Norway is a country full of contradictions: soaring mountains and fathomless fjords, modest tastes and bathing in the buff, and most of all a country grown rich on oil charging ahead in the electric transport revolution.
Norway has historically been in the Top 10 Oil Exporting Countries in the World. Even as of 2018 Norway is still rated Number 11 in the World’s Top Oil Exporting Countries.
Yet, the Norwegians are looking to the future and they recognise that oil does not play a major role in it. Which is why Norway is leading the charge and pressing ahead with the electrification of their entire transport system. And not just with cars…. just about everything and anything that moves #!
So let’s take a look at the societal and regulatory changes they’ve made to explore exactly why they’re roaring, quietly, ahead why they’re on top of the world when it comes to the electrification of their transportation.
In 2017 Norway set the ambitious goal of ensuring all cars sold by 2025 were zero emission capable. A goal which, at the time, was only seven years away and which was considerably more ambitious than its larger European neighbours to the South, Britain and France, which have also set goals of electrifying their citizen’s cars, but not until 2040.
Norway understands that climate change is happening now. It will not wait for regional policies to take hold and so the government is pressing ahead with it ambitious targets. However, it’s important to remember that Norway is also an incredibly rich country. Decades of oil exporting and subsequent high revenues, generated by their rich natural resources, have enabled it’s government to offer generous incentives for those who switch to electric cars. After all Norway has the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund, worth a staggering $1 Trillion.
This means that in Norway electric cars are already cheaper than their petrol powered equivalents. In fact some of the generous regulations that the government has implemented here can be noted as having a direct impact on the sale of electric vehicles.
These have included:
- Exemption from 25% VAT on purchase.
- Zero import or purchase taxes.
- Zero toll roads and ferry fees.
- Low annual road tax.
- Free inner city parking.
- 50% reduced company car tax.
- Access to bus and HOV lanes.
- Exemption from 25% VAT on leasing.
As well as an EV friendly finance environment, the infrastructure required to support this electric revolution has also been carefully thought out, planned and implemented.
Initiatives such as the European Clean Power for Transport have aimed to deploy one charging point for every 10 electric cars on the road by 2020 – a pretty ambitious target.
The Norwegian Government has thrown their weight behind this commitment with a programme to create at least two multi-standard fast charging stations for every 50km of main road in Norway. Additionally the European Union is implementing a new transnational network of EV charging stations that will stretch from Italy to Norway.
But Norway is not only tackling the challenge of a charging infrastructure at a national and European level; it is taking on the challenge at a local level. In the heart of Oslo sits the world’s largest public underground car-park solely for electric cars and their charging requirements.
Norwegians can park and charge for free! And as a results Oslo’s ground level streets are characterised by a dazzling array of electric cars of all shapes and sizes.
The political generosity is not boundless however, and the Norwegian government is considering ways to tax EVs in the future. Because electric vehicles use cheaper electricity and energy, which in Norway is provide by their abundant hydro-power resources, the government tax revenues take a hit because of the absence of petrol VAT duties and tax that would have been collecting by their gas-guzzling counterparts.
This presents something of a quandry to governments seeking to encourage electric car ownership. These vehicles all use the same roads, and in order to maintain the roads, governments will have to figure out fair ways of taxing their citizens to do so.
The Norwegian Government has considered introducing a tax on the heaviest EVs, dubbed the Tesla Tax because it affects only two models, which are produced by Tesla. However EV supporters believe that the market and infrastructure for electric vehicles should become more established first. Additionally younger generations are shifting to car-sharing services more and more and moving away from the historically embedded notion of owning your own vehicle, and all the associated costs.
Either way the continuing incentives, taxation and initiatives represent a Green Taxation shift away from traditional policies that governments around the world need to address in order to pay for the coming electric revolution.
As a seafaring nation that has been sailing the high seas for thousands of years, Norwegians are no strangers when it comes to innovating new modes of sea transportation.
In fact Norwegian Vikings were historically successfully using renewable wind power to sail their long-ships in their marauding adventures around Northern Europe for centuries.
Now there is a concerted push by the Norwegian authorities to return its sea transportation to this renewable powered legacy and means of power, only this time marauding vikings have been replaced by tourists because the ion the 21st Century it will be ferries and passenger ships powered by huge integrated batteries.
It’s all because owing to the massive popularity of Norwegian fjords with tourists, both emissions and pollution have seen an equally massive spike in recent years as visitor numbers soar. Now the Norwegian Government has acted to eliminate this health and climate change issue by making all of its fjords zero-emission zones by 2026.
This means only electric ships will be able to transport passengers and their vehicles around the many majestic fjords of Norway.
Marius Holm, head of the environmental foundation ZERO has said:.
For the first time in the world there is a requirement for emission-free sailing in the fjords and their harbours. Norway has long been a world leader in emission-free ferries based on sound political decisions on zero-emission requirements. Now the country is taking a step further in the maritime green shift, that has global repercussions. At the national level, this will mean a welcome development towards emission-free solutions on many tourist ships, a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and a halt to harmful local air pollution
And these new policies makes huge economic sense as well. Not only is the government of Norway protecting its natural treasures for generations to come, but ferry companies will experience a massive boost to their bottom line, as new electric ferries have turned out to have running costs of a whopping 80% reduction in comparison to their diesel driven counterparts.
Siemans have been tasked with developing the prototype for Norway’s electric ferry services. The resulting ferry, called Ampere, was put to the test back in 2015 and proved not only that it could reduce emissions and pollution but that it could also operate its electric motors virtually silently, thus creating a more pleasant experience for passengers.
At the following Nordic Summit in Osla, shortly after the ships trial period, the statistics of a anticipated reduction in CO2 emissions 95% and operating costs of 80% were announced.
Following this the Norwegian Government has announced orders for an additional 53 ferries contributing massively to their drive to make the fjords of Norway an emission free zone.
And no overhaul of the transport industry would be complete without tackling the most polluting mode of transport of all… the airline industry.
The technology to replace large scale airliners with electrically powered versions doesn’t exist just yet, but that’s not going to stop this ambitious little country from taking the first step towards that end goal.
That’s why throughout 2018 Norway is testing the capabilities of a newly developed electric plane to see if new aviation tech can match up to the tech that has powered the revolution in car transportation.
The plane, an Alpha Electro G2 plane, built by Pipistrel in Slovenia, has been used to develop the proof of concept for electrically powered flight.
And Transport Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen believes that the future of national flights is in electrically powered planes. He said:
We are now seeing rapid, positive development in environmentally friendly technology in the transport sector. Electric drives and batteries are changing shipping and road transport. It is incredibly exciting that we can also contribute to leading the way in environmentally friendly air travel. By introducing Norway’s first electric aircraft, we will be demonstrating that this is not a far-off vision of the future but a reality achievable within a few years
So what exactly is the time frame? State run company, Avinor envisages the first commercial routes using electric aircraft being in place before 2030, aiming for a small electric plane with 19 seats commencing in 2025. Across the entire air industry the company seeks to ensure all of Norway’s short-haul flights make the switch to electric air transportation by 2040.
There are additional unexpected benefits to be found in making the switch to electric planes; sounds is reduced by a huge margin, meaning that residents on the ground in and around airports will experience a considerable improvement in their standard of living.
Since humans first took to the skies, the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have increased dramatically. With an estimated 3 billion people taking to the skies each year the growth of the airline industry continues… unabated.
People are not going to stop flying. And incremental changes to the existing mode of fossil fuel powered aviation will not make a dent in the soaring levels of pollution from this industry. It is time for the electric revolution to take hold across all modes of transport, including air. And Norway is in the vanguard, leading the way in this essential game-changer.
The Electric Aircraft Industry is expected to a market that is in the region of $7 billion, which demonstrate the opportunities for business and wealth creation can coexist alongside the priorities for protecting the environment for future generations to come.