The Pioneer Guide


Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

 said Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. The same applies to pioneer processes that lead to yet unknown territories, such as working with sustainable development.

At Samsø Energy Academy, we’re practitioners. We work with implementing changes small and large that support the local economy, green technology, and reductions in CO2 emissions.

We had to learn about it all on our own – and it was difficult.

In creating the Pioneer Guide, we focused on the Energy Academy’s internal processes. We took a close look at ourselves. Our goal is that other local pioneer communities can learn from our 20 years of experience, our process, our footwork, and last but not least, our success.

At the Energy Academy, we often tell ourselves that if we only knew all the things we know now, then our processes would have been a lot easier. That’s why we want to share our experiences. We hope that other local pioneer communities will use us together with the guide in their own work in transitioning to a sustainable community.


The guide isn’t supposed to be a universal solution or recipe for perfect processes. It is an indicator of the many directions a project or case can take in order for it to succeed and be rooted in the community.

The physical part of the guide consists of eleven cards in a folder. The idea is that we have chosen some crucial concepts or insights that we view to be the most important when starting out with a pioneer project or wild idea that you want to implement in your local community.

We have a lot of experience, have made a lot of mistakes, and have also achieved great results. Today, the island of Samsø is a symbol of global success, a pioneer community, and a community template.

Up to now, we have a project portfolio with more than 20 projects, all dealing with sustainable transition.


Hopefully, our experience can contribute to a community being able to choose the least expensive and best solutions for sustainable change, and to be wiser in terms of how technology and behavior can help develop the community in the long run.

We published the website which explains our experiences in the sustainable transition of Samsø as a local community.

The website is an anthology that collects experiences, advice, tools, methods, stories, scientific perspectives, and video, which each in their own way representing something about all the things the residents of Samsø have learned about taking charge of becoming self-sufficient in renewable energy – and independent of fossil fuels by 2030.

The website is a collection of our experiences. Our greatest aspiration is that it will benefit other pioneer communities or individual projects.

You can use the anthology to understand how much you need to do, how many people you need to involve, and how much you need to communicate when running a sustainability project. We also want it to be enjoyable for you to work with local sustainable development – and of course we are ready and willing to help you with knowledge, communication and education if you need it.

"My vision of a Samsø that is self-sufficient in renewable energy – and in 2030 will be independent of fossil fuel – has required and continues to require constant effort. Not only my own, but a wide range of people. Together, we are taking responsibility for our collective, better future."

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