Ærø is a small island located in the southern part of Denmark. For the past 30 years the island has been actively working to promote the use of renewable energy sources. Today, over 55% of the island's total energy consumption is based on renewable energy (solar, wind and biomass) and the goal is 100% renewable energy production by 2025.
On the island there are 3 district heating plants which cover approximately 65% of all heat consumption. All district heating systems are powered 100% by renewable energy sources such as solar energy, biomass (straw and wood pellets) and bio oil.
The island has a total wind power capacity of 12 MW with an annual electricity generation of 40 GWh. This covers over 120% of the total electricity consumption.
The Ærø wind turbines are owned by 650 local shareholders (over 10% of the island's inhabitants) and by a local fund that invests part of its profits in projects for the local community. The wind farm project was the first of the projects currently implemented. It all started in 1981 when the island community set up the Ærø Energy and Environment Office, which took on the role of local intermediary in the development process of a community-owned wind farm (only the inhabitants and companies on the island can buy shares). The sale of the shares followed an inclusive process, selling first to those inhabitants who wanted to buy a small number of shares and then opening up to those who wanted to invest more money. Local banks have contributed to this type of approach by providing bank loans to citizens. Even today, the association promotes good practices on energy saving, thermal insulation, helps local citizens in applying for grants, plans energy projects and contributes to start local production from wind turbines and solar panels.