Ærø runs 30 km from Skjoldnæs North-west of the town of Søby to the town of Marstal located at the South-eastern end of the island. The fact that Ærø can only be reached by ferry taking you through the scenic South Funen Archipelago contributes to the unique character of the island and its people. The majority of of Ærø’s 6.600 inhabitants reside in the towns of Marstal and Ærøskøbing, with the remaining population living in Søby or in the small villages and traditional farm houses scattered across the island. Farming activities continue to shape Ærø’s country landscape.
Since the 18th century, shipping has been an essential part of life on Ærø with local freighters initially carrying produce from Ærø and neighbouring islands to nearby market towns. From the mid-19th century, fleets expanded and voyages gradually reached destinations throughout the world. Along with agriculture, shipping and navigation remain important industries on Ærø.
Today Ærø is considered one of the world’s leading renewable energy islands, powering a major proportion of total energy consumption. Ærø boasts a world record area of solar cells installed per inhabitant and the largest solar heating plant in Europe in Marstal - producing 30% of the town’s heating supply. Likewise, the full heating supply of Ærøskøbing and Rise towns is produced from renewable solar and agricultural waste (straw) sources. Ærø’s six wind turbines generate more electricity than the island’s total annual consumption. These turbines are owned by an energy cooperative comprising about 10% of Ærø’s population – demonstrating the wide local support for renewable energy.