With the trend for annual increases of global CO2 emissions continuing in 2016, a fossil fuel free future seems a fanciful notion at present. But flying in the face of the discouraging stats is Sweden’s capital Stockholm, a city that aims to be powered by nothing other than renewable energy by the year 2050.
At the heart of its push towards total sustainability is the large scale biomass heat and power plant known as CHP KVV8.
While its name may get a few tongues twisted, the sustainable credentials of CHP KVV8 are a lot more palatable. Located in downtown Stockholm, the revolutionary plant is already powering 90 per cent of the district heating system in the city. CHP KVV8 is itself powered by biomass mostly consisting of locally sourced forest residue and wood waste that has received Forest Stewardship Council certification. These renewable fuels include chips, bark, branches, tops and twigs.
The pioneering project is a joint venture between the city and energy company Fortnum, a partnership known as Fortum Vartan. Construction on CHP KVV8 commenced at the beginning of 2013, with final testing completed three years later just after the turn of 2016. When the plant starts running at full capacity later this year it will provide 1,700 GWh of heat and 750 GWh of electricity a year. In practical terms, this is enough heat annually for 190,000 households. What’s more, the plant is able to operate flexibly, adjusting the production of both heat and energy to meet demand as required – maximising efficiency in the process.
The environmental benefits of this project are huge with the plant having the potential to decrease carbon emissions in Stockholm by up to 126,000 tonnes every year. This will play a major part in the city’s plans to reduce per capita greenhouse emissions to 2.3 tonnes annually by the year 2020 – this figure currently stands somewhere around four tonnes each resident per year. The plant will also reduce emission of NOx and particulates in Stockholm and the surrounding areas. This is a factor that could help to greatly mitigate the incidence of related respiratory diseases, such as asthma, pulmonary cancer and pneumonia.
In addition to environmental benefits, the large plant will have a positive impact on Stockholm’s economy. The construction of CHP KVV8 created some 1,000 jobs in the Swedish capital and further employment will come from the operations and maintenance of the facility. New positions will also be secured and created in the local sustainable forestry industry.
Stockholm has long been a world leader when it comes to environmental issues. During the mid-1990s, the city transformed former industrial area Hammarby into a sustainable neighbourhood – a project that featured pioneering schemes like smart electric grids, bike friendly roads and efficient public transport. In 2001, the global Stockholm Convention treaty was signed in the city with the aim of phasing out the production and use of persistent organic pollutants. Last year, Stockholm was ranked as the third most sustainable city on the globe. In 2050, will the city be fully fossil fuel free? Only time will tell, but Stockholm’s commitment to projects like CHP KVV8 is certainly a huge step in the right direction.
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