“It is particularly ironic that the battle to save the world's remaining healthy ecosystems will be won or lost not in tropical forests or coral reefs that are threatened but on the streets of the most unnatural landscapes on the planet.”- Worldwatch Institute. 2007

Saturday, 2 October 2010

October 1st - Back through Malmo

I catch the night train again, going southwards this time from Stockholm to Malmo where I have an appointment with Li at E-on to talk more specifically about the energy at Western Harbour. They were invited to make some propositions, having their headquarters in Malmo and being the biggest energy company in the world. Although it’s interesting that energy was never the big issue with Western Harbour, more sort of just there for completeness with ecology and placemaking taking the forefront. It certainly wasn’t used as a selling point by the developers she tells me.She pretty much just wants to run through her presentation, including some little pictures of ‘How district heating works’ with little red lines going to a house and blue lines coming back but I manage to distract into talking about energy in Sweden more generally and the decision process and issues at Western Harbour. The electricity comes from one big wind turbine with a minimal amount from a small PV array located on one of the buildings at the entrance to the development. Likewise the heat comes form a district heat main run on waste incineration. Smaller contributions are made by a solar thermal array, located on the building beside the PV at the entrance and they have a water source heat pump as experimental installations, also a heat pump to provide district cooling and an interseasonal heat store in an aquifer below

Western Harbour again - solar thermal to the left, Solar PV shading to the right
It works well but the one on the other side of the Western Harbour isn’t performing – geology is a difficult science. Likewise they have a small sewage biogas plant which feeds into the gas main I’m surprised at this – in Germany I was told that district heating can’t compete with gas. In Sweden it’s a different story it seems and Li shows me some good graphs from Sven Werner which illustrate clearly that the reduction in carbon intensity of Swedish energy goes hand in hand with their move away from oil as main fuel for district heating. They also shows the long lead times from the decision to implement an energy choice (when they moved to nuclear from oil for example) to the point where the energy mix actually changes. But, as elsewhere the approach seems to be small but visible installations of experimental technology and relying on tried and trusted means for the main provision.
I ask about objections but it seems that the major objections to the scheme were from locals who were worried it would become a rich people’s playground that they would be excluded from and that the council has repeatedly made it clear that it will never become a gated community and that the public areas will remain public. This has been the case with the area become a popular place for people to hang out. I recall Tor told me this as well – that the new residents complain a lot about it. He sighed when he told me and I thought how tough it must be to be a planner – worse than an engineer because we only get noticed if we get it wrong whereas from a planners viewpoint you’ll always be in the wrong from someone’s perspective.
After my meeting with Li I get some food from a supermarket and go to sit on the harbour front at Western Harbour to eat it, hopefully upsetting the posh people by doing so. Then I go back to the bath house at the end of the pier, just because I can, before getting another train to Copenhagen for a sixteen hour train journey to Amsterdam.

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