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Sweden importing garbage for energy Sweden is taking waste management to a whole new level, recycling

of Sweden, about 40% of households get their district heating from

and sorting its waste so efficiently that less than 1% ends up in

garbage incinerated at the new Filborna plant run by Öresundskraft.

landfills. Furthermore, the country burns about as much household

“Three tonnes of waste contains as much energy as one tonne

waste as it recycles - over 2 million tonnes - and converts this to

of fuel oil … so there is a lot of energy in waste,” said Öresundskraft

energy. In fact, Sweden’s 32 waste-to-energy (WTE) incineration

Press Officer Göran Skoglund.

plants can handle even more waste than is produced domestically.

In some parts of the world, the incineration of waste is seen to

So when it runs out of its own garbage, it offers a service to

have negative environmental impacts, but Gripwall rejects this idea. “When waste sits in landfills, leaking methane gas and other greenhouse gases, it is obviously not good for the environment,” she said. “Waste-to-energy is a smart alternative, with less environmental impact, taking into account both by-products of incineration and emissions from transport. Plus, recovering energy from waste exploits a resource that would otherwise be wasted. “At the same time, it is important that waste has been source separated before it can be considered for energy recovery,” added Skoglund. “Metals have been sorted out, glass has been sorted out, as well as foodstuffs. It also must not contain hazardous waste such as batteries, light bulbs or other electrical waste. Nor should it contain packaging or

Göran Skoglund of Öresundskraft stands beside imported British waste, ready to be incinerated for energy at the Filborna plant, Helsingborg. Image courtesy of Sweden Sverige under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

newspapers. These should be sorted out and left for material recycling … before it can be used for energy.”

the rest of Europe: importing excess waste from other countries.

Until other countries are able to adopt better recycling

“We import approximately 800,000 tonnes yearly, and we sell a

practices and infrastructure, Sweden can help do its part by

service,” said Anna-Carin Gripwall from Swedish Waste Management.

making use of other countries’ waste.

“It’s mainly from Norway, the UK, Ireland and Italy.”

“The world has a garbage problem, there is no doubt about

WTE provides district heating to 950,000 Swedish households and electricity for 260,000 households. In Helsingborg, in the south

that,” said Skoglund, “but in the meantime, waste incineration and extracting energy from the waste is a good solution.”

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency


PV would make a sizeable difference to

(ARENA) has revealed that up to 10

consultancy CAT Projects “used a network



the Alice Springs grid, which currently

MW of extra solar photovoltaic (PV)

of solar monitoring stations to estimate the

has 4.1 MW of solar and a peak load of

could be installed in the Alice Springs

maximum number of solar power generators

almost 55 MW in summer.

grid without adversely affecting supply

that can be connected to the Alice Springs

“This analysis is very relevant to solar


electricity grid without energy storage”,

projects currently being planned in the

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht

Frischknecht explained. The study found

NT and elsewhere in Australia, and could

stated, “One of the challenges involved

that dispersing solar PV across geographical

allow network planners to increase the

in increasing grid-connected solar power

locations can effectively counteract its

amount of solar PV that can be connected

in Australia is how to best manage the

variability within a network.

to the network,” Frischknecht said.

local weather impacts, such as cloud

“The study shows that building a larger

“The findings should also allow

cover.” With this in mind, ARENA provided

number of smaller installations and spreading

performance-based power purchase

over $200,000 towards a study which

them out, ideally 3-5 km apart in Alice

agreements to be more accurately

“investigated the impact of large amounts

Springs, can reduce the impact of local

formulated, potentially lowering the cost

of solar PV on electricity grids and how

cloud cover and smooth overall solar energy

of renewable energy generation.”

to effectively manage it”, he said.

output,” Frischknecht said. The additional

34 Sustainability Matters - Apr/May 2015

© gemenacom /Dollar Photo Club

Feeding extra solar PV into the Alice Springs grid

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Sustainability Matters Apr/May 2015  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...

Sustainability Matters Apr/May 2015  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...