Denmark energy pioneer says renewables are very stable

Solar panels at local brewery on Samso Island.

The mastermind behind Denmark’s 100 per cent renewable energy powered island says renewable energy is very stable.

In 1997, Samso Island won a government competition to become a model renewable energy community.

Today, 100 per cent of its electricity comes from wind power and biomass, 75 per cent of its heat comes from solar power and biomass energy, and by 2030, the island aims to have no reliance on fossil fuels.

Soren Hermansen helped to create the island’s success and he says Australia can do the same.

Mr Hermansen has been in Australia to speak at the Community Energy Congress, which was held in Melbourne in late February.

He told news.com.au he had to come to Australia to experience a blackout, as they are not common in Denmark, which generates 50 per cent of its electricity from renewable energy.

“I have to go to Australia to deal with a blackout, we never have blackouts, this is not bragging,” he said.

“We have a very powerful grid — we don’t experience any failure.”

By burying distribution lines underground to avoid blackouts caused by severe weather, Denmark has successfully integrated renewables into its electricity system.

Nation-wide debate has been ongoing on Australia after a number of blackouts in South Australia, which generates 40 per cent of its power from renewable energy sources.

Mr Hermansen said supply on Samso Island, which relies wholly on renewable energy to generate power, was very stable.

There is a cable connecting the island to the mainland, but Mr Hermansen said it was rarely used, and the island is actually a net exporter of electricity to the mainland.

Mr Hermansen said local community support was one of the keys to creating a successful renewables grid.

In an opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Hermansen said Australia’s decision-makers are missing a key ingredient to fixing the status quo.

“This has nothing to do with the types of energy being generated. And it goes beyond the political parties that are locked in the power squabble in the halls of your Federal Parliament.

“It’s you, your neighbours and communities.

“Right now, politicians of all stripes are discussing a complete revamp of how you power your life. This sort of wholesale change only happens once in a generation and will affect every single Australian.

“You should be in charge of how this transformation happens – what it looks like, and how it works – not treated as an after-thought.”

Mr Sorensen said hard work and “putting people first” saw the island acheive 100 per cent clean energy generation within a decade.

“Australia’s politicians should take note: don’t tell people what to do. Ask them what they are seeking for the future, and how they are prepared to help,” he said.

“Make them partners and along the way harvest their ideas, and their energy. You will reap what you sow.”