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.Unlike the US, Europe heavily taxes the consumption of fossil fuels. The area in question is primarily an agricultural region. This tells me that where I live, the San Joaquin Valley, could do the same damn thing. This method is far from perfect, as the use of biogas, a renewable form of energy, does generate emissions..albeit far less than coal and oil.
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.
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.
Once the city fathers got into the habit of harnessing power locally, they saw fuel everywhere: Kristianstad also burns gas emanating from an old landfill and sewage ponds, as well as wood waste from flooring factories and tree prunings.
The start up costs aren't cheap either, but the end result is less carbon emissions and costs to use the biogas are half of what oil and coal costs are. Again from the NYT writeup:
The start-up costs, covered by the city and through Swedish government grants, have been considerable: the centralized biomass heating system cost $144 million, including constructing a new incineration plant, laying networks of pipes, replacing furnaces and installing generators.Isn't this the kinda stuff Obama has talked about? Renewable energy is the future and the future is now in Kristianstad, Sweden. Wisconsin officials have toured the biogas projects in Sweden, and the yahoo's here in Cali that give us our electricity, PG&E have filed with the state to build plants that will use the ag waste generated in this state:
But officials say the payback has already been significant: Kristianstad now spends about $3.2 million each year to heat its municipal buildings rather than the $7 million it would spend if it still relied on oil and electricity. It fuels its municipal cars, buses and trucks with biogas fuel, avoiding the need to purchase nearly half a million gallons of diesel or gas each year.
Like Kristianstad, California and Wisconsin produce a bounty of waste from food processing and dairy farms but an inadequate supply of fossil fuel to meet their needs. Another plus is that biogas plants can devour vast quantities of manure that would otherwise pollute the air and could affect water supplies.It gives me hope...but being a pessimistic bitch..I know someone or something will fuck it up..I just know it. We also suck a shitload of oil out of the ground here in my county..and you know those fuckers aren't looking forward to less sales of their...cough..product. Which means they will probably fight this change tooth and nail.