Together for 50 years

On April 1, 1970, Södertörn Fjärrvärme AB connected its first district heating customer – an apartment building on Albyberget, south of Stockholm. The company now supplies district heating to 50,000 households and companies. FVB has helped and been involved with SFAB from its first customer and over the entire journey to today.

SFAB is owned by the municipalities Botkyrka and Huddinge. The company started on a very modest scale and even had its first office in an apartment. However, there was a rapid expansion of district heating in the apartment areas in Botkyrka and Huddinge.

“But it actually almost ended up being electric heating in these buildings. The first investigation suggested that the residences should be heated by electricity, then another investigation was done that pointed to district heating instead, which became the heating method of choice,” says Cecilia Nordin, PR and Sustainability Manager at SFAB. The company thus got off to a really good start.

“It’s been a very successful journey over these 50 years and it started with a very large expansion of housing. Today, virtually all apartment buildings in our area have district heating and many of the industrial buildings and freestanding homes,” says Lennart Ståhl, who has worked with construction management and operation at SFAB for 40 years.

In the beginning, SFAB had mobile boilers with local networks and there were at most 26 mobile boilers. In 1972, the company’s first production facility was completed. It was an oil-fired heating plant in Fittja of 560 MW, where the oil came in via a separate oil port and where it was possible to store the oil in two rock caverns.

Visionary plans

“The company’s first CEO, Halvard Gedung, was a visionary and the plant was dimensioned for a large expansion. The same was true of the pipelines, which had large dimensions. Considering the major expansion that occurred, he was incredibly forward-thinking,” says Lennart Ståhl.

In the early 1990s, the owners decided to focus the energy company’s operations, mainly to include distribution of district heating and district cooling. The Fittja plant was then sold to Söderenergi and at the end of the year, the last of their production facilities – Skogås heating plant – was transferred to Söderenergi. Nowadays they don’t have their own district heating production but buy everything from Söderenergi. District cooling, on the other hand, mainly comes from SFAB’s own facilities.

Among other things, the facility in Skogås had been using landfill gas from a closed landfill since the 1980s. FVB investigated the possibilities of using the gas, which became the first gas pipeline in the Stockholm area. The initial estimates were that the gas would last for 10 years, but it is still being used and corresponds to heating for about 1,700 houses per year.

As the number of district heating customers has grown, there has been a major change in the way the district heating is produced.  It went from only having oil-based district heating production to having 99 percent recycled and renewable fuels today.

“We have a goal of being entirely fossil fuel-free by 2025, but as long as there is waste in society that we cannot or should not recycle, our firm conviction is that the best thing for the climate is to burn this waste and extract energy while preventing pollutants from being released into nature,” says Cecilia Nordin.

FVB has been a companion all through SFAB’s history. FVB has done assignments involving both detailed blueprints and visionary long-term plans.

“It is and has been a really good cooperation. Other consultants have come and gone over the years, but FVB has been there the whole time. They have extensive experience in district heating and district cooling and are very professional. They have won public procurements, so we’ve been able to work with them long-term. It’s been really good for us, because they also understand our intentions,” says Lennart Ståhl.

He still works at SFAB, although he is actually old enough for retirement. But there will be no retirement for the cooperation between SFAB and FVB, because considerable expansion in both Botkyrka and Huddinge is in the works.

“Just in Flemingsberg in Huddinge, a new city center is being planned with space for 50,000 visitors, 50,000 residents and 50,000 workplaces. At the same time, 18,500 residences are planned along the new Spårväg Syd light rail route,” says Cecilia Nordin and concludes:

“Several major new construction projects are also underway in Botkyrka. Much of what is being built is densification where we already have lines, and we believe our district heating stands up to the competition well.”