Fictional detective Kurt Wallander played by Krister Henriksson in a bio-bus

Kurt Wallander in the tv series adapted from Henning Mankell's novels, riding in a bio-bus.

Famous as the homeland of fictional detective Kurt Wallander, the Skåne region of southern Sweden is aiming for 100% fossil-free bus transport by 2020.

Its forward-thinking regional public transport authority is responsible for bus and train services in ten cities and 33 local authorities in southern Sweden. It has won recognition at the European level by setting the ambitious target of fuelling all of its buses using only environmentally-friendly biogas by the end of the decade.

With financial support from the Swedish government, between 2006 and 2009 Skånetrafiken introduced 140 buses fuelled by a combination of natural gas and biogas to its network, making it the public transport company with the largest number of gas-fuelled buses in Sweden.

Since then the company has bought a further 300 gas-fuelled buses, which means that more than half of its fleet of 1,000 buses now run on gas. These new buses already produce far less emissions of carbon dioxide than traditional diesel-fuelled buses but Skånetrafiken now wants to go further and has pledged that its entire fleet of buses will operate entirely on biogas by 2020.

Over 250,000 people use Skånetrafiken’s buses every day to go to work, school, shops or leisure activities. Over the course of a year this amounts to some 140 million trips. The company calculates that it produced 26,532 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2012, but this should be reduced to almost nothing by the end of the decade.

This calculation is based on the assumption that the ingredients used to make biogas would naturally have made some carbon dioxide emissions if they had not been used to make biogas. In addition, emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and particulates will fall as diesel buses are progressively replaced by biogas-fuelled buses.

The biogas used in the buses is produced from organic food waste, particularly grain and vegetable waste products, as well as wastewater sludge, industrial waste and manure. The company’s stated aim in making the investment is that the environment as well as the health of people, plants and animals in the region will benefit from the cut in emissions.

The emissions-cutting project has been so successful that Skånetrafiken has attracted visits from transport companies in other parts of Sweden and Europe who are interested to learn from the company’s experience.

The company is involved in various educational projects aimed at persuading people living in the region to use their cars less and to use public transport more, as this will lead to fewer emissions.

Skånetrafiken’s environmental strategist Kristina Christensson said: “In Skåne we have aimed at being fossil fuel-free by using gas buses which are efficient in reducing emissions. The large number of gas buses reduces many emissions that otherwise could harm the environment and humans. Also noise is reduced. We are happy to be able to contribute to a better environment.

“Skånetrafiken is working intensively to encourage more people to use public transport because the more people who take the bus the greater the gain for the environment. If passengers leave their cars and travel by our buses it is four to five times better for the environment.”

You can follow the project’s progress at http://www.skanetrafiken.se.

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