The project Nordic Clean Energy Scenarios will identify technological solutions to a carbon neutral Nordic region and develop energy scenarios for the Nordic energy sector that will enable the Nordic prime ministers’ commitment of reaching carbon neutrality.

On January 25, 2019, the prime ministers of the Nordic countries signed the Declaration on Nordic Carbon Neutrality in which they commit themselves to working towards becoming a carbon neutral region. The Nordic Clean Energy Scenarios project supports this effort by modelling a range of alternative carbon neutral scenarios for the Nordic countries individually and as a region.

Stated Nordic national targets would make the entire Nordic region carbon neutral before 2040 and each country carbon neutral by 2050. An overarching carbon neutrality target pathway will be calculated separately for the Nordic region and for each country.

The focus of the scenario development is on energy-related CO2 emissions, which covered 81% of the Nordic emissions in 2017, see figure 2. Non-CO2 emissions, and land use, land use change and forestry sectors, LULUCF, are not modeled but are still included in the analysis by taking their expected emission trajectories into account, drawing on national studies. The output of the NCES project is a presentation of various pathways that will ensure that the energy sector delivers their part towards reaching carbon neutrality, in line with the target pathway illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 2. Nordic GHG emissions. Source: UNFCCC GHG inventories.

Quantitative scenarios will be developed, describing pathways from 2018 to 2050 including a special focus on the midterm 2030. Reference scenarios and scenarios modelling existing measures, taken from national studies, will be used to show how the NCES scenario pathways differ from current trends and actions taken. The NCES project includes a wider set of methodologies than are typically employed in this type of modelling work. The combination of qualitative methods and quantitative scenario analysis is a central extension compared with previous work, such as the NETP projects. It will allow for a fuller analysis of potential consequences if key assumptions develop differently than expected.

To present the findings a web-based tool will be developed to enable decision makers, researchers, and non-experts to explore data and results in a transparent and accessible way. The models and database created in the project will be open access, enabling continuous development and future analysis.

The project is being financed by Nordic Energy Research and undertaken by a consortium of leading researchers and scientists in energy modelling and scenario development, managed by Energiforsk CEO Markus Wråke. NCES project builds on previous work from Nordic Energy Research, such as the Nordic Energy Technology Perspectives projects in 2013 and 2016, by complementing the cost-effective pathways with deeper analysis of technological and socio-economic framework conditions. This includes policy, technological shifts, carbon budgets, economic outlooks, developments in other countries, and other societal changes that impact the Nordic region.

This comprehensive analysis allows for better understanding of potential consequences if key assumptions develop differently than expected and will provide a nuanced picture of potential solutions and developments.