A Visit to Zero Island

by Christian Pleijel

1    Lidö

Lidö[1] is an island north of Stockholm, five minutes by boat from Räfsnäs harbour. The island measures 2,5 km2. Since 2000, it is a Nature Reserve owned by Skärgårdsstiftelsen[2].

Once there was a castle here but it was burned down in 1719. A man from a neighbouring island – Mathias Holmers – made a social climb by becoming a sea captain in the Swedish East India Company in the late 18th Century, became wealthy and built the manor which is now Lidö Värdshus (Lidö Inn).

During the second world war, the island hosted a mink farm with 2 kilometres of cages and a small fishing fleet to feed the minks two tons of fish per day. Then there was a sanatorium here up until 1988, when Skärgårdsstiftelsen took over the island.

In 2002, farming started to keep the landscape open. There are some 20 cows, a couple of horses and a farmer with his family all in all four persons, who are the residents of Lidö.

From 2011 and onwards, Olle Telje och Hugo Olofsson are arrendators, managing the inn and the hostel on the island. They receive visitors from May until October with main season from Midsummer to 15th of August, hosting 3-500 guests per day. During pre- and after season they focus on tailor-made group visits like weddings and conferences.

In high season, they employ some 17-18 persons.

2    Neste

NESTE is a Finnish oil company owned half by the Finnish state. Neste produces 3,5 billion litres per year making it the world’s biggest producer of renewable biodiesel HVO (Hydrated Vegetable Oil made from waste and spill. See for example Teknikens Värld November 2018[3] and Vi Bilägare when HVO was approved by Volvo in April 2019[4].

Neste has great ambitions, stating the are not only refining oil but “refining the future” by offering increasingly clean fuel solutions and applications based on renewable raw materials.

In 2017, Neste was ranked the world’s second most sustainable companies by Forbes on their Global 100 list[5].  

3    Project Zero Island

Just over a year ago Olle and Hugo were contacted by Neste who wanted a showcase, an example, a delimited place where they could prove it is possible to become fossil-free in one year. They first identified the island of Saltkråkan i.e. Norröra with a small number of families and a few hundred summer residents, which however was considered too large. The choice fell instead on Lidö.

Olle and Hugo are people driven by a strong environmental commitment and quickly adopted the challenge, which was set to take only one year and was named “Zero Island” project.

What did they do?

There has been 18 changes and the most important are:

Solar cells

þ  Installation of 90 solar panels from Fortum with a total power of 24 kW and an annual output of about 20,000 kWh which is approximately one fourth of the electricity needed on the island.

      Cost approximately SEK 350,000.

þ  LED-lamps for all outdoor lighting.

Zero Cabin

þ  Zero Cabin: an accommodation designed to affect its surroundings as little as possible and generate minimal emissions. Solar panels on the roof generate electricity, a Wallas stove and the heating system use Neste renewable diesel.

þ  All buildings had their heating systems converted from direct-acting electricity to app-controlled air-heat pumps

þ  Neste biodiesel HVO in all vehicles.

þ  ”Zero Menu” – a food menu that is as locally produced as possible, with as little waste as possible, and as little transports as possible. The menu has been produced by chef Jonas Svensson and has reduced the emissions from making a 3-course dinner from standard 3,7 kg CO2 to 0,96 kg CO2.

The OKLIN display

þ  An OKLIN GG-30 compost that turns food waste into compost soil in 24 hours and ensures that no fossil emissions are generated from food waste on the island. It reduces carbon dioxide emissions from the island by 42 tonnes / year. The soil is used in the crops on the island.

      Cost approximately SEK 100,000[6].

þ  Räfsnäs Sjötransport make all the sea transports between Räfsnäs and Lidö on behalf of Vaxholm Company and run on environmental diesel HVO.  Although SEK 1 more expensive per litre, the fossil carbon dioxide emissions are reported to decrease by up to 90 per cent and more efficient and cleaner combustion produces less soot in the engine and purification system.

      As approximately one-third of an island’s total energy consumption typically is spent on moving people, cars and goods between the island and the mainland, sea transport is one of the most important intervention areas if one wants to reduce the island’s climate impact.

What are the effects?

Yesterady, on June 12, a year has passed sine the project started which was celebrated with a big event for about 100 persons including the islanders and people from Neste, Fortum, Skärgårds-stiftelsen, media, partners and the board of the Nordic Council of Minister’s archipelago cooperation whose chairman I happen to be.

According to Tricorona Climate Parter[7] who are an indepenedent evaluator, the carbon dioxide emissions from Lidö have decreased from 179 tonnes per year to 41 tonnes per year (-77%) thanks to project Zero Island.

What measures have given the most effect in relation to the costs will be evident from Tricorona’s final report, still not published, but Olle and Hugo already say that food and food waste play a much greater role than they previously assumed.

A great example to learn from.

[1] https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lidö

[2] https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skärgårdsstiftelsen_i_Stockholms_län

[3] https://teknikensvarld.se/hvo100-raddaren-i-dieselnoden/


[5] https://www.forbes.com/sites/karstenstrauss/2019/01/22/the-most-sustainable-companies-in-2019/#7f60adeb6d7d

[6] http://oklininternational.com

[7] https://www.tricorona.se

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