Located off the east coast of Denmark, the island of Samsø meets 100% of its electricity demands with wind turbines and 70% of its heating needs through renewable energy. The island once imported nearly all of its electricity from coal-based power plants via an undersea cable. But this changed when Samsø won a national competition issued by the Danish Energy Academy in1977. The competition’s goal was to select an island that would convert to using 100% renewable energy within 10 years.
Eleven wind turbines produce 11 megawatts of energy to serve the island’s electricity needs. Four district heating plants use solar panels as well as locally grown straw and wood pellets to produce hot water that is piped underground to heat residences.
In addition to private residences, the 44-square-mile island is home to the Samsø Energy Academy, a public entity that assists Danish and foreign scientists in sustainability endeavors. Of course, the Academy building itself is designed to meet ecological and sustainability principles. To that end, its roof features approximately 6,800 sq. ft. of RHEINZINK® integrated solar Quick Step panels. They support 1,000 sq. ft. of photovoltaic cells which provide approximately 8,000 KW of power each year, estimated to meet 40 to 50% of the building’s electrical needs. On the backside of the 144 solar crystalline power cells are solar hot water generating panels that provide domestic hot water for the facility.
The Samsø Energy Academy was designed by Denmark-based Arkitema. The firm designed the Academy as two overlapping forms—a concept based on the single winged farmhouse style typical on the island. “We created two juxtaposed, metal-clad floating building volumes with a layout and orientation that interplays with the site’s natural conditions and makes optimal use of the sun,” said Lars Kvist, Arkitema’s environmental manager.