Newsletter no. 22

Newsletter no. 22

The freedom to develop

“The Energy Academy’s newsletter no. 22 hits the new year in 2023”

You are invited to stop by and experience one of the country’s most beautifully situated workplaces. With a panorama of the coast and sea and the Kattegat, so close that you’d think it was a lie!

The New year is upon us and we in the communication platform have invited project managers and consultants and the board to write with us this year. Yes, everyone helps to tell the good stories because everyone does great and decisive work and has their own workflow at the Energy Academy. Imagine that you can live in Manchester and work at Samsø.

Our new head of board, Anne Højer, opens the ball with a go go in high spirits and with lots of recognition. Pats on the back and recognition are needed, right in the middle of all the seriousness and towering electricity prices that feel like there is only one way to go, as one crisis is replaced by another.

The Energy Academy has momentum, and even after 25 years there is still a powerful magnetism that brings activists, politicians, psychologists, researchers, copycats, artists and citizens from all over the world to Ballen By. It is with great pleasure that we invite you as a listener to our new Radio channel, Evergreen, you will find the broadcasts on the website, under the headline “Pioneer” Think that we on the island still have magnetic attraction.

Unfortunately, the challenges are queued up all over the globe and the consequences of climate change have also moved up the agenda, both in private households and in boardrooms worldwide.

That demand is steadily increasing at the Energy Academy and we have gradually become a team of capacities and can boast a bit of calling ourselves a solid workplace with a growing reputation. This means that the work carried out from Strandengen in Ballen is not only locally rooted, but the workplace has become a global player in Denmark in close competition with Europe. In this way, the Energy Academy’s work makes a huge difference and change.

Today, 25 years later, the workplace has struggled with both up’s and downs. From 1 employee to 12 employees. Since 2007, a project house has been built which is what is called the Energy Academy. The building was designed by Arkitema with a strict form and the content is based on a vision and statutes which generate tasks, – finances, – employees, – opinions and members. Today we have 8 employees. The workplace is still working on development, born out of the consequences of climate change and with the experiences born out of the transition by making Samsø Denmark’s renewable energy Island.

Happy New Year and the coffee will be ready in a little while

A global workplace

The Energy Academy is a workplace with an embracing building, a few, permanent employees and a huge network of stakeholders. For example, there are those who continuously solve project tasks from near and far. There are currently projects in the Danish Central Region, for the EU and Japan – just to name a few. Then there are you from the island who tirelessly show up for festivals, civic meetings and board
work. And then there are those around the world who are part of energy island networks and who draw on the Energy Academy’s knowledge and name, including Danish ministries.

By Anne Højer Simonsen

The dynamic arises when the local meet the global and the Energy Academy demonstrates that local anchoring, basic knowledge and dialogue can move mountains. It inspires action and courage to try new things. It is precisely this atmosphere that exists at the Energy Academy and which, despite the physical size of the place, spreads to every visitor and partner.

The courage to reach out, risk something and set the bar high is the essence and occasionally it throws off great top prizes, like last year’s UN climate prize for Samsø. On such a quiet morning in Ballen, when we are making coffee for the board meeting, this is exactly what makes us remember to see the Energy Academy as what it is: a global workplace with contact to many countries.

My first impressions of the Energy Academy

Starting as a new employee at Samsø Energy Academy has been a bit like moving to another country, meeting new cultures, and getting to know new people and dynamics. It can seem overwhelming at first with everyone having a lot on their plates, and the seasoned employees who at times seem to be able to run faster than physically possible, all the while juggling different balls consisting of local, European and global projects. In the midst of the hustle and bustle, guests are received from near and far and welcomed with impressive enthusiasm and great professionalism. 


By Anders Peter Rasmussen

Despite being busy with project applications, citizen meetings and deadlines that must be met, the less practical tasks must also be solved, where no one is too good to lend a hand, and it is not an unusual sight to see the CEO running around outside with a shovel in his hand, patching holes or shoveling snow from the driveway.
It is clear that the Energy Academy has deep local roots and a far-reaching network, and you don’t meet many people on Samsø who neither know about, nor have an opinion about the Energy Academy. Equally, the seasoned employees at the Academy seem to know each and every one of the island’s 3,716 inhabitants, and always have an idea of who to reach out to for help with specific tasks.
Despite climate change and challenges with biodiversity and energy crisis, I look forward to an exciting 2023 at the Energy Academy filled with various local and international projects, and I look forward to finding my role in the middle of it all.

The Deep People – a Green Social Laboratory for Samsø’s Villages.

The Deep People is the collective title of some of the exciting projects at the Energy Academy. In one of these, called the “Society Academy”, we are 19 partners and 22 villages who, as a “strategic cluster, work with development within green transition, social economy, volunteering and businesses with sustainability as a common denominator”. Put in a more poetic way, The Deep People is an attempt to capture the special Samsø spirit that hibernates in the winter darkness and which is expressed in our ability to think in new ways and act quickly.

By Mikkel Bruun 

Let me give an example: I myself live in Nordby; bought a house in 2016 and moved in in 2018. And then things took a turn; first downhill and then uphill. My wife and I first experienced how a number of important institutions, trade and service functions closed and it became very quiet between the houses. But since then we witnessed how the city changed gears and accelerated with new shops, offers, families with children and new residents. Suddenly it was impossible to buy a house on the Northern Island and a new houses were built, and new activities arose for better or for worse in Nordby.

Some of this success is owed to local persistency and some perhaps to other circumstances, but it was a wild and rapid transition from basically nothing to a fully functional village. And we can use that in The Deep People. Because everyone wants to be washed green, but few are able to change. We can do that at Samsø and therefore our experiences are relevant to the world around us.

But it also requires sharing of our experiences internally and with each other.

That is why The Deep People is an important meeting place – all year round and not just in the summer for parties. I’m happy to join and hope you will too.

Patterns of possibility:

As an artist, I apply my thinking through my wonderful work at Samsø Energy Academy. I strive to keep an eye on both opportunities, patterns and resistance. On Samsø, I imagine that it is easier for us to spot the possibilities and therefore I believe that the desire to participate actively in the island’s well-being is great. I often try to influence and reshape relationships, because it can create healthier systems and improve results in a completely low-practice way. What it means when I write here about systems, is that it also is my experience that nothing can stand alone and therefore systems are relevant.

By Malene 


System Change An image of cells that have been exposed to sound and acoustics, the researchers manipulate the heart and cells to form new possibilities that form intricate patterns. A simple change in frequency and amplitude sets the cells in motion, guiding them to a new position that also holds them in place.

Once you, like me, have felt the sawdust in the arena, you cannot stop working with the possibilities, it makes so much sense to have learned to look at what pattern is contained in a system. That is why at the Energy Academy I am driven to develop together with others how we can get much better systems together, including introducing four keys that can unlock a system’s innovation with: purpose, power, relationships and resource flows.

These four keys form a set. Systems are often difficult to change because power, relationships, and resource flows are locked together in a reinforcing pattern to serve the system’s current purposes. Systems only begin to fundamentally change when this pattern is disrupted and opened up, and so we developed what we now call the year-round Folk-depth (Folkedybet) and a festival in August (August 11-12, 2023). Folkedybet is a new set-up and with it new patterns arise and thereby it serves a new purpose.

A system could be, for example, the Energy Academy, and what we deliver in relation to our purpose and our statutes, and the power we have through 25 years experience and the fact that we, together with Samsø’s entire network of relationships, launched Samsø as Denmark’s renewable energy island with wind, solar and biomass, i.e. our local resource flows were organised instead of only importing oil and diesel as previously. From oil/diesel to alternative energy was a system that became the new pattern of possibilities.

Happier than ever

‘Merry Christmas, I’ll miss you’, said the warm voice of a colleague on the coldest day so far on Samsø. I stepped out of the Zoom meeting for a hug. It’s only December 14th but I won’t see my colleagues before January. I am now on the outbound ferry ending yet another trip to Samsø and starting my international commute, usually to England, or sometimes to Greece where I come from. Yet I have a strong connection to Samsø and the Energy Academy is a very special place and point of reference for me.

By Alexis Chatzimpiros
Project Manager
International coordinator

They constantly inspire me in my work, which involves capacity building for the green transition at the local level, occasionally in Denmark, usually within the European Union and sometimes internationally. An exciting highlight this year has been the work through EU’s Technical Support Instrument to strengthen the competences and leadership within Central Denmark Region municipalities to involve citizens and activate their ambitious climate plans. Another special focus of mine has been to support island communities across the European Union on community development and stakeholders’ engagement through the Clean Energy for EU Islands Secretariat.

Amid multiple crises and a changing world and climate we must work with change all the time and learn to be courageous. In light of the challenge ahead, at the Energy Academy we have set the bar high and are more ambitious than ever. We develop and reflect on how to harvest the past and sow for the future, prepare for the unknown without losing sight of what we know, care for the local and inspire the global, and above all be a team that challenges and looks after each other.

The last Samsing – or the last samurai.

For many years I have had a passion for Japanese relationships. Ever since Iida Tetsunari came by Samsø and participated in the very first Island seminar about the renewable energy island idea in 1998, we have maintained contact and the desire to do something for local communities.

We were together, Iida and I, in Fukushima shortly after the Daiichi nuclear power plant collapsed in 2011 under the weight of the devastating tsunami that rolled over the Japanese east coast. The first Global Community power conference was held there and more than 1500 guests showed up and participated. Local development enterd the big stage in those days. We have since created a global network and got several continents involved in the work. Local “Ø” development is a very popular model!

By Søren Herman

Now the Japanese government has decided that 100 local communities must be climate neutral and self-sufficient. A kind of small Samsø models all over Japan – that is, if we have to see it from our own point of view. And through the Danish Energy Agency, we have received support for a new project and over the next few years we will exchange experiences with the Japanese society. The idea is to use the experiences of Samsø and the Energy Academy in a Japanese version and learn from each other.

This will hopefully lead to export of good Danish solutions as part of the package. We also look forward to being able to invite groups of Japanese to Denmark and Samsø to work with the popular ownership. We will use the Pioner Guide as a tool for the task. It is an excellent tool we use in conversations with local communities and as an educational tool when we meet with local communities. And funnily enough, a Japanese farmer thinks almost the same way as one from Samsø!

I’m looking forward to it and I wish that it can be a good experience for all involved. I’m sure the Samsingers will welcome Japanese guests. Maybe they in return will bring good stories and hopefully a few bottles of sake which can be exchanged for some Samsk wine or beer.

How and why does Samsø take the lead in distributing energy?

“Look what a glorious breeze sweeps across all of Denmark”
– and thus, also little Samsø.

The wind is a free and a common good, it belongs to us all. It cannot be monopolized and cannot be centralized and bureaucratized. It cannot be exploited, and it cannot be depleted.”

These are – as far as I can recall – some of the thoughts that the pioneers of wind power utilization in Denmark – including the naturalist and college teacher Poul la Cour had when he with much enthusiasm contributed to the construction of the first generation of village electricity plants on a cooperative basis in the early 1900s. 

By Michael Kristensen

Project Manager

These local power plants contributed to the fact that energy supply should become a common good, available to everyone in town and in the countryside, without the risk of monopoly formation, centralisation, and exploitation, which e.g., coal and oil and nuclear power exploitation in perpetuity is so full of. Without the risk of exploitation and environmental poisoning.

This is also the main idea behind the Sustainable Energy Island idea – both in the past, present, and future on Samsø.

A green hope for the future. Can we learn from the past?
Just over 25 years ago, Samsø won the competition to become a renewable energy island.
A title that Samsø Energy Academy, in close collaboration with the rest of Samsø, has used to develop and introduce new, sustainable initiatives ever since.

When Samsø walked away with the victory, it was precisely because of the cooperation perspective. In its initial planning, Samsø has specifically involved public and private agencies, associations, and movements in the work. Furthermore, the project balanced between known and new technology. And it is both organisationally and financially characterised by innovative thinking in the cooperation between the local energy companies, businesses, the population, and the municipal council. It has also played a role in the fact that, in relation to renewable energy, Samsø is a mini-Denmark, where RE resources are broadly composed.

At Samsø, there is a tradition of looking ahead and standing together for both challenges and positive changes. When we once again choose to prioritise sustainability, it is to meet the threatening climate changes – but also to utilise resources in the best possible way locally. In addition, the hope is that the many measures will bring other good things with them – e.g., social sustainability. The hope is to “land” as many as possible of the good wishes for the future that are for the island, and thereby contribute to Samsø’s great vision of becoming fossil-free by 2030. A vision that requires a lot of work again for both the Energy Academy, the municipality, business and for citizens of the island.

What Samsø taught me

About three months ago, sometime between stepping out from a ferry in Sælvig for the first time and walking down the beach in Ballen, I fell in love with Samsø. Peacefulness, cute little houses, and beautiful nature are some of my favourite things here. One of the reasons might be that it reminds me of my hometown back in Croatia. But Samsø has another thing that intrigued me, and that is an engaged community.

By Ivona Prar
Intern from Aalborg

During my first days at the Energy Academy, I already learned one of the most important and impactful lessons of my internship so far: the importance of community engagement. The Energy Academy puts such a big emphasis on local people, whether it is in climate planning, supporting local businesses, or organizing events. I realized this is a secret to Samsø’s success in being a Danish renewable energy island. This was the opposite of what I learned about at university so far – it’s not always about having the newest technology, calculating the best possible position for a wind turbine, or working with the best engineers in the world. Sometimes all you need is to sit down with your neighbours, listen to what they have to say, and discuss and find suitable solutions together.
I could have told you about the projects, and yes, they are great and I love working on them, but I could have done that anywhere else too. Seeing and learning first hand about how engaging the local community is key to a successful story completely changed my perspective on climate planning. And this is a thing unique to Samsø and to the Energy Academy. I don’t think anyone could have taught me or shown me a better example of that.


 Flying high

My name is Mathias, I am 25 years old and live in Aarhus with my partner, Mille, and together we have a small apartment in Trøjborg. I love to climb and play football and alongside working with the Energy Academy I am studying to become a Kaos Pilot, an international education with a focus on creative management, project management and process facilitation. I love being in the office and feeling the energy on Samsø and the fast ferry from DOKK1 is easily and accessible to me.

By Mathias Switzer

I am currently working with the Energy Academy to implement a tool, Learning Arches, which is used to create progress and projects. It is used to visualize your learning, and to group and add your content visually and focus on how you unfold connection, conditions, context, content, skills, character and confidence, while holding and landing the learning arcs, experiences and spaces through an act, learn, adapt, repeat learning style. It is a mindset and a concrete tool, developed by Simon Kavanagh.


Once an Islander

I deal with visualizing and digitizing the flow of projects and visions that are launched in the creative culture that arises on Samsø and in collaboration with the Energy Academy. I work with graphics and digital communication and have been employed since 2015

By Line Ankjærgaard
Digital communication

As someone who grew up on Samsø, coming “home” is like being held in a safe embrace (port), where stories and development are allowed to mature at a natural pace, where the dykes, trees and horizontal line are exactly where I last kept an eye on them, and it gives an incomparable peace of mind in an otherwise changeable and growth-focused world. Like rebooting body and soul, returning to the starting point, being calibrated from the epicenter of childhood.

So no matter where in the world, or how long I’ve been absent, it’s as if the Island never lets go.. as if the societies I experience are always measured against what I myself come from, can they measure up? – I’m still looking! Of course, nowhere on earth can do away with a lifelong connectedness, with a network that has a more familial shape than just neighbors or fellow citizens. The best thing about the Islands is that you have a basic understanding of each other’s joint efforts and that you depend on each other.

On my future table could be considerations about green web hosting for the island’s companies, a C02 neutral server park, as a superstructure on our already green self-hosted server that runs our own cloud system.

If you want to learn more about the Energy Academy and what we work on, you can click here:

Digital platforms: Our Website,  InstitutteMoodle,

The new podcast universeMyNewDesk Nyhedsbreve , (Tilmeld forøvrigt nyhedsbrev her)VimeoYoutube

Social Media:

LinkedInFacebookTwitter Tiktok (coming soon)



New podcast must steer municipalities around citizen protests - and push them into action with green projects.
The green transition has stalled in Danish municipalities.

New podcast, based on Samsø's experiences, gives municipalities advice and inspiration for green projects that are not stifled by local citizen resistance.


Read original article here: Read article in German WINDS OF CHANGE ON SAMSØ ISLAND A REPORT BY ANNE BACKHAUS published by: A green-painted chipboard cut-out of Samsø lies

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