Welcome to Lidö, Sweden’s zero carbon island

Posted on 21 November 2019.

The Finnish group Neste, which specializes in biofuels, wants to transform Lidö, in the north of the Stockholm archipelago, into a climate neutral island in under a year. Since it began in 2018, the project has already reduced carbon emissions by 78%.

Zero Island aims to implement solutions that will reduce CO2 emissions as quickly as possible.

Made up of some 30,000 islands, the Stockholm Archipelago is a small paradise. Just an hour’s boat trip from the Swedish capital and renowned for its superb landscapes ranging from sandy beaches to coniferous forest, it is a very popular Swedish vacation spot.
The island of Lidö is in the north of the archipelago. It has charming little red and white wooden houses, an unspoiled environment and a tranquil atmosphere. This is where Neste, the world's largest producer of renewable diesel, chose to launch its Zero Island project.
The goal? To transform Lidö into a carbon neutral island in the space of just twelve months. Why such a short timescale? Well, explain the project developers, because the clock is ticking!
In its latest report drawing attention to the urgency of the climate situation, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says there is little time left in which to act.

A range of solutions

Zero Island aims to study and implement a range of solutions (including "homemade" technologies, of course) to reduce CO2 emissions as quickly as possible.
Rising to the challenge, Neste and its partners have tapped into the expertise of selected specialists from Solved, a cleantech platform. The Finnish group also worked closely with Skärgårdsstiftelsen (Archipelago Foundation), a Swedish nature conservation organization in the Stockholm Archipelago, to ensure that no natural resources were impacted by its activities.
Neste started by replacing the fossil fuels used by agriculture, and land and sea transport, with renewable solutions. Then the company began work on transforming the island’s entire energy supply.
It uses its renewable diesel, produced from vegetable oil and animal fat, to power the cars and ferries that transport visitors to the island. The buildings have been covered with solar panels. In addition, several technologies have been installed to improve energy efficiency.
Particular attention was also paid to waste management: in Lidö - everything is either reused or recycled. For example, food waste is used as compost to fertilize an organic potato field.
In total, 18 different solutions have been deployed on the island. The combination has reduced annual CO2 emissions from 180 to 40 metric tons.

"Zero Vacations"

Want to spend your summer vacation in a lovely ecological cottage? It’s now possible on the island of Lidö. Understanding that "a sustainable future also requires changes in our daily lives and our mindsets," Neste wanted to show that making responsible choices, especially when traveling, doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on home comforts.
So this year, the island began Zero Vacations, a project where everything has been designed – from the accommodation to the food - to produce as few emissions as possible. Zero Vacations includes a small house, the Zero Cabin, which allows visitors to experience a carbon-neutral lifestyle, and a sustainable menu, the Zero Menu, using local ingredients.
Zero Cabin is inspired by Nolla Cabin, which first appeared on the island of Vallisaari, in the Gulf of Finland. Built by Finnish designer Robin Falck, it has become an Airbnb smash hit. As for Zero Menu, it was the creation of chef Jonas Svensson, who took into account all the possible sources of carbon emissions - from the field to the plate.
Although Zero Island is above all a showcase for the solutions developed by the Neste Group, in a very tangible way the project demonstrates that it’s possible to drastically reduce our carbon footprint in a variety of ways.