Swedish solutions in environmental technology, such as waste management systems, is arousing the interest of many countries. Besides the practical issues such as waste collection and treatment, it is a matter of looking at waste as a resource. Waste can be used for energy production, materials recycling, and sometimes to extract fertilizer. There is also a wide-spread interest in the “Swedish model” – that is, the distribution of responsibilities and the interactions between legislation, technology and social and governance practices.

One example of the coordination betweeen Swedish authorities and business sector is the waste and energy projects in India. Today, India is the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, with emissions expected to double in the coming decades. The ongoing urbanization gives rise to increasing amounts of municipal waste; the Delhi megacity is one of more than a hundred cities facing a host of environmental challenges. Sustainable transportation, improved sewerage, and more efficient waste handling are key issues. Turning wastewater sludge into biogas is one piece of this sustainability puzzle.

Smart cities

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The agreement between Swedfund and Scania was signed in 2015, in connection with the opening of Scania’s bus manufacturing facility in Narasapura. Anna Ryott (Swedfund) and Martin Lundstedt (Scania) are in the picture. Swedish Minister for Infrastructure Anna Johansson and Indian Minister of Road Transport and Highways Shri. Nitin Gadkari were also present. The agreement will contribute to the development of “smart cities” in India. Photo: Scania.

”We recently had a Swedish delegation here – eight companies from India Sweden Innovations’ Accelerator – for the SmartCities India 2015 expo”, says Ludvig Lindström, international coordinator at the Swedish Energy Agency. ”Smart City is a concept focusing on how to handle the challenges of urban growth. We have to find smart, sustainable solutions to manage the influx of resources needed to support millions of people, as well as the waste flows they generate”.

”Swedish companies and the Swedish society in general are very proficient in sustainable urban development. SymbioCity is a concept based on Swedish experience and research. It is a holistic approach, encompassing transports, information, communication, water issues, architecture and urban planning. Companies within India Sweden Innovations’ Accelerator all develop solutions for smart cities, such as biogas production, electric trikes, air conditioning monitoring, innovations in concrete, and solar lighting for developing countries”, says Ludvig.

Small-scale energy systems

”As part of the Indo-Swedish bilateral programme, the Swedish Energy Agency is currently about to conduct feasibility studies of a potential pilot project in local electricity production and small-scale energy systems. The systems, called “microgrids”, are primarily adapted for the needs of the Andaman Islands, and provide electricity where there is no grid access, or where the electricity production depends on diesel generators or other fossil fuels”, Ludvig Lindström says.

Scania and Swedfund invest in Indian biogas

Scania and the development financier of the Swedish state Swedfund are establishing a partnership to develop the production of biogas as an automotive fuel in the Indian city of Nagpur – an example of government and business working together. Nagpur is located in the state of Maharashtra and has 2.5 million inhabitants. The biogas will be produced from digested sludge from one of the city’s wastewater treatment plants in collaboration with local companies. Nagpur is participating in the Indian Government’s initiative to improve the environment and transport systems in the country’s 100 largest cities. The plans were unveiled in connection with the inauguration of Scania’s bus manufacturing facility in Narasapura in Karnataka state.

“This is a Swedish venture, which in a sustainable and profitable manner can create many new jobs and contribute to India’s shift towards renewable fuels. Biogas is the fuel of the future, which will contribute to solving India’s huge pollution problems while taking a comprehensive approach to the major environmental challenges,” says Swedfund’s CEO Anna Ryott.

“Scania has vehicles and technologies that can contribute to this shift, here and now. We see great opportunities for Sweden as a country to lead the development towards sustainable cities in the world in general and in India in particular. For this reason, we are extremely happy to be able to take this step together with Swedfund” says Scania’s former President and CEO Martin Lundstedt.

The Indian Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is working actively to improve the environment and accessibility in 100 large cities in the country, applying the Smart City concept in practice. The Government is also approaching international companies that want to invest in technologies and systems that can promote the development of sustainable cities. Producing biogas from waste in major cities and residual products from agriculture represents an important part of the solution to India’s problems with air pollution, waste management and the cost of imported energy.

The article was published in September 2015