Eco-Villages, Energy Independence, and Self Sufficiency: An Evening with Søren Hermansen

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Søren Hermansen – named one of Time Magazine's 2008 "Heroes of the Environment" – led Samsø Island, a conservative rural farming community of 4000 in Denmark, to become self-sufficient through renewable energy. MUM's Sustainable Living Department will host Mr. Hermansen as he speaks to the Fairfield Community in Dalby Hall, Oct 9, Wed nite, 7:45pm CT, and via live webcast on MUMTV.

Søren Hermansen, one of Time Magazine's 2008 "Heroes of the Environment"

They've now built their own energy institute, where experts from around the world come to study how the people of Samsø achieved, in less than ten years, what most of the world thinks can't be done.

Søren Hermansen, CEO of the Samsø Energy Academy, will describe how his community became known as "The Energy Island." Sponsored by the Sustainable Living Department and the Distinguished Lecture Series at Maharishi University of Management, Hermansen's talk will take place Wednesday evening, October 9, at 7:45pm CT in Dalby Hall, and will be webcast live on MUMTV.

Samsø, Denmark, a conservative rural farming community of 4000, is one of the first communities in the world to be 100% powered by renewable energy through an innovative combination of wind power, solar energy, district heating by biomass, biogas, and alternative transportation fuels like locally produced biodiesel and electric cars. Beyond self-sufficiency, Samsø produces a surplus of energy that is sold to other communities.

Søren Hermansen, the director of the project and the Samsø Energy Academy, will discuss how he organized the community of Samsø to support and participate in the project, and give a project update. Mr. Hermansen is a Time Magazine Hero of the Planet, author of a new book on Samsø, and has received many other awards.

Mr. Hermansen, is Adjunct Professor at Aalborg University. He is an islander, born on Samsø, and describes himself as an educated farmer. He was the organizational leader of Samsø Energy and Environment Organisation (SEEO) — Samsø, Denmark's 100% Renewable Energy Island, and from 2006 has been Director of Samsø Energy Academy. He has a background as a campaigner and developer of renewable energy projects in wind, solar, biomass, biofuels and transport.

Under civic-minded Hermansen's enthusiastic leadership — founded on a grass roots perspective — the work has resulted so far in eleven land-based, and ten ocean-based, wind generators as well as a number of district heating power plants driven by burning hay or wood chips. Replacing fossil fueled cars and tractors with biogas, rapeseed oil and electric car technology is already in the pipeline. See the video: The Short Story: "Samsø The Energy Island."

The Samsø Energy Academy was built in 2006 and opened its doors for visitors in 2007. Samsø began orienting island citizens about the potential and perspectives in the Energy Island project in 1998. There was a Ten Year Plan to orchestrate the project. The foundation work for the ten offshore wind turbines started in 2002 and the offshore wind park was the biggest project in the renewable energy implementation plan. These wind turbines were erected to compensate for the CO2 emissions from the transport sector and to match the energy consumption in this sector. Technical solutions are not yet available that can replace all the island vehicles.

John Larson, in his report for World Focus Online, Island in Denmark produces more energy than it consumes, explained how Samsø won a national contest to switch to renewable energy. "They've now built their own energy institute, where experts from around the world come to study how the people of Samsø achieved, in less than ten years, what most of the world thinks can't be done."

MUM has also helped create an energy self-sufficient demonstration project. In 2010, a grant was obtained to find solutions to the current energy challenges facing Southeast Alaska. Faculty and students from MUM's Sustainable Living Department went to Alaska to work on the project. A documentary of the project, Sustain Angoon, was also made by MUM students.

Founded in 1971, Maharishi University of Management (MUM) offers Consciousness-Based℠ Education, a traditional academic curriculum enhanced with self-development programs like the Transcendental Meditation® technique. Students are encouraged to follow a more sustainable routine of study, socializing and rest without the typical college burnout. All aspects of campus life nourish the body and mind, including organic vegetarian meals served fresh daily. Located in Fairfield, Iowa, MUM is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in the arts, sciences, humanities, and business. Visitors Weekends are held throughout the year. For more information, call the Admissions Office at 800-369-6480 or visit

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Ken Chawkin
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Maharishi University of Management
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