Renewable energy
Wind mills are seen at the Tazigou wind power station in Fuxin, Liaoning province November 22, 2009. Reuters/Stringer

As the debate on how to achieve a stable electricity system in Australia continues, Soren Hermansen, the man who helped create the first island run on 100 percent renewable energy, said he has to travel to Australia for a blackout.

Denmark, where Hermansen hails from, gets 50 percent of its power from renewable energy – including wind and other sources. He added blackouts are not as common in Denmark.

“I have to go to Australia to deal with a blackout, we never have blackouts, this is not bragging,” he said, speaking with News Corp. “We have a very powerful grid — we don’t experience any failure.”

Denmark has made the achievement by integrating renewables into its power system. One of the steps the country has taken to prevent problems faced by Australia is to place its distribution lines underground – which helps avoid power loss due to extreme weather conditions. In October last year, South Australia experienced a statewide blackout.

Hermansen said the supply in Samso, an island in Denmark with a population of 4,000 that runs on 100 percent renewable energy, is stable. Although the island and the mainland are connected through a cable, it is “rarely” used – maybe two to three percent of the time, Hermansen said. The island also serves as a net exporter of electricity to the mainland.

Australia finds itself in the midst of an ongoing debate concerning the need of coal-fired power in order to achieve a stable electricity system. South Australia, which draws 40 percent of its power from renewable energy, has been affected by a number of blackouts.

Speaking at the National Community Energy Congress in Melbourne this week, Hermansen said one of the ways that an effective renewables grid can be achieved is through local community support. “It requires people to be educated and informed, and to take responsibility for energy consumption and generation,” he said. “(In the past) they were just consumers in a shop buying energy ... they got a bill every month, they paid it and that’s it.”

As power grids are becoming decentralised, consumers can adopt a few measures of their own – like installing rooftop solar panels that direct energy into the grid and contributing towards community electricity projects. A few community-funded solar projects have been launched in Australia. One of these was an investor fund that raised $17,500 from contributions by 150 people to install a 29.9kW solar farm on the roof of Young Henry’s Brewery in Sydney.