Fossil-free fuels make a clear leap forward

Each year the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI) organizes the Nordic region’s largest annual conference for the transport sector. For three years running there has been a session on Transportforum dealing with the development of new infrastructure for the fossil-free industry.

“It’s nice that this particular session has recurred multiple times, as it gives us chance to hear about how the development process is moving forward”, said Maria Malmkvist from Energigas Sverige.

Fossil-free fuels moving forward with climate investments. Mostphotos

And forward it has moved. November 2016 saw the submission to the EU Commission of Sweden’s action programme under the infrastructure directive for alternative fuels, which is in the process of gathering documents from all Member States in order to formulate a cohesive and harmonized strategy for the entire EU.

“The work will continue nationally and internationally while the EU Commission is reviewing documentation from the Member States”, said Stefan G. Andersson of the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation.

Klimatklivet (Climate Leap), state funding earmarked for climate investments, is important in advancing the development process nationally, but EU funding is also available. The government is also working on long-term national policy instruments and regulations, including a new bonus–malus system to be in place by the summer of 2018.

New hydrogen filling stations

In addition to the government’s efforts, a great deal is happening in other areas in Sweden, as other presenters pointed out. Björn Aronsson from Vätgas Sverige reported that Sweden will see its fourth and fifth hydrogen stations this year, in Mariestad and in Stockholm. The process of getting different hydrogen-powered cars on the market has also accelerated. Many brands of cars have initiated cross-border cooperative arrangements with various actors.

“Fifteen car brands will each have at least one car with a solution based either entirely on hydrogen or on hydrogen in combination with electric, in various models, large and small, by 2020”, said Aronsson.

Currently, three hydrogen-fuelled car models are available for purchase on the Swedish market.

Biogas demo plant in Sweden

Other types of biogas are progressing as well, and Eric Zinn from Göteborg Energi reported on how their demonstration plant, GoBiGas, is producing biogas from forestry byproducts. Working in close cooperation with Chalmers University of Technology, they are studying various raw materials for use in biogas production with a view to getting more competitive alternatives to market. The long-term hope is that Gothenburg can become an important port of departure for biogas shipments.

Something all the presenters could agree on was that no single fuel type would be the solution in terms of achieving a fossil-free transport system, but rather that multiple fuel types should coexist and be used in combined solutions. Maria Malmkvist of Energigas Sverige pointed out that Sweden is still on the right track.

“I think I can say that we are world leaders in terms of managing our waste to produce biofuels and biofertilizer”, said Malmkvist.

More than 200 million tonnes of biofertilizer were produced last year, leading to a reduced need to purchase fertilizer as well as contributing to ecological agriculture. There are currently 50,000 natural gas vehicles in Sweden, and 2015 figures indicate that 70% of the vehicle gas consumed in Sweden is in fact biogas.

This article is a report from the VTI conference Transportforum 2017 (session 90). You find more information about the conference here (in Swedish). Text: Karin Linhardt

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