Norway’s Electrified Society
May 29, 2018 | Steve Watts, Lead Product Development Engineer
No, not the song. Norway’s society.
But what’s true for dancing the electric slide is also true for countries adopting electrification strategies: some do it better than others. And Norway seems to be doing electrification much better than the rest of the world.
The year 2050 is Norway’s target date for achieving a fully electric-powered society. From hydropower to electric vehicles, Norway leaves no stone unturned in its environmental strategy. This post takes a look at Norway’s astounding achievement of electrification and closes with insight into how other nations striving to participate in the electrification megatrend can do so with energy storage strategies.
The land of abundant water
Majestic, deep blue fjords comes to mind when I think of Norway. Water is Norway’s golden ticket into the realm of full electrification: About 96 percent of Norway’s electricity is produced from hydropower. All of this hydropower is possible due to Norway’s high elevation and surplus of rainwater captured in its large reservoirs.
Norway’s largest hydroelectric plant has a capacity of about 2,000 megawatts, more than what many nuclear power plants produce. The station also stores electricity in its large reservoir, allowing for effective release of power into the grid during times of peak demand. The hydropower station can store eight terawatt hours of energy. That’s enough to supply a large Norwegian city with electricity for four years without the need to replenish the reservoir with rain or snow.
Hydropower’s 96 percent green contribution doesn’t include cars on the road. To address transportation carbon emissions, Norway has offered attractive incentives to encourage its citizens to buy electric vehicles.
A nation of EVs
Norway’s electrification plan includes phasing out internal combustion engines (ICE) by 2025. Electric vehicles (EVs) have almost 40% market share in Norway as of last year. That percentage includes battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PEVs).
Norwegians have been EV early adopters motivated by various federal incentives, including no import or purchase taxes, free parking and free use of toll roads and ferries, and low annual road tax. By 2020, there should be 25,000 public charging points available across the country to support the permanent adoption of clean vehicle transportation.
It’s no secret that Norway’s primary source of wealth is the exportation of oil and gas. While Norway’s national goal is to burn less oil via adoption of EVs, it has used the wealth derived from its fossil fuels to achieve the green milestones we see on display.
A power exchange
With the above-mentioned resources, Norway is well-equipped energy-wise and is one of Europe’s most important energy producers with plans underway to become a supplier to all of Europe.
Norway is currently exchanging power with Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The next step is to create a power exchange with Germany via NordLink, a $2 billion dollar undersea cable project. The connection will enable Germany to sell its renewable energy to Norway for use and/or storage in its reservoirs - and for Norway to sell its hydropower to Germany when German renewables production is low. NordLink will be followed by other major projects that will open up Norway’s energy supply to the EU.
How energy storage supports electrification
Most countries do not have the head-start on electrification and clean energy that Norway has. Improving energy management to meet lower emissions goals is being achieved using a variety of strategies, including energy storage.
Energy storage resolves the problem of the intermittency of renewable energy and must respond faster and cycle more frequently to ensure grid power quality and reliability in a changing generation mix that includes growing amounts of wind and solar. With the decommissioning of fossil and nuclear based energy generation, ultracapacitor energy storage is ideally suited to fill gaps in grid ancillary services by providing fast and reliable voltage and frequency support to stabilize electricity grids.
In terms of transportation, there are various methods for applying energy storage to achieve lower carbon emissions. Ultracapacitors support various features in hybrid electric cars, including starting, transient management, steering and suspension. Ultracapacitors are implemented in millions of vehicles for engine start-stop, helping to cut down engine run time and gas burning. The advantage of ultracapacitors is that they have the ability to support multiple applications once designed into the automotive platform.
Ultracapacitors are also being used to recover energy in trains and buses—a much more efficient alternative to traditional braking systems in which the vehicle’s braking energy is lost as heat. We have reached a time in history when these original design methods are phasing out as the pressure to electrify increases.
Norway is a society that has several elements aligned to help it move quickly toward full electrification, including excess pumped hydro resources, progressive policy and citizens with the political will to adopt green technologies. Other nations participating in electrification will have to adopt strategies that will work optimally for their particular set of circumstances.
The number of energy storage systems is sure to increase with the electrification trend. More specifically, I anticipate that ultracapacitor and battery technologies will continue to be paired into highly efficient energy storage systems that address multiple applications across industries. The technology and its applications are only limited by the creativity of the people in the energy storage sector.
Electrification will require development and innovation, and it will surely bring about many more methods for improving energy management for the betterment of business, the environment and quality of life.
Lead Product Development Engineer
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