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In Norway, ambitious goals, effective policy and world-class innovation have led to rapid electrification of all modes of transport, big and small. All of these vehicles need to be charged.
As transport increasingly goes electric, finding practical, reliable and cost-effective ways to charge every size of vehicle is the latest area of focus in emission-free innovation. Nowhere is this trend more evident than Norway, which has the highest penetration rate of electric mobility on the planet.
As of April 2021, nearly 55 per cent of new car sales in Norway were electric vehicles, placing the country at the top of the global rankings by a hefty margin. Norwegian streets are now literally buzzing with electric sedans, SUVs and sportscars.
With its massive EV market share , Norway has become the ideal testing ground for EV charging innovators looking to test their solutions. The preliminary findings are perhaps not surprising: people want convenience.
“Nobody wants to go out of their way to stop and charge at the mall or in the city if they can avoid it,” says Fredrik Lima, Vice President for Europe at Norwegian charging solutions provider Zaptec.
Zaptec’s intuitive and efficient EV chargers allow users to charge at their destination. Its charging stations can be used at home or at the office, both as a single unit and in large systems that connect hundreds of chargers together for apartment blocks and company fleets.
“But most people, at least in Norway, prefer to charge at home since it’s cheaper and more convenient,” explains Lima.
The charging stations are equipped with smart technology that adjusts the charging speed according to the amount of power available, which both prevents the power grid from overloading and provides user savings.
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“The key to saving costs is to shift charging times from expensive peak-hours to less expensive times with lower demand, which are usually at night.”
Lima goes on to explain that the most Norwegian houses have sufficient power to charge cars:
“An average house has enough power to charge up to 27 cars with average consumption over a 24-hour period.”
Though modest in land area, Norway is a maritime nation which boasts the second longest coastline in the world. While many visitors dream about exploring Norway’s precipitous shoreline, crisscrossing the fjords is part of the daily commute for many locals.
“Norway has a lot of fjords, which means a lot of ferry crossings,” says Geir Arne Bjørkelund, Sales Manager at Zinus.
In fact, there are over 130 crossings, serviced by roughly 200 car and passenger ferries and high-speed vessels. While the views are often stunning, the near constant operation of fossil fuel-powered ferries and other marine traffic through narrow topography has come at a price, says Bjørkelund:
“I live on the west coast close to Bergen, where we’ve always had issues with pollution from marine vessels. And then of course there’s the climate impact too.”
In 2019, the Norwegian government announced the target of zero emissions from ferries by 2025. Today, 30 ferries are already all-electric and this number is set to double by the end of 2021. As with electric cars, this ambitious push has resulted in a favourable climate for maritime electric charging innovators like Zinus.
Geir Arne Bjørkelund, Sales Manager, Zinus
“Our solution uses a fully electronic charging tower and an onboard receiving unit. Once installed, the user just needs to push a button and the fully automated procedure connects in only 20 seconds.”
As ferries often operate in busy ports where space is at a premium, Zinus’s design focuses on maximum flexibility. The charging towers can rotate up to 180 degrees and the connector can accommodate a 7.5-metre tidal difference, for example.
Since ports are also increasingly becoming public spaces, Zinus’s design is not only about clever engineering.
“In addition to meeting the technical requirements, our systems are aesthetically pleasing,” says Bjørkelund, and adds as an afterthought:
“Oh, and the system is also fully recyclable.”
Not everyone is pleased with the wide-scale electrification of transport. Perhaps no mode of transport has courted more controversy than the humble e-scooter now found in cities across the world.
Is it possible to prevent this perfect conveyor of flexible micromobility from becoming a sidewalk hindrance and eyesore? A Norwegian startup might have the answer.
“The issue is largely one of organisation,” explains Frode Gundersen, project manager of business development mobility at Wireless Power & Communication (WPC). WPC specialises in inductive charging and data communications and is a global leader due to the transfer effect and compact size of its charging modules.
Frode Gundersen, Project Manager, Business Development Mobility, WPC
“We believe that incentivising users to return scooters to designated areas is one of the keys to solving this problem.”
WPC’s solution is designed to do just that. Together with the company Blue Logic, WPC has developed the MobiDock eScooter Easy Charge System, which offers a complete parking solution for e-scooters that utilises wireless inductive chargers and a complete loT cloud-based platform.
“The user pays a deposit when they rent an e-scooter via the operator’s app,” says Gundersen, who continues:
“Our cloud-based solution then makes it possible for the operator to automatically end the user’s trip once the scooter is returned to a designated parking area, and the deposit is refunded.”
Gundersen sees the micromobility convenience offered by e-scooters as unparalleled. Once WPC has successfully implemented its solution in selected Norwegian cities, he is confident that the initial chaotic introduction of e-scooters will soon become a thing of the past:
“We believe our product will all but solve these problems.”
E-mobility solution providers such as Zinus, Zaptec and WPC agree that the unique Norwegian context has given them a head start now that other countries are beginning their own process of electrifying transport. The companies are already primed to bring their solutions to the world.
“Norway has been the perfect testing ground for our technology, and we’ll continue to be very active here in the future as Norwegian ferries are converted to electricity over the next few years,” says Bjørkelund, who adds that Zinus has also secured contracts in the Netherlands and Portugal.
According to Lima, Zaptec is also expanding beyond the Nordics, and is currently targeting larger European markets such as France, Germany and the UK.
“Here, we can bring our technology and the lessons learned in Norway.”
While Norway remains a unique test ground in a class of its own in many respects, Gundersen is confident that WPC’s solution can meet the challenges of micromobility elsewhere.
“There’s no shortage of people looking for a solution to these problems around the world.”
Many aspects of e-mobility will be explored at the ITS World Congress, scheduled to take place in October 2021 in Hamburg.
The congress is the world’s largest event focusing on smart mobility solutions and the digitalisation of transport, and attracts some 15 000 visitors, company representatives and industry stakeholders.
The congress hosts live sessions with ITS industry experts, and includes exhibitions and demonstrations of cutting edge technology within the world of smart, sustainable mobility.
Do you want to know more about business opportunities in smart urban mobility? Get in touch with Innovation Norway today!