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Old 03-12-10, 08:16 AM   #1
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Default Sweden - Oil independance through conservation and efficiency

A few days ago the Wife attended a mini-conference on energy conservation and efficiency, co-organized by the Swedish embassy. She brought home some very interesting information, which I'll share with you. This may be a little chaotic, and far from complete, but hopefully you'll get the idea.

The oil crisis of the 1970's was very hard on Sweden, which has almost no natural resources of its own (no oil, gas, or coal). When oil prices went down again, most countries went back to business as usual, but Sweden was one of the few which decided to take steps to become less dependent on imported oil and other energy sources. In 1981, Sweden's heating needs were 27 TWh, of which 84% was covered by oil, and another 3% by coal. In 2006, the heating needs were 47.5 TWh, but only 6% came from oil, and 4% from coal. The rest comes from what normally would be wasted.

Most Swedish cities, like many of their European counterparts, have district heating. Like municipal water, this is a network of underground pipes connected to most buildings in the city. The water in the network is heated by waste heat from power plants, and is used to heat buildings and warm water. Only Sweden took this to a different level: instead of using dedicated power plants, they chose to use heat which normally gets wasted. Industries (like ironworks and papermills) account for 10% of the input into the network, trash incinerators account for 15%. Another 10% comes from (by means of large heat pumps) waste treatment plants. Half of the heat comes from forestry and farming wastes. Power plants produce both electricity and heat, which is is 30% more efficient than two invidual, dedicated plants. 80% of Sweden's district heating needs (or 40% of all of its heating needs) comes from sources which are otherwise wasted in other countries. To further increase the network's efficiency, in the summer it is used for cooling, eliminating the need for air conditioning.

Over 570 Swedish cities and towns have local heating networks, which cover up to 100% of their heating, and 60% (70%-80% in winter) of electrical needs.

Swedish efforts have gone beyond just reducing oil dependence, but have also reduced CO2 and waste production. The average Swede produces 512kg of trash per year, but only 20kg of those 512kg go to the landfill (as of 2006). Bottles, cans, etc., have deposits, making it worth while to return them to the store instead of discarding. Organic waste is composted, producing not only fertilizer, but also biogas which is later used for electricity/heat cogeneration. Metal, glass, plastic, paper are recycled, while the rest is incinerated, producing more electricity and heat. The exhaust gasses are condensed twice, allowing recovery of not only more energy, but also valuable substances like metals. Sweden's Waste-to-Energy system is so efficient that trash is no longer allowed to be stored in landfills (since 2009). The system's motto is:

It is important to know where we are heading, not how fast
Certain countries have been against any serious climate decisions claiming that their economies would suffer. This need not be true, as Sweden is is an example: Between 1990 and 2006 Sweden's GDP grew by 48% while reducing CO2 emissions by 9%.

Here are two links on district heating:
District Heating and District Cooling with large centrifugal Chiller - Heat Pumps [pdf]
The Heat Supply of Stockholm

Last edited by Piwoslaw; 03-12-10 at 08:21 AM..
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Old 10-05-10, 10:13 PM   #2
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That's cool. I'm kind of infatuated with Sweden at the moment anyway. This makes the country seem even cooler.

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