Nordic countries aim for carbon neutrality through electric vehicles, biofuels and carbon storage

STOCKHOLM -- Through regional cooperation, Nordic countries can achieve a near carbon-neutral energy system by 2050, while contributing to European decarbonization through the export of clean electricity. This is the central message of Nordic Energy Technology Perspectives 2016 published by the International Energy Agency and Nordic Energy Research.

Cooperation between the Nordic countries on electricity grids and markets has already helped the region achieve an 87% decarbonized power supply. CO2 emissions per unit of electricity generated are currently at the level the world needs to reach by 2045 in the Energy Technology Perspectives’ global 2° scenario.

Research teams from all five Nordic countries worked closely with the IEA to assess the technical and economic potential to reduce Nordic energy-related CO2 by 85% in 2050, compared to 1990 levels. According to the scenario, the greatest emissions reduction must come from the transport sector, despite continued growth in transport activity. Progress is already evident – over a fifth of all car sales in Norway were electric in 2015. However, additional policy action is needed in order to electrify the vast majority of Nordic passenger vehicles towards 2050, achieve modal shifts from trucks and private cars to trains and buses, and phase in advanced biofuels for long-distance transport.

Energy-intensive industries common in the Nordic countries – such as iron and steel – have a relatively high share of process-related emissions, which cannot be mitigated through energy efficiency or renewable energy. While a share of these emissions can be reduced through process optimization, the remainder will require that Carbon Capture and Storage, a technology pioneered in Norway in 1996, become commercially attractive in the next 15 to 20 years, capturing a third of industrial CO2 by 2050 in the Nordic Carbon-Neutral scenario.

According to the report, further expansion of transmission lines to the continent will enable the Nordic region to help meet Europe's demand for clean electricity, while simultaneously balancing the variable supply from Nordic and European wind and solar.

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Experimental electric highway allows the hybrid truck to draw electrical power from an overhead grid.