There is a technical revolution taking place today. Transport has broadly been run on liquid hydrocarbons the last 130 years. This is about to change. In the small country of Norway, every third new car sold is an electric vehicle and the world’s first electric ferry is crossing a Norwegian fjord 34 times every day. We are thus presently in the forefront of this change.
With just over 5 million inhabitants, in the big scheme of things we do not make much of a difference. But on the other hand, the biggest wave always starts with the smallest ripple. In Norway, the wave is gaining strength. Right now, India could look to Norway to see how green transportation solutions work in practice.
India is a big country. In every sense of the word. The Indian population is set to surpass China and become the largest in the world in the years to come. With a population of such a magnitude, many of India’s choices going forward will have global implications, also for Norway. It will come down to big countries like India, if this mounting wave will bring about the transformation in transportation that will save our planet and create business opportunities for all.
Norway is currently the world’s demonstration project for green transport solutions. We have the highest EV penetration rate in the world. Nearly 40% of new cars sold are EVs. Infrastructure, technologies and solutions are being developed, tested and assessed in Norway. Valuable lessons have been learnt from looking at customer behaviour. For example, the fear of running out of battery power, or range anxiety, has been highlighted as a barrier to EV uptake.
While many drivers experience range anxiety at first, this fear quickly subsides. In fact, only 4% of Norwegian EV drivers report having run out of battery power. Businesses and governments from all over the world are looking to Norway to gain insights into how the beginnings of a mass market for EVs functions in practice.
But how did Norway achieve this? It is the result of targeted and stable transport policies. Firstly, we have a clear goal of selling only zero-emission vehicles and buses by 2025. Secondly, we give tax exemptions to EVs and shift the tax burden to combustion engine cars instead. And thirdly, we invest in EV infrastructure, having built 8,755 charging stations – 1 per 21 electric or hybrid cars.
While the development of EVs are gaining attention, there is still little talk about transport on seas and rivers. Norway is a maritime nation with longstanding traditions of shipbuilding and offshore activities. We have been a global leader in pushing for higher environmental standards in shipping.
The Norwegian ship building industry and shipping industry is now taking steps to develop a new fleet of environmentally friendly ships. The new ships will use the same technology as an electric car but with a battery the size of a storage container, or a combination of battery power and liquid natural gas (LNG), or some other cleaner-burning fuel such as hydrogen.
Right now, we have the world’s first battery driven ferry operating a passenger ferry route crossing the Sognefjord in Norway. The power consumed by the MS Ampere for a single crossing of 6 km costs about Rs 400 – the equivalent of a cup of coffee at Starbucks, and yet it’s enough to transport 360 passengers and 120 cars.
For longer distances, ships fuelled by LNG are an important alternative. Norway has the world’s largest fleet of LNG ships. The environmental benefits are massive compared to diesel-fuelled ships – 30% lower CO2 emissions, 85% lower NOx emissions and absolutely no particulate emissions to pollute the air.
The number of vehicles on Indian roads is projected to grow from over 160 million to over 550 million in 2030. This begs the question: Will these cars run on diesel, or will they be electric? In order to service 390 million additional cars on the roads, new infrastructure must be developed. Will there be new gas stations built, or charging stations? For India and for the rest of the world, there is a big difference between these two choices.
There are certainly positive signs that India intends to go green going forward. An ambitious target has been set: 100% of new vehicles sold will be electric by 2030. We believe India should set a similar ambitious target for their shipping fleet.
In this country, you also have vast stretches of rivers and canals. The government’s focus on moving freight on ships on these inland waterways, rather than by trucks on the highways, could reap huge environmental benefits, both in terms of reducing local air pollution and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Greening the Indian transport sector will boost India’s energy security by becoming less reliant on imported oil. Currently, India spends over $235 million a day on oil imports. Increasing the share of electrical vehicles, especially in the big cities, will also help reduce the lethal smog encapsulating many Indian cities every year. According to the renowned medical journal Lancet, over 2.5 million Indians die every year because of the toxic air.
While the wave of greener transport solutions is gaining momentum in Norway, we need the weight of big countries, like India, to make it a tidal wave. Norway is eager to support India in this endeavour.