Soren Hermansen talks about waiting for winds of change

Even in Denmark – where more than 40 per cent of the country’s power is generated by wind – there are still people who think turbines cause “all the illness in the world”, says renewable energy pioneer Soren Hermansen. 

Mr Hermansen’s island home Samso has been powered by 100 per cent renewable energy since 2007, a turnaround achieved within 10 years.

In 1997 Samso won a competition run by the Danish government to become the country’s first 100 per cent renewable community. At the time Samso had a population of just 4,300 and was known for its pig and dairy farms.

Mr Hermensen, then an environmental studies teacher, led a grassroots persuasion campaign, supplemented by tea, cake – and beers.

Not everyone got on side immediately, but that didn’t matter. Skepticism is “quality control” and the same the world over, he says.

“You don’t just jump on board with every crazy idea, people had a tendency to say ‘I want to go home and sleep on it’.

“I could treat them to beer and tea and cake and whatever they want, they’re still not convinced - they will go home and discuss with their neighbours, ‘is this a fantasy from outside?’, it’s not a negative approach it’s just a little waiting game.” 

I could treat them to beer and tea and cake and whatever they want, they’re still not convinced. They will go home and discuss with their neighbours, ‘is this a fantasy from outside?’ - Soren Hermansen

Twenty years later and his island completely self-supplied by renewable energy. 

Wind change: Soren Hermansen, whose island home Samso is 100 per cent powered by renewables, will speak in Ballarat this week and at Hepburn’s Celebrating Pioneering Communities on Sunday, February 26.

Wind change: Soren Hermansen, whose island home Samso is 100 per cent powered by renewables, will speak in Ballarat this week and at Hepburn’s Celebrating Pioneering Communities on Sunday, February 26.

Electricity comes from 11 megawatts of wind turbines, which produce 100 per cent of the average yearly consumption.

Unlike Australia, Denmark has been looking to fossil fuel alternatives since the oil crises of the 1970s. 

“Australia is holding onto an old paradigm, the fossil fuel paradigm. I do understand why because you have the resources but it’s a really apart from the rest of the world.

“It’s not about shutting down tomorrow, it's about planning the transition that will take place within a decade.”

Soren Hermansen will speak at a Commerce Ballarat event at the Seminar Theatre at Technology Park Central on Thursday, February 23 at 9am. 

For more information visit www.committeeforballarat.com.

He will also be a key note speaker at Hepburn Wind, Leonards Hill as part of the Sustainable Living Festival on Sunday, February 26. The panel discussion will also feature Kate Auty and Ed McManus.

There will also be live music and tours of the Hepburn Wind turbines. Entry is $10 for members and children and $15 at the door. 

For more information visit www.slf.org.au.