New modelling shows how Nordic energy systems can become climate neutral
Emissions must be reduced fivefold over the next ten years if energy systems in the Nordic countries are to become climate neutral. More robust electricity networks, increased flexibility, more wind power and solar energy, the electrification of transport and carbon dioxide capture and storage are all crucial elements if the Nordic climate goals are to be achieved. This is clearly indicated by research carried out by the Nordic Clean Energy Scenarios project, which is funded by Nordic Energy Research.
– The challenge we face is enormous and there is still lack of clarity around major issues, including how it will be possible to balance costs and what will be politically, socially, and environmentally acceptable, says Markus Wråke, CEO of Energiforsk, which has led the group of Nordic researchers and consultants behind the Nordic Clean Energy Scenarios project.
Five key development paths have been identified as crucial in a carbon-neutral Nordic energy system: electrification, bioenergy, CCS and BECCS, behavioural changes and Power to X, a collective name for the conversion of electricity into other energy forms such as heat or fuel using renewable electricity, water, and carbon dioxide. These all play a significant role in the transition, but to varying degrees, depending on national conditions.
More electrification, less bioenergy
The scenarios show that Sweden can reach a fossil-free energy system with the help of both a little and a lot of hydrogen technology. Plans for hydrogen production in Sweden are few, but significant in scope and would have a dramatic effect on energy systems. To support the development of hydrogen, however, a significant expansion of wind power and electricity networks is required, which in turn is limited by the acceptance of changes in the landscape, rather than by technological or economic factors.
Bioenergy will also continue to be an important building block in the Swedish energy system, but Nordic Clean Energy Scenarios shows that direct electrification will play a greater role than has previously been deemed possible.
– Developments driving electrification have taken gigantic steps in recent years, especially when it comes to transport by road. This is without doubt positive and means that the need for bioenergy will also decline, says Kenneth Karlsson, researcher at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and co-author of the report.
Nordic co-operation crucial
In all scenarios, co-operation and joint investments between the Nordic countries are crucial for the transition.
– A well-balanced balance between all these options is necessary. We note that the Nordic countries can achieve their climate goals without fully utilizing all available alternatives, which indicates that certain sectors can raise their ambitions and achieve carbon dioxide neutrality faster, says Kenneth Karlsson.
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