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Research and innovation
News article28 April 2020Directorate-General for Research and Innovation2 min read

Three islands receive EU Prize for innovative renewable energy solutions

The Danish island of Bornholm is the first ever winner of the EU RESponsible Island Prize.

The second prize of €250,000 went to the island of Samsø, also in Denmark, and the third prize of €100,000 to the Orkney Islands in the United Kingdom. The three winners have embraced a green agenda for decades, putting their communities at the heart of the transformation towards fully renewable energy systems.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth 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.

The main winner, Bornholm, has engaged all sectors of society to deliver a sustainable island for future generations. Bornholm has the ambition of becoming CO2 neutral by 2025 and a zero-emission and climate-friendly community by 2035. Led by the regional municipality, the winning team of 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. In doing so, Bornholm successfully brought together research and innovation with society.

The Island of Samsø has put its community at the centre of a successful process to switch from imported fossil fuels to local renewable energy, and to become fossil free by 2030. The Orkney Islands have overcome a series of energy challenges and are now among European leaders in using novel green technologies for decarbonisation.

There are more than 2000 inhabited islands in the EU. These islands often have high local energy costs, but they can benefit from the transition to renewable energy sources in many ways, such as local job creation and sustainable tourism. Islands are therefore ideal test labs to develop innovative energy technologies and can serve as energy transition models for small communities in general.

Funded by Horizon 2020, the RESponsible Island Prize is awarded in the years 2019 and 2020. The next edition of the RESponsible Island Prize is now open for applications. Applicants can submit their proposals by 29 September 2020.


The European Commission launched the first RESponsible Island Prize in March 2019 to reward achievements in local renewable energy production for electricity, heating, cooling and transport on islands. The prize name refers to the combination of renewables (RES) and responsibility.

The prize was awarded based on the share of renewable energy produced by innovative energy technologies, environmental and socioeconomic sustainability and impact, citizen and community involvement as well as replicability of the solution.

The prize is in line with the Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative, which provides a long-term framework to help islands generate their own sustainable and low-cost energy. It also contributes to Mission Innovation Challenge 2 on Off-Grid Electricity with the objective to develop systems that enable off-grid households and communities to access affordable and reliable renewable electricity. The European Green Deal is the roadmap for making the EU's economy sustainable and the prize provides visibility to its objectives for remote communities.

More information

Factsheet - Island of Bornholm

Factsheet - Island of Samsø

Factsheet - Orkney Islands


Publication date
28 April 2020
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation