Nordic Electricity System Transition
A Qualitative Study of Electricity and Decarbonisation Challenges in the Nordic Region
Blog by Benjamin Sovacool, Director, Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED), looks at the challenges of Electricity and Decarbonisation in the Nordic Region.
The Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden – have aggressive climate and energy policies in place and have already emerged as leaders in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Although renewable sources of energy already comprise a substantial role in the region’s electricity portfolio, their utilization is expected to grow rapidly between 2016 and 2050 to reach a carbon neutral society.
A necessary and massive shift is therefore underway to further transition the Nordic electricity system to low-carbon forms. But how is such a transition perceived by dominant stakeholders and experts?
To provide an answer, we studied the electricity challenges throughout the Nordic region through data collected from 227 semi-structured interviews about electric mobility with participants from 201 institutions across seventeen cities. Those interviewed were selected to represent the diverse array of stakeholders involved with electricity mobility, including electricity supply technology and infrastructure, policy and practice, and included experts from national government ministries, agencies, and departments; local government ministries, agencies, and departments; universities and research institutes; electricity suppliers and utilities; and other private sector companies.
We find that those interviewed identified no less than 40 distinct electricity challenges facing the Nordic region. The integration of renewables was by far the most frequently mentioned (14.5%) of the expert sample. Five other challenges were also mentioned the most frequently by respondents: electrification of transport and other sectors (10.6%), managing intermittency (8.8%), carbon intensity (8.4%), supporting local grids (8.4%), and adequate capacity (8.4%). Interestingly, items such as energy efficiency, consumer awareness, industry, energy security, and public opposition were mentioned by only 1.8% (or less).