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Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

Sweden’s trash power – keeping up with demand

Posted in Models by Jessica Bird on November 27th, 2012


Photo by Vattenfall via Flickr CC.

From the article “Sweden imports waste from European neighbors to fuel waste-to-energy program” on Public Radio International.

When it comes to recycling, Sweden is incredibly successful. Just four percent of household waste in Sweden goes into landfills. The rest winds up either recycled or used as fuel in waste-to-energy power plants. Burning the garbage in the incinerators generates 20 percent of Sweden’s district heating, a system of distributing heat by pumping heated water into pipes through residential and commercial buildings. It also provides electricity for a quarter of a million homes. According to Swedish Waste Management, Sweden recovers the most energy from each ton of waste in the waste to energy plants, and energy recovery from waste incineration has increased dramatically just over the last few years. The problem is, Sweden’s waste recycling program is too successful.

Catarina Ostlund, Senior Advisor for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency said the country is producing much less burnable waste than it needs. “We have more capacity than the production of waste in Sweden and that is usable for incineration,” Ostlund said. However, they’ve recently found a solution. Sweden has recently begun to import about eight hundred thousand tons of trash from the rest of Europe per year to use in its power plants. The majority of the imported waste comes from neighboring Norway because it’s more expensive to burn the trash there and cheaper for the Norwegians to simply export their waste to Sweden. In the arrangement, Norway pays Sweden to take the waste off their hands and Sweden also gets electricity and heat.  But dioxins in the ashes of the waste byproduct are a serious environmental pollutant. Ostlund explained that there are also heavy metals captured within the ash that need to be landfilled. Those ashes are then exported to Norway. This arrangement works particularly well for Sweden, since in Sweden the energy from the waste is needed for heat. According to Ostlund, when both heat and electricity are used, there’s much higher efficiency for power plants. “So that’s why we have the world’s best incineration plants concerning energy efficiency. But I would say maybe in the future, this waste will be valued even more so maybe you could sell your waste because there will be a shortage of resources within the world,” Ostlund said.

Ostlund said Sweden hopes that in the future Europe will build its own plants so it can manage to take care of its own waste. “I hope that we instead will get the waste from Italy or from Romania or Bulgaria or the Baltic countries because they landfill a lot in these countries. They don’t have any incineration plants or recycling plants, so they need to find a solution for their waste,” Ostlund said. In fact, landfilling remains the principal way of disposal in those countries, but new waste-to-energy initiatives have been introduced in Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, and Lithuania. It is also important, Ostlund notes, for Sweden to find ways to reduce its own waste in the future. “This is not a long-term solution really, because we need to be better to reuse and recycle, but in the short perspective I think it’s quite a good solution,” Ostlund concluded.

>> You can read the original article on Public Radio International.
>> You can also listen to the interview with Catarina Ostlund by Bruce Gellerman on Living on Earth.


Solar Energy from Existing Structures: Free Calculator

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on November 11th, 2011

Source: Renewables International


Image from SEES Manual


From New software calculates a city’s potential by Sven Ullrich & Craig Morris:

Researchers at the University of Göteborg in Sweden have come up with a new computer program to analyze the potential of solar power generation and solar heat for entire cities. The program supports a wide range of data formats.

Called Solar Energy from Existing Structures (SEES), the new software collects, stores, analyzes, and graphically displays geographical data for roofs to determine their suitability for solar arrays. It calculates both the angle of solar incidence and shading from trees and nearby structures. In addition to this data, the roof angle and climate data are included with a resolution of up to an hour. The program shows building roofs in their actual environment. In the model, the sun shines on the building’s three-dimensional surroundings to correctly reveal shading, which can also be calculated for individual months and the year as a whole.

Read the full article by Sven Ullrich & Craig Morris on Renewables International.


Capturing Body Heat for Energy in Buildings

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on June 14th, 2011

Source: Green Futures


Image: Symo0 via flickr CC


From “New installations in Stockholm and Paris harness the body heat of commuters” by Sam Jones:

Swedish realtor Jernhusen is investing SEK 1 billion in the regeneration of Stockholm Central Station, including an innovative geothermal system to capture and channel the body heat of its 250,000 daily commuters. Heat exchangers in the ventilation system will convert surplus low-grade body heat into hot water, which will then be pumped to heat office space in the nearby Kungsbrohuset building, also owned by Jernhusen. The plans, due for completion in June 2012, also include the replacement of all lighting in the station with LEDs, with the aim of obtaining Green Building certification.  The system could reduce the energy costs of the office block by up to 25% – a significant saving given Sweden’s cold winters and costly gas. The common ownership of the two buildings makes the transfer of energy a clear win, but – says Klas Johnasson, one of the developers – if real estate owners collaborate, there’s no reason why the project could not be replicated on a commercial basis.

A similar initiative is underway in the Paris Metro at Rambuteau station. Warmth generated by passengers in the platforms and corridors, combined with heat from the movement of the trains, will supply underfloor heating for a public housing project, topping up the local district heating network. The apartment block, owned by Paris Habitat, is connected to the station via a disused stairwell which will house the pipes, eliminating excavation costs that would otherwise have made the project too expensive to pursue. As a result, Paris Habitat expects to cut its heating bill by up to a third.

Read the full article by Sam Jones for Green Futures.


From Resilience Theory To Practice: 11 Commandments

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on April 6th, 2011

Source: Stockholm Resilience Centre: Research for governance of social-ecological systems.


Photo of Neural Sky by rox sm via flickr CC

From “The 11 Commandments: Brian Walker presents 11 issues to think about when applying resilience theory“:

[Stockholm Resilience Centre Senior Research Fellow] Brian Walker has been instrumental in formulating social-ecological resilience theory. At a time when resilience has become a widespread term used by scientists, politicians, business leaders, NGOs and other practitioners alike, Walker is starting to see the need to develop ideas on how to apply resilience theory into practice.

“This need has become apparent in my work with a range of different practitioners, from Australian farmers hit by climate change effects and global economic trends to the government officials who have to develop appropriate policies. It becomes doubly difficult when you’re dealing with regions that involve more than one country, like the Arctic”, says Walker. “Generally, the resilience concept is a very useful tool in communicating with practitioners. A common problem, however, is that people tend to focus too much on one scale — the scale that most concerns them. A lot remains to be done when it comes to the practical work of implementation”, he continues.

At the recent Resilience 2011 conference in Arizona, Walker presented 11 areas where more attention is needed in order to tackle problems with applying resilience ideas:

  1. You cannot understand or manage a system by focusing on one scale.
  2. Increasing resilience at one scale can reduce resilience at other scales.
  3. Social-ecological systems are essentially self-organizing systems with thresholds.
  4. Thresholds can move.
  5. There is a hierarchy of thresholds with some embedded within others.
  6. Trying to make the system very resilient in one way can lead to loss of resilience in others.
  7. While theory development around specified resilience (identifying thresholds, etc.) is active and encouraging, the theory on general resilience lacks rigour and needs research.
  8. Both specified resilience and general resilience are important and interact.
  9. The proposition of panarchy has become popular and widely used, as a concept, but it, too, lacks rigour in application.
  10. Resilience and transformability are not “opposites”; they are compatible aspects of a complex adaptive system that functions at multiple scales.
  11. Navigating the combined influences of exogenous shocks and endogenous changes calls for adaptive governance.

Read the full article for links to Brian Walker’s presentation and a video illustrating resilience in humans and ecosystems.


Allotment Gardens: Social-ecological Resilience

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on June 3rd, 2010

Source: Stockholm Resilience Centre


Image: beachcomber1954 via flickr CC

From “Urban gardens key in times of crisis“:

Allotment gardens have often been sources of local resilience during periods of crisis. During World War I the number of allotment gardens surged from 600,000 to 1,500,000 in Britain, supplying city people with food and other ecosystem services.  The gardens were planted in parks and sports fields, and even Buckingham Palace turned up the earth to grow vegetables. After declining abruptly in the 1920s and 1930s, World War II saw a new explosion in the numbers of allotment gardens in cities of Britain and other parts of Europe.

The story above is told in a new seminal article (Social–ecological memory in urban gardens—Retaining the capacity for management of ecosystem services) by centre researchers Stephan Barthel, Carl Folke and Johan Colding.

The article, which is in press in  Global Environmental Change, investigates where and how ecological practices, knowledge and experience are retained and transmitted in allotment gardens in the urban area of Stockholm. It is the first study ever to really analyse in-depth the concept of “social-ecological memory” as the carrier of ecological knowledge and practices that enable sustainable stewardship of nature.  Linking back to the story of allotment gardens during the World Wars, the specific aim of the new study has been to explore how management practices, which are linked to ecosystem services, are retained and stored among people, and modified and transmitted through time.

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