The New York Times recently profiled the Swedish city of Kristianstad – a small city that made a pledge over a decade ago to wean itself from fossil fuels. Unlike many other cities and countries that have made that pledge, Kristianstad has actually made good on its promise to commit to alternative energy sources.
Kristianstad currently uses no oil, natural gas or coal to heat their homes and businesses, instead, they rely almost exclusively on waste products for energy – since the region is known for farming and food processing, it uses stuff like potato peels, manure, used cooking oil, stale cookies and pig intestines for fuel. Ten years ago, Kristianstad built itself a biogas plant on the outskirts of the city – the plant takes all that waste and uses biological processes to transform all the waste into biogas. They also started laying in underground pipes to provide district heating via a underground heating grid. The biogas is burned to create energy (and when burned, the biogas produces far less emissions than coal or oil do), and this energy is used to provide heating. But that’s not all, Kristianstad also uses that biogas to fuel its municipal car fleet, which allows them to avoid having to buy almost half a million gallons of diesel or gasoline each year.
Now, they’re planning to go further. The city wants to build some additional satellite biogas plants for its outlying areas and build more filling stations. Since biogas costs about 20% less than gasoline in Sweden, they are hopeful that private citizens will spend the money to convert their cars to biogas. But they realize that before consumers will do that, they need to make sure that the biogas will be available when they need it.
You can read the whole article on Kristianstad here.