Samso Island – An Experiment in Sustainability

Kate Vavrousek


In 1997, the Danish government proposed a national contest as an experiment with 100% renewable energy efficiency, phased in over the course of ten years. Samso Island was chosen for this experiment, because as an island with limited available resources, it would be a controlled environment to gather data from. The 4,000 residents on the island agreed to join in on a wind farm commune, using wind power for electricity, which has now become the sole source of electricity on the island. This electricity comes from just ten wind turbines. The energy produced by these turbines exceeds the need of Samso, and the excess is sold back to the mainland for a profit. Samso residents have a neutral carbon footprint, excellent tax breaks, 100 percent renewable electricity, and collectively earn a profit from their 10-turbine wind farm (Thomas, 2014). The Samso Island case is an example of “Eco-Capitalism.”

Check out this Youtube video from Worldfocus for more information:

Denmark is a world leader in wind energy production. Last year, in 2013, wind turbines provided Danes with 50% of their total energy usage for the month of December, and the Danish government plans on making wind power account for over 50% of its total energy usage by the year 2020. Denmark has the largest wind power capacity in proportion to their overall electricity consumption of any nation. (, 2014). Denmark began investing in wind technology in the 1970s, following the energy crises of that decade. But before the investment in wind power, Denmark invested in securing the energy sources it had: coal. Incentives were put in place that urged local oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, and because coal was the most secure resource, power generation changed from mainly oil to coal for heat and power generation. Coal-fired energy production releases high amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thus, the switch to coal created a surge of environmental concerns, as Global Warming became evident in the 1980s (Krohn , 2002). Since that time, Danish parliament has been in agreement on energy policy, and has created a strong tax system that relies on “green taxes”, even despite the resurgence of right wing political power that began in the early 2000s. The events that spurred green technology along with strong parliamentary support for “green taxes” have also resulted in strong norms of energy sustainability in Denmark. Green taxes are indirect taxes on energy use that serve to reduce energy use. Danish households pay about 200% taxes on energy, including natural gas, petroleum, and oil. On the other hand, Danish manufacturers pay very low taxes on electricity, encouraging economic productivity. (2014, Jan 15). 2013 was a record-setting year for danish wind power. Retrieved from

Krohn , S. (2002, Feb 22). Wind energy policy in denmark status 2002 . Retrieved from,1033)/wind_energy_policy_in_denmark:_status_2002.pdf

Thomas, J. (2014). Danish island is energy self-sufficient. Retrieved from

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *