How Norway helps to commercialise green technology

When it comes to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, time is of the essence. But we do not have the technology we need yet. The PILOT-E scheme provides a fast track, turning climate-friendly concepts into competitive solutions in record time.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we only have 11 years to slash emissions dramatically, if we are to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Achieving such a low-emission society will call for a revolution in carbon-intensive sectors. And going green must be profitable.

That is why Norway is working hard to encourage industries to create new and innovative low-carbon technologies. This makes good sense, not just in terms of reducing climate change impacts, but also from the point of view of industrial policy. To remain competitive, the companies of tomorrow will have to deliver on sustainability.

To make it as simple as possible for companies to develop these technologies, Norway has established the PILOT-E funding scheme.

Predictability and minimal red tape

In Norway, funding schemes are an important incentive instrument for green solutions. They give companies the financial security they need to invest heavily in developing and scaling green technology. If companies have a promising concept with the potential to cut emissions and succeed on the market, public institutions and agencies can shoulder a share of the risk related to technology development.

The PILOT-E funding scheme is a collaboration between three public sector actors: the Research Council of Norway, Innovation Norway and Enova.

The PILOT-E scheme coordinates available financing opportunities and issues a call for proposals roughly once a year. If a group of two or more companies has a promising concept they wish to pursue, they only need to submit a single application. Those making the grade receive funding and follow-up for the entire technology development pathway, from research and development to scaling and commercial launch.

This lowers the bar for companies to go green. It ensures that good solutions do not gather dust in a desk drawer, but make their way onto the market and ultimately help to reduce emissions both locally and globally.

In addition to close follow-up and coordination, the PILOT-E scheme also gives companies predictable financing. Instead of having to apply for support for each phase of technology development, companies are guaranteed support until their product is firmly placed into the hands of the customer.

Rapid results

Launched in 2015, the PILOT-E scheme has already generated results. The first call for proposals focused on zero-emission transport. Thanks to support from the scheme, a number of emission-free solutions will soon be on the market.

One of these is a zero-emission solution for delivering concrete to construction sites, developed by NorBetong. Operating concrete mixers and concrete pumps and transporting heavy loads of concrete consume tremendous amounts of diesel fuel, and account for a large share of the overall emissions from the construction sector. While other companies have explored various hybrid solutions and partial electrification to reduce emissions, NorBetong is concentrating on electrifying the entire process.

The company received funding for its PILOT-E project in 2017. In March 2019 it will be testing its first all-electric concrete mixer drum at a construction site.

According to Stein Hov, head of transport at NorBetong, PILOT-E funding has been invaluable in developing the concept.

“We have dared to stick our neck out and develop something completely new. So PILOT-E support has been incredibly important for us. It is always very costly to be the first one out with new technology, but PILOT-E has given us the security we need to make the leap,” he says.

Development has gone quickly precisely because the PILOT-E scheme is a single process that follows the technology from start to finish.

“It has been a tremendous advantage to avoid multiple processes and to have one contact person guiding us along the entire pathway – from development to prototyping and beyond,” he says.

Carbon-neutral industry and zero-emission maritime transport

In 2019, the PILOT-E scheme is allocating NOK 107 million (roughly USD 13 million) to six ambitious projects featuring large and small Norwegian companies. This year’s funding is going to projects that reduce emissions in industry and maritime transport – sectors that account for a vast share of global greenhouse gas emissions.

In the industrial sector, the fertiliser heavyweight Yara will work together with its partner Nel Hydrogen Electrolyser on a PILOT-E project to realise zero-emission production of mineral fertiliser. In the project it is leading, silicon producer Elkem will replace fossil fuels in the production of silicon and ferrosilicon alloys.

In the maritime sector, Samskip AS and its partners will use hydrogen fuel cells to achieve zero-emission container transport at sea. Both Flying Foil AS and Selfa Arctic AS will develop smaller-scale electric speedboats in their respective projects. Meanwhile, Havyard Group ASA is leading a project to achieve emission-free operations for cruise boats and large sightseeing boats in Norwegian fjords.

Support from the PILOT-E scheme allows these companies to position themselves at the forefront in their areas. It is instrumental in bringing forth the technologies we need to create a sustainable world.

Photos, from top: The PILOT-E scheme; NorBetong concrete plant; Havyard electric ferries.