Samsoe Renewable Energy Island
The islanders of Samsoe Island, Denmark, with almost 5000 permanent inhabitants and many tourists during the summer, decided back in 1997 to become a 100% renewable energy and won a Danish competition to become a designated renewable energy island. After winning the competition, the promoters of the renewable energy island made a conference for the islanders in the form of a ”cafe seminar”, called ”Cafe Good Energy” (with a process similar to ”open space” seminars). Here participants were invited to discuss the future of the island, including the plans for transition to renewable energy.
Then followed a period of ten years with investments in a number of renewable energy plants and increased energy efficiency, until the islanders could declare that they had higher renewable energy production than energy consumption on the island. Still fossil fuel is used in the islands cars, tractors, etc., but the windpower production that is exported from the island to the mainland has a larger energy content than the energy in the fossil fuel that is imported to the island.
A new vision was formed for a fossil fuel free island, and this is now promoted by the ”Samsoe Energy Academy” that was formed during the development of the renewable energy island. The new vision is promoted in a process called ”Samsoe 2.0”, where the inhabitants are invited to take part in the development of the island, including the transition to a fossil fuel free island.
A day of open and shared spaces
An importent event for the development of Samsoe 2.0 was a day with conferences to develop consensus among active inhabitants and cooperation partners for the development of the fossil fuel free island as an integral part of the development of the island. The day was October 26, 2012, and the events took place in a hotel in Tranebjerg, the main town of the island.
During the morning was organised an ”open space” with invited stakeholders from the island, such as the the major, representatives of different business, leading employees at the Energy Academy, and important cooperation partners for the island, such as designers and planners, a renewable energy association repr. etc. The open space was moderated by a professional moderator.
First was a presentation of all participants, and each indicated why they participated.
Then the participants were invited to propose topics for conversations, and within 15 min. two rounds of conversations were defined with 10 conversations in each round. Some of the topics were proposed by organisers interested in the fossil fuel free transition, others were proposed by participants that simply were keenly interested in the future of the island.
Then the first round of conversations started. The main proposer of each of the conversations were handed a large paper and some large pens to summarise the conversation and outcome of the group. As the total number of participants was just below 50, each group consisted of 3-10 persons, and it was decided to fusion groups, so the total of 8 groups were working in the first round. The dialogues in the groups were quite informal. On the posters each group wrote:
– Description of the issue discussed
– Proposals of the group
– Next steps to realise proposals
– names of participants
After each group had presented briefly its proposals, each group leader stayed for a few minutes beside the poster of his/her group, while the other participants had time to ask questions about the details of the plans of the groups.
The second round had the same format as the first round.
After the two rounds, all participants were invited for a lunch
The shared space
For the afternoon all inhabitants of the island were invited for an open seminar together with the stakeholders from the morning seminar. Also this seminar was moderated by a professional moderator, that used a ”Shared space” methodology.
First each participant told the nearest other participants in small groups of 2-3 who they were, who they represented (organistions or others) and why they participated. Given the large number of participants it would have been cumbersome if all participants should have presented themselvs to all the other participants.
Then the participants stayed in the small groups of 2-3 and answered the following questions on paper: what they liked about the area/island, how they would like to see it developed in the future, and what obstacles they saw for this development.
The organisers collected all the texts and started to develop a ”mind-map”, linking the different issues, all centered on the question ”What are the most importent areas of development to realise Samsoe 2.0”. The development of the mind-map was based on the texts from the small groups, but the topics and the links were put on the mind-map by the organisers in a plenary were all participants could make additional proposals and comments.
After the organisers had linked all the issues proposed by the participants on the mind-map, each participant got 5 votes in the form of small sticky dots that each person then placed on the mind-map. In this way the most popular issues were selected.
Picture: Mind-map made during the ”shared space”The question in the middle is ”What are the most importent areas for development for Samsoe 2.0”.This question was the starting point for the joint development of the mind-map. The bæue dots show the popularity of the topics among participants
Then the participants were invited to propose topics for further discussion, inspired by the mind-map, but not limited to it. Participants were invited to propose a topic for a discussion, write in on a paper and stick it to a wall, where the organisers had put places for two rounds of ”cafe table discussions” (groups around tables). There were time for two rounds fo cafe table discussions, where the proposers of each discussion kicked-off the discussions and each group should summarise results on a poster.
The posters were displayed afterwards for all participant to see.
At the end the participants were invited for dinner, where most of them continued discussions on how to realise their ideas.
The organisers collected all the materials produced by the participants, summarised it in short reports, and are now inviting the islanders for a next step of Samsoe 2.0 at a meeting January 24, 2013.
Materials from the seminars are available, in Danish, at https://energiakademiet.dk/2-0/
Samsoe Energy Academy
From Best to Next
In the days from September 18 to 20 the Energy Academy hosted “From Best to Next Practice Symposium”. Read the documentation from the event here or watch the video below.
“From Best to Next Practice Symposium” documentation:
Information for consensus conferences
(example of methods that have been used with success and the materials used)
Gunnar Boye Olesen, INFORSE-Europe, 18/1-13