Svebio (The Swedish Bioenergy Association) publishes every year a Bioheat map, showing all district heating plants in the country that use biomass as fuel. The 2017 map, published in February this year, shows 511 units using biomass or biogenic waste. 292 of these plants deliver more than 10 Gigawatthours (GWh) of heat. The remaining 219 are smaller plants delivering 2-10 GWh. Aside from these plants, there are a number of even smaller ones – not shown on the map. Today, almost every city and town in Sweden has district heating to heat apartment buildings, single-family homes, and deliver hot water or steam to industries. District heating accounts for 57% of all energy used for the heating of buildings and hot water.

Almost all of the district heating plants use biomass or waste as energy sources. A few also use peat, while a couple use straw. Almost all of the biomass used comes from wood fuels such as woodchips, bark, sawdust, forest residues, wood pellets, waste wood, or short rotation coppice. Bio-oil is often used for peak load. The latest fuel statistics from 2015 show that 63% of all fuels used for district heating in Sweden came from biomass, with 13% from municipal waste and peat, and 8% from industrial waste heat, of which a large part came from forest industries. The use of fossil fuels in district heating is less than 8% and has continued to decline year after year.

Most of the biomass used is residues and waste products with low value that are locally sourced, creating jobs for farmers, forest owners and local entrepreneurs and truckers. But more and more biomass is transported long-distance by train or by boat to supply big cities such as Stockholm with biomass to large heating plants. 90% of the heating plants are CHP (combined heat and power) plants producing both heating for the district heating grid, and electricity. The energy efficiency of such plants is very high – around 95% of the energy in the fuel ends up as power and useful heat. Very little energy escapes through the chimney, and with flue gas condensation, almost all the energy in the flue gases is recovered. Before the oil crisis in the 1970s, all Swedish heating plants used oil. Today, almost no oil is used, and only limited amounts of coal and gas. The switch from fossil oil to renewable biomass has been virtually completed.

Discover the Bioheat map HERE

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