- Norway already has one of the most electricity-intensive energy systems in the world, but there is still a massive potential for replacing the use of fossil energy with electricity from renewable sources. Not only will this result in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 25 million tons CO2 equivalents, it will also mean that 40 terawatt hours of electricity replaces approximately 95 terawatt hours of fossil energy consumption, says Auke Lont, CEO of Norwegian Transmission System Operator Statnett.

The increased usage of electricity as an energy carrier is an important part of the energy transformation driven by climate change. Both the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other analysts regard electrification of energy consumption as one of the key efforts to reduce CO2 emissions from the energy sector. Electricity is a zero-emissions energy carrier, and the Norwegian power sector is virtually emissions-free.

Electricity is also a highly efficient energy carrier, and the estimates from Statnett indicate that a transition to electrical energy consumption where possible will means that 40TWh of renewable energy will replace 95TWh of fossil energy.

-Transition of energy consumption to electricity is not only a transition from fossil to renewable energy, it is also a substantially improved energy efficiency, underlines Lont.

Major results to be found in transport and industry sectors

The report investigates the required amount of electricity for each sector to make the swap to electric energy consumption. It finds that the greatest potential lies within the transport and industry sectors.

-We have only started the transition to electric small cars and other vehicles. In addition, there is a potential for a transition to electric consumption in the industry sector, including the petroleum sector, says analyst Vegard Holmefjord in Statnett.

On the other hand, the report shows that there is little to be gained in buildings, as Norway already uses renewable sources for almost all heating of buildings

To ensure the emissions cuts outlined in the report, increased Norwegian consumption of electricity needs a corresponding increase in renewable power production. It is now cost-effective to expand wind power without subsidies in Norway. The increase can also come from other sources, such as hydropower and, to some extent, solar power.

It is also possible to achieve this without a major upgrade of the main transmission corridors within Norway. On the other hand, electrification will contribute to accelerating more investments and lead to grid upgrades at a more local level.

Hydrogen can lead to zero emissions

In addition to the 30–50 TWh, there are parts of industry and heavy-duty or long-haul transport where direct electrification will be difficult to implement. If Norwegian energy use is to move to zero emissions, this has to be solved.

-There are several possible solutions to this, including zero emissions technologies like hydrogen, CCS and biofuels. Should future zero emissions solutions include hydrogen from electrolysis, this will impact the need for power production the most. Our calculations indicate that this will lead to a demand for a further 40 TWh of power generation, underlines Holmefjord.