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Norway’s plan to electrify all domestic aviation by 2040 – A Dream Too Big?

Norway's big plans . . .
 
THE SKY IS ELECTRIC, THE PLANES WILL BE TOO. From electric cars to electric planes. Electrification is the key word as the future unravels before our eyes. The country in focus this week is a country where more than half of new cars sold are either hybrid or electric – Norway. Embracing the power of electric is not just something that has occurred spontaneously but has been made possible by the government through its realizable goals that find the right balance between vision and realism. A goal set forth by the state-owned limited company, Avinor, is for all domestic flights in Norway to be electric by 2040 . . . but as we shall find out in relation to recent events, that journey has not commenced as they, perhaps, would have wanted . . .
 
It was big but not unexpected. The announcement in January this year was not a surprise and Avinor made it clear that they were going to devote their time and resources to make it happen. Avinor is, since 2003, Norway’s state-owned limited company (where the state controls 100% of the share capital) and owns 45 airports throughout the country. In addition, Avinor owns security installations of various kinds – for example radar, radio lighthouses, remote controlled base stations for aerial radio communications and control centers. If anyone has the ability to even strive to reach the goal of domestic flights being electric by 2040 it would be one of the Scandinavian countries due to their current infrastructure, size and capital but also the forward-thinking government policies that have been implemented in the field of transport. In Norway, it has paid off. This year, according to the Norwegian Road Federation, the first six months of 2019 were electrifying – half (48.4%) of new cars sold were powered by an electric engine. Aggressive anti-gas or diesel car policies, together with incentives for those buying electric vehicles, have proven to be successful. However, Norway has not limited itself to ground-vehicles but now looks to the skies . . .

 

Norwegians, together with Icelanders, are some of the most frequent flyers in Europe. This is something that Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, has no “flygskam” (flying shame) over it as she pointed out that Norway’s geography often makes it necessary to fly. In Norway, aviation accounts for five per cent of carbon dioxide emissions. Globally, the share is two percent. To achieve climate goals, electrification of aviation, together with more energy efficient aircraft is an important contribution. In an interview with the news agency AFP, Dag Falk-Petersen, the CEO of Avinor, believes that it is a real goal to ensure that short flights quickly shift from fossil fuels. In addition to significant environmental savings, electrification can also reduce noise by 60 percent, increase departures and provide cheaper air travel as a result of lower fuel costs. While the domestic flight goal is for 2040, Avinor will also attempt to procure a test route to be started in 2025 for a small electric aircraft with 19 seats. As a first step it is about getting all national flights to become electric, but as the neighbours in Sweden will cheer about: the Stockholm-Oslo journey is also close to electrification . . . but has everything gone smoothly since this announcement?


On the 15th of August last month, the Alpha Electro G2 plane which was the first two-seater aircraft electric aircraft to be approved for commercial production crashed into a lake in Arendal, Norway. It did not only crash, but it was flown by none other than the CEO himself. The pilot informed that he lost his momentum and lost control of the engine power as he was approaching the airport. Fortunately, nobody was injured but the question immediately arose: did it have anything to do with the electric technology itself? The CEO, according to NRK, does not believe that was the case, but he made clear that it was not a good sign and it\’s still currently unclear what the real cause was. It was the first major problem since initial testing began last year. Moreover, the problems are not limited to the planes themselves as the finances also seem to show setbacks. Avinor reported a profit after tax of minus NOK 357.7 million in the second quarter of 2019, compared with NOK 219.0 million in the same period last year. It is difficult to comment on symbolism of the crash itself, but as a first step towards electrifying the skies – that step has been backwards. There is still a long time until 2040 so a sliver of optimism remains. Is Erna Solberg’s Norway ready for some real work? It starts now . . .

Evolvera – always changing, always evolving . . .
 
 

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