energi terbarukan: energi ijo … 141210


December 13, 2010, 4:35 pm nyt
Green Heating? Not So Impossible After All
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
Johan Spanner for The New York Times A truck driver unloading his cargo of manure at the biogas plant that converts it for heating near Kristianstad, Sweden.

This weekend I wrote about the region of Kristianstad, a farming and food-processing powerhouse in southern Sweden that effectively no longer uses fossil fuel for heating. Over the course of the last decade, Kristianstad’s government has orchestrated a conversion from mostly oil heating to various “green” fuels like biomass, food processing waste and wood pellets.

It’s quite interesting because it is so easy to think, “Impossible!” when some environmental policy experts suggest that countries should cut emissions by, say, 20 or 30 percent by 2020. As many of the articles in our “Beyond Fossil Fuels” series point out, some methods for drastically reducing emissions exist. But they come with economic costs (at least in the short term) and require a political commitment.

Having cut out fossil fuel for heating, Kristianstad’s per-capita carbon dioxide emissions are now only about 4.1 tons per person. Compare that to 19.18 in the United States and 4.91 in China, a far less developed country than Sweden.

I think it’s important to emphasize that Kristianstad is not some utopian demonstration project. It is a prosperous rural city with a strong industrial sector – one with many equivalents in the United States. It could be in Vermont, or Minnesota or California. Its residents live in comfortable homes, take beach vacations during the winter and drive nice cars. In fact, Kristianstad’s biggest remaining emissions dilemma is typical of middle America’s: for many people, driving a car is essential for shopping and getting to work.

Many parts of Europe have figured out how to heat with much less fossil fuel than before. Heating is in fact a relatively low-hanging fruit in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There is the example of Kristianstad, of course. But there are also other kinds of innovations like passive houses and trash-fueled district heating programs.

Could towns in the United States follow the trend? And if not, why?

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