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Old 2006-02-09, 02:49 PM   #1
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Sweden plans to be oil free by 2020.

What a great step forward!


Sweden plans to be world's first oil-free economy

· 15-year limit set for switch to renewable energy
· Biofuels favoured over further nuclear power

John Vidal, environment editor
Wednesday February 8, 2006
The Guardian

Evergreen forest in Sweden
Evergreen... Sweden will develop biofuels from its forests. Photograph: Mattias Klum/Getty Images


Quote:
Sweden is to take the biggest energy step of any advanced western economy by trying to wean itself off oil completely within 15 years - without building a new generation of nuclear power stations.

The attempt by the country of 9 million people to become the world's first practically oil-free economy is being planned by a committee of industrialists, academics, farmers, car makers, civil servants and others, who will report to parliament in several months.

Article continues
The intention, the Swedish government said yesterday, is to replace all fossil fuels with renewables before climate change destroys economies and growing oil scarcity leads to huge new price rises.

"Our dependency on oil should be broken by 2020," said Mona Sahlin, minister of sustainable development. "There shall always be better alternatives to oil, which means no house should need oil for heating, and no driver should need to turn solely to gasoline."

According to the energy committee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, there is growing concern that global oil supplies are peaking and will shortly dwindle, and that a global economic recession could result from high oil prices.

Ms Sahlin has described oil dependency as one of the greatest problems facing the world. "A Sweden free of fossil fuels would give us enormous advantages, not least by reducing the impact from fluctuations in oil prices," she said. "The price of oil has tripled since 1996."

A government official said: "We want to be both mentally and technically prepared for a world without oil. The plan is a response to global climate change, rising petroleum prices and warnings by some experts that the world may soon be running out of oil."

Sweden, which was badly hit by the oil price rises in the 1970s, now gets almost all its electricity from nuclear and hydroelectric power, and relies on fossil fuels mainly for transport. Almost all its heating has been converted in the past decade to schemes which distribute steam or hot water generated by geothermal energy or waste heat. A 1980 referendum decided that nuclear power should be phased out, but this has still not been finalised.

The decision to abandon oil puts Sweden at the top of the world green league table. Iceland hopes by 2050 to power all its cars and boats with hydrogen made from electricity drawn from renewable resources, and Brazil intends to power 80% of its transport fleet with ethanol derived mainly from sugar cane within five years.

Last week George Bush surprised analysts by saying that the US was addicted to oil and should greatly reduce imports from the Middle East. The US now plans a large increase in nuclear power.

The British government, which is committed to generating 10% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2012, last month launched an energy review which has a specific remit to consider a large increase in nuclear power. But a report by accountants Ernst & Young yesterday said that the UK was falling behind in its attempt to meet its renewables target.

"The UK has Europe's best wind, wave and tidal resources yet it continues to miss out on its economic potential," said Jonathan Johns, head of renewable energy at Ernst & Young.

Energy ministry officials in Sweden said they expected the oil committee to recommend further development of biofuels derived from its massive forests, and by expanding other renewable energies such as wind and wave power.

Sweden has a head start over most countries. In 2003, 26% of all the energy consumed came from renewable sources - the EU average is 6%. Only 32% of the energy came from oil - down from 77% in 1970.

The Swedish government is working with carmakers Saab and Volvo to develop cars and lorries that burn ethanol and other biofuels. Last year the Swedish energy agency said it planned to get the public sector to move out of oil. Its health and library services are being given grants to convert from oil use and homeowners are being encouraged with green taxes. The paper and pulp industries use bark to produce energy, and sawmills burn wood chips and sawdust to generate power.
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Old 2006-02-09, 06:15 PM   #2
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Typical Sweden.
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Old 2006-02-09, 07:13 PM   #3
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Go Sweden! The land where coasting, gliding, seat drag and a few other unicycling skills were invented...
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Old 2006-02-09, 07:33 PM   #4
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Quote:
Sweden is to take the biggest energy step of any advanced western economy by trying to wean itself off oil completely within 15 years - without building a new generation of nuclear power stations.
That's all nice but future energy plans do need to include nuclear power. The reluctance of the environmental crowd to acknowledge that nuclear power is needed in any plan that works to minimize or eliminate the use of fossil fuels is going to rain on their parade.

It's all nice that Sweden has geothermal sources for heat, but they're going to need more than that to meet electricity needs, especially if more people move to electric automobiles like plug-in hybrids.

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The intention, the Swedish government said yesterday, is to replace all fossil fuels with renewables before climate change destroys economies and growing oil scarcity leads to huge new price rises.
So they are going to replace fossil fuels with biofuels. How is that going to improve the environment? Don't biofuels have the same effect on global warming?

Looks like they're going too much for the feel good rather than working towards a plan that will actually work or make a real difference.
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Old 2006-02-09, 08:00 PM   #5
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This sounds like an ecomonically motivated plan with a good measure of eco-friendly rhetoric layered on top to make everyone feel good. Instead of altering the oil economy by force (like some governments ), Sweden wants to remove itself altogether.
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Old 2006-02-09, 08:24 PM   #6
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Sweden Rock!

green fuel for everyone!
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Old 2006-02-09, 08:24 PM   #7
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I believe Brazil is currently the worldwide leader for ethanol production and use. Their cars use flex-fuel technology (they can switch between gas and ethanol). With Brazilian ethanol selling for 45% less per liter than gasoline in 2003 and 2004, flex-fuel cars caught on like iPods. In 2003, flex-fuel had 6% of the market for Brazilian-made cars (from manufacturers including Ford and VW), and automakers were expecting the technology’s share to zoom to 30% in 2005. That proved wildly conservative: As of last December, 73% of cars sold in Brazil came with flex fuel engines. They now have 1.3 million flex-fuel cars on the road and Brazilians have ready access to what’s known in Portuguese as alcool at nearly all of the country’s 34,000 gas stations.

Ethanol’s rise has far-reaching effects on the economy. Not only does Brazil no longer have to import oil but an estimated $69 billion that would go to the Middle East or elsewhere has stayed in the country and is revitalizing once-depressed rural areas.

Near the prosperous farm town of Sertaozinho, some 200 miles north of Sao Paolo, the fuel that will fill the tanks of nearly three million Brazilian cars in a few months is still waist-high. Lush sugar-cane fields stretch as far as the eye can see, interrupted only by the towering white mills where the stalks of the plants will be turned into ethanol when the harvest begins in March. Brazil has the perfect geography for growing sugar cane, the most energy-rich ethanol feedstock known to science. More than 250 mills have sprouted in southeastern Brazil, and another 50 are under construction, at a cost of about $100 million each.

Even though the US will never be a sugar-cane powerhouse like Brazil, investors now view Rio as the future of fuel. “I hate to see the US ten years behind Brazil, but that’s probably where we are,” says one shrewd American freethinker, Ted Turner.
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Old 2006-02-09, 10:01 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john_childs
That's all nice but future energy plans do need to include nuclear power. The reluctance of the environmental crowd to acknowledge that nuclear power is needed in any plan that works to minimize or eliminate the use of fossil fuels is going to rain on their parade.
I think they're going to keep the nuclear plants they already have. Otherwise it's going to be very hard to find alternative sources of electricity. Sweden (i think) currently exports electricity from nuclear and hydro-electric plants.
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So they are going to replace fossil fuels with biofuels. How is that going to improve the environment? Don't biofuels have the same effect on global warming?
No, not with respect to greenhouse gasses. The plants used for biofuels suck up the same amount of CO2 when they grow as they release when burned.

Last edited by Borges; 2006-02-09 at 10:02 PM.
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Old 2006-02-09, 10:56 PM   #9
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he he! Our science teacher told us about cars that were powered by only water! You just fill them up and go with regular water found anywhere. I cant remember the location where most people have these water powered cars. It was somewhere cold, Alaska maybe? i thought It was a different country though than the U.S.
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Old 2006-02-10, 12:37 AM   #10
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sweet!
go Swedes!
you rule!
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Old 2006-02-10, 12:37 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by musketman
he he! Our science teacher told us about cars that were powered by only water! You just fill them up and go with regular water found anywhere. I cant remember the location where most people have these water powered cars. It was somewhere cold, Alaska maybe? i thought It was a different country though than the U.S.
I once heard about a guy who powered his car on dead cats...no joke.
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Old 2006-02-10, 12:27 PM   #12
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[QUOTE=john_childs]


So they are going to replace fossil fuels with biofuels. How is that going to improve the environment? Don't biofuels have the same effect on global warming?

QUOTE]

I think the idea is that by growing the fuel: forests, oilseed rape, whatever, the plants fix the carbon from the atmosphere whilst growing. Fossil fuels merely burn from a carbon reservoir. Renewable is the word.

A laudable approach from Sweden, but with a population of just 9 million it ain't gonna be a world changing experience. Whilst the USA refuses to even consider Kyoto, and other countries just play around the edges, the problem is not going to diminish.

The problem at the moment is that one cannot have a politically correct AND effective method of dealing with our environmental problems, not unless a lot of people lose their idealistic and economic stances.
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Old 2006-02-10, 01:07 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Naomi
A laudable approach from Sweden, but with a population of just 9 million it ain't gonna be a world changing experience.
Granted, but it is a start. Misquoting and selectively reading naysayers notwithstanding, it will (hopefully) act as a powerfull example to other goverments that it is possible.
Ditto for the Brazil example.

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Old 2006-02-10, 01:11 PM   #14
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For sure!

It's a damn sight better than any other governments are doing at the mo and will serve as a good model for other countries wanting to do the same.
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Old 2006-02-10, 02:05 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by john_childs
So they are going to replace fossil fuels with biofuels. How is that going to improve the environment? Don't biofuels have the same effect on global warming?
For all you who have been angry that unicycling has not been included in the Winter Olympics:

You may be happy to learn that, due to global warming, the last and final winter olympics has started today...

Billy
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