Home: June 2010 › A greener future
A greener future
30/06/2010 | Channel:
Gas, Electricity, Manufacture, Renewable Energy
As a pioneering district heating company based in Sweden, Borås Energi och Miljö is now looking to share its innovative approach to reducing carbon emissions in energy production to all areas of Europe
As researchers begin to see evidence of a fundamental shift in the world’s climate, it has become clear that humans are responsible, mainly due to our carbon dioxide emissions. As the climate is changing, the consequences will be serious, and our lifestyles need to change. Sweden does its part by using renewable fuel, decreasing energy consumption and reducing car usage. As a result of this, it is only responsible for 0.2 per cent of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions, making it a good role model for other countries, and showing the world how growth and carbon dioxide reduction can be combined.
The Swedish city of Borås is a particular proponent of greener living, and its people combine competence and the commitment to illustrate that by working together, each person can help build the infrastructure of the future with the smallest possible environmental impact. The first step has been taken, with the formation of Borås Energi och Miljö, a specialist district heating company that focuses on turning waste into an energy source. Borås encourages its citizens to be part of the so-called eco-elite, bearing the great responsibility of improving the future of the environment. The company itself is already putting into practice what the EU calls a ‘sustainable society.’
Borås Energi och Miljö operates several plants in the city where it produces district heating, district cooling and electricity. Tree chips, waste and hydroelectric power stations provide hot water and a comfortable indoor climate. Borås households sort their waste into black and white bags. The white bags contain combustible waste and are used for producing district heating. The black bags contain food waste, which is used to produce biogas in the company’s biogas plant at Sobacken. Several of the city’s buses run on biogas and this is where they come to fill up. The Ryaverket plant has been running since the mid 1960s, and is where district heating and cooling are produced. The white waste bags end up here for incineration, as burning household waste is cheap and beneficial for the environment. In addition, Borås Energi’s four hydroelectric power stations provide the city with electricity. In the past the stations were run by people who lived there, but today everything is run automatically from the control room at the Ryaverket plant.
The city’s innovative approach to sustainability goes back much further than the recent push for environmental friendliness. Back in 1984 the city converted its Ryaverket plant to biofuel, replacing the polluting coal and oil that was previously used for energy production. This allowed the city to remove coal entirely from energy production. In 1994 it made a further investment in the environment when fossil fuels were almost entirely replaced by biofuels. In 2005 the city put a plant into operation that uses combustible waste as a fuel, which reduced its use of fossil fuels further still.
Today Borås city is a pioneer when it comes to working in accordance with the biological cycle. This means that burnable household waste can be viewed as a valuable energy resource – energy that would otherwise have been lost. Here the citizens of the town play an important role. When they sort their household waste, travel on the biogas buses, enjoy district heating in their homes or district cooling in their offices; they are part of the biological circle.
Despite implementing considerable improvements across the city, Borås knows it can still do better and so the company is working together with both colleges and businesses to advance its operations. In terms of alternative ways to extract energy, there are many good examples of how companies that use district heating and cooling have reduced their energy consumption, and Borås is keen to learn from the example set by others.
There is still much to be done to reduce the impact of our actions on the environment and Borås will continue to look into innovative ways of reducing emissions of gases that affect the climate. The company believes that there is always room for improvement and so it hopes to become even better at sorting waste and at learning how to manage waste as a valuable energy product. The company is now marketing its knowledge of biofuels and district waste to interested customers all over Europe. Ultimately Borås wants to encourage as many others as possible to take part in the development of a local biological cycle that can be used globally to create a better environment for future generations.