The Norwegian transport sector puts climate in the driving seat


The transportation sector is in transition all across the world. Norway has already come far in exploring sustainable solutions.

Transport is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Norway, accounting for 31 per cent of the country’s emissions. Reducing these emissions will require large-scale electrification, which in turn requires wide-ranging innovations in all segments of the transport value chain.

Norway has made great strides in electrification. The country has seen nothing short of an electric vehicle revolution, with one of every second car sold in 2018 being electric or hybrid. Delegations are coming from around the world to learn how Norway has made this happen.

Sustainability efforts are extending to more and more modes of transport. Maritime transport is gradually making the transition from heavily polluting fossil fuels to greener fossil fuels and electricity, while actors in passenger transport have set ambitious zero-emission targets.

There are a myriad of benefits to a green transition in the transport sector. New technology will not only reduce emissions, but it can also strengthen the transport system as a whole, improving freedom of movement and boosting safety and security.

A maritime revolution

The private and public sectors in Norway have joined forces and established the Green Coastal Shipping Programme. One of the programme’s most ambitious projects is the Yara Birkeland – the world’s first fully electric, autonomous container ship. Due for launch in the course of 2020, the emission-free ship will replace 40 000 road freight trips annually to transport Yara’s fertiliser from the company’s factory near Porsgrunn to terminals further south in Brevik and Larvik. This will reduce carbon emissions by 750 metric tons.

The first hybrid shuttle tankers will also be delivered in 2020. Around half of the oil recovered in the North Sea is transported to the UK and Norway by ship. Teekay has developed a technology that allows shuttle tankers to use their own emissions as fuel.

As for passenger transport by sea, requirements for energy efficiency and emissions are now weighted in all public procurement tenders for ferries in Norway. Thanks to this, there will be a total of 70 all-electric and hybrid ferries in operation along the Norwegian coastline by 2021. The first electric ferry was put into operation as early as 2015.

Electrification has reached the tourism industry as well. The sightseeing boat Future of the Fjords was built by Brødrene Aa. The catamaran can hold 400 passengers and has been sailing the Sognefjord since May 2018 – entirely emission free.

Ambitious vision for urban transport

Ruter – the company that covers the greater Oslo region – has set a clear standard for environment-friendly public transport in the future. Ruter has stated that all the modes of transport it operates, including buses, boats, minibuses and taxis, will become entirely emission free by 2028. The company calls this an ambitious, yet realistic goal.

To ease traffic congestion in urban areas, concepts for moving public transport on to waterways are being explored. The Norwegian Centre of Expertise (NCE) Maritime CleanTech is developing the high-speed, zero-emission Urban Water Shuttle. The Urban Water Shuttle will run on battery power and connect city populations without needing roads. Given that eight of the 10 largest cities in the world are located by the coast – and most major inland cities are located by a river – such solutions can make a substantial difference.

To get city dwellers to leave their cars at home and take public transport, systems must be developed to make this easy. Entur works to increase the use of public transport in Norway, and runs a national registry containing data from all public transport operators in the country. This data is open and free for use by app and service developers. Entur also uses the data in a route planner for door-to-door journeys across Norway. This is just the start in terms of what collections of open data can be used for in the future.

Photos, from top: Redink/Krister Sørbø; Meshcrafts’ Smart Charge platform for EV charging; Yara Birkeland zero-emission, autonomous container ship; Future of the Fjords zero-emission sightseeing boat; Urban Sharing smart platform for infrastructure sharing.