Can Mount Desert Island make itself self-sustaining in energy in just 14 years? While that may sound like an impossible goal, the fact is that there are other islands, other towns in northern climates, that already have achieved that goal. Most notable among them is Samso, in Denmark.
Just over a year ago, a delegation from College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor travelled there to learn how that island community was able to accomplish that goal in just a decade.
On Samso, electricity is generated by 11 large wind turbines on land and another 10 offshore. Biomass plants, fueled by wood pellets and other renewables, along with solar panels, provide heating. Biofuels power vehicles. The ultimate goal is to be 100 percent fossil-fuel free.
While the population and geography of Samso differ from those of MDI, that island’s success suggests it might be possible here. Certainly the regulatory climate is different. There’s a question about the aesthetics of large wind turbines in the viewshed of Acadia National Park. But those concerns should not prevent a discussion from being initiated.
On Jan. 24, at 3:30 p.m., a forum called “A Climate to Thrive” will be held at the Neighborhood House in Northeast Harbor. It will explore the goal of energy self-sufficiency for MDI.
While seasonal surges in population, and the resultant spikes in energy demand, may make it difficult for MDI to become totally self-sustaining energy-wise, there’s no harm in exploring “what if?”