Courtesy of ASKO

Norway Continues To Lead The Transition To A Green Economy

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Are Hansen, the head of CleanTechnica’s news bureau in Norway, filed two reports this week that show how well the country’s push to lower its carbon emissions is working. Item one is a report by Elbil, the official publication of Norway’s Electric Car Association, that says of the 2.8 million registered passenger cars in Norway today, a quarter are now electric. No other country in the world has such a high share of electric vehicles. In total there are about 715,000 electric cars on Norwegian roads today — just fifty thousand fewer than the number of registered petrol cars.

Those of us who cover the EV revolution usually focus on statistics for current sales — what percentage of new cars in any given month, quarter, or year are electric. In most countries, the percentage is rising steadily. For instance, my colleague Maximillian Holland reported a few days ago that EVs accounted for almost 25% of new car sales in the UK in April. But there are a lot of private passenger cars on the road and it will take decades to replace all of them with battery-powered alternatives.

Norway has been aggressively supporting the EV revolution since 1990, when monthly sales of electric cars were often in single digits. Last week, we reported that battery-electric cars reached a new record in April, climbing to just under 90%. And yet, despite 30+ years of policy support, three-quarters of all passenger cars in Norway are still powered by an infernal combustion engine. The statistics for the entire fleet of cars in Norway are as follows:

  • Diesel — 35.7%
  • Gasoline — 26.7%
  • Battery-electric — 25%
  • Plug-in hybrid — 6.9%
  • Hybrid — 5.3%
  • Diesel PHEV — 0.3%

Policies Matter, Even In Norway

The EV revolution in Norway didn’t happen because Norwegians all woke up one morning and said, “Today, I will drive with no exhaust emissions!” The Norwegian government encouraged people to make the switch to electric cars with a host of incentives, from exemptions from taxes on purchases to free parking in cities and free tolls at the country’s thousands of bridges, tunnels, and ferries. But those subsidies are being scaled back and some are worried that the goal of having 100% of new cars sold in Norway be battery electric by 2025 will not be achieved.

Øyvind Solberg Thorsen of the Norwegian Road Traffic Information Council told Elbil this week, “The authorities’ goal is that all new passenger cars must be zero emission cars from 2025. The flattening may be a sign that we will not reach this goal by the turn of the year, and probably not during 2025 either. It is all the more important that the authorities are careful about touching the electric car incentives we still have.”

Policies matter. In 2007, Norway adopted incentives for diesel-powered cars. As a result, the number of diesels on the road quickly climbed from 300,000 to 1.2 million. Now diesel sales are declining rapidly but it will take ten years or more before all those diesel cars are retired from service. Meanwhile, even if sales of EVs only stay at around 90% each month, the number of conventional cars on the country’s roads will continue to decline. In total, more than 1 million gasoline-powered cars have been removed from Norway’s roads in this century. In a country that has fewer than 3 million passenger cars in total, that’s a lot.

Asko Goes Greener In Norway

ASKO Norway
Courtesy of ASKO

Item two on Are Hansen’s news update from Norway is another item from Elbil that focuses on ASKO, that country’s largest grocery supplier, which is not only converting its entire fleet of delivery trucks to electrics, it is also adding rooftop solar to virtually all its buildings. It is now the largest independent producer of solar power in the capitol city of Oslo.

ASKO bought its first electric truck in 2016, the same year it first began to build solar arrays on the roof of its buildings. Eight years later, both the roofs and walls of two warehouse buildings are covered in 8,800 solar panels. “Here we produce two million kilowatt hours annually,” Aleksander Jørgenrud, sustainability manager at Asko Oslo told Elbil. The trucks at the Kalbakken location drive a total of one million kilometers annually and have an average consumption of 2 kWh/km.”Now 16 out of 20 trucks are electric, and we are working to get the last four in place within a short time. Then we will have 100 per cent fossil-free distribution,” says Jørgenrud. The last four vehicles to go electric will be the company’s semi-trailers.

To date, most of the electric trucks for ASKO have come from Scania. The Scania 45R has 450 kW (610 horsepower) of continuous power, three electric motors, and a battery pack with a gross capacity of 624 kWh. In addition to carrying its own cargo, it is designed to pull a two-axle trailer and has a permitted total weight of 44 tons. Scania also has models available with 4×2 and 6×2 axle combinations that are approved for a total weight of 64 tons.

The solar cell system on the roof of Asko Oslo has a so-called “weight-watcher” system that constantly monitors the amount of snow and the snow load on the solar roof. If there is too much snow, the panels have their own snow melting function, so there is no need to send people up on the roof to shovel. ASKO Norge intends to obtain all the electricity it needs to power its operations from renewable sources, not only in Oslo but at all 13 regional warehouses. Combined, those systems have an annual production of 17 gigawatt hours. The company has also invested in seven wind turbines.

ASKO Norge expects to become a net zero business by 2026, which will require that its entire transport fleet be  electrified by that date.

The Takeaway

Policies have consequences. Norway has been a leader in electric transportation and sustainable energy for decades and put the policies in place early on to make that happen. Note that Norway is a cold, snowy country — which is contrary to many people’s idea of where electric vehicles and solar power should flourish. And yet there it is, not far from the Arctic Circle, proving that cold climates can do zero emissions just as well as areas of the world that are warm.

There is a lot of misinformation flying around the internet about why EVs and solar are simply not ready for prime time. The Norwegian experience is proving all those doubters and haters wrong. Heia Norge!

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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