An Island Powered by Community Supported Wind

Vineyard Power’s mission is to bring locally produced and controlled renewable energy to Martha’s Vineyard.  As a cooperative, the members have a voice in the company’s decision-making process and will benefit from the clean energy produced from the future offshore wind project.  But you may be wondering, is this feasible to achieve in the near future?  Has it been done before?

Many communities in Europe are taking charge of their energy futures.  They are achieving this through the formation of energy cooperatives that are focused on generating affordable, locally produced, renewable energy.  <!--break-->Examples in Germany, England, Belgium, and Denmark demonstrate the importance of community investment.  Those that work closely with local people, as a community, have had far greater success than those operations that only focus on commercial interests.  Closer to home, the Cape Wind project has faced great opposition for various reasons.  Many people have been concerned about the lack of community inclusion and demonstrated benefits to the local economy. 

One island in Denmark, Samso Island, has become carbon neutral[1] in less than ten years' time.  The island, similar to Martha’s Vineyard, is a small, rural, agricultural based community.  Many islanders were initially wary of the costs and potential negative impacts of wind turbines, but the project’s success has inspired even greater participation in renewable energy development.  Samso Island now has both on and offshore wind turbines, heating systems fueled by solar energy and biomass (e.g. straw from the farmers’ fields), as well as increased use of technologies like electric vehicles.  The island hopes to be completely fossil fuel free by 2030.  Not only has this initiative been financially and environmentally positive, Samso has become an increasingly popular tourist destination, given its unique energy systems. 

Samso Island is certainly an example of the positive impact a small community can have by coming together to realize the importance of having energy independence on a local scale with an emphasis on the need to move away from traditional fossil fuel production. Hopefully Martha’s Vineyard can be next!

To hear more about Samso, take a look at this video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmJxUsXWajo