Sweden’s capital Stockholm has been named the “smartest city in the world” for its innovations on the environment, digital technology and residents' wellbeing.
Even though it’s one of Europe’s fastest-growing capitals, it plans to have a positive carbon footprint by 2040.
Stockholm’s Mayor Anna König Jerlmyr outlined the city’s ambitious climate goals at a conference of the European GrowSmarter project.
She told Futuris: “We are developing a new technique with carbon capture storage. And we think that with this new technique, combined with our district heating systems that are fossil fuel-free today, we can create a climate positive city. The first in the world by 2040."
The Valla torg district is one such example of the efforts being made.
As part of the GrowSmarter project, public apartments have been refurbished to reduce their climate impact.
There are electric cars and bicycle-sharing schemes as well as a new kind of waste management system.
High-pressure tubes underground transport the waste to a single collection centre, meaning less space is needed, and fewer garbage trucks on the road.
Each type of rubbish bag has a different colour and an optical sensor and weighing scales allow individual processing of waste.
Patrick Haraldsson, the North Europe President of waste collection company Envac, says the high-tech system allows residents to get instant feedback on their mobile phones.
They are informed about how much waste they are creating and how much biogas it will produce.
In the future, the system could be used to charge residents based on how much waste they create.
Sustainable urban mobility is another priority of the Swedish capital, which recently installed sensors near the city’s stadium.
They collect a large variety of data, aimed at helping the city to implement a more efficient transport policy.
Stanley Ekberg, IBM’s Client Executive in Sweden, told Futuris: “Historically, you have been waiting for one or two years to get the data. Now, you get near-time data, only 15 minutes old. So if you have taken a decision and implemented something, you get instant feedback on the results. So this is very good.”
For Stockholm, reducing emissions also means tackling energy waste, such as the heat produced by the many data centres based in the city.
The Glesys data storage company feeds into the district heating system, thanks to a heat pump facility financed as part of the Growsmarter project.
Glesys manager Joakim Jarstorp says it means a greener data centre.
“Instead of wasting the heat into the air, we also get money back from the district heating company, because they buy our heat.”
In 2019, the district heating network was able to heat 30,000 apartments, not only thanks to the heat recovered from the Glesys data centre, but also from supermarkets, and even crematoriums.
"The internet could heat most of the 140,000 new apartments expected to be built in Stockholm by 2030", according to Mika Hakosalo, who is leading the implementation of the smart solutions in Stockholm.
Martin Brolin, of Stockholm Exergi, says the company hopes to expand its network of heat exchange systems.
The GrowSmarter project has listed 12 smart solutions related to energy, mobility and infrastructure that are being rolled out in Stockholm and two other “lighthouse cities” - Barcelona and Cologne.
Some of these solutions may soon be implemented in other European cities, such as Porto, Valetta and Cork.