Phasing out fossil based sources
Today, electricity is a permanent presence and a necessity for our homes, industries and societies to function. But this does not mean we are at the finish line. On the contrary, there are still many places we can bring fossil free electricity, phasing out fossil based sources along the way. The path towards electrification differs by sector and by region, and the point of departure is different in different European countries.
When it comes to heating, fossil sources such as oil, gas and coal still dominate the market in Europe. Early transitions in to electricity in some countries in the second half of the 20th century were driven by cost reductions rather than climate concerns. In Sweden for example, heating transitioned from oil to mainly fossil free sources such as electrical heat pumps as a consequence of the oil crisis in the 1970’s, and the country today has the highest share of renewable energy used for heating in the EU.
In the transport sector on the other hand, the return of electric cars and trucks has been almost entirely driven by the demand for sustainable solutions. Although, electric cars are still more expensive than traditional options powered by gasoline or diesel, the market is shifting fast. In the Nordics as a whole, one third of all new private vehicles are electric, with Norway leading the way with large investments in charging infrastructure. Sales of electric private vehicles increase by 50% from 2017 to 2018 in Sweden.
The potential for continued electrification is also great for other modes of transport. This goes both for those that are largely perceived as electrified, such as railways, where for example 50% of German trains are still powered by diesel, and for those that have been more difficult to electrify with today’s technology, namely aviation. The aviation industry is looking both to biofuels and the possibilities of electric jet engines as solutions going forward. Despite the difficulty in producing small and light enough batteries, production of small electric airplanes has already taken off.