Making the news today is a town council in Worcestershire, U.K., that wants to heat a local leisure centre and swimming pool using heat from the neighbourhood crematorium. This isn’t a new idea. Towns in Denmark and Sweden have been taking this approach for years, but the idea seems to be spreading. Humans are, after all, just another form of renewable power — and with the planet heading toward 9 billion, it makes sense to throw humanity into the biomass feedstock, particularly now that — in Canada, at least — more than half of the population choose the cremation route. Consider it our last contribution to the world we leave behind.
The council argues that it’s better to put the heat to good use rather than release it directly to the atmosphere. There are other approaches, of course, including turning corpses into a chemical soup through an environmentally friendly process called resomation — or biocremation. I wrote about a Toronto-based company called Transition Sciences back in 2009 that is trying to push the resomation concept, which uses one-tenth of the natural gas and one-third of the electricity used in conventional crematoria. Both approaches have merit — one inefficient but funneling some energy back to local system, the other dramatically reducing the amount of energy used (and emissions emitted) from the start.