Biogas Väst - the world's first regional project for biogas as fuel
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Project Biogas Väst started in 2001 in western Sweden (Göteborg region and Västra Götaland region) to drive forward a market development in the whole biogas chain – from biogas production and distribution to the expansion of gas filling stations and the use of gas-powered vehicles – in order to create more jobs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to three biogas municipalities (Borås, Gothenburg and Trollhättan), there were a number of businesses and organisations in the region driving forward the formation of Biogas Väst. Together they represented all aspects of the biogas chain. When Biogas Väst was founded there were nine gas stations and 800 gas-powered vehicles in the region. Today , western Sweden is country's most developed area in terms of gas production, filling stations and gas-powered vehicles.
From 2001-2003, the work focused on building up networks and lobbying, project coordination together with LRF (Swedish Farmer's Organisation), and the conducting of investigations/feasibility studies for waste and biogas production. Furthermore, the first coordination of applications to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency's climate investment programme, KLIMP 2003, was made. A new website for the project was created – www.biogasvast.se, information materials were developed, information campaigns and seminars were carried out.
Between 2004 and 2005, extensive information and marketing efforts were carried out, including: biogas campaigns in the municipalities of Borås, Göteborg, Skövde and Trollhättan in cooperation with distributors of gas vehicles, commercials for TV4 and posters. This work was complemented by a new website – www.biogasbil.nu, information materials, brochures and advertising.
An application was made together with Lille (France) under the "Alternative fuels" theme of the EU's 6th Framework Programme for the Biogasmax project. In addition, applications were made to KLIMP.
From 2006-2010, the EU Biogasmax project was conducted. As part of this initiative, Biogas Väst arranged a conference with 300 participants from 30 countries. During this period Biogas Väst also launched the Biogas Highway concept with seminars and exhibitions in the Environmental Technology Fair 2006 & 2008 as part of its efforts to build a cluster within the biogas sector.
The project coordinated the KLIMP grant applications for 2007 with a view to introducing new technologies such as liquid biogas and methane diesel technology for heavy vehicles.
At the start of the project a vision for 2020 was developed that 20 percent of the vehicles in the region should run on biogas produced in the region. Since the outset Biogas Väst has had performance targets in three areas: number of filling stations in the region; number of gas vehicles; and the quantity of biogas produced.
Ten years later, the Västra Götaland region has the country's best infrastructure with almost 50 filling stations (42 public filling stations, 4 bus filling stations, 3 garbage truck filling stations), as well as about 8,000 vehicles and eight plants that produce biogas for fuel. Furthermore, western Sweden is now the country's most developed area in terms of gas production, filling stations and gas-powered vehicles.
In 2009, 170 GWh of vehicle gas was sold, of which 100 GWh was biogas and 70 GWh was natural gas. Approximately 19 million litres of gasoline/diesel was replaced, resulting in a reduction of greenhouse gases equivalent to 31,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. The figures are based on the IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute's report on greenhouse gas emissions 'well-to-wheel' from the use of biogas and gasoline respectively in cars.
Important results from a technical point of view:
- May 2007, biogas injected into the natural gas network
- November 2007, the world's first gasification facility for research was inaugurated at Chalmers
- 2007, Volvo Trucks demonstrates trucks with methane diesel technology (dual fuel) for liquid methane
- 2010, Volvo Bus launches buses with methane diesel technology
- October 2010, FordonsGas Sverige builds the first public filling station with liquid methane gas for heavy vehicles
- October 2010, Göteborg Energi starts construction of Sweden's largest plant for liquid biomethane (completion March 2011),
- December 2010, the EU grants that Göteborg Energi may use the Energy Agency's backing of SEK 222 million to build the world's largest gasification plant for biomethane.
Dissemination and information activities 2001 to 2010:
- The project has organised about 50 seminars and conferences (local, regional, national and international)
- The project has been represented in more than 50 seminars arranged by others (half of which were international) and about 30 exhibitions
- The project has inspired more than 50 international study visits
- Biogas Väst has become the model for the formation of the Swedish regional projects - Biogas Syd (2005), Biogas Öst (2007), Biogas Mitt (2009), Biogas Norr (2009) and Biogas Sydost (2009).
- Business Region Göteborg (BRG) won the US Environmental Prize 2008 – the Blue Sky Award "…for creating Biogas Väst, the first regional biogas project in Sweden.."
- BRG has attracted many foreign visitors to Sweden to take advantage of Swedish expertise in developing biogas for vehicles in their own countries, says John Boesel, CEO of Calstart.
Investments – Biogas Väst has acted as coordinator for investment programmes where several actors were involved in grant applications:
- The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency - SEK 120 million,
- The Energy Agency - SEK 24.5 million,
- Västra Götaland region - SEK 12 million,
- EU Biogasmax - SEK 10.5 million.
- Total - approx. SEK 170 million, which in turn has resulted in self-financing from the project participants of about SEK 430 million.
In total, an estimated SEK 600 million has been invested in production facilities, filling stations, as well as additional costs for gas-powered vehicles. The number of new jobs created by the project's activities is estimated to be 600.
The project has cooperated with 28 municipalities and approximately 70 companies. Targeted communication has taken place with approximately 80 car dealers and approximately 420 companies.
Lessons learned and replicability
- Political acceptance at local and regional level is necessary
- Work in networks throughout the biogas chain from waste/raw material, production, distribution to use. Mix of commercial and public sector actors
- Neutral project management with political/public connections and with good contacts in the business sector at the same time
- Work long-term with continuity of project staff
- The project should have the nature of an industrial project rather than an environmental project. Focus on business development that produces environmental results.
- Focus on specific targets (number of filling stations, vehicles, gas sold, etc.) instead of emissions.
- Set goals and objectives that unite and motivate the stakeholders/actors
- Coordinate a comprehensive programme of grant applications based on the actors' investment needs.
- Starting to establish international links at an early stage can produce a ripple effect.
The project can be used as a model for other regions (as has happened in Sweden). The limitation lies in the different countries' legislation (waste, renewable fuels, injection into the natural gas network, etc.) but should be adaptable in accordance with other countries' conditions.
Business Region Göteborg AB
Box 11119, SE-40423 Gothenburg, Sweden
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