Samso is an island in Denmark about twice the size of Manhattan. In 1997, it won a competition to become a 100% renewable-energy-powered island, which it achieved in 2005. Electricity is now generated by 21 wind turbines, with enough surplus sent to the mainland to compensate for fossil fuels used in vehicles. District heating systems fueled by straw, wood chips and other biomass have replaced 75% of all space heating.
Investments in the turbines by the 3,800 residents were supplemented (or overshadowed) by funds from Denmark’s carbon tax, 40% of which was then devoted to environmental investments. As a result of those environmental investments, Denmark’s per-capita carbon emissions in 2005 were 15% below those of 1990. Norway’s were then 43% above 1990 levels.
Soren Hermansen, the community organizer who led Samso’s transformation, spoke at the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network conference December 3, 2016. He strongly recommended that Vermont implement a carbon tax, as well, and said Vermont is in a great position to lead the nation by doing so. That would be a huge help to getting us to 100% renewable.