a 100% renewable energy island, in the middle of Denmark, over the weekend, I jumped at the chancet.

“ It was way back in the ‘70’s during the oil crisis that we decided to do something to help ourselves,” said Soren Hermansen the director of the Samso Energy Academy who took us around the facility. “A lot of industrialists wanted to build nuclear  power plants but after a lot of demonstrations by NGO’s,  the government decided against Nuclear energy. Samso was selected  after we competed in a nation wide competition and we were able to get all our islanders to commit to the move to turn green,” he explained. 

Samso’s inhabitants one could see as we drove around were farmers who grew black currants, beet, celery potatoes and other crops. It was heartening to see that these inhabitants supported Hemansen’s idea and took it off the design board to what it is today 10 years later.

“We humans are accustomed to fossil fuels for decades, we have to learn now how to change our thinking, Today I have a school teacher, a ‘beefy farmer and many others who excited to be part of the movement. It is indeed with pride that they point to a turbine and say, I am part owner of that!”

Soren is the winner of the prestigious Gotenborg award which is considered the environmental Nobel prize of the world. This was in recognition of his pioneering work in starting up the project way back in 1997.

Samso has reduced its energy imports by 75% in the last 10 years. Instead 100 % of its energy comes from massive wind turbines and 75% of its heat from solar heating and biomass energy. Samso boasts of 11 land based wind turbines that produce all its electricity needs. When the wind dies down, the island borrows electricity from the mainland grid and returns it when the wind returns, to create the energy.

Samso was chosen to be Denmark’s Renewable Energy Island in 1997. Today the island’s turbines produce 100% of the islands electricity. Large towns on Samso like Nordby and Marup are connected to community heating systems that use renewable energy sources to provide hot water and heating. Between Nordby and Marup is the impressive solar heating installation with 2.500m2 of solar panels. So, 70 % of Samso’s heat production comes from renewable sources.

The large towns on Samso are connected to various community heating systems that all use renewable energy sources to provide hot water and heating. We were taken to visit a large solar heating system with 2.500m2 of solar panels. These panels are complimented by a furnace that burns wood chips from Bratingsborg woods. We were also shown straw fed community heating plants which provide the heating for four other towns.

So as we enjoyed our early Christmas Dinner at the Flinch’s hotel for me the visit was definitely an eye opener. Those wind turbines are definitely set to change the face of energy in the world. I did have a couple of concerns about noise pollution and the whacking of birds flying by, but they were laid to rest with this visit.

“We are not talking about the polar bears drowning in Greenland says Hemansen, “ we need to act and think local about Climate Change. Change to green energy like Samso and make the world a cleaner place for our future generations to live in.,” urges Hermansen which is really the way for us humans to go.

© Marianne de Nazareth Dec 15th 2009
 Fellow with UNFCCC
Former Asst Editor- The Deccan Herald
Adjunct faculty St. Joseph's College.

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