go-green


Swedish city cuts its

fossil fuel use with waste management.

by New York Times:

As part of its citywide system, Kristianstad burns wood waste like tree prunings and scraps from flooring factories to power an underground district heating grid.

When this city vowed a decade ago to wean itself from fossil fuels, it was a lofty aspiration, like zero deaths from traffic accidents or the elimination of childhood obesity.

But Kristianstad has already crossed a crucial threshold: the city and surrounding county, with a population of 80,000, essentially use no oil, natural gas or coal to heat homes and businesses, even during the long frigid winters. It is a complete reversal from 20 years ago, when all of their heat came from fossil fuels.

But this area in southern Sweden, best known as the home of Absolut vodka, has not generally substituted solar panels or wind turbines for the traditional fuels it has forsaken. Instead, as befits a region that is an epicenter of farming and food processing, it generates energy from a motley assortment of ingredients like potato peels, manure, used cooking oil, stale cookies and pig intestines.

Kristianstad calculated that it eliminated 64 tons of CO2 emissions annually by using wood pellets to heat a city greenhouse.

A hulking 10-year-old plant on the outskirts of Kristianstad uses a biological process to transform the detritus into biogas, a form of methane. That gas is burned to create heat and electricity, or is refined as a fuel for cars.

For many agricultural regions, a crucial component of the renewable energy mix has become gas extracted from biomass like farm and food waste. In Germany alone, about 5,000 biogas systems generate power, in many cases on individual farms.

Kristianstad has gone further, harnessing biogas for an across-the-board regional energy makeover that has halved its fossil fuel use and reduced the city’s carbon dioxide emissions by one-quarter in the last decade.

In the United States, biogas systems are rare. There are now 151 biomass digesters in the country, most of them small and using only manure, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The E.P.A. estimated that installing such plants would be feasible at about 8,000 farms.

Both natural gas and biogas create emissions when burned, but far less than coal and oil do. And unlike natural gas, which is pumped from deep underground, biogas counts as a renewable energy source: it is made from biological waste that in many cases would otherwise decompose in farm fields or landfills and yield no benefit at all, releasing heat-trapping methane into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming.

New York Times

Cities should start looking into this as it is way less expensive then they’ve authorized in their strapped budget.

We need self sustaining cities like this in the U.S to get away from fossil fuels

(and dependence on the Middle East)