International Team Launches Biogas Initiative

An initiative launched by an international team of partners builds off the success of Swedish biogas efforts and works to expand the California production and use of the clean transportation fuel. The renewable and greenhouse gas-friendly biogas is made of methane, the core element of natural gas, but it is derived from renewable sources, including animal residue (such as at dairies), farm and forest products, and municipal solid waste.

Sonoma, California – September 26, 2003 [] The California-Sweden Biogas Initiative begins as a joint effort by CALSTART (the North American advanced transportation organization) together with Business Region Goteborg (a Swedish industry organization that has helped establish a biogas program in that country). This initiative will link California industry and agriculture with Swedish counterparts to cooperate on expanding a renewable biogas industry. “This is a positive indication of the progress our Swedish biogas efforts have made, as well as a huge opportunity to expand biogas into a world-leading market,” said Goran Varmby, business and environment project manager for Business Region Goteborg. “California, like Sweden, needs cleaner fuels and needs more fuel sources. We think biogas is a sustainable fuel that provides multiple benefits to industry, agriculture and the environment.” Business Region Goteborg is responsible for promoting and developing trade and industry in the Goteborg region and is a key partner in the Swedish biogas program, together with Biogas Vast, Volvo Car Company, Volvo trucks and Swedish farm and industrial partners. They have installed 18 biogas stations supporting 2,000 vehicles. Sweden has no domestic sources of natural gas, but creates biogas domestically from various sources, including farm residue. In essence, the residue is broken down to methane, the basic form of natural gas. This captured methane is then refined with new technology to a high level of purity to allow its use in vehicles. By using renewable by-products as its feedstock, biogas can therefore not only offset fossil fuel imports, it can result in zero increases and even reductions in greenhouse gases (GHGs). Methane is 30-times more reactive than CO2 in causing global warming. By “closing the loop” and capturing and using methane that normally escapes to the atmosphere, biogas can make a significant impact on reducing transportation’s contribution to GHGs. Biogas is not intended to completely replace other fuels, but its production and use can augment and expand the fuel supply with a renewable, domestic source of energy that provides a path to hydrogen. Biogas offers one of the few integrated solutions: a clean, domestic fuel that can improve air quality and reduce global warming. “When we look at the challenges of fuel supply and sources, severe pollution caused mostly by vehicles, and global warming impacts, biogas stands out,” said John Boesel, president and CEO of WestStart-CALSTART. “We need to focus on those solutions that can help solve multiple problems — not solve one and add to another. We think a fuel that can also turn waste materials from our farms and cities into a clean solution instead of smog — and which reduces global warming impact — needs our attention.”
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