In a world moving away from fossil fuels, Sweden is demonstrating a workable path in that direction.
A majority of the country’s homes are connected to one of more than 500 “district heating” systems, which generates heat in a central plant and pipes it to a network of buildings. Homes can still regulate their own temperatures but don’t need furnaces, boilers, and other in-home heat generators.
A majority of the heating systems are fueled by biomass, harvested from the country’s 63-percent cover of sustainably-managed forests.
Biomass and hydropower from the country’s rivers and tides now supply 54 percent of Sweden’s energy.
An increasing share of the rest will come from buildings themselves.
In the city of Ludivika, three apartment buildings have been fitted out with solar panels, thermal energy storage banks, and heat pumps. A computer system manages the power system, which charges electric cars overnight and meets 77 percent of the buildings’ energy demand.
The project is seen as a model that can spread across the country.
In Hyllie, a suburb of Malmo, international clean energy developer E.ON has taken smart grids a step further.
The company has installed generators to capture energy not only from the sun, but also from local wind paths, flowing water, and biomass.
The computers controlling the smart microgrid react to weather, capturing power from one source when it’s strong and storing any excess in thermal storage tanks; then releasing the stored energy to meet demand when natural sources go dormant.
The project has not only boosted energy efficiency among consumers but also cut their power bills.
TRENDPOST: By combining locally available renewable energy sources and smart-grid management systems, most locales could meet most of their energy needs through non-fossil fuel sources. As the world shifts away from oil, coal, and gas, entrepreneurs in the new world of decentralized power generation will be able to take advantage of evolving technologies to recreate local and national energy systems.

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