Photo courtesy Evolution magazine

Søren Hermansen, director of Samso Energy Academy, will present The Renewable Energy Island at COA’s Thomas S. Gates, Jr. Community Center at 4:10 pm on Friday, October 11. Discussion and Q&A will follow.

Hermansen’s knowledge and experience garnered from his work with sustainable energy is widely recognized all over the world. He is the head of the Samso renewable energy island project, and his work has demonstrated that it is possible to create a society that is self-sufficient and 100 percent based on renewable energy. Since 1997, Samso Island has created such significant results that CNN, CBS, The Observer, The New Yorker and a number of other international media have visited the island. In 2008, Time Magazine named Hermansen one of the world’s 10 largest ‘environmental heroes’, and in 2009 he was awarded the Gothenborg award – the Nobel Prize of the environment.

“There is so much Maine communities and especially island communities can learn from Soren’s approach of community engagement, education and economic development in  transforming Samso into a renewable energy island,” said COA Lecturer Anna Demeo,

In 1997, the Danish government offered a challenge to five populated islands to cut their carbon footprint and increase the production of renewable energy. Samso, an island of 4,100 people west of Copenhagen, won the contest. The effort started with Hermansen, a former high school environmental studies teacher, going around to the community meetings talking up the benefits of clean energy. Hermansen travels from country to country telling the story of Samso, which has been self-sufficient and carbon-neutral since 2007. The island moreover supplies the surplus energy to the Danish mainland.

Hermansen is the first to say that the real credit belongs to the islanders, and that the real lesson is that environmental change can only come from the ground up.

“People say: ‘Think globally and act locally,'” Hermansen remarked to Time. “But I say you have to think locally and act locally, and the rest will take care of itself.”

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Anna Demeo at

College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit

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About Heather Anderson

As a tomboy in southern Maine, I spent my youth playing kickball and night tag, building forts in the woods, and reading every single book I could get my hands on. I find endless joy in sitting on my porch, no matter the season. I'm still a relatively new addition to the COA community, but my experience here has been one of the best things to ever happen to me. I love what this college stands for, what it does, and how it does it. Few things make me happier than messing around with my camera, long walks in the woods with my dog Roscoe, traveling adventures with my friends, and hitting the water with my kayak.


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