Norway has the renewable resources and political will to become the world’s first country to use entirely clean electricity for its power demands, according to a new report by Energi Norge, a non-profit industry group representing Norwegian electricity companies.
“Our target is for Norway, based on hydro power and better collaboration between businesses and the authorities, to become the world’s first fully electric society by 2050,” Energi Norge head Oluf Ulseth told the Norwegian News Agency NTB.
Norway’s government ministers recently announced that the sale of combustion engine cars will be phased out by 2025, a move that has been copied to some degree in other European countries like France and the United Kingdom.
Norway wants to increase the number of electric cars on its roads, which already tops 100,000. The government has introduced policies to encourage that, like tax exemption for leased e-cars or allowing owners of the vehicles to use bus lanes, toll roads and ferries free of charge.
Electric car sales represented 22% of the country’s market in 2015 and that number is expected to grow to 30% by the end of next year. However, Energi Norge cautioned that converting Norway’s fleet of vehicles will need “considerable effort within the transport industry”.
Norway has set itself ambitious targets under the European Clean Power for Transport directive, which calls for an “appropriate number of publicly accessible [charging] points”. Oslo hopes to have one point per every ten cars, meaning it will need around 25,000 in place by 2020.
E-mobility efforts are often criticised by green campaigners because carbon footprint is ultimately linked to whatever the power source is at the end of the charging cable.
More than 96% of Norway’s electricity demand is met by hydropower at the moment, with another 2% coming from other renewables. Three natural gas power plants make up the remaining portion of the energy mix.
Energy Norge’s Ulseth added that the conversion to electricity would boost the job market and innovation, and the process would “enable us to take a leading role in climate work while improving our competitiveness”.
Norway’s electrification is set to benefit its closest EU neighbours, Denmark and Sweden, as the Nordic countries’ grids have long been connected.
The Norwegian grid will soon be connected to the United Kingdom and Germany too, as numerous interconnector projects are currently in different stages of development.
NordLink, which would connect Norway and Germany via a 500km-long subsea cable, is due to come online in 2019, while the North Sea Link with the UK is slated to be completed in 2021. There are also plans to link up with Scotland, under the NorthConnect project.
Both NordLink and NorthConnect have been the subject of EU funding under its Projects of Common Interest programme.