Örebro biogas to reduce carbon emissions

The sun is up. It is the last day of the week. Everyone is enjoying the sunny atmosphere. Autumn is almost here and the last days of summer are the best days. Without having any schedule in mind, Obed Amegavi joins other travellers who are at the bus stop patiently waiting for the bus.

It is his second day in Örebro as an international masters student. With three days before the start of his two-year programme in Cadiovascular Medicine, he is curious to know what awaits him in his new home. He has enough time to explore. Not knowing where he is going, he takes the next bus heading towards the city center.

He is enjoying the breath of fresh air in Örebro. It feels nice. Then he sees it. Written in white on a purple colour and at the top part of the bus was the text “Biogas”. He is convinced that this is the reason behind the fresh air. The buses in Örebro run on biogas.

Biogas as described on the Swedish Biogas website is produced from “organic waste, industrial waste, sewage sludge and other biological materials.” The company is the sole supply of biogas to Lanstrafiken. The processed waste can also be turned to heat or electrical energy.

According to information on the municipality’s website “Örebro has a population of almost 143,000 and immigrants from around 165 different countries. It is the seventh largest town in Sweden with an award as the country’s best eco-municipality. For a cleaner environment the county promotes the use of bicycles, public transport or advise residents to take a walk when they are going out. One other cause of the clean environment is the biogas buses that run in the city. These activities will reduce carbon emissions.”

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emission has become a global environmental issue with activists and world leaders advocating for emission reduction environment. According to various environmentalists CO2 emission is cause by burning fossil fuel. Fossil fuel is normally used for energy or transportation purpose. Some researchers believe the alternative replacement to fossil fuel is either solar energy or biofuel.

Lanstrafiken operates as part of Örebro municipality council. It has mandate to operate all the buses in Örebro. According to Carl Axel who is an assistant in the company’s office, only the buses operating within the city use biogas as fuel. He mentioned that Lanstrafiken do not own any buses of its own. All the buses are hired from a private transport company. “We only plan the routes and bus schedules,” he said. Axel has no information about why or how the buses use biogas. He believes Nobina, the company that owns the buses have more knowledge on it.

Ibrahim Ahmed has worked with Lanstrafiken for 3 years as a bus driver. According to Ahmed the buses were already running on biogas before he joined the company. “The biogas is for the environment,” Ahmed said. He was explaining why the buses and other private people patronize the biogas usage even though it is expensive than diesel fuel.

According to Ahmed the Örebro municipality has enforced regulations that restricts commercial buses within the city to use biofuel in order to help the environment. When a bus is fully fueled it can drive for 15 hours before the next refuel. Refueling is done overnight at the bus company’s depot. Ahmed sometimes sees some private drivers fueling their cars at the bus depot. That is the only fueling point in the Örebro city.

Ahmed thinks there is only a small difference in driving diesel and biogas buses. The difference, he says, is that biogas buses are powerful. It has a big capacity in terms of weight and it has strength to withstand external forces. He continues that the biogas bus starts slowly in motion when the accelerator is pressed. “It takes about a minute before it gets its full speed,” he said. When the traffic light had turned green from red, it can be observed that cars in different driving lanes are seen ahead. The bus is that last to move. Ahmed believes it happens not because of the size and weight of the bus, but because it takes time for the gas to pump through the pipes of the bus.

Örebro city buses have used biogas since 2009. Mattias Wahll, Environment and Quality Control officer at Lanstrafiken, agrees that biogas is more expensive compared to diesel fuel and has “125% relative fuel consumption compared to diesel.” According to Wahll, one benefit of the biogas is that it is locally produced biofuel. It creates jobs in the Örebro region because production takes place locally. One other benefit is that it reduces the dependence on fossil fuel and make the environment more cleaner.

Wahll explains that all the buses operating in Örebro can probably never use biogas as a form of fuel. He said the company has taken other measures to use other forms of fuel like Rapeseed Methyl Este (RME) and Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO). RME is an “animal fat-based diesel fuel,” according to Wikipedia’s definition.

Wahll believes that for other people to patronize the usage of biogas, more refilling stations have to be built at vantage points in the municipality. At the moment there is not enough and both private and commercial drivers fuel their car at the bus depot.

Out of 264 buses that Lanstrafiken operates 74 of them use biogas. Apart from being expensive it also has high consumption rate. Örebro county’s official website shows that biogas usage by the buses have reduced the carbon dioxide (CO2) emission by 3,000 tons per year. Wahll thinks all the buses will probably never run on biogas,” but he believes that, “They will make use of other biofuels like HVO or RME.”

Axel, from Lanstrafiken office believes the company can sustain running on biogas. He thinks that many people use bicycles but they also use the bus so it will not affect us. In winter a lot of people take the bus because it is cold and slippery and nobody wants to take a long walk or ride the bicycle.

The city has set a target to become self-sufficient in renewable electricity in the year 2020. They have invested in wind power and solar energy. According to the county, these are part of the measures to promote green environment by reducing fossil fuel emissions.

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