Monday, February 9, 2009

Biomethane for Oslo buses

Oslo, Norway is using biomethane to fuel its public transportation. The increase in carbon dioxide emissions in the city (more than 50% since 2000) and the increase in pollution (approximately 10% since 2000) has lead the Oslo City Council to begin investigating alternatives to fossil fuel-powered public transport, and it decided on biomethane because it emits less carbon and is easier and cheaper to produce. Norway’s goal is to be carbon neutral by 2050 and Oslo aims to be one of the most environmentally sustainable capitals of the world. The net emissions of a biomethane operated bus are zero since the carbon originated from the atmosphere rather than fossil fuels. Even when taking into consideration the electricity used at the sewage plant to convert the gas from waste into fuel, the Oslo city council calculated that carbon emissions per bus are 18 tonnes per year, a saving of 44 tonnes of C02 per bus per year.

Oslo has two sewage plants with enough biomethane to provide fuel for 80 buses. If the trial is successful Oslo city council plans to convert all 400 of the public buses to run on biogas. It is the council’s hope that cars will also be able to run on biogas.

I think it is an idea worth exploring. So far it has been working for Sweden. It would also reduce noise pollution (buses which run on biomethane are quieter), and we could also use it for our domestic uses such as residential heating or to generate electricity. We shouldn’t let our waste go to waste so to speak, and I know that in some states (Wisconsin for example with the “Dairyland Power Cooperative") animal wastes are being converted into biomethane and used to power their generators as opposed to letting them run into streams. All in all I think that the environment and humankind would be better off. “Yes to poo power”.

--Christine Wanjiru

1 comment:

  1. I guess the question is how expensive this is compared to the next best alternative. If they have cheap access to natural gas, it probably wouldn't be worth it for them to generate their own gas like this. It looks like the equipment can be pretty expensive to get cars to use the stuff. I wonder how the economics work out!