Nordic Energy Research

Carbon Neutral
Nordics

Cutting-edge Nordic research on Energy and climate solutions

We have a global climate crisis...

we must act now

No region in the world is better positioned to do this than the Nordics

The Nordic countries have a long tradition of working together on climate and environmental policy

As well as one of the most integrated electricity markets in the world

We want to

lead by example

Nordic Ministers in Helsinki, 2019

Photo: Laura Kotila / Valtioneuvoston kanslia

The aim of the Nordic countries is to be carbon neutral and to demonstrate leadership in the fight against global warming.

– The Nordic Prime Ministers' joint declaration. Helsinki, January 25th, 2019

Look to the

Nordics

Nordic Council flag

The three Nordic flagship projects funded by Nordic Energy Research present practical, research-based solutions for a carbon-neutral Nordic region. Each project looks at a different aspect of reducing CO₂ emissions.

  • Flex4RES
    Flexible Nordic Energy Systems
  • Shift
    Sustainable Horizons in Future Transport
  • Negative CO₂
    Negative CO₂ Emissions with Chemical-Looping Combustion of Biomass

Flexible Nordic

Energy Systems

This is Flex4RES

The Flex4RES project looks at how increased flexibility in the Nordic energy system can facilitate carbon-neutrality in the Nordics, and in Europe.

“In order to become carbon-neutral, the Nordic region needs to build more sources of renewable electricity. The Nordics are well positioned to do this, but in order to achieve the largest possible reductions in emissions the energy system will need to become more flexible.”

Claire Bergaentzlé, DTU Project Manager Flex4RES

Graphic element: Illustration av flexibility and balance

What is

flexibility?

“In Flex4RES, electricity supply or demand is considered flexible when it is possible to regulate the increase or the decrease of generation or consumption in response to system conditions (market signals / prices). That means flexibility is used as a measure to keep the balance between generation and consumption of electricity, balancing out the variability from variable supply and demand” – Flex4RES summary report

Findings from Flex4RES

  • A CO₂-free energy sector is possible, but Nordic countries need to speed up their actions

  • Nordic cooperation enables more efficient solutions without ignoring national needs.

  • The Nordics may play an important role in decarbonising the EU and beyond

  • A market-based approach helps to unlock flexibility through better market coupling

  • Technologies are mature, but their deployment need to be accelerated

  • Flexibility is important on both the demand and supply sides

trademap illustration over scandinavia

The Nordic countries already have a partially-integrated electricity market

This means that electricity can be bought and sold across national borders.

For example, Norway can sell electricity from hydropower to Denmark, and Denmark can sell electricity from wind to Norway.

But there is still a need for increasing this type of trade, and for improving cooperation on energy across national borders. There is also potential for exporting more renewable energy to the rest of Europe.

The Flex4RES results show that – based on current technology – the Nordic energy sectors (electricity and heat) could be carbon neutral as soon as the 2030s. But there are barriers to increased flexibility, mostly related to the level of policy.

Learn more about the Flex4RES project

Read the policy brief

Sustainable Horizons

in Future Transport

This is Shift

The Shift project looks at ways transportation can be de-carbonised, both through technologies and through behaviour changes.

"Transportation represents a considerable share of the Nordic greenhouse gas emissions. But the Nordic region has the potential to be a world-leader in decarbonizing transport. We have the scientific knowledge, various technical solutions, and may continue to implement the polices needed to meet this challenge. Hopefully we can inspire other regions!“

Julia Hansson, IVL Project Manager Shift

Transport

How can we decarbonize

the transport sector?

CO₂ emissions from the transport sector require the most drastic emissions cuts if we are to achieve a carbon neutral Nordic region.

Over the past 4 years the Shift project has integrated various perspectives on transport:

  • Transport modal shifts (changes in transport types)
  • Transport technology options
  • New transport business models
  • And travel behaviour

Shift has carried-out analysis in three key areas:

  1. Urban passenger transport
  2. Long-haul freight
  3. And urban logistics

These analyses can inform smarter transport and energy policy.

Findings from Shift

  • It is possible to drastically reduce transport greenhouse gas emissions and reach carbon neutrality in the Nordic region by 2040-2050 but strong and immediate actions are required.

  • Transport policies and programmes should be designed to create socially inclusive solutions.

  • National policy instruments must be better coordinated to prevent effects from overlapping which may reduce their effectiveness.

  • Climate policies for transport must be reformed to meet and incentivize electrification and to consider target conflicts.

  • Continue to commercialize and deploy a broad set of key transport innovations in the Nordic region.

  • Charge vehicles on a per kilometre basis according to the marginal external costs of their driving.

The three strategies to sustainable transport

Negative CO2 Emissions

with Chemical-Looping Combustion of Biomass

This is Negative CO₂

Negative CO₂ is a research project that looks at capturing CO₂ from burning biomass by means of an innovative –and potentially revolutionary –energy conversion technology called Chemical-Looping Combustion (CLC) of biomass. This combination is commonly called Bio-CLC.

“If we are to meet the climate target of the Paris agreement, carbon dioxide emissions cannot exceed the 'climate budget'. With today's emissions, this budget will be spent in just ten years if we are to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We therefore need effective methods for removing carbon from the atmosphere.“

Anders Lyngfelt, Chalmers Project Manager Negative CO₂

Climate-positive

energy

We can produce energy while removing CO₂ from the atmosphere. This is not only good for the atmosphere, but it would transform ‘emissions guilt’ into ‘climate-positive energy’.

The Negative-CO₂ project is developing an energy-conversion process where the CO₂ from burning biomass can be efficiently captured. It can then be securely stored underground, preventing the CO₂ from ever being released into the atmosphere.

Findings from Negative CO₂

Chemical Looping Combustion

Normal combustors burn fuel together with air, producing emissions that are a mix of gases, including CO₂ and nitrogen. The CO₂ in this flue gas is usually low concentration, and costly to separate.

Negative CO₂

Because the flue gas from CLC is near-pure CO₂, CLC is estimated to have at least 50 percent lower energy penalty –and incremental cost –compared to commercially established CO₂ capture technology.

As new trees are planted to replace harvested forest, they will naturally absorb CO₂ from the atmosphere. When the trees are eventually used as fuel in CLC, this CO₂ will be captured, not released back into the atmosphere, hence the meaning of the phrase, “negative emissions".

Chemical Looping Combustion in action

Our project partner SINTEF showing their principal researchers in action at their CLC test rig near Trondheim, Norway.

Does it work?

Yes – It does!

Over 11000 hours of pilot plant operational testing on 46 different rigs, with over 500 hours of testing performed in this Flagship project.

Previous work has focused on fossil fuels. The important contribution of the Negative CO₂ Flagship project is to show it works with biomass and can be used for negative emissions.

The team in front of a CLC test rig

Swedish CO₂ emissions from biomass (larger point sources) are about 31 million tons (Mt) /year. Sweden’s fossil CO₂ emissions are 43 Mt/year. If fossil CO₂ emissions are stopped and CO₂ from biomass is captured and permanently store, Sweden can reduce emissions by more than 150% and start the clean-up of the atmosphere. Finland has similar opportunities given its large biomass industry.

Do you want to learn more about the Negative CO₂ project?

Go to project website