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Off the grid and on the green

Article by Alex Newcombe

Here I am, the first resident at Samsø Energy Academy’s fossil free cabins. Let me set the scene for you. The laptop I write in is connected to a portable solar panel, facing the sun as it sets slowly. Although it is 19:30 and overcast weather, the electricity is more than enough to keep my computer going, and the battery storage means that it should be for most of the night if I get carried away writing.

I am also clean and fresh, having showered with a solar powered shower bag. The cold wind was penetrating to the bone, but after immersing myself in the water, all was gloriously warm and calm. Calm is actually a good word for the experience so far. I have a feeling that not much could go wrong. I have food, water, shelter, and electricity.

Living off the grid has its benefits. If there was a power black out right now, I’d still have electricity. The initial price may be high (for solar panels, batteries etc), but now it is free. For someone like me who normally uses energy from fossil fuels, an ‘invisible’ source, where I cannot see, there is an unexpected feeling of connection with my source of energy. I am getting my energy directly from the sun, what everything else in the world uses for energy, but without the many ancient middlemen of fossil fuels. Fossils are ancient, and so is that inefficient, short-sighted and dangerous process of producing energy.

This idea of a fossil free cabin could have potential in many other places in the world. I could see it being a popular destination for those people who want to get away from the city. Could cities be made of cabins and buildings like this? I cannot see why not. Imagine a city of modern houses with wind turbines and solar panels producing their own electricity. Individual independence from pollution, electricity prices, blackouts.

It’s a simple life here, birds are chirping, wind is blowing, the sun is shining and I’m typing away. I could live here a long time I think. This kind of silence and serenity are rare in the city. I’m honoured to be the first resident, and I hope many more people come and have an experience like me. The view out the window is long grass blowing for about 100m, then a farm rising up the hill to the horizon.

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  1. Søren Stensgaard says:

    Velkommen til Samsø og til den fossilfrie verden – og tak for “rejsebeskrivelsen” fra fremtiden – resten af øen er på vej derhen 🙂

    Søren S

  2. Jimmy Flindt says:

    Godt gået Alex!
    Du skulle måske overveje et besøg på Nordisk Folkecenter for Vedvarende Energi i Thy under dit ophold i Danmark. Du kunne jo starte med en virtual tour på den engelske udgave af centrets hjemmeside .

  3. Article by Cüneyt Pala

    So I must be the 2nd visitor, who had the opportunity to try out life off the grid. I have visited Samsø and the Academy many times since my internship there in 2010. This time I wanted to try out the cottages that the academy recently began to offer for off the grid experience. My purpose was to join and graphically record a conference during the weekend 7-9 september. I had been working all day at the academy and preparing for the conference. So it was very convenient to be able to stay overnight so close by.
    Night sky is filled with stars, wind made the trees and the high grass whisper silently about the change that is all around us. There are no winds of change, but only the wind. The nature of everything is in the changing.
    First thing I notice when I enter the cottage is a box filled with old magazines. Either consciously or unconsciously I pick one of them and start reading. It is called Yes Mag. On the cover it says SlickScience- oil is everywhere and there is a picture of two man covered in oil coming out of the ground. I find this funny since Samsø is also aiming on being fossil-free by 2030. So oil is not everywhere! And other resources being invented and tried out to reduce and seize the usage of oil hopefully in our generations lifetime.
    I shut the magazine and go out to feel the air and look at the night sky. After a short while I get back in and write this poem in my little black book:

    “The nameless and the unnamed went for a walk
    side by side but not together
    they gazed at the passing landscape
    but couldn’t see that it was them
    who was passing away in the distance
    something glittered
    they looked at each other
    they ran…”

    I slept well that night listening to the wind and was only awake shortly once or twice because I felt a little cold during the night. Next morning I woke up early and saluted the sun. Went down to the beach just 200 meters from there and enjoyed the fresh, cold morning swim.

    As I walked out of the cold water I felt warm and fresh. I was ready to face the day…

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