Saturday, December 11, 2010

A city powered by waste


Kristianstad, Sweden is setting an example for the rest of the world, as highlighted in this NY Times article, Using Waste, Swedish City Cuts Its Fossil Fuel Use. After a ten-year effort, the city of 80,000 has cut off the use of oil, natural gas, and coal for heating and now relies on waste products from farming and food processing to generate biogas.

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.

Though the lock on fossil fuel use in the U.S. appears to be unbreakable, sometimes workable solutions to our energy problems are right in front of our noses.