Energy Futures of Ærø’s Island Community

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The Energy Futures of Ærø's Island Community will organize visioning workshops for island residents, bringing a much-needed community perspective to their Citizen Energy Community project. These workshops will ultimately help the island use its locally produced renewable energy in an effective way that engages the entire island.

Ærø is a rural island community in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea served by ferries, including one that is fully electric, to the mainland. The community is thriving due to individual initiative and a community mentality. It has a local government which includes the mayor, city council, and administration. The island has proven time and again to be entrepreneurial and pioneering, not least within the maritime and green energy sectors. Ærø has been a front runner on many clean energy technologies: wind turbines in the 1980s, solar thermal for district heating in the town of Marstal, and the Horizon-2020-funded electric ferry project 'E-ferry.' Ærø continues to push ahead on its decarbonization and clean energy agenda with an ambitious climate strategy aiming for CO2 neutrality by 2040. The local not-for-profit organization Ærøfonden supports clean energy initiatives and has initiated a local Citizen Energy Community project.

Specific needs and challenges

Although recognized as key to the successful implementation of climate ambitions and local clean energy initiatives, citizen engagement is currently missing on the island. In particular, the ongoing Citizen Energy Community project, which is focused on technical feasibility, the legal framework, and business models, currently lacks a citizen engagement track. With 191 local signatories supporting the Citizen Energy Community project's funding application and approximately 50 persons showing up for an informational meeting held in October 2022, plus personal communication, they know that islanders are motivated and want to be engaged. However, the resources to organize proper citizen engagement are lacking. As an outcome of the Citizen Energy Community project and the SHARED GREEN DEAL social experiment 'Energy Futures of Ærø's Island Community,' they aim to create a more effective local Citizen Energy Community organization which will use the locally produced renewable electricity more intelligently, thus coming closer to self-sufficiency.

Detailed description of the experiment

This experiment will organize co-creation events specifically for each target group around the theme 'Energy Futures of Ærø's Island Community':

  • Event 1: local government officials working with the climate strategy and members of the city council. Relevant because they are key personnel for the implementation of the climate strategy. 
  • Event 2: civil society organizations (Ærøfonden, Motorfabrikken, district heating organizations, wind energy cooperative, and the energy agency). Relevant as local key players within clean energy. 
  • Event 3: residents, aiming to also engage younger people (ages 18-30) and seniors (ages +65). Relevant because citizen engagement and ownership are key. The younger generation islanders are underrepresented because they often move away for their studies, yet they feel a strong connection and represent a resource. Older generations are overrepresented on the island and also represent a resource.
  • Event 4: Local businesses (shipyard Søby Værft, maritime academy, shop owners, ferry operators, bus operator, farmers, electricians, hotels, logistics service providers, etc.). They are key players as electricity consumers.

Local engagement

The island community is very inclusive in terms of gender, age, background, culture, etc. due to its maritime past and dependence on an influx of newcomers. In recent years, the island has experienced newcomers mainly from cities in Denmark and Germany. Every semester, new students arrive from around Denmark to attend the local maritime academy. Many seniors move to the island to enjoy retirement and want to engage and contribute. Motorfabrikken, an event venue and co-creation facility, is known as a local hub for entrepreneurship and innovation with students and seniors. Motorfabrikken has a large network of young people born and raised on the island who are now studying in the cities via their Homecoming co-creation summer camp, which is focused on ideation for local development and entrepreneurship. Hence, by word of mouth and through networks, it will be easy to involve social groups representing younger and older people in particular.  


  • The not-for-profit organization Fonden Motorfabrikken Marstal is the project owner, owner of the venue where the co-creation events will be hosted, and it includes a hub for entrepreneurship and co-creation. 
  • The not-for-profit organization Ærøfonden will be involved as a project supporter and owner of the Citizen Energy Community project. 
  • Ærø Kommune will be involved as a project supporter and key player in the Citizen Energy Community project. 
  • The local startup and energy community orchestrator, Blue Innovators, will contribute as a subcontractor and co-creation event facilitator. 

Local partner:

Fonden Motorfabrikken Marstal



Number of inhabitants:





Thomas Estrup,

tes [at] blue [dot] green

May-Aug 2023

Workshop planning and preparation, recruitment of participants

Sep-Nov 2023

Community visioning workshops with local policy makers, businesses, residents

Nov-Dec 2023

Joint workshop with sample representatives from each of the four groups who took part in the earlier workshop Hosting the lighthouse study tour

Jan-Feb 2024

Analysis and synthesis of each of the workshops, planning for joint workshop  

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For further details please contact co-leads Professor Chris Foulds ( and Professor Rosie Robison (

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 101036640. The sole responsibility for the content of this website lies with the SHARED GREEN DEAL HAS project and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union.