Public and private transport to use renewable energy on Gotland, Sweden

The Swedish island of Gotland provides renewable energy for local public transport, private cars, and ferries between the island and the mainland. These initiatives connected different companies and organizations on the island.

The infrastructure for charging electric cars has been developed for a few years on the island. Electric cars have a positive impact on the local environment regarding noise and pollution levels.

Behind the development of the charging infrastructure is the regional business association “Produkt Gotland” with its 38 members as well as their partners “Länsstyrelsen i Gotlands län Klimat och Energi”, “Gotlands Energi AB” (GEAB), “Green Charge sydost”, “Regionens Energirådgivare”, “Visby Motorcentral”, “Visby Bilcity” and “Elbilslandet Gotland”.

The implementation was funded by regional growth funds, co-financed primarily by the regional energy company GEAB. The project was also a part of the national project “Vind i tankarna” that was owned by “Power Circle”.

The project “Electric Mobility Gotland" was finalized in 2010 on the island, so the infrastructure is currently well established. Most of the 50 charging sites (or plugs) in Gotland are located at tourist destinations and food stores on the island where people stop for a longer time. Four of the charging sites are quick charging in Fårösund, Hemse, and two in the main settlement Visby.

An exceptional innovation is also going on the Island starting in 2019, which aims to build a demonstration E-road. It’s carried out by “Smart Road Gotland”, a consortium led by “Electreon AB”, a wholly-owned subsidiary of “Electreon Wireless”. The testbed would be a 1.6 km long electric road as part of a total route of 4.1 km between the airport and town center of Visby. It will be the first in the world to charge inductively both an electric truck and a bus while in full motion. The test will be carried out in varied seasonal conditions to ensure that the system is ready for large-scale projects on highways.

The island has also adopted a biogas approach to contribute to the introduction of biogas as vehicle fuel, to reduce emissions from traffic on the island. The strategy was adopted in February 2009 and the Region Gotland has set targets for the operation of buses in public transport and other types of vehicles to be gradually replaced with biogas-fuelled vehicles.

As it's stated in the Gotland region's biogas strategy, when new cars are leased or purchased and transport services are ordered, biogas solutions should be prioritized. It is possible to use manure, agricultural and other waste to produce 30-40 % of all vehicle fuel consumed on the island Gotland.

The first filling station for biogas in Gotland was inaugurated in September 2010 when four new biogas buses started to operate in the city of Visby. The biogas that is upgraded to vehicle fuel was at the beginning produced only in the Region of Gotland ́s sewage treatment plant in Visby. In autumn 2011, a new production plant for the farm-based biogas became operational in Bro. Since the first was introduced, the biogas proportion in car fuels has grown each year.

In Gotland, an assessment and action plan were made to make the transition from oil-based vessels to more bio-based fuel sources as part of an EU SMILEGOV (sustainable islands) project. Transition is expensive regarding securing new ferries as well as building the necessary infrastructure in the harbors. It requires a filling station on the mainland and also in Visby.

The environmental gain is that regional authorities, along with municipalities on Gotland, the Swedish government, and shipping companies have to collectively take action to gradually move towards less CO2 emitting fuel sources for the main transports between Gotland and the mainland.

Keywords: electric mobility, wind power, electric cars, infrastructure, biogas, public transport, carbon dioxide emissions, ferries, Gotland, Sweden