Växjö (Veck-quwere) is half way to becoming a city free from the use of fossil fuels. An incredible 51% of its energy comes from sources such as biomass, renewable electricity, and solar. In little over a decade emissions have been reduced by 30% per person to 3. 232 tons of CO2 annually - well below the European (8 CO2t/a) and world (4 CO2t/a) averages. The city has made this happen through rigorous planning and by closely measuring all CO2 emissions. With this track record the City may well be the world's first fossil free city.
What is it?
Fossil Fuel Free Växjö is a policy commitment to stop using fossil fuels and reduce CO2 emissions in heating, energy, transport, businesses and homes.
How does it work?
Since 1993 the city has been successfully reducing its carbon emissions. In 1996, with the help of business, industry, the University and stakeholders, it set tough new targets to further reduce CO2 emissions. The new policy, A Fossil Fuel Free Växjö, committed to:
- reducing CO2 emissions per capita in heating, energy and transport, by at least 50% by the year 2010, and by at least 70 % by the year 2025, compared to 1993.
- reducing the use of electric energy per capita by at least 20% by the year 2015 compared to 1993.
- increasing cycle traffic in the City of Växjö by at least 20% by the year 2015 compared to 2004.
- increasing the travels by local public transport by at least 20% and the travels by regional public transports by at least 12 % by the year 2015 compared to 2002.
- stopping the use of oil in the municipal operations, other than for complementary uses, by the year 2010.
- reducing the fossil CO2 emissions from municipal operations' transports and services by at least 30% by the year 2015 compared to 1999.
The city is now ahead of its goals in the majority of these commitments. It has achieved this by monitoring its CO2 emissions and energy savings in three categories - heating, electricity and transport. Where improvements need to be made - the city then adapts its policies accordingly.
One of the main reasons for Växjö's progress is the massive expansion of its district heating system along with greater use of biomass as an energy fuel. High oil prices and favourable subsidies have also encouraged households to change their heating systems. As a result, in 200 6 nearly 88% of heating came from renewable energy sources (total 8 77 GWh). The largest share came from biomass, with some use of peat, oil and geothermal. A very small proportion of solar energy was also used, but the public interest for solar panels is growing.
The largest share of Växjö's energy is produced outside the municipality's borders, and is mainly based on hydropower and nuclear power. As a result the city is lobbying the national government to improve the sustainability of its power sources. The city does produce one fifth of its electricity locally which is almost entirely renewable. In 2006 , the supply of electric energy for the city was 785 GWh.
Energy Efficiency initiatives
- Large-scale project to use solar energy in the village of Ingelstad
- Policy to exchange street lighting with energy efficient light bulbs
- Free energy advice to residents at the Energy Information Center "EnergiCentrumEtt"
- Installation of solar panels at the city swimming hall
- Sankt Sigfrid's Folk high school and Växjö Airport installs boiler for wood pellets
- Municipal subsidies for private households that install wood/ pellet boilers instead of oil
- Municipal subsidies for private households that install solar panels
- Energy efficiency measures in regional Health care organizations
- Energy use restrictions on properties sold by the Municipality of Växjö
- Energy efficient Växjö project, expert consultants are advising developers on how to make savings through design, insulation, better lighting and windows.
- Individual metering of electricity in student dwellings
- Construction of energy efficient wooden buildings at Välle Broar district
- Production of an electronic climate map showing Växjö's climate actions
From 1993 -2006:
- Total CO2 emissions dropped by 18% from 330,571 tons to 253,606 tons. - an average reduction of xxxx tons annually in heating, energy and transport.
- Every inhabitant reduced their emissions by 30%, emitting just 3. 232 tons of CO2 annually by 200 6 - this is very low for Sweden and well below the world average
- Total CO2 emissions reduced by 75% in heating, due to the massive conversion from oil to biomass
- Total CO2 emissions reduced by 25% in electrical power
- Total CO2 emissions were 20 % higher in 2006 than in 1993
In 2006, as much as 52% of Växjö's energy supply was renewable - a very high percentage for Sweden. The main reason is the large share of biomass (37%) mainly used for heating compared to fossil fuels 35% mainly in the transport sector . The rest of the energy supply is electricity produced in other municipalities and imported (a mix of 50/50 hydro and nuclear power).
Växjö’s transport sector has been much harder to convert to a sustainable energy use. Most of the energy supply for transport globally is based on fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel. The city is also a logistics center for southern Sweden and experiences a lot of traffic. As a result, CO2 emissions increased by 20% in 200 6 compared to 1993. Renewable energies for transport currently sit at 3% in Växjö, but they are increasing. Other programs to reduce transport emissions include:
- Alternative fuels in public transport systems
- Cars fuelled by gasoline converted to use ethanol
- Municipal car-sharing with environmental vehicles
- An expanding cycling project establishing new cycling roads and information campaigns
- Free parking for environmental vehicles
- Education in eco-driving for public
- Växjö Taxi reduced the number of km driven by 20% thanks to a positioning system
- Municipal subsidies were provided for buying environmental vehicles
- Centre for biomass gasification established at Växjö University
- Actions to improve bus stops
- First filling station for biogas opens (biogas is produced at the sewage water treatment plant)
Future sustainable projects
- Växjö University and hospital will use absorption cooling based on the district heating system;
- the food industry will convert from oil to wheat bran as energy source for heating;
- a new CHP plant fired by biomass is expected to be constructed;
- by 2015 there will be a fullscale production plant for gasification of biomass
- more biofuels will be introduced;
- the City will lobby EU politicians to accept a higher blend of biofuels into gasoline and diesel;
- a railway to the CHP plant will be constructed to transfer wood chips;
- a filling station for DME will be installed and fleet test will be made in cooperation with Volvo;
- by 2010, the City will construct houses with no conventional heating system and install photo-voltaics in houses.
- Measuring CO2 emissions: By collecting CO2 emissions data across all sectors, Växjö has been able to identify, understand and target areas that are falling behind. They have also been able to measure successes of projects and assist policy-making.
- Strict targets: The emissions data has enabled the City to set clear targets into the future based on known outcomes. The targets have also helped to make projects a reality.
- Maintaining Political Will: Although Växjö has a strong history of sustainability and political will to remove its reliance on fossil fuels - it has maintained this determination and taken the community, business and stakeholders with it.
- Energy efficiencies: Finding energy efficiencies has been crucial in reducing emissions. They focused first on the sectors where immediate reductions could be made - the heating and electricity sectors.