Malene Lundén: ”Vi bliver lykkeligere af at kunne indeholde både centrum og periferi”

These days, people talk about the magical attraction of the city – about our need to be in the center, to move away from the periphery. Yet what is it like to go against the tide, to leave the city and embrace the country? That’s what photographer and artist Malene Lundén did in 1986, when she moved from Copenhagen to the Danish island of Samsø. Today, she can reflect on that experience, about being conscious of the center and the periphery, and she believes that much development comes from the resources in rural areas.

When Malene Lundén moved to Samsø, it was difficult for her in the beginning. A little like when you get a burn. It was like the naked feeling your skin has after getting sunburned: “The upheaval was overwhelming. One of the reasons was due to the culture on Samsø. The culture has a a good portion of healthy skepticism combined with strong self-esteem. Believe it or not, the philosophy of the city as the true center of Denmark was stronger back then than it is today. Many of my friends just couldn’t understand why I wanted to live out in the country. In the periphery. Yet I felt marginalized in the city, and wanted to be somewhere that was much more simple, where I could be more visible in the community,” says Malene Lundén.

Autonomy was the response to centralization

Malene built the relations necessary to settle down on Samsø. She wanted to stay here, and she did. Today, Malene tells about a local community that, despite major global trends of depopulation and loss of identity taking place in many rural regions around the world, she created her own center with something that was bigger than the lure of the city.

Samsø is known both nationally and internationally for its reputation in terms of renewable energy. The energy transformation began in 1997, when Samsø won a government-sponsored competition to see which Danish island would be best at becoming Denmark’s Renewable Energy Island. The residents of the island created a master plan for the transition, and they were so successful that today Samsø is self-sufficient in terms of renewable energy. However, in 1999, a serious crisis occurred that placed pressure on the cohesion of Samsø’s residents.

“In 1999, we found out that the Danish Crown slaughterhouse, which at the time was the largest employer on the island, was going to close. One hundred jobs disappeared on the island, which had 4,300 full-time residents then. It was a catastrophe, and Samsø was in shock. Yet instead of being passive, the local residents chose to act and initiated a job training program for the laid-off workers so they could find new work. The decision to do this was taken collectively, through town-hall style meetings, open cafés, and bringing in employers to kick-start the creation of new jobs. This means that over the past 20 years, we’ve built up a feeling of autonomy. That’s something you can do in the periphery. Stand shoulder to shoulder when confronted with a crisis, and act. In the center, there are larger units to deal with, which makes it more complicated to solve a crisis.”

Isn’t the Earth the true center?

When you travel around the bountiful fields of Samsø, it may seem a paradox that in the debate about Denmark’s economic and human balance which has being going back and forth for years, the island is considered to be situated on the outskirts. In the periphery. “Yet isn’t it really the Earth that should be our true center?” asks Malene. In reality, it’s incredibly egocentric that we consider people and the city to be the center, when all of the city’s primary resources are generated in the periphery. Without the country, cities would starve, both in terms of food and energy. Development often comes from the periphery, including political developments. Yet with the crisis we’re experiencing, with the increasingly bigger division between the center and the periphery, it’s not just about crops and physical resources. It’s also about learning to evolve from an either/or mentality to a both/and mentality. Our world is becoming increasingly polarized, so we only see the place where we are ourselves. Development accelerates due to stress and angst, which many smaller communities feel when they are deprived of their own ability to act. In such a situation, many people find it difficult to see what’s happening in the bigger perspective, which would otherwise enable them to work on solutions to the crisis.”


Rubin’s vase and the regaining flexibility

Malene calls this condition “being captured by the figure,” referring to the famous illustration of Rubin’s vase. The drawing shows either a vase or two faces looking at each other in profile, all depending on if the viewer is focusing on the foreground (the figure) or the background. The human eye is not able to see the two scenes at the same time, and is forced to see either one or the other.

“Denmark is a good example of a western country where living is incredibly fast these days. We have so many things to accomplish both in terms of work and at home that we can become paralyzed by the sheer volume of tasks, errands and chores. This blocks our ability to see both the foreground and background, which can be debilitating. Whether you’re either in the center or the periphery, you can’t see the whole, the entire picture, and as regular people we then have a serious problem. As a society, we have to get better at turning the vase so we learn to switch between the foreground and background. We built up this ability and flexibility on Samsø by among other things acting on our common societal crisis. We learned to improve our perception, knowing that reality is not static yet constantly needs to be acted on based on its background. On our island, we’re forced to see which opportunities arise in new situations, causing us to think: What if I lose my job and have to move to Jutland or Zealand? Or: The Samsø-Express commuter boat to Aarhus didn’t materialize this year, but no matter, we’ll find a solution. And then here on the island we have the most beautiful night sky full of stars, reminding us of how very tiny we are in the universe, that there is something different and bigger out there. It’s refreshing. Because if you’re able to switch between focusing on the center and periphery respectively, then I feel that we will be happier in the long run.”

Part of the problem is in the language

Since 2007, Malene has been employed as a project manager at Samsø Energy Academy. Part of Malene’s job deals with communicating local experience from Samsø’s transition as Denmark’s Renewable Energy Island, which clearly shows that peripheral communities can contribute to solving the world’s climate crisis as well addressing the global acceleration of centralization. Rubin’s vase plays a triumphal role: “It is an ideological desire of the center that we should start do something about climate change – but maybe there’s a lot in the periphery which hasn’t gotten to that point yet, and which views oil as being the best source of energy? There are many places in the world which have yet to ask themselves if sustainability is the way forward. In my line of work, we should recognize that not everyone has been placed on Earth in order to save the world. Why do we in debates, in the media, and in politics need to trivialize language in order to polarize and create tension between the city and the country?”, asks Malene, who feels that language is not poetic enough. The debate skirts across the surface instead of getting to the core of the opportunities and problems, which according to Malene deals with speech in particular: “The way we talk about the center and the periphery is very polarizing because of the words, terms and values we use. Even the term ‘periphery’ has a negative tone, while the word ‘center’ is positive. We could mention other examples such as ‘the edge of Denmark’ and the ‘rotten banana’ which in the choice of words labels rural areas as notoriously bare of human resources and opportunities, whereas cities as a rule are talked about with words that reflect a liberal model of economic growth. At the risk of not taking my own medicine, I’ll say this: What about using more poetic words instead, calling the country and city ‘sun’ and ‘moon’ respectively, ‘foreground’ and ‘background’, or ‘Ying’ and ‘Yang’? Opposites, where both words are considered beautiful and dependent on each other?” suggests Malene.

A positive change is taking place in the periphery

After living in the country for three decades, Malene has experienced how progress often comes from the periphery, both in terms of sustainable solutions relating to energy and raw materials, and socially. In rural districts, new ways of living are turning up, forming communities: “On an island such as Samsø, there’s a slowness which has healing powers. That’s how I experience the great physical differences of being in the country and the city respectively. I look up when I’m on Samsø, and look down when I’m in the city. In the country, I move more freely and my arms are farther from my body; I don’t have to pull in my antennas. In the city, my opportunities to move are more restricted. There are sidewalks and pedestrian crossings that lead the way so I can navigate safely and securely through the cityscape without getting hurt. These regulations are far less in the country. My body is more free on Samsø, and I talk less.”

A big question remains: What actually brought about the large movement from the periphery to the center? Is it a tendency we’ve created by articulating it? Are there larger economic reasons? Is it in the end about people’s need to move where the rest of the flock is? “There’s clearly a lack of perspective in the way we look at the center and periphery. What about all the room between the two poles, and what happens with its resources? Isn’t it really there that we should meet?” concludes Malene.

Theme 2: Towards a new political culture

When Uffe Elbæk on a street corner in May 2013 decided to form the Alternative Party he initiated an astonishingly persistent movement which came from the periphery with great force: since everything Uffe did was seen as both very different and very wrong, nobody believed that he would succeed. However his project was a success and has today developed new standards for the political life. It questions the standard conception that the centre – in this case Copenhagen and the established system in the Danish parliament – is where the changes are made.

Uffe Elbæk is our second guest blogger on The Positive Change and is in the following going to tell us about his journey from the periphery of power to the centre of power.

Towards a new political culture

By Uffe Elbæk, political leader of Denmark’s The Alternative Party

It’s a pleasure to be offered to write for Samsø Energy Academy’s new blog. In fact, I feel somewhat honored. I can’t take off my hat enough for their daily efforts to create a green, sustainable transition in Denmark. They are among the pioneers in this area.

That’s why I don’t want to use my column here to tell you about the need for a serious green transition and green entrepreneurship, because many of you, each in your own way, are already experts in these areas.

Instead, I would like to share my/our thoughts about how we can create a far more green, progressive and entrepreneurial agenda in Denmark through among other things developing a new political culture.

Perhaps some of you will find my story inspiring and even want to get involved in politics in new ways. Others may just want to get to know me and The Alternative Party better.

I know exactly when the idea of starting a new political party and movement – a new political platform – emerged. It was during a conversation between two young activists, Sophie and Søren, and me on a street corner in central Frederiksberg May, 2013.

The three of us had been to a meeting at Danish Parliament in conjunction with the Under Radar project. I started the project to shine light on all the good new sustainability projects taking place under the political and media radar.

When we got to the corner of Gammel Kongevej and H.C. Ørstedsvej, we stopped, because that’s where I live. Then, either Sophie or Søren asked me, “Uffe, why don’t you start a new political party?” Even though I immediately shrugged off their idea, the question definitely got me thinking.

I looked back on my work life with the Front Runners and the Chaos Pilots, which were about not accepting the type of society we have today as being the best possible. And it occurred to me that of course, politics can have far more participation then is often the case today.

Yes, politics in a humbler, participatory way, building on the premise that more and more of the politicians’ most important duties is direct contact and dialog with regular citizens. Not least politics in a way where we have the courage to imagine a radically different sustainable society than the one we have today.

What was needed was nothing less than a political and cultural revolution, I thought. Of course in a friendly and constructive way. As the Russian Jewish-American anarchist and Women’s Rights champion Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution.” It was just such a life-affirming revolution I envisioned when we just about a half year later we founded The Alternative Party.

A whole lot has happened since four years ago when Sophie, Søren and I stood on the street corner of Gammel Kongevej and H.C. Ørstedsvej. I don’t hide the fact that the common journey we started out on that day in May 2013 is the most democratically hopeful one I’ve experienced in my entire life.

Even though it has been a journey against all odds. Because from the very start we were told by just about everyone that would never, never, never succeed with The Alternative Party.

There wasn’t a thing that wasn’t wrong with us: Our way of developing policies – through political laboratories – was wrong. The way we campaigned to gather the necessary signatures to be able to run for parliament was wrong. The way we ran our political campaign was wrong. And even though we actually got into parliament, the way we were organized, and not least the way we were as politicians, was wrong – according to the political commentators and many of the journalists covering Danish politics.

Yet luckily there were and are a lot of people who have had the exact opposite experience. Namely, that this was exactly the kind of politics we were waiting for. Where the ambition is to go from our current representative democracy to a far more direct participatory democracy. And where together, we build a new democratic bridge between the Danish Parliament and the surrounding society.

From being three people on a street corner, we are now over 11,000 members today. From an Executive Board, we now have ten district boards and over 80 local chapters spread across the country. There are even activities outside of Denmark. With inspiration from The Alternative Party in Denmark, there are new political initiatives in diverse countries such as Norway, Sweden, Lithuania, the United Kingdom, and Nepal.

This is a new democratic vision and ambition that my parliamentary colleagues in the party and I are focused on every day in the Danish Parliament. We try our best to develop and practice a new political culture by being curious and listening to each other and our colleagues from the other parties. And by being humble as an elected parliamentarian and always trying to become smarter through meeting civil servants, businesspeople, and regular citizens, who are all experts in their own daily lives.

Even though no one is perfect, and the effort to create a new political culture is difficult in a place like the Danish Parliament where spin and conflict unfortunately dominate, I am in fact really proud about how far we’ve come during the two years we’ve been in Parliament.

Everything from the way we organize our days along the Green Hall (the nickname for the area of Parliament where we have our offices) to the way we develop our policies through on-going political laboratories, to the way we make political decisions in our parliamentary group.

In relation to the latter, as an example we livestream all of our parliamentary group meetings so everyone can watch when we discuss how we will vote in parliament. It’s a vulnerable way to create transparency, but I believe that it’s important to show the public the nuances in politics. A “yes” vote is not always a 100% “yes.” It could be an 80% “yes,” because usually there are good arguments for and against a particular issue.

I am – admittedly – not least a fan of our very own tiny development department, which time and again comes up with totally surprising new proposals for how we can make politics participatory and meaningful for people. Our latest big initiative from the development team is the creation of a new action-oriented medium, Altivisten, which you can find at

Altivitsen is a solutions-oriented polar opposite of all the conflict-filled journalism that dominates today’s media-scape. Here, everyone can contribute with solutions within three main categories: How can we live sustainably, how can we create a good life, and how can we develop democracy?

For me, the development department’s work is a good example of that we can be the change we want to see in the world. More citizen involvement in politics is for me absolutely necessary in order that we can make the changes that Danish politics need. There is a need for a new political culture where all kinds of citizens find it exciting, meaningful and educational to participate. Otherwise it will end up being the same middle-aged, tie-wearing white men (sorry for this generalization) who decide how our society should look and run.

That is why I ask you reading this to continue to participate in society. In the community, in the local green transition, and in new ways of being political. There is a need for much more diversity in Danish politics if the decisions being made are going to represent what people want.

Embrace your democratic authority, create communities, participate and seek to influence. As the great American anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”


Energy “down under”

After now almost one month in the southern parts of Australia, i am now on my way home. One month is just enough to give you a sense of what is going on here.
The big deal is coal. Not only are the Australians facing a big change in the energy system. Hazelwood – the largest coal fired power plant in the southern hemisphere – is already closing. This is a very big deal in Australia. This plant is using brown coal. A very polluting type of coal with an extreme emission as a result. But this is also economy and a kind of backbone in the distribution system. So the conservative part of government  in the capital Canberra is trying to make wind power and green energy guilty of an unstable energy supply. The truth is more likely that the grid is not modernized and even worse it is centralized because of these very large energy power plants.

Quote from Sydney Morning Herald:

“State and even local governments have recently adopted their own targets and policies to boost renewables in their jurisdictions, but few have raised the ante as rapidly as the ACT.

While the Canberra-based wing of the fossil fuel industry – their lobbyists and political supporters – try to scare us into thinking the transition to 100 per cent renewables will be a disaster, the ACT government is just getting on with it, and the benefits of doing so, directly and through the impact of its leadership on others, will flow for decades to come.

Author:Tom Swann is a researcher at The Australia Institute and reigning ACT Environmentalist of the Year.”

( ACT is: Australian Capital Territory- made by states. Australia has 3 levels of government. Federal, state and local)

Obviously the states are so disconnected from the federal government that they have individual goals for emission and RE integration. Federal government is talking about “clean coal” as a tool to cut emissions!!. I can only guess what made them think coal could be clean?

Why do I care? I think we are all guilty and therefore responsible for the state we are in now. Denmark imported for many years almost all of our energy in coal. And a lot of this coal came from Australia. So in a way we built our modern society with coal! We have changed this lately but still! I think we need to help out where we can and make sure we use the development we had, payed for by coal, is now available in the change there is going to take place in Australia, in Japan and other countries we do business with. We like to say we are a nuclear free nation in Denmark- but we still drive Toyota and watch TV on Sony screens.
Lets make the Paris declaration and the signed UN agreement work in practise!


– by Artist and Project Manager, Malene Lundén

Former Director of the fine arts museum Aaros, Jens Erik Sørensen, has his own take on how good and bad art can be described. I really like it and therefore have worked with his excellent ‘house’ metaphor here:

Good art is like a large house built with turrets and spires, lots of floors, and balconies with beautiful views of the horizon

This house has many compartments and hidden rooms which are not easily found. It has small details like carved figurines, and masonry with patterns and ornamentation. The house is built with many unexpected layers of craftsmanship so that one’s experience of it is like fireworks or as a work of uncontrolled beauty.

Bad art is like a single level home with a predictable design plan. There are no upper floors, nor is there a cellar.

The garden is placed close to the house in an easily managed square with a tall hedge surrounding it. The house lacks fine details and everything has been produced by machines, completely draining it of subtleties, tradition and craft. The windows and doors are installed and aligned solely for function. The ceiling height is the same in all the rooms. The roof has a slight slope and accommodates only a small attic because of the low ceiling.

Two different artistic descriptions of a single narrative – in this case a house.

Art may also be a room or a house that does not yet have a definitive meaning. Therefore, it is often the case that art frames and promises something to the viewer who experiences it .

Like art, sustainability doesn’t have one set definition. There are many opinions about it and currently there are 17 Sustainable Development Goals

articulated by the United Nations – all of which are ambitious and point to a multitude of paths that could be included in the definition.

I believe that art is an important aspect of everything we surround ourselves with, and therefore Positive Change vows to frame particular art within the world of art.

The first two artists we have chosen this season speak for themselves. One is a man and the other a woman.

And of course remember: Here on the blog we borrow from historical periods and work with form and content that are often juxtaposed with one another.

We don’t want to be the final arbiters of taste on the blog, so please mail us your definition of what art is or isn’t:


Enjoy!- Malene


 Ordet ”bæredygtighed” er oversat fra engelsk ”sustainability”. Verbet “sustain” kommer via latin “sustinere”, der er sammensat af ”sub”, ”opad” og infinitiv af verbet ”tenere”, ”at holde”, “at støtte, holde oppe nedefra, bære, gennemgå, overgå og udholde”. Dets stamme er ”tenere”, “at holde”, der I 1300-tallet får den metaforiske betydning “at fortsætte, opretholde, fastholde”. PIE-roden er *ten-, ”at strække”, og ordets billedlige forlæg kunne være en bro. Kognater til roden er da også græsk ”teinein”, ”at strække” og ”tenos”, ”en sene”, og ”tonos” ”en streng”. Latinsk kognat er ”tendere”, hvoraf analogisk ”to intend, og intension” og ”tendens” kommer. Et andet kognat til roden er engelsk “tenet”, der betyder “et princip eller dogme”, altså noget, der fastholdes som tankegang, m.a.o. en værdi. Det man holder oppe ved hjælp af (og selv bæres af) er ens basale værdisystem, det man tror på, og det kan man formulere for andre. Men ”sustain” har både en fysisk betydning af noget, man kan gå på og således komme over en afgrund, og en mental betydning af en solid og levedygtig tanke, der også bærer en. Ordet ”bæredygtighed” er oversat fra engelsk ”sustainability”. I dette komplekse ord har vi både idékraft, harmoni, og en normativt begrundet vilje. Det bæredygtige er altså på engelsk det, det holder noget oppe med et formål, der er begrundet i værdier og ideer, og som søger mod harmoni ved at have en indre stabilitet, hårdførhed og holdbarhed; at opgive er udelukket, fordi budskabet forpligter og i sidste instans er identitetsformende. Denne begrebslige betydning har ordet ”bæredygtighed” da også i Brundtland rapporten fra 1987.

Ordet kommer fra latin robustus “stærk og hård”, bogstaveligt ”så stærk som egetræ”, af ”robur, robus”, en særlig slags egetræ med rødlig lød, der er stærk ud over det sædvanlige

 Nassim TalebAntifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (Incerto). Paperback – January 28, 2014.Se også Mikkel Ruge: Ledelsesudvikling og samskabelse En refleksion over hvad det kræver og hvordan vi kan opnå det.Speciale: på cand. Merc. Phil forår 2016. P. 60ff. Jeg takker Mikkel Ruge for inspiration til at læse Taleb.

Our intention is to convey to you our Sense of Place so you can see how it relates to you and your situation

That’s why we call this blog “Positive Change”

Change has taken place and is still happening: Because as a local society, Samsø has via community, trust and unity been able to follow a master plan and collaborate on carrying it out over a period of 20 years.

In 1997, Samsø won a government competition among 22 Danish local communities to become Denmark’s Renewable Energy Island. Today, Samsø is 100% self-sufficient in renewable energy, using solar, wind and biomass. The Municipality of Samsø and Samsø Energy Academy are now in full swing with a new plan to phase out the use of fossil fuel on the island, 20 years ahead of the rest of Denmark.

People from all over the world make the journey to Samsø to find out about what a society with a sincere desire to make a positive change can accomplish.

Samsø is a colorful community of approximately 3,500 year-round inhabitants who share both good and bad experiences that aren’t only of the practical kind. Its work within sustainability and green transition has resulted in a diverse understanding of existence, nature and life that we would like to gather and share with you on this blog. In other words, we want to dig deeper than the usual practical presentation of facts, figures, climate goals, and CO2. Instead, we are creating a universe of articles for immersion, where curious and inquisitive people like you can read about the numerous positive changes that have taken place and are taking place at Samsø Energy Academy.

This blog is a voice that tells about a social success within Denmark’s green transformation and development, and functions as a kind of parallel reference in an otherwise often overwhelming and polarized environmental debate.

One of the blog’s tenets is the aim to encompass constructive, inspirational stories. Another ambition is to inspire readers in a way that makes clear how you can to launch your own positive change scenarios in a practical way.

And remember, you can always email us or stop by the Energy Academy and have a chat with us over a cup of coffee.

The people and the place behind the blog. Samsø Energy Academy started this blog on January 1, 2017, but it’s exactly 20 years since it all really started. Today, we dare say that it was the start of a broad green revolution which is humbly regarded as a kond of dandelion that grows both downward and upward and can grow anywhere.

It all started in 1997, when the Danish government launched a competition to select a Danish island that would become self-sufficient with renewable energy in only 10 years, using approved technology, existing legislation, and public participation.

There were only three people to kick start the application process for the competition: The mayor, the blacksmith, and an engineer from Jutland (Western Denmark), who decided to draft a competition plan. The three of them did it without a mandate; they were confident that what they were doing was okay even without informing the 5,000 year-round inhabitants that Samsø had at the time. These three people believed instinctively that Samsingers (which is what the inhabitants of Samsø are called) would be able to join together to make Samsø become 100% self-sufficient in renewable energy.

The three of them were right, and the positive change lifted the goal to much more and beyond, which continues to benefit Samsø. They didn’t know at the time that they kicked off a large popular movement. One of the objective results is that today, Samsø is more than 100% self-sufficient in electricity generated by renewable sources.

Today, the island of Samsø and Samsø Energy Academy are working on phasing out the use of fossil fuels such as diesel and petrol in order to become a Fossil-Free Island. The Energy Academy is also in full swing disseminating the island’s Best Practice to Next Practice, so the entire world can visit Samsø Energy Academy, located in Denmark’s epicenter of self-sufficiency.

Samsø Energy Academy is a non-profit, and is run by us! Formally, we have an open structure with a director, Søren Hermansen, nine employees, a proactive Board, and a dynamic local association.

The Energy Academy’s practical work focuses on optimizing houses and public buildings for energy efficiency, as well as phasing out the use of fossil fuels on the island. Other tasks include developing partnerships based on energy efficiency, and developing capacity tools that help the consumer without being a financial burden.

Communication is crucial the work of the Energy Academy. People need to be able to see and understand that the necessity for positive change has many different economic bottom lines.

This is why we on Samsø dare call our work sustainable development and transition in the here and now. Samsø Energy Academy can be reached by bicycle from every town on the island, and it is located just outside the harbor town of Ballen. The Energy Academy’s building was designed by Arkitema, and built by local workers. The success of making Samsø the world’s first self-sufficient Renewable Energy Island lies particularly in the special culture and sense of community on the island. Based on our strong sense of place, we have been able to look each other in the eye, and with an equal portion of healthy skepticism and curiosity been able to bring about change. That’s why it’s more than just Samsø as a place, but each and every one of the island’s 3,700 year-round inhabitants – as well as Samsø Energy Academy’s global network – that are the source of this blog.

Contact us

The blog is run by the Energy Academy’s Communications Department together with its external editor, Cecilie Marie Meyer.

If you have questions about the Energy Academy’s work, you can email Head of Communications Malene Lundén at . If you have ideas for topics, or if you have comments, criticism or praise for a specific blog post, you can contact Editor Cecilie Marie Meyer at


Are you considering installing a heat pump? A large number of Samsø’s homes are heated using heat pumps, but why are they good to have and how do they work? Ole Hemmingsen is a blacksmith and plumber on Samsø, and he explains the basic workings of heat pumps.

What is a heat pump?

It’s a device that converts heat from the ground and pumps it throughout your house using either air or water. There are three types of heat pumps: geothermal heat, air-to-air, and air-to-water.

How do heat pumps work?

Using an evaporator, the heat pump absorbs energy from the environment, which causes the refrigerant to boil and evaporate. The steam is then compressed inside the compressor, the pressure increases and the temperature rises.
The refrigerant then releases its heat in the condenser, where it cools and turns back into a liquid that flows through the thermo-valve, where the process starts all over again. It’s in the condenser that the heat from the refrigerant is transferred to the home’s heat distribution system, either in the form of a water-conductor central heating system, or as heated air that can be blown into the house.

Why is a heat pump preferable to a fossil-fuel based heating source?

A heat pump has limited carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions because it gets its electricity from a fossil-free energy source. On top of this, you get 4-5 times the amount of energy out of a heat pump than that which goes into it, depending on which power source the heat pump is connected to. If it gets its energy from an old oil furnace, there may be negative energy utilization.

There are three kinds of heat pumps: How do you know which one to choose?

If you want to install a heat pump in a house where there is only electric heating, the air-to-air heat pump is ideal. This is especially true for holiday homes. If instead you have a central heating system with radiators, it’s perhaps better with a water-conducting air-to-water heat pump system, combined with geothermal heating. The latter is most commonly used, but requires a reasonably large area outside where hoses can be buried. Air-to-water is smart if you want heated floors, because you make optimal use of the surplus heat.

Why are there so many heat pumps particularly on Samsø?

There have been some good plumbers on the island who have understood the value of their products, given the increased attention paid to the negative impact of CO2 emissions on our environment. Eighty-percent of the year-round homes on Samsø that are not connected to district heating use heat pumps, and we have less than 200 oil furnaces left on the island.


Worth knowing about heat pumps:

Brands: There are myriad of brands produced in Denmark and abroad. Vølund, Boss, Danfoss and Panasonic all produce heat pumps, but which brand you choose depends on your needs and budget. You can buy heat pumps from your local plumbing installer.

Price estimates: Air-to-air pumps cost between 14-18,000 Danish kroner. (€1,900-2,400); air-to-water approximately 100,000 kroner (€13,500), while geothermal heat pumps costs about 125,000 kroner (€16,800). All prices include installation, which takes about 2-3 days depending on which solution you choose. Always remember to take advantage of the Danish tradesman deduction.

Savings: Compared to oil furnaces, you will approximately halve your annual heating costs. Furthermore, if your consumption is over 4,000 kilowatts, you can save around 62 øre (8 eurocents) per kilowatt through the public energy savings subsidy.

Maintenance: A heat pump should be inspected regularly and replaced every 10-15 years in order to stay in step with technological advances. Heat pumps are becoming more and more effective every year, and it is worth replacing them to achieve savings that newer models offer. Many also supplement their heat pump with a wood pellet stove, for which you can also receive subsidies.
Read more about heat pumps and their possibilities at

Aleister Crowley

Himalayan mountains’ sepia colored gray.
We know those colors well. I still remember our black and white TV on which I watched cartoons as a child. Its monochrome universe never impaired my image of the world, quite the contrary. The nuances were dancing before my inner eye, and it was only when we first got a colour TV that I became aware of everything that I had not been lacking.

Japan – solens land

Fukushima lider stadig!
Atomkraftværket brænder og Fukushima og omegn er bange!

Der er ikke styr på noget og vandet fosser ud i Stillehavet – radioaktivt og måske mere farligt end nogen ved noget som helst om.
Japanerne vil noget andet.
Måske sidder Premierminister Abe og tænker på hvordan han kan fortsætte som leder og hvem der støtter ham.
Industrien er vigtig for Japan og dermed billig energi fra eksisterende atomkraftværker.
Men det er ikke det befolkningen vil.
De er bange for deres børns fremtid og de vil ikke længere finde sig i central -administrationens kortsigtede og farlige beslutninger.
Community Power International mødes og der etableres en ny organisation, Fukushima Renewable energy foundation.


Søren Hermansen: On Samsø, we are cross-pollinating ourselves for resilience

– Interview with Samsø Energy Academy’s Director Søren Hermansen on the topic of resilience:

“Resilience has become a scientific concept that expresses a situation where you must survive an threat. So your ability to survive in relation to the outside threat shows how resilient your society is. The threat can be anything, for instance climate change. But it’s a permanent thing, it’s always been there, and so you can say it’s a natural threat. Then there’s the societal threat that comes from within, defined by the conservative protection of what we have in relation to what we are working towards. So what we have is a threat to something that can be better or different. That kind of resilience is negative, but it has the positive aspect in that you’re not just jumping away from something that you depend on to live to something that you do not know if you can live by. So it addresses fear, or the fear of change, and with the fear of change you reduce your resilience – do it less – while the desire for change makes increases it. You simply have ability to survive, you dare to do it, you move on to the next step without knowing whether you’re walking into a swamp or if there’s a firm foundation under your feet.

“The balance is interesting, because it is not centralized, it is constantly based on moving parts that revolve around the things that really matter. For what it’s really about, we don’t want to go there, because it’s conclusive. Samsings would like to be where things are in motion, influenced by the outside, but still local. Yet it also means that we have to talk with the farmer over there. Even though I may think he’s stupid, he has some things I need to move forward, so we have to meet. This isn’t resilience, but more a kind of genetic manipulation, where we know that we have to cross-pollinate.

Even though we don’t like it, we do it because we know that working together it provides a better result. We go beyond the abstract more than we should. There are also some who say in relation to the animal world that when the lion bites the bison’s throat, the bison’s eyes have a peaceful expression because it knows that it is serving its purpose. It lets itself die because it has turned the grass it ate into something edible so that the beast of prey can live. In some sense the process has come full circle. It is very interesting to regard the natural state and accept its terms. And we do this as well. Resilience is a question of how much you accept and work with the terms. Today, we have a differentiated society where we’re not aware of the terms because we live in an isolated world as individuals revolving around our own lives with some self-defined projects that are not part of the overall societal development. I think that’s the core issue when we talk keep talking about resilience. It’s because we feel disconnected, not part of the whole, and therefore we are all in the middle where we actually don’t want to be.”

So, we are not part of the food chain like bison?

“No, we cannot peacefully close our eyes and say we have served our purpose.”

Regarding the farmer who chooses to approach his neighbor, even though he really does not like him, where does the capability come from where he sees that this is what he should do?

“I think that’s something you’re you need to inherit. Someone once told me that farmers used to walk in each other’s fields once a week. They got together and walked across the fields and looked at the crops; there was a very strong culture in the rural community. You talked about how the crops were faring and asked each other’s about their chores. This is how they shared knowledge; it was a kind of social group to share experiences – best practices – that worked because it was in everyone’s interest. Everyone got something out of it.”

What happened on Samsø didn’t happen on islands such as Læsø or Anholt. What makes Samsø so special?

“Yes, there are a lot of examples of the opposite of Samsø, because an island is also a vulnerable unit. If idealism is the driving force, then choose one leader or another. Do you believe in big change, or are you more conservative and traditional? On Anholt, you can walk into the community hall where one group is standing at one end and another group is standing at the other end is, because one group consists of people who come from outside and want to change everything, while the others feel greatly threatened. They are so threatened that they are afraid to do what they really should do, namely to reach out and say, ‘Let’s meet right now and see how the world on Anholt will look like in 10 years, because you bring something along with you. Similarly, those who have moved to the island and want change need to understand that they’ve entered a deep-rooted culture that is old and has many traditional values. They need to understand that they’re open doors to something that’s unknown, and some people are a little scared. We need to talk about it.’ So I think that what we have here on Samsø is a deep-rooted culture based on change and renewal, where other islands have been very isolated.”

In other words, geography plays a role?

“Yes, I actually think it does. Samsø has a very central location, between Jutland and Zealand and north of Funen. All ship traffic passes here, so we’ve always had people coming here and saying, “Why not do things this way instead?”

Is it true that the northern part of Samsø is more connected to Jutland, while the southeast side of the island is more connected to Zealand?

“It’s completely natural, it’s an old tradition, where people were connected to places they knew had good and interesting things. Down in the southeast village of Ballen, they spoke a Kalundborg-Jutlandic dialect because they had the ferry to Kalundborg on Zealand. It’s a force of renewal, because where does renewal come from? We connect to systems where we get a system check-up and say, ‘I like this better than that.’ Where does new inspiration come from and how do you adopt it? Samsø is also known as place of agricultural development, where someone might have heard of something they do in England, and then they just left for England to find out. That was never a problem. If you heard about someplace that had new initiatives in the field of artificial insemination, then you headed there with the veterinarian. These are the people who believe that we can achieve things. We are in a much more isolated world now that we can actually fly around the world, but where things have become much more expert-oriented, and where we get told more and more that we cannot do things ourselves on such a poor little island.”

“In the old days, many people on Samsø were skipper farmers. They had a ship where they sailed with goods, so they loaded their grain and sailed for instance to Norway and came home with timber and tar, and on the way they passed Aalborg and picked up lime. They also often brought farmhands and maidservants with them from the farm, who sailed on the boat. Understanding of new cultures were brought home in this way.”

“Culturally, we also have had an estate here owned by the same family for hundreds of years that has kept some cultural traditions and a connection to the royal family, which used to be a very important influence in this context. So when the king was traveling he could stay here. Of course, this means that there was a connection to Copenhagen 500 years ago. We have been part of a network, a travel stop, and on the official level a connection to the king.”

So Samsø is anchored locally, with a hook in the surrounding society that is an advantage?

“Exactly, and that is what it’s about when we check in today. When we talk about sustainability, we also talk about the context, that we are not only doing this for ourselves, but as part of a larger whole.”

If we talk about the surrounding danger, we also have a current discourse about the problem between cities and towns, and peripheral communities in Denmark. Samsø is a quite vibrant society compared to many other peripheral areas. What do you think about that?

“This is just a guess, but I think we have had a self-sustaining operation based on the fact that we maintain contacts outside the island, so that we do not just become introverted and remain a vacation island. There is also a life outside of the summer holiday season. There are a lot of people coming from the outside, as it has always been: I remember from my childhood that we had people from Buthan who went to the agricultural school in Malling, and because my father knew the people there, they also came to visit on Samsø. And I was fascinated that the prince of a country in the Himalayas visited. We have maintained a position as Denmark’s center, also for people outside to come to the island.”

Is resilience latent in all societies, and something that just needs to be activated if it’s hidden?

“On Monday, I’m going to Snaptun to talk to citizen groups from Glud, Snaptun and Hjernø, which are tiny towns at the mouth of Horsens Fjord, and which were merged under the Danish government’s structural reform to create large municipalities. At that time, Samsø actually avoided becoming part of a large municipality, and it seems to me that large-scale municipalities deprived smaller towns of their own culture, their own understanding, their own postal code. Suddenly, they no longer existed, now that the old municipality has become a larger municipality, with the town hall far away. I think that if you talk about resilience, such an event lowers the resilience of the small town. The isolation, however, leads to a greater awareness of the loss of resilience, which activates someone to restore the will to survive as a community that we used to have. Someone might say, ‘We’re in danger now. The threat from the outside has suddenly increased, and we have to open up to each from within, because no one is coming to helps us. Indeed, the outside society has shown that they are not doing much to make us part of a larger whole.’ Administratively, of course, it’s much easier. The goal of Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who was behind the new structural reform, was not to strengthen communities; his goal was the overall administration which he wanted to be more efficient and cheap. That removes resilience from the system, as far as I see it.”

Can you build up resilience in a constructive way?

“Yes, you can talk about how things will progress. In that process, do not deal with what came before, because there are some old power structures that you cannot do anything about. Instead, you can bring about change by creating an ideological center where you say: ‘Change can be the part we’re talking about today, and then we can talk about another part tomorrow, and still more the day after tomorrow. And in the big scheme of things, this will be what we will be doing in ten years. Shall we agree on that?’ For that vision of the future based on what we know about the past, you need to bring in others who know something – all your neighbors – into this conversation. You need them to do it with you, otherwise they will resist you. So resilience is in fact both a force and a resistance, and you need to turn it into a force which you do by involving collective knowledge in the process. You’ll have a common platform to start from. Then you can go back home and that’s what makes the process viable. it doesn’t commit you to the meeting, it commits you morally, and you have actually started the process, which is based on everyone’s overall knowledge. There’s someone who pulls and someone who pushes and who is afraid, and together we move on to the next step. Building resilience requires a natural leader, one who is good at bringing people together, and such a person exists in all communities, someone who we trust, who is not biased. That’s how you create a more resilient community in practice.”

Is there a sense of resilience?

“There is a lot of seduction in the process where if you as a leader arouse enthusiasm with people and they commit themselves and say that’s a good idea, I would like to contribute so you can customize the process so that it becomes dynamic And moving. Here you will create an enthusiasm that can be felt in the body. Would I go to the next meeting? Yes, I really feel good.

How do we ensure resilience in the future?

“This is done by looking at basic things in Denmark, such as the agricultural sector, which is completely in debt, there is nothing to inherit, just a tremendous debt that young people have to drag along into their future. Instead of saying, ‘For this older generation, we’ll drink fewer bottles of red wine because we have put ourselves in debt, and we should take responsibility for it.’ So we should perhaps expropriate the land so that pension funds can buy them and subdivide them into small farm plots. But then we’d be tinkering with the much more business-oriented society of the Roman Empire, which is about market and power. We must have a more long-term strategy. That’s also a part of resilience.”


Living pictures and real stories from Samsø Energy Academy

-by Malene Lunden

On this blog, everything is down to earth and immersive. For this reason, sound and lighting and everything else in between is a challenge. My wish for you the reader is to be thrown into the diverse, exciting situations and challenges we experience on Samsø right alongside our staff.

What does it mean to work on an island? And what does it mean that each year 5,000 guests visit Samsø to learn about how united the islanders are in their desire and will become independent of fossil fuels by 2030?

Sustainable conversion is an essential process in which we all need to participate. With a potential global temperature rise of nearly 3 degrees Celsius or more, we are facing instability and consequences, the full power of which we do not yet know.
This is why our goal is to foster conscious communication that is positive and not based on scenarios of fear or negative statements such as “It can’t be done.” We would rather quietly share with you what we have done on Samsø and at the island’s Energy Academy.

These vivid images and stories will give you a sense of who we are and show you the different kinds of people who are working to make positive change in the world.


Engineer Michael Kristensen from Samsø Energy Academy and Samsø Municipality explains why a heat pump is a good investment:

1: Synergy: In the coming years, society is gearing up to phase out the use of fossil fuels, while the surplus heat from for example heat pumps is increasingly connected to the system for the benefit of others. New homes are not allowed to use oil furnaces, while the development of the sustainable energy sector is thriving. In other words, heat pumps along with other forms of green energy are the future, and will become increasingly cheaper, while fossil fuel sources will only become more expensive.

2: Fewer expenses: An oil furnace costs between 40-50,000 kr. (€5,400-6,700). While a heat pump is more expensive to buy, it is much cheaper to operate and has a life span of 20-30 years. On top of this, unlike an oil furnace, the heat pump does not require chimney sweeps or an annual costly inspection.

3: You save significantly more money on your heating bill: The savings are usually estimated between 30-50% on heating compared to an oil furnace, especially if the oil furnace is an older model. It’s frequently said that for every 1 kWh you invest in the heat pump, you get 4 kWh of heat.

4: You will have an easier time borrowing from the bank: Most banks can see the point of installing a less expensive heating system. If you borrow money for a heat pump, you should devise a budget demonstrating the significant savings accrued with such a system. Your installer/plumber can assist you.

5: Increased equity and a house that’s easier to sell: A heat pump provides an improvement on your house’s energy certification in one step, increasing the value of the house and making it easier to sell. In rural areas especially, homes tend to have oil furnaces which need replacing, and a new heating system will give a house a functional boost that will increase its value.

6: You get an overview of your energy consumption and needs: Before you decide whether or not to install a heat pump, it’s a good idea to investigate your family’s energy needs, habits and behaviour at home. Make a simple budget that shows the consumption of electricity, water and heat, and see if there are additional ways to save energy. It will pay off and give you extra money in your pocket on an annual basis, and will also show the bank that you can save up if necessary.

Remember: How effective a heat pump works for you depends on your home. If your house is modern and well insulated, a heat pump is an obvious choice. While an older house with small radiators and a single line system will probably require more insulation and thorough modernisation before the change is made. Also, take a look at your consumption, because the heat pumps are available in different strengths to match your everyday needs.
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