Fomenting the Necessary Revolution: Biofuels from Waste Wood!
Sweden is the industrial country most weaned from fossil fuels. Petroleum only accounts for 30% of Swedish energy, down from 77% 40 years ago. IN the US, we still rely on fossil fuels for 85%!
But now 15% of all cars in Sweden run on ethanol, increasingly made from wood waste, which this forested country has a lot of.
A Ford dealer from northern Sweden, Per Carstedt, is responsible for a lot it. He saw biofuels being used in Brazil and asked himself, “What can one person do?” He contacted someone at Ford who helped get the first 3 “flexi-fuel” cars that run on gas or ethanol, Ford Tauruses, into Sweden. # became 300, and then commitments for 3,000.
But what about the fuel? There were no ethanol filling stations in Sweden. So Peer just started with one- in his home town of Ornskoldsvik (don’t try to pronounce it- you’ll sprain your tongue) and another in Stockholm. As he brought in more cars he convinced more stations to carry ethanol. Soon, he had 40 stations, then 100. It took 10 years to get the first 100 says, Carstedt. Now we add 100 ethanol stations every 3 months.”
But food into fuel- ethanol from corn or food crops- is a bad idea. So Per began working a sustainable supply- generated form wood waste. So his BioAlchohol Fuel Foundation began working to develop cellulosic ethanol form forest industry waste.
Now, together with architect Anders Nyquist, they set out to build environmentally friendly car dealership. They located the dealership near a McDonald’s and biofuel gas stations. They designed systems to interconnect the businesses using waste form one as food or fuel for another. For example, the waste heat for the kitchen lat the restaurant was piped over to heat the car dealership and the filling station. Over all energy use was cut by 80% over a conventional development. The green Zone became an international model to inspire others.
Now they were cooking with gas –er, ethanol. The Green Zone began to scale up into a Bioregion. And entire industrial region free of fossil fuels, running on biofuels and waste ener4gy. Three goals emerged. First, the region determined to produce more biofuel than they needed for vehicles by 2020, and apply it to other needs. Second, they set out to build an industrial base for the next half century totally independent of fossil fuels. Third, was to constantly develop new practices, keep pushing the envelope, and share the knowledge with others.
Today the BioFuel Region in northern Sweden includes more than 200 people working on student projects, local businesses, Building and ruban design, development of waste feedstocks for fuels, and contintuous advancement of ethaqnol production. They now have a plant producing ethanol from waste wood chips, with others on track to open in 2012 and 2014. And the vision is spreading. Carstedt now helps coordinate a $40 million dollar global project for the European Union, involving 10 regions following in Sweden’s footsteps.
One person, with a strong vision and simple first, second and third steps, is now influencing a continent’s ideas about energy, waste and a model for a new "green” economy. Waste to resources is right in the center of this new story for a new future.