Swedish City Hits an Impressive Target: No Fossil Fuel for Heat

Kristianstad uses virtually no fossil fuel to heat its buildings and homes. What does it use instead? Potato peels and stale cookies.

Kristianstad, Sweden, has pulled off an impressive feat. The city, and the surrounding area, with a total population of 80,000, uses virtually no oil, gas, or coal to heat its homes and businesses. (And Sweden isn't a warm place in the winter.)

What do they use instead? "Potato peels, manure, used cooking oil, stale cookies and pig intestines," according to The New York Times. Kristianstad has switched over to biogas, a form of methane that's created from natural biological waste (even residents' yard trimmings).

Not only has the shift cut the region's overall fossil fuel use by a staggering 50 percent, it's also been good for public coffers. The city used to spend $7 million to heat municipal buildings. Using biogas, that bill has been cut to $3.2 million.

The city isn't completely emissions free. Many cars in Kristianstad still run on gasoline, and biogas does release carbon emissions (though not nearly as much as conventional fuel), but it's a big step forward.

Here in the United States, biogas might make sense for California, Wisconsin, and other agricultural areas that currently spend a lot of money on fossil fuels.