Four facts about the Baltic Sea:

  1. One of the most heavily trafficed seas in the world.

  2. The Baltic Sea is surprisingly shallow: its average depth is 54 meters and its maximum depth is 459 meters. In comparison, the Atlantic Ocean’s average depth is 4 kilometers.

  3. The Baltic Sea is the most polluted sea in the world and due to its unique traits, its very sensitive to change.

  4. Though the nutrient emissions in the Baltic Sea have decreased by half since the 1980s, concrete actions are still needed to limit the emissions.

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Anyone can join the biogas cycle; municipalities, big industries and even your private household, and help shift the world from a linear to a circular economy, reducing CO2-emissions and helping to reach sustainability goals.

 

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Fuel choices and nutrient recycling protects the Baltic Sea

The Baltic Sea washes the shores of nine states, each of which has a responsibility and possibility to protect the environment. The condition of the Baltic Sea can be improved by, for example, the right choices of fuel and by recycling nutrients.

According to estimates, people globally consume more than 50% more natural resources than the Earth can regenerate in a year, Climate warming, eutrophication of the waterways and dwindling phosphorus resources are major global problems, the impacts of which can also be seen in the Baltic Sea.

Maritime transport can reduce emissions through choice of fuel, which is where liquefied natural gas (LNG) plays a key role. The gas ecosystem under development in the Nordic countries is also making it possible to benefit from liquefied biogas (LBG), which will further reduce emissions.

Biogas production also creates recycled nutrients, which when properly used can reduce the risk of run-off of agricultural nutrients into the Baltic Sea. Compliance with the principles of the circular economy is key to mitigating climate change.

Circular economy principles to control agricultural emissions

Nutrient inputs originating in agriculture impact significantly on the condition of the Baltic Sea. In some areas on the Baltic coast, agriculture uses, for example, more phosphorus than is needed as a fertilizer, whereas in other areas too little is used. Applying the principles of the circular economy to the use of nutrient resources can reduce the impacts of the use and production of mineral and fossil nutrients.

”Unlike spreading animal manure directly onto the fields and using traditional industrial fertilizers, the nutrients contained in recycled nutrients originating in the biogas production process can be better used as an agricultural fertilizer and at the same time reduce the environmental impacts of mineral and fossil nutrient production,” says Johan Grön, Vice President, Biogas, Gasum.

The biggest problem with using manure is money. Processing manure at a biogas plant requires expensive logistics. It’s often easier just to spread the manure straight back onto the fields. Nevertheless, this causes greenhouse gases that are harmful to the climate and also nutrients from the fields can be washed into the waterways.

”Support is needed to make processing manure in biogas plants competitive with spreading it directly onto the fields and causing harmful climate and environmental impacts,” explains Johan Grön.

Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are returned for practical use as part of the circular economy either as recycled nutrients for industry or as recycled fertilizers for agriculture. The use of recycled nutrients and fertilizers reduces the use of fossil and mineral nutrients, which in turn reduces the use of scant phosphorus resources and cuts emissions originating in the manufacture of fossil nutrients.

Use of the digestion residue from biogas production as soil-enhancing compost also improves soil lightness and health because of the carbon it contains. Unlike, for example, burning biomass and releasing the carbon it contains into the atmosphere, the carbon contained soil-enhancing compost binds carbon dioxide in the soil when using fertilizer.

Choice of fuel is already improving the health of the Baltic Sea

It’s obvious that transport emissions must be reduced in all sectors to mitigate climate change. In addition to the energy efficiency of ships on the Baltic Sea, choice of fuel also plays a key role.

For use in shipping, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a more environmental friendly alternative to diesel and heavy fuel oil. Carbon dioxide emissions from LNG are up to 25% lower compared to other fuels. LNG does not produce sulfur emissions and already meets existing and increasingly stricter future to nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions limits.

Use of LNG in maritime transport is rapidly increasing. The gas distribution structure developed in the Nordic countries already allows for the wide use of LNG in maritime transport. Most of the new vessels being designed for the Baltic Sea use LNG as a fuel. Additionally, LNG can replace the use of oil-based fuels also in industry, energy production and heavy-duty road transport.

The gas ecosystem also enables the use of renewable liquefied biogas (LBG) in maritime transport. LBG can be distributed and used in exactly the same places as LNG and in this way further reduce transport emissions. Use of LNG and LBG also eliminates emissions caused by oil spills, for example.

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