Director, Samsø Energy Academy

“A modern common- what is that? Could that be wind, solar, tidal waves? Nobody owns all these energy sources. Could that be the modern common that a community could share?” — Soren Hermanson, Open Access Energy conference, 2016

Søren Hermanson is Director of the Energy Academy on Samsø, an island to the west of Copenhagen that is home to more than 4,000 people. In 1997 Søren initiated the transformation of Samso’s energy sourcing, creating an island that not only meets its own needs with clean self-generated electricity from sources like solar and wind farms, but also sells its surplus energy to the Danish national grid.

Though his experience and research, Søren identifies several key factors as an aid to creating create commitment to change. They include feed-in tariffs, good financing tools and long-term planning. Government commitment to renewables are also a huge help. Inflexible planning regimes are one of the biggest hurdles, he says.

Since Samso’s energy transformation, Søren has become a much-sought advisor and consultant to energy projects around the world. He also hosts a stream of visitors keen to see how to create on-the-ground change in communities’ attitudes to energy generation, hoping to encourage the use of large-scale renewable energy projects like hydroelectric and geothermal plants or solar energy collection farms.

Søren’s work is driven by commitment to the importance of local ownership. It is something that never fails to energize him. “I am an islander with a mission – I like to be in the middle of a good process with engaged people,” he says. “I really like meetings where you feel engagement and courage leading to trust and decisions.”