Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Energy self-sufficiency in rural Denmark

I rarely think of any place in Western Europe as rural, but this story about Samso, Denmark has me reconsidering that presumption. John Tagliabue writes in today's New York Times about this island which he describes as "dim" and smelling "vaguely of straw." The headline is, "From Turbines and Straw, Danish Self Sufficiency," and the story's focus is how this tiny island (about the size of the Bronx) off the Jutland of Denmark has become energy self sufficient following a decade of investment and ingenuity aimed at that goal. Here's a description of the place:
With no traffic lights on the island and few street lights, driving its roads on a cloudless night is like piercing a black cloud. There is one movie theater, few cars and even fewer buses, except for summer, when thousands of tourists multiply the population.
About ten years ago, the island's 4,000 residents "busily set themselves about erecting wind turbines, installing nonpolluting straw-burning furnaces to heat their sturdy brick houses and placing panels here and there to create electricity from the island’s sparse sunshine."

Apparently they have succeeded, and it makes me wonder to what extent rural (or relatively rural places) are better situated than urban places to become energy self-sufficient simply by virtue of low population and sometimes easy access to natural resources. Will a/the Green Revolution be based in rural places?

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