Sustainable Transport: aviation, maritime and road

  Nordic Energy Research aims at taking an active part in the green transition by facilitating a joint approach to Nordic challenges, where sustainable transport is one of the focus…

 

Nordic Energy Research aims at taking an active part in the green transition by facilitating a joint approach to Nordic challenges, where sustainable transport is one of the focus areas. Through networking groups, research funding and dissemination of information, we facilitate the development of sustainable transport systems and technologies in the Nordic region.

The transport sector requires the largest emissions reductions for the Nordics to achieve carbon neutrality. It is also considered one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonise.  This will require a combination of new technologies, policies, as well as a shift in the modes of transport used.

Figure showing the decoupling of emissions from transport that will be necessary for the Nordics to reach the ‘Carbon Neutral Scenario’ as defined in Nordic Energy Technology Perspectives 2016

The state of renewable transport in the Nordics

During the last 10 years there has been good progress made towards decarbonising light road transport. New passenger electric vehicle (EV) registrations are increasing each year in the Nordic region, accounting for 16% of new passenger sales in 2019. Norway has the highest share of EVs in the world. In 2019, battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids accounted for 56% of the total sales of passenger cars in the country.

Freight-related energy consumption is responsible for 43% of the transport sector’s energy demand and has proved more challenging to decarbonise than passenger transport. Maritime transport (19% of total transport energy demand) and heavy road transport (18%) are the two most important energy end-uses to focus on.

Nordic Energy Research’s activities on renewable transport can be divided into different thematic areas:

Land transport:

  • Nordic Power to X (P2X) for Sustainable Road Transport – The aim of Nordic P2X for Sustainable Road Transport is to assess the potential for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from road transport within the Nordics by the use of electrofuels.
  • Nordic EV Summit – The Nordic EV Summit is a yearly event organised by The Norwegian EV Association, Teknisk Ukeblad, SAMS Norway and Nordic Energy Research.  It is the largest gathering of its kind in the Nordics.

Maritime Transport:

  • Nordic Maritime Transport and Energy Research Programme – focuses on maritime topics of common interest for all Nordic countries and on producing knowledge that will complement, rather than duplicate, national R&D programmes.  The intention of this research programme is to create outcomes and impact of greater value for the countries involved than could be achieved through national activities alone.
  • Navigating towards Cleaner Maritime Shipping (upcoming)

Aviation:

Nordic Energy Research began its work in the area with the launch of the “Sustainable Jet fuel for aviation” report in Oslo, 2016.  The aim of the report was asses to what extent the use of advanced sustainable jet fuel may contribute to GHG reduction and mitigation, and to identify the extent of the commercial potential for initiating and scaling up advanced sustainable jet fuel production at a Nordic level. In 2020 we published a follow-up report that can be downloaded here.

Systems:

Nordic Energy Research also financed SHIFT (Sustainable Horizons in Future Transport) one of three flagship projects that concluded in 2019.  Findings from the project can viewed on the SHIFT webpage.

Learn about the results from the three flagship projects.

Short Shift films

Shift researchers Magnus Hennlock, Markus Wråke, Kenneth B. Karlsson, Tanu Priya Uteng and Steven Sarasini on what the project is all about and why it matters to you and me…

Shift researchers Magnus Hennlock, Markus Wråke, Kenneth B. Karlsson, Tanu Priya Uteng and Steven Sarasini on what the project is all about and why it matters to you and me.

 

How to reform taxation of road transports for promoting electrification

Shift presents a reformed taxation of road transports that resolves the target conflict between GHG reduction, traffic volume and tax revenues to fund public infrastructure and social costs of traffic

The Nordic countries are global forerunners in the development towards fossil-free vehicle fleets. In the first half of 2019, Norway, Iceland and Sweden were top three leaders with Norway reaching 58 percent of new vehicle sales being electrically chargeable, Iceland 18 percent and Sweden 11 percent.

However, electrification generates a new target conflict between greenhouse gas reduction, regulating traffic volume and tax revenues to fund public infrastructure and social costs of traffic. The target conflict calls for a reassessment of the taxation of road transports in the Nordic countries.

In joint studies, financed by the Nordic Energy Research project Shift, researchers at the IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and the University of Gothenburg have used mathematical analysis to develop a reformed taxation of road transports in Sweden that resolves the target conflict and fulfils the three targets.

Key findings

• A guidance rule is recommended for the adjustment of the bonus-malus system in Sweden. The adjustment rule increases system predictability and makes sure that bonus and malus payments are in balance and sufficiently strong to generate incentives until 2030.

• According to the rule, the levels of the bonus  in Sweden need to be adjusted upwards for zero emissions vehicles and plug-in hybrids with long e-range. The malus also needs to be adjusted upwards.

• Adjusted discounts need to be implemented for the benefit value of company vehicles for bonus vehicles at least until 2025.

• 30 000-40 000 public and private charging points are needed until 2025 along highways and in urban areas which lack long-term parking and cannot arrange own charge.

• Zero emissions vehicles and plug-in hybrids with long e-range need to be free from road taxes for approximately another 10 years.

• A national kilometre tax system needs to be introduced for zero emissions vehicles and plug-in hybrids with long e-range when the market share of new sales of these vehicles enters the range of 70-90 percent. Fuel taxes are kept for conventional diesel and petrol vehicles and mild hybrids until they are phased out.

• A reduction commitment corresponding to 40-50 percent for diesel and 25-30 percent for petrol is still needed by 2030. The need for biofuel blending quickly reduces as conventional diesel and petrol vehicle fleet sharply diminishes during 2030-2040.

Super-green car premium behind 1 out of 3 plug-in hybrid cars in Sweden

Shift researchers from IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and University of Gothenburg have managed to isolate the effects of the super green car premium

Shift researchers from IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and University of Gothenburg have managed to isolate the effects of the super green car premium, introduced in Sweden in 2012, from the effects of other policy instruments in use at the same time.

The study finds that the super-green car premium lies behind 1 out of 3 registered plug-in hybrid cars registered during the period 2012 – 2015. The remaining 2 out of 3 plug-in hybrid cars that received the premium during the period 2012 – 2015 cannot be explained by the premium.

The results bring new light on the effects of subsidies for promoting new transport technologies and provide insight to effective future designs of policy  instruments such as the new bonus-malus system in Sweden.

Key findings

• The super green car premium caused the purchase and registration of 1 out of 3 plug-in hybrid cars with emissions below 50 grams CO2/km.
• 2 out of 3 plug-in hybrid cars that received the premium would have been purchased and registered even without the super green car premium.
• Most of the cars that received the premium were company cars.
• The super green car premium partly overlapped with several other policy instruments that were in use in Sweden at the same time also  effecting the number of registered plug-in hybrid cars. This reduced the effectiveness of the super green car premium.
• To prevent ineffectiveness, it is important to fully understand the effects from each policy instrument also during its development.

Final report: Shift project summary

This report summarises the assessments made in Shift, including main findings. Also included are the policy briefs produced within the project

This report summarises the assessments made in Shift, including main findings. Also included are the policy briefs produced within the project.

To capture the opportunities and overcome potential barriers, all Nordic stakeholders need a better understanding of how transport and energy systems interact with each other and with broader economic, innovation, social and political systems. By developing and applying tools that integrate fuel options, modal shifts, business models and consumer behaviour into scenario modelling and in-depth analysis covering urban passenger transport, longhaul freight and city logistics the Shift project informs smarter Nordic transport and energy policy.

Besides strengthening Nordic energy systems modelling and providing updated scenario analysis for the Nordic transport sector, Shift examines linkages between technological and organisational innovations that can decarbonise the road transport system.

In addition, Shift assesses drivers, barriers and effects of transport modal shifts and analyses effective design of transport related policy instruments. Shift includes assessments on the Nordic level as well as policy relevant local Nordic case studies highlighting opportunities and challenges for the transition of the transport sector.

Prospects for low-carbon options for on-road freight transport

In studies funded by the Nordic Energy Research project Shift and the Swedish Transport Agency, researchers at IVL Swedish Environmental Institute and DTU, the Technical University of Denmark, have investigated…

In studies funded by the Nordic Energy Research project Shift and the Swedish Transport Agency, researchers at IVL Swedish Environmental Institute and DTU, the Technical University of Denmark, have investigated low-carbon technology-based alternatives for on-road freight transport and the likelihood of these becoming reality in the Nordic region by 2030 and 2045/50, respectively.

The studies have evaluated different scenario settings and which solutions might be suitable for different types of freight distribution. The alternatives for on-road freight transport include hybrid and battery-powered electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles, vehicles powered by biofuels or electrofuels as well as electric road systems.

Biofuel usage can be ramped up comparatively quickly, but the global resource base is limited. An electric vehicle breakthrough is imminent, although it is difficult to foresee which solutions will come to dominate the different transport segments. Hydrogen and electrofuels may represent alternatives in the longer term, but here the trend is more uncertain.

Key findings

• It is possible to drastically reduce Nordic transport GHG emissions to 2050 but strong and immediate actions are required.
• Biofuels are the easiest and fastest way to reduce the climate impact of on-road freight distribution. Globally, however, there is a considerable yet limited amount of sustainable biomass resources and demand for these is on the rise in other sectors.
• A large share of on-road freight transports will be electrified. So far, in particular battery electric vehicles for local distribution, are developed and implemented in the Nordic region. But also electric roads might become a large-scale option. In the longer term, fuel cell vehicles in certain regions and niches may also grow to great importance.
• Decarbonizing Nordic freight transport will require large amounts of low-carbon fuels and electricity. In the mid-term for on-road freight mainly in the form of biofuels while in the long-term also through electrified options and/or hydrogen. All these options need policy support.
• Actors involved in vehicle manufacture, fuels production, electricity distribution, service delivery and aftermarket platforms are interdependent. A host of new collaborations and standards are needed to support a transition to climate-neutral vehicles.
• Measures supporting technological transformation and fossil-free freight transport must be implemented across the Nordic region.
• A better understanding of stakeholder preferences may improve the design and implementation of policies.

The role of business models in the transition to Electric Road Systems

Electric road systems (ERS) are road transportation systems based on technologies that support electric power transfer from roads to vehicles in motion. ERS has in the recent decade emerged as…

Electric road systems (ERS) are road transportation systems based on technologies that support electric power transfer from roads to vehicles in motion. ERS has in the recent decade emerged as a sustainable solution for the long-haul freight sector, which is one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonize and is projected to grow drastically in coming years.

Compared with other alternative technologies, ERS reduces the need for batteries, relies on well-established electricity infrastructure, and has potential to preserve flexibility in the freight sector.

However, technologies that contest the established technological paradigm typically fail at market. This challenge is often described as the ”valley of death,” where firms risk stalling between pre-commercial invention and basic research, on one hand, and product development for the commercial market, on the other.

Key findings

• The relationship between business models and socio-technical change is not homogenous in the early phases of transition and differs depending on what type of niche activity is analyzed.
• Business model concept could be used as a perspective to understand the evolutionary processes that take place during the early phases of transition.
• For systemic innovations, which suffer from the chicken-and-egg dilemma, business models are needed for alternative infrastructure with long investment horizons as well as for alternative products and services with shorter investment horizons.
• Deployment projects, such as an infrastructure transformation project, might be a suitable policy mechanism for creating a test bed for suppliers and future market demand.

How to support the development of MaaS: Implications for public governance

Mobility as a Service (MaaS), sometimes referred to as Combined Mobility, Mobility on Demand, and Integrated Mobility, is considered to have the potential to bring about sustainability gains within passenger…

Mobility as a Service (MaaS), sometimes referred to as Combined Mobility, Mobility on Demand, and Integrated Mobility, is considered to have the potential to bring about sustainability gains within passenger transportation. Billed as an alternative to private car ownership and use, with public transport as a ‘backbone’, MaaS can promote more sustainable travel behaviour through, among other things, modal shifts towards shared and active modes.

In studies funded by the Nordic Energy Research project SHIFT and the Vinnova project IRIMS, researchers at RISE and several other Swedish research organisations have investigated the dynamics of MaaS developments in Sweden, Finland and other locations across Europe. These studies have examined a set of drivers and barriers to innovation as a means to derive implications for the governance of sustainable MaaS developments.

• Support is needed to coordinate public and private organisations given the prevalence of barriers to collaboration in MaaS ecosystem. Publicly funded activities that provide support for business modelling and coaching should be given priority.
• If public transport is to act as a MaaS operator, existing laws and governing directives must be modified and clearly emphasise the possibility for public transport to be able to assume new roles in the future MaaS ecosystem. Alternatively, if MaaS is to develop along a more commercial path where private sector entrepreneurs act as MaaS operators, directives are needed to mandate third-party sales of public transport tickets.
• It is critical that MaaS contributes to a sustainable reorientation of the transport system. Ongoing pilots must be assessed and evaluated according to their sustainability credentials. R&I funding should be a priority within the Nordic region given its international reputation as a pioneer of MaaS developments.
• Uncertainties linked to the market potential and willingness to pay for MaaS are a persistent barrier to investments in MaaSs. National and Nordic visions should be coupled to existing transport policies and outline pathways and stepping stones for sustainable MaaS developments.
• Cities and municipalities should take a more active role in MaaS developments at the local level where they should both enable and ensure that MaaS developments are guided towards sustainability.

Stronger policy measures needed to decarbonize freight transport

Policy measures have started to decrease emissions from passenger cars, but not to the same extent from freight transport. The demand for freight transport in the Nordic countries is expected…

Policy measures have started to decrease emissions from passenger cars, but not to the same extent from freight transport. The demand for freight transport in the Nordic countries is expected to increase also in the future, particularly by road.
Shift have assessed the potential to reduce CO2 and in some cases other emissions from freight transport by different means but also the effect of different polices for modal shift.

 

Key findings

• In case of no further actions than planned policies, all Nordic countries will face large gaps in their transport sectors emissions compared to their CO2 reduction commitments for 2030.
• Reducing transport demand, improving the efficiency of transport modes, and stimulating modal shifts in the freight sector will likely only contribute to limited emission reductions. There is a need for alternative fuels and propulsion technologies.
• The relative contribution to emissions of heavy goods vehicles compared to light goods vehicles may increase due to more electrification of light vehicles.
• Allowing longer freight trains for border-crossing transports has a larger impact on mode choice than the eco-bonus schemes, but the costs are expected to be (much) higher for governments. The reduction in CO2 emissions is estimated at 2.5 percent.

Examining the nature of technological change

While greenhouse gas emissions from non-transport sectors fell 15 percent between 1990 and 2007, transport emissions increased by 33 percent over the same period and currently accounts for around 40…

While greenhouse gas emissions from non-transport sectors fell 15 percent between 1990 and 2007, transport emissions increased by 33 percent over the same period and currently accounts for around 40 percent of CO2 emissions from Nordic countries.

Several measures and initiatives to decarbonise transport have been introduced in Europe and in the Nordic countries over the years. This policy brief focuses particularly on new vehicle and fuel technologies but it also deals with other transport innovations which can contribute to a shift to cleaner modes of transport, such as mobility as a service and autonomous vehicles.

Key findings
• The development and potential market uptake of transport innovations relies heavily on the acceptance of new technologies.
• If the dynamics of an innovation systems doesn’t work well, it can be due to problems with either the system elements or the system functions.
• Identification of systemic problems can be helpful for politicians to formulate strategies and to use tools to remedy malfunctions in innovation systems.

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