December 15, 2010

They have freaking awesome skiers, fun knitting, happy people and delicious meatballs and they don’t even need fossil fuels.

Kristianstad, a town of 80,000 in southern Sweden, no longer uses fossil fuels for heating. Spurred on by rising fuel costs, taxes on carbon and a rival neighbor getting rich quick off oil, town planners initiated a project to wean the town off fossil fuel consumption. They implemented efficient district heating which uses a large central boiler to heat multiple homes rather than individual boilers for each home. New York City does this too, but they use the stinky sticky stuff. The Swedes use wood pellets.

They also use manure, pig intestines and food scraps, which are also stinky, to create gas for electricity and some transportation. Kristianstad is located in southern Sweden, which is highly agricultural, so this waste is locally sourced. In a large electrical plant, the bacteria ferments the scraps and shit and turns them to methane and then methane is burned to create electricity.

The basic chemical equation is:

C6H12O6 → 3CO2 + 3CH4

Or, the bacteria break down the complex organic molecules of pig poop into simple sugars then into carbon dioxide and methane. The methane is then burned in a electrical facility. When burned, methane produces heat, along with more carbon dioxide and water. Methane is a a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide – reducing one ton of methane is equivalent to reducing 25 tons of carbon dioxide. Therefore burning the methane is actually reducing its effect on the climate and producing electricity.

Obviously, through this whole process greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere so it is not a carbon-free solution. However, the cool things are as follows:

1. The process uses local material that would otherwise be wasted and emit greenhouse gases.

2. The process also reduces overall emissions compare to using fossil fuels by more than a handful.

3. The town decided to find options other than fossil fuels and ACTUALLY FOLLOWED THROUGH.

4. They don’t need any oil from stinking Norway

Hurra Sverige!



One Response to “Sverige”

  1. Jean Polfus said

    Joe just had a class where they talked about Denmark being the “happiest country in the world” (this is regarding your link to Sweden having happy people).

    The professor told the class about a study where they determined that this was because Danes have lower expectations. They just didn’t expect as much (maybe because of WWII) and were happy with what they had.

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