Sweden continues to assert itself as one of the “greenest” countries in the world through its innovative use of household garbage as a source of electricity and heat for its 9.5 million citizens. Sweden aims to break its oil dependency by 2020; a bold and daring ambition that has the potential to motivate other nations to set similar targets for green energy adoption. The commitment to breaking free from fossil fuels centers on a mix of social and environmental responsibility, as well as the firm belief that peaking oil reserves will send prices skyrocketing in the next decade.
Sweden has become the world leader in waste-to-energy production; a process where everyday household waste is converted to electricity using giant incinerators. The electricity generated from the two million tons of household waste is primarily used for heating homes during the harsh Scandinavian winter. The Swedes have become so adept at this technique that they have run out of garbage to fuel their incinerators, and are looking to other nearby countries, most notably Norway, to import approximately 80,000 tons of garbage per year.
In fact, Norway is currently unable to meet the level of demand for Sweden’s trash import scheme, and other nations such as Italy, Bulgaria, and Romania are being proposed as suitable alternatives.Now here comes the fun part! Norway is currently PAYING Sweden to import its garbage and turn it into renewable energy. Yes, Sweden is essentially getting paid to generate electricity and heat energy for its citizens. Not only is this process having a beneficial effect on the environment, but it greatly reduces energy costs for the Swedish population who no longer have to rely on oil imports to heat their homes. Finally, the ashes from the incineration process that contain highly toxic dioxins are then returned back to Norway and land filled.
This scale of waste-to-energy adoption is being seen as a potential solution to environmental issues such as the great pacific garbage patch that hovers approximately 1000 miles north of Hawaii.
By finding a way of hedging against the risks of oil dependency, Sweden has also discovered a renewable energy resource that reduces landfill, minimizes waste, and even earns payment for their efforts.