Fossil Fuel Free Kristianstad and Destination Gotland!
Fossil Fuel Free Kritianstad and Destination Gotland!
Sad not to have seen one of Denmark`s famous district heating systems in action, it was time to continue my journey over to southern Sweden. First stop was Kristianstad, (the nearly) fossil fuel free municipality in the Region of Skäne which has a population of approx 77,000. The region has some of the best agricultural land in Europe so it's little surprise that they've honed in on the bio energy business. So much so that they've won around 6 national and European awards in the last few years for their committment to developing their renewables.
Below right, the University of Gotland is sustainable architecture at its best, with pumps taking sea water from the Baltic to cool the building down in the warm summer months (though it's already a bit cool for my liking!!)
It all started in 1999 when the executive committee of the municipality made an ambitious decision to become fossil fuel free. I met with Lennart Effors, who is head of energy planning for the munipality and he explained the lead up to where they are today. Combined Heat and Power plants, district heating, private and cooperatively owned wind and water turbines are all helping in the cause towards "fossil fuel free Kristianstad". Energy forests supply the wood chips and there are plans afoot for many more bio gas pumps in the region (the lack of which is what Lennart believes is currently preventing more of the public from bio gas conversions of their cars). Public engagement is rated highly in the literature about Kristianstad however, from talking to Lennart, real involvement and engagement is amongst only a few, whilst the majority depend on grants or subsidies for home improvements.
My brief visit to Kristianstad over, it was time to get my sea legs ready (which historically are pretty dodgy!) and head over the Baltic to what has been termed "The Renewable Energy Island in the middle of the Baltic".
There seems to be no mucking around when it comes to what Gotland wants to achieve and Bertil Klintbom, who's managing the process gave me an excellent overview of their plans to become 100% fossil fuel free. Assisted by a great deal of European monies to get initiatives off the ground in the past, this also seemed to help win internal recognition amongst municipal leaders; and if someone externally wanted to fund projects, then they better show internal committment too!
There seems to be a fairly strong public participation ethos by the municipality and the sustainable planning framework for public comment looked to be exceptionally user friendly. A wind cooperative was set up on the island several years ago but Bertil admitted that they could do with an individual or organisation to really champion further community led cooperatives.
In addition to the biomass and wind programmes; initiatives such as using the Baltic to cool public buildings; using fibre optics to recreate natural daylight in public buildings, and plans to run all the buses on the island using biogas are underway. An extra cable running from the island to mainland Sweden will also ensure that surplus electricity (which there is already plenty of) can be exported.