The municipal energy and waste-management company NSR was an early adopter of biogas technology. It subsequently separated its operations and concentrated solely on waste management. Several thriving activities are now growing around the separate companies. And the focus on biogas is not by any means safe from threats.
Politicians in northern Skåne were early to adopt the use of biogas, and the large biogas plant in Helsingborg is now entering its autumn years. “It’s ready for a museum: we’re Visiting OX2 Photo credit: Monica Westman
just trying to squeeze the last bit of life out of it,” says Björn Goffeng, newly appointed facility director at OX2. Refurbishment and new facilities are planned.
Best environmental municipality 2017
The municipality of Helsingborg is the best environmental municipality in Sweden for 2017, according to the annual ranking published by Aktuell Hållbarhet. This is the second time the municipality has come out on top: it previously won the award in 2009. This was the year that the large biogas plant was extended in Helsingborg by regional company NSR. Today the facility is one of Sweden’s largest, with an annual capacity of approximately 80 GWh from biogas and an annual productionm of 150,000 tonnes of fertiliser.
Food waste from households in the six municipalities of northern Skåne arrives here, together with considerable amounts of dairy products whose Sell By date has passed. The plant produces biogas from these, to be sold as raw gas, and it produces KRAV-labelled fertiliser, to be pumped in underground pipelines to reception tanks on farms. The most distant farms that the fertiliser is pumped to are 10 km away.
The municipally owned company NSR has many strings to its bow.
“Our marketing was split up into waste management, recycling, digestion, energy and plant nutrition. The politicians wanted to emphasise the idea of circulation, and ensure that plant nutrients were returned to the soil. The biogas itself was not the most important part of this,” Kim Olsson, managing director of NSR informs us.
Vera Park is growing
NSR still owns the infrastructure, but the waste management was separated out into a company that was sold. The upgrading of biogas to vehicle fuel was also sold, although Garbage hero at NSR with LiU researcher Mats Söderström Photo credit: Monica Westman
NSR still owns one third of it. Öresundskraft took over the vehicle refuelling stations, and the digestion facility was the subject of a procurement process, which was won by wind-energy company O2, founded by two IT entrepreneurs.
O2 subsequently became OX2, which now operates and develops the facility. This is still owned by NSR.
OX2 has been awarded an investment grant from Klimatklivet. The two digestion chambers currently each have a volume of 3,000 cubic metres. They are to be rebuilt to 6,000 cubic metres each, and a new pretreatment plant is to be built, to improve not only the external environment but also the work environment.
“Nearly everything is planned for refurbishment or rebuilding during the coming 10 years, and the newly built facilities will be owned by OX2,” Björn Goffeng explains.
Many companies with an environmental focus are gathering around the NSR and OX2 digestion facility in Vera Park. These include companies that develop recycling systems, carry out waste analysis, develop biomaterials, carry out research and development in slag sorting, work with gas purification, establish solar cell plants and work with the management of waste paper, to name just a few of them.
Electricity in the limelight
There are, however, some clouds on the horizon for biogas, despite politicians having agreed that the region is to be Sweden’s leading biogas region by 2030, that Skånetrafiken uses the most biogas in Sweden, and that a roadmap has been established for the use of biogas, supported by 70 different stakeholders.
Kim Olsson, managing director of NSR Photo credit: Monica Westman
“Biogas is not considered to be as energy-efficient as electricity. Electricity is in the limelight at the moment. Other biofuels are competing with biogas, and cheap gas is being imported from Denmark. Politicians tend to see mainly costs, in a region that will need large cutbacks due to increasing costs in the healthcare sector. We are not permitted to
require that recycling is taken into consideration, and methods to determine the benefit of biogas for society are uncertain.” This is the summary of the problems provided by Ola Solér, who heads regional development in Region Skåne.
“Politicians should look after us who were trailblazers. It’s true that the first generation of buses had lower efficiency, but the cost of fuel for the new buses is half of what it used to be,” Kim Olsson points out.
Lars Inge Persson of Öresundskraft, however, is optimistic.
“Municipal vehicles in Helsingborg will use 100% biogas in 2018. No-one can choose not to use biogas when the infrastructure has been built, and if farmers paid the true value of the fertiliser the economical calculations would be totally different.”
Lars Inge Persson is also convinced that there is a market for biogas, and that it will increase, not least for liquid gas.
“This is the way we are going. Liquid gas is the only possibility for lorries and for sea-going traffic,” he says.
The Danish threat
The threat from cheap Danish gas, which is liable to production subsidies in Denmark, was one of the points debated during the Almedal week, on 3 July 2017. Mats Eklund, director of the BRC and professor at LiU, participated in the debate.
“There is a risk that the cheaper imported gas will win over Swedish production, unless demand increases. It will probably require production subsidies in Sweden similar to those in Denmark to remedy this situation,” he comments.
NSR – pulling the strings in Vera Park
NSR is a municipal company that works with managing and collecting waste, recycling, and finding the best possible market. NSR, Nordvästra Skånes Renhållning, is owned by the municipalities of Bjuv, Båstad, Höganäs, Åstorp, Ängelholm and Helsingborg town. NSR is an active partner in Biogas Research Center.
Klimatklivet provides investment for measures that reduce the emission of carbon dioxide at the local level, and is administered by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. A total of SEK 2 billion is to be awarded to projects before 2018.