15 April 2008

A Green Energy

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The city of Västerås in Sweden has set up a large system of organic waste collection providing the city with biofuel, heat, electricity and even natural fertilizer for farmers

In Sweden, an industrial factory co-digests ley crops and organic household waste to create biogas fuel and helps in reducing dependency on fossil fuels for transportation.

Because it’s a renewable energy, biogas can play a role in reducing dependency on fossil fuels for transportation. Produced from the anaerobic fermentation of organic animal or plant waste, biogas allows an optimal energy valorization of residual sludge.

In Sweden, the AGROPTI-Gas project – backed by the European Commission - has enabled the construction of a full-scale biogas plant in Västerås, inaugurated in November 2005. This is an industrial factory that co-digests ley crops and household waste to transform them into biogas. The biogas is then purified and piped to bus and car service stations to be used as fuel. Each day, thousands of kilos of waste are collected from Västerås homes, cafeterias and restaurants, then brought to the biogas plant.

The artificial fermentation of biomass associated with ley crops produces 15 thousand megawatts-hours (MWh) of biogas per year, which the city uses as biofuel for cars and buses, and to provide heat and electricity for buildings.

The guaranteed advantage of this type of energy is a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a decrease in the carbon charge of plant waste, since the waste is less harmful to the environment once it’s digested.

An important message to pass on to future generations. This is why students in Västerås schools are taught household recycling at a young age.

The AGROPTI-Gas project demonstrates that cities can produce high quality fuel from the treatment of organic waste, and that biogas is technically viable and profitable. The project also optimizes industrial procedures and allows new and future technologies to be tested.

The efficiency of the biogas plant results from the sustainable interaction between the city and the country. Several local farmers are involved in the project. The crops used in recycling the plant’s organic waste are a major source of revenue for the agricultural industry, thus reducing their vulnerability.

The plant is a genuine model for biogas production and waste management, and could serve as an example for other cities all over Europe.

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