Biogas is growing more popular - photo via fordonsgas.
Swedes are fond of making sweeping proclamations - oil-free by 2050, they promised, and now Skåne, the country's southernmost region, is claiming it will end its dependence on fossil fuels by 2020 - just 11 years away. It's a bit of greenwash, in that it means the region itself will only own and operate alternative-fuel vehicles, and only heat the apartment buildings its controls with alternative fuels. It doesn't mean there will no longer be any gas stations and gas cars, plastic bags, or fossil-fuel grown food, unfortunately, which is what the region would need to do to be TRULY fossil-fuel-free. The pledge does go a bit further than the rest of Sweden, which gives itself an extra decade (until 2030) to make all fleets run on ethanol and methane biogas.Sewer gas by any other name
Sweden has a well-developed infrastructure of methane production plants - usually connected to local waterworks and sewage treatment plants - and a good number of methane stations around cities (though nowhere near as many as ethanol pumps). Right now, methane is actually cheaper than regular gas on a per liter basis. Unfortunately, during the big boom of 'eco car' buying that characterized Sweden in the last couple of years, methanol-cars were not the most popular, partially due to the fact that Volvo shortsightedly discontinued its BiFuel model. Now Volvo will join Volkswagen and Mercedes in offering new methane-driven models.
And though sales of eco-cars are dropping in Sweden, sales of the few models that can be fueled with methane grew 260% in 2009 compared to 2008 - around 600 vehicles were sold in the country in May 2009.
Swedish farmers mucking out the methane
Skåne thinks it will be able to find enough methane to run its car fleets, and has set itself some interim goals - by 2012 half of its fleet should run on alternative fuels, and by 2016 75 percent should be alternatively-fueled. As far as the buildings go, by this summer they will all have 100 percent 'green certified' electricity. While the efforts on the part of the municipality itself to be 'fossil fuel free' are a form of greenwash in the sense that it might not make the regions residents any greener, it does set a good example. One out of ten Swedish lifestock farmers are reported to be investing in some form of renewable energy for their farms, including undergoing the expensive process of creating methane capture.
But since the Moderate party gained control of the government in 2006, the goal to reduce dependence on oil has slowly slipped from the radar, to be replaced with more talk about reducing carbon dioxide emissions - certainly through changes in fleets and more sustainable transport options, but not through an 'oil free' infrastructure. Via: IDG (English)