Close up of man's hand holding fuel pump and refueling car in Gas station

We received help to build gas stations for liquid biogas

When the Finnish energy company Gasum was to establish filling stations for liquid biogas in Sweden, they needed help. At IVL Swedish Environmental Institute, they found Sweden's foremost experts in the field, which gave them expert support to build 16 stations around the country in a short time. More are on the way.

- It has felt extremely safe to be able to hand over important parts to someone who has cutting-edge expertise. For us, what Anders has done has been crucial in being able to develop this part of our business plan, says Mikael Antonsson, area manager for heavy traffic at Gasum.

Mikael Antonsson talks about the fact that Gasum has built 16 filling stations for liquid biogas and that they plan to build at least 100 more, something that IVL Swedish Environmental Institute's biogas expert Anders Hjort had a central part in. And more are on the way.

Mikael Antonsson, Area Manager for Heavy Traffic at Gasum:

Interest in liquid biogas is increasing sharply. It is a kind of "Greta effect". The only thing that now hinders our expansion is that it can take a long time and be difficult to find land to build the stations on.

Anders Hjort was recruited to IVL Swedish Environmental Institute five years ago in a strategic effort to build up expertise in biogas. At the same time IVL bought the company Anders Hjort worked at and thus acuired additional experts in biogas. It has strengthened the competence considerably. Anders Hjort has been involved in countless of biogas operations and has long had established contacts with Gasum.

Gasum is one of the Finnish state's energy companies in the Nordic energy market, primarily in the gas sector. Especially for trucks, liquid biogas, or LBG as it is usually abbreviated, is particularly suitable. LBG consists of methane from digestion of food waste and other waste that is cooled down to minus 160 degrees. Then the gas becomes liquid and has a higher density. Liquid biogas is considered to be one of the most climate-friendly fuels.

A professionally taken picture of a man with blue and grey background

The problem is that so far there are not many gas stations that offer LBG. And as long as there are no filling stations, there are no haulers who are prepared to replace their vehicle fleet with trucks with this fuel.

- It's like the chicken and the egg. Someone has to be first. So then we chose to start building before the market existed, says Mikael Antonsson.

But building biogas stations is not a straightforward process, especially not initially. To begin with, investment support is needed, otherwise it will not be financially defensible.

A gas station for biogas is considerably more expensive to build than one for diesel. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency offer financial support that can be applied for, Klimatklivet, but it is a complicated procedure that requires expert competence to acquire.

Anders Hjort and his co-worker Marita Linné at IVL Swedish Environmental Institute have formulated the applications to the authorities and managed the contacts with them. According to Mikael Antonsson, a kind of cutting-edge competence is required to conduct the necessary discussion and dialogue with the authorities.

- We have let Anders take care of it. It has been a security for us that we have known that this has happened in a good way. We appreciate his professionalism. He delivers what he promises and is genuinely knowledgeable throughout the process. It is absolutely crucial for us to get these supports. And there have been substantial sums in support of Gasum.

- In recent years, we have received around half a billion kronor in support from various authorities. Anders has not helped us with everyone, but with most, says Mikael Antonsson.

Among other things, Gasum received SEK 200 million in investment support from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency to build the filling stations. In less than two years, there were 16 in place.

Anders Hjort:
- In principle, all petrol stations for LBG are located in Sweden. It usually goes quite well when Gasum seeks support for this. I have worked with them for a long time and we have a framework agreement with them.

But gas stations are not enough, there must be trucks that can refuel there and they are still very few. A truck has an average lifespan of six to seven years and a new one that refuels liquid biogas is half a million kronor more expensive to purchase than a diesel-powered one.

A small haulier rarely ventures into such an investment. Most of the hauliers in Sweden are small companies with an average of 3.5 trucks per company. But for the hauliers to dare to buy these expensive but climate-friendly trucks, there is another investment support where up to 60 percent of the additional cost is covered.

So far, Anders Hjort has handled applications for 900 trucks, of which 600 have been granted according to Mikael Antonsson. Gasum markets on its website that it helps hauliers to apply for support through Klimatklivet free of charge.

The reason why the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has these generous supports is because of the goal of a climate-neutral Sweden in 2045 and the adjustment that is therefore necessary. The investments that provide the greatest possible reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per invested krona receive support. And even though there may be a shortage of waste and residual productions in the future, biogas is considered an important fossil-free energy source. And there are large sums of aid incorporated.

- It does, but it is well-invested money and socio-economically defensible, says Anders Hjort.

Anders Hjort emphasizes that biogas is not enough for everything, but that other renewable fuels and changing habits are also needed to achieve the climate goal. Especially if you also take into account that there are competing areas of use for biogas such as industry and shipping.

- Biogas should therefore be seen as a complement that together with other renewable fuels, powertrains and alternative mobility solutions together can replace the use of fossil fuels in the transport sector, says Anders Hjort.

To row ashore the applications for support requires in-depth knowledge of the subject and also some kind of street smartness, according to Mikael Antonsson at Gasum. One must be able to talk, not only with the authorities but also with these often small hauliers so that they are forced to give away data. The applications for the hauliers are described as more time-consuming than complicated. But time is money for a small business.

And in contacts with the authorities, the authorities appreciate someone who knows the regulations and who understands why they set certain requirements.

- You must have respect that they have a set of rules about why it looks the way it does. It is also about being transparent and not secretive. Then you also have to know basically what you are doing, says Mikael Antonsson.

Gasum has a framework agreement with IVL Swedish Environmental Institute, and also needs help with other things. It can be anything from investigations and environmental monitoring, it is almost always about biogas.

- It is usually Anders that we hire. It is easy to do that because everything, hourly rate and other things, has already been negotiated, says Mikael Antonsson.

The 16 petrol stations are today spread across the country with some concentration in the Mälardalen valley and to the south, but also a couple of stations in Norrland. This is just the beginning of Gasum's investment. Within a year or so, another 50 or so will be built, half of which will be in Sweden, says Mikael Antonsson.

- But it's not enough. As I estimate it, there will soon be a need for about 200 stations around the country, says Mikael Antonsson.

About Gausm

A company that is owed 100 per cent by the state. Of the shares, 73.5 per cent are owned by the state-owned Gasonia Oy and 26.5 per cent directly by the Finnish state.

Gasum's turnover in 2019 amounted to EUR 1128 million.

The company describes itself as follows: “We are experts in the Nordic gas sector and the energy market. Together with our partners, we promote the development towards a carbon-neutral future. We work for a more environmentally friendly future through efficient gas solutions. ”

About Biogas

Biogas is produced from, among other things, food waste, slaughter waste and sewage sludge.

The production of liquid biogas (LBG - Liquid Biogas) takes place in a supplementary step after the biogas production, where the biogas is first separated from carbon dioxide in a so-called "polishing step", then the gas is condensed to liquid form by cooling to about -162 degrees. Methane that is
the main content of biogas, changes from gas to liquid form at -161.6 degrees Celsius.

The potential of biogas from waste and residual productions is about 5-7 terawatt hours and years in Sweden, while heavy trucks consume about 20 terawatt hours.

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