Transport, Industry and Flexibility Are the Greatest Challenges in Achieving a Carbon-neutral Nordic Energy System

Through regional cooperation, the Nordic countries can achieve a near carbon-neutral energy system by 2050, while contributing to European decarbonisation 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. The report, a Nordic edition of the IEA's Energy Technology Perspectives, reveals that a near carbon-neutral energy system will require a dramatic restructuring of the transport sector, accelerated innovation to reduce industrial emissions, and greater flexibility in the energy system to handle higher shares of variable renewables.

“The Nordic region is a leader in clean energy, and offers examples of the policies and technologies needed in a global response to the Paris Agreement”, said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.

Cooperation between the Nordic countries on electricity grids and markets has already helped the region achieve an 87% decarbonised 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-degree scenario. While decarbonising electricity is still a central challenge for much of the world, the Nordic case offers insight into how a clean electricity system can facilitate decarbonisation of other sectors. These final steps toward carbon-neutrality are critical to achieving the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.

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. This is broadly consistent with the climate targets of the Nordic governments. The results are positive – the Nordic Carbon-Neutral Scenario is technically feasible with manageable incremental investment needs.

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 busses, and phase in advanced biofuels for long-distance transport.

Source: International Energy Agency
Date: Jul 28, 2016