Sunday, October 29, 2006

Gritty City...Dirty Fuel

I apologise for skipping last week, but I was studying for my renewable energy exam.

Of course Berlin was spectacular. The city seduced me with its history, structures and atmosphere. Touching the Wall and feeling the coldness that separated the East and West gave me shivers of the past. Neighbourhoods were split down the middle of the road and access to a small river was denied. West Berlin was a fortress surrounded by 12 foot high concrete protecting (or containing) the ideology of liberty. A list of names decorates a section of the Wall immortalising the few that survived, were caught or were shot in the Crossing. The most spectacular escape was the man who used Newtonian physics to plow through the barrier with a large truck laden with heavy weights. As of now, the Wall is completely dismantled with only 4 sections surviving, mostly left to the mercy of spray paint.

Since the largest section of Berlin was predominately the East-side, most buildings are from a bygone era. This is changing though, creating a very unique mix of modern structures full of angles and glass and beside them, stone, silent, uniform building blocks. All through the East side, (were I slept) buildings and streets seemed laid down with minimal effort attributed to its simple design. The West side, clearly identifiable, contains more complex structures and little historical value of old old Berlin.

I was confused at first how a city could be so divided. It will soon be 17 years since the cracks were widened and the city became whole. Yet, I felt an overwhelming sense of pity, watching as the city heals the festering wounds of history. All around the city, memorials and landmarks identify what we should remember as a note to not repeat it. Such a constant reminder gives Berlin a gritty feel, where all activities are exposed and facades are driven away.

Coming back to a clean-cut Stockholm to sit and study was difficult after a very enlightening time in Berlin. Yet the week was happily interrupted by a wonderful study tour of an industrial park in Norrkoping, a city 2 hours south of Stockholm. This park contained a wheat to ethanol plant and a huge combined heat and power plant. The ethanol plant is a large operation producing about 5 million litres of ethanol for the Swedish market. The plant is owned by a farmer’s co-operative which, I found out later, is a very large investor in Sweden’s bio-energy sector. They have plans to expand since the government has increased the current percentage of ethanol in gasoline.

The energy for the ethanol plant was provided by a immense combined heat and power plant. This plant supplied all the steam required to run the ethanol plant and heat a 300 km pipe network (district heating) for the city’s heating requirements. The cool thing about this plant is the fuel, a mix of wood waste, demolition wastes, municipal garbage, sawdust, and coal. All of this burned at a very high efficiency and very low emission rates. The plant of course makes electricity as well, but its main energy service is warm homes and buildings.


Blogger Swedish lamps and other energy tales said...

An added note: If you are interested in knowing more about Berlin, I recommend you check out a great film called, Goodbye Lenin. This film was made in Berlin and set during 1989 when the Wall fell. It is a fun story.

12:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our collective consciouness is full of fears of our past mistakes. These are always ligering in our present tense. Today, we are bound to repeat same errors from the past. It is like a ghost that is persecuting us and then we try so hard to run away from it in our quest for real freedom...
I will rent the movie...Thanks
Did you see the movie " back to the future"?
Ramdom Thougths

3:21 PM  
Blogger Swedish lamps and other energy tales said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:53 AM  
Blogger Swedish lamps and other energy tales said...

I saw all three Back to The Future movies. They were wonderful and your point about refering to the "fears of our past mistakes" is what Marty McFly wanted to correct. Of course, it all came down to the guy with the biggest punch which corrected all the wrongs to good. So perhaps slamming people around in the present will help my future generation.

12:55 AM  

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