Three cities, three ways to handle biogas

Linköping, Uppsala and Västerås are three cities and regions around the same size, all of which have made long-term investments in biogas. But their reasons and the practical solutions they have chosen are completely different.

Biogas powered bus in Stockholm Monica Westman

“The same solution doesn’t work everywhere", Mats Eklund, professor of industrial environmental technology at LiU, points out.

The Biogas Research Center, BRC, invited researchers and representatives of the member companies to a three-day trip to Stockholm, Uppsala and Västerås.

“Developments in the capital are interesting since they affect the way biogas is viewed throughout Sweden. Uppsala and Västerås are, together with Linköping, pioneers, and we wanted to gain insight into their current situation”, says Mats Eklund, professor of industrial environmental technology and director of the BRC.

Linköping, Uppsala and Västerås are approximately the same size, with 130,000-160,000 inhabitants, and all three were early adopters of biogas technology. The preconditions and the solutions they have selected, however, differ.

Substrates differ

“The same solution doesn’t work everywhere, and what works best in one location is often completely unsuitable at another”, says Johan Laurell, head of the waste management division at Uppsala Vatten.

The substrates that are available for biogas production differ between the cities, as do the possibilities to sell and distribute gas and biofertiliser. In addition, the cities and regions have organised their systems for waste management, water purification, energy supply and public transport in different ways.

Mats Eklund, professor i industriell miljöteknik, föreståndare för Biogas research center 2018 Photo credit Malin Hoelstad“Coordinating and understanding the significance of the development for different sectors and actors is a major challenge when developing biogas systems. There are many things that must be coordinated”, says Mats Eklund.

Challenges

Maria Gardfjäll, head of Uppsala Vatten and newly elected member of parliament for the Swedish Green Party, realises that the future of biogas use is still facing challenges.

“The largest problem is that the motor industry doesn’t have biogas vehicles to sell: we haven’t stated this sufficiently clearly. It is important to develop the market for cars. We have also failed to emphasise that the biogas purifies the circulation and restores important nutrients. Biogas is far from receiving credit for the benefits it provides to society”, she says.

Mats Eklund adds:

“It has taken time, and we have often faced problems, but the cities, regions and municipalities that have stayed the course and continued to invest are important assets for society today. The next major step forwards for biogas will probably occur when several private actors with large resources enter the fray and increase their undertakings.”

Translation George Farrants

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