This year’s EU Responsible Islands Prizes go to . . .

Recognising achievements in local renewables production for power, heating, cooling and transport, prizes are awarded to discover and reward European islands that were taking real steps towards building proper sustainable communities. This year’s winners were announced in a news item on the Renews website.


Danish islands and Orkney take EU sustainability prize

The Danish islands of Bornholm and Samso took first and second place and the Orkney Isles in Scotland third place in the 2020 EU Responsible Island Prize, which recognises achievements in local renewables production for power, heating, cooling and transport.

The prize is funded by EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 and was awarded by the European Commission following evaluation by an international panel of independent experts.

The Responsible Islands Prize was launched in March 2019 by the commission to discover and reward European islands that were taking real steps towards building proper sustainable communities.

The winner Bornholm was awarded €500,000, with second placed Samso receiving €250,000.

Bornholm has developed a 100% renewable energy system that combines photovoltaics, wind energy, innovative solutions in waste treatment and combined heat and power from locally produced biomass.

The island has the ambition of becoming CO2 neutral by 2025 and a zero-emission and climate-friendly community by 2035.

Samso has put its community at the centre of a process to switch from imported fossil fuels to local renewable energy, and to become fossil free by 2030.

Orkney won €100,000 for taking third prize due to the percentage of renewable electricity produced by innovative energy technologies locally, environmental and socioeconomic sustainability, community involvement and the replicability of its approach.

Orkney has generated over 100% of its electricity demand from renewable power sources since 2013.

The Orkney Renewable Energy Forum (OREF) and its membership have encouraged and supported pioneering innovation, helping to achieve advances and breakthroughs.

OREF co-chair Gareth Davies said: “Orkney’s journey towards a more sustainable energy future has always been shaped and strongly supported by European influence.

“At Orkney’s first renewable realities conference back in 2002, Samuele Furfari of the EU’s Directorate General for Energy and Transport claimed to our audience: ‘do not look to others to solve your energy issues – look to yourselves’.

“This was an extremely important, useful and truthful observation. The success that has been achieved since has well and truly been led from within Orkney all be it with major support from others.”

OREF co-chair Neil Kermode said: “This is a public endorsement of the work done by so many OREF members over so many years to place energy front and centre in the life of Orkney.

“From routine monthly meetings to the ownership of microgeneration and electric vehicles; from the investments made in large wind in the county to the commitments by the supply chain to deliver the sunrise industries of wave and tidal energy and green hydrogen.

“There’s been a consistent push across the Orkney community to reduce energy consumption and harvest renewable energy demonstrating how a community can live sustainably and responsibly.

“I’m delighted to see that the decades of endeavour here in Orkney have been recognised by the European Commission, and through projects such as ReFLEX Orkney we will continue to decarbonise to develop a net zero economy.”

European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel said: “Islands can become climate neutral, thriving communities if they invest in green technologies while involving citizens, businesses, scientists and local energy companies. That is what this prize is about.

“I warmly congratulate the three winners whose example will inspire other islands and energy communities.”

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