back to article Norway might insist on zero-emission vehicles by 2025

Norway's sparked a flurry of applause and misunderstanding in equal measure, with a report that the country is going to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2025. The news came from a blog post hailing a paywalled story in Norwegian outlet Dagens Næringsliv, which was then enthusiastically endorsed by Elon Musk. Just …

  1. Oengus

    Political deals

    If deals made by politicians in Norway are anything like deals and promises made in OZ election campaigns this will not see the light of day for another 20+ years. The only deals that get through are the ones that are required for the "ruling party" to keep power.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Political deals...but if they do

      The UK's clueless energy regulator OFGEM has already announced plans to subsidise an undersea interconnector to the UK from Norway to provide power to the UK (since OFGEM and the UK government have totally screwed up every aspect of energy policy in their fetish over renewables).

      But the undersea connector will only provide power if Norway has an excess, and should they electrify transport, their exportable surplus will vanish.

      Luckily for investors in that undersea cable, OFGEM will undoubtedly guarantee the risk, using that inexhaustible commodity, UK energy bill payer's wallets. So just like UK solar power (subsidised), UK wind power (subsidised), thermal generation (subsidised), UK grid (subsidised), UK energy efficiency (subsidised), UK nuclear power (subsidised), OFGEM's idiotic "interconnector" schemes will piss good money after bad. And that's a high level list - throw in the c£5bn on subsidy for "renewable" heat, micro-generation, anerorobic digestion, and it will be readily apparent that the market sets no prices here - everything is designed and operated by OFGEM and DECC in some bizarre parallel world of state control.

      Indeed, under National Grid's "Demand Turn Up" scheme, UK bill payers will be paying some industrial customers to USE MORE ELECTRICITY in future, because the carelessly planned "renewable" inputs can produce more power than is needed in some scenarios, but the subsidy design was equally clueless, and the subsidy to wind gets paid whether the power is needed or not.

      1. Thought About IT

        Re: Political deals...but if they do

        You omitted "just like fossil fuels" from your list of subsidised power sources, but for some reason tax breaks and not paying for the pollution they cause doesn't count.

        1. Nial

          Re: Political deals...but if they do

          "You omitted "just like fossil fuels" from your list of subsidised power sources"

          Ah yes, the old follsil fuel subsidy lies......

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Political deals...but if they do

          1. Fossil Fuels are subsidised

          2. Fossil Fuels are not subsidised

          Both these statements are true, and usually both are uttered by people who selectively tell the truth. A bit like the UK stay/leave EU campaigns.

          I have no idea about coal, but for petroleum based Fossil Fuels the State (in the UK) taxes the companies that drill for oil (30% Ring Fence Corporation Tax + 10 Supplementary charge for oil companies + 35% Petroleum Revenue tax - although Petroleum Revenue tax is getting removed next year as the taxman has realised that they can't bleed the oil companies quite as hard as they used to at the current oil price), and the final product (petroleum) is then again massively taxed at sale to the consumer (close to 60% at current prices - this is on top of the taxation already applied at the drilling stage). Subsidies can takes place anywhere along that chain from drilling to filling your car, but they are small compared to the tax revenue that is extracted for the State (However subsidies DO exist, usually to encourage investment or competition in the upstream (oil drilling) side of things. The government is unlikely to start subsidising petroleum at the point of sale anytime soon).

          Thats a rough guide, I'm sure I've left something out - pedants at the ready?

          1. caffeine addict

            Re: Political deals...but if they do

            IIRC, it's 57.95p/l in fuel duty and 20% VAT.

            Petrol is currently £1.09 round my way, which makes the total tax 76p, or about 70% tax.

          2. Ilmarinen

            Re: Political deals...but if they do

            Err - "subsidised" generally means giving someone money, usually with the money being taken from someone else. For example, my neighbor Jim gets a nice (for him) subsidy on the electricity that his solar panels generate. The money comes from the electricity bill of other people, including poor people who can't afford solar panels.

            When people talk about fossil fuels being "subsidised" they mean that the company extracting said fossil fuels are let off some of the taxes that they would otherwise pay. Taking less money off someone is not the same as giving someone money. There is an argument to be had about the value of externalities, but to say that fossil fuels are subsidised is stretching the use of language :-)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Political deals...but if they do

        You do understand that Norway hasn't actually fully-exploited their hydro resources, right?

        The thing about electricity is that you can't just generate it without demand to match.

        In 2011 they had an estimated 35TWh (annual generation) potential left, which is equivalent to a _constant_ 2.7GW. NSN will be 1.4GW.

        And you seem to fail to understand the purpose of the NSN. The NSN isn't there for the UK to suck down hydro. It's a two-way system. The UK has a lot of potential variable renewable resources, especially in wind and tidal, while Norway has a lot of dispatchable hydro.

        Dispatchable hydro is awesome. Not only is it clean itself but the ability to control the generation allows it to act as a balance with non-dispatchable resources. For every kW of dispatchable hydro you can a kW of non-dispatchable resources, that can be used to displace fossil generation and reserve the dispatchable capacity.

        When the UK's non-dispatchable generation is high Norway will be able to draw electricity across the link and "save" their hydro for later.

        That balancing capability has similarly allowed Uruguay to add a load of wind and solar capacity and up their renewable capacity from mid-50s to 95%.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Political deals...but if they do

          And you seem to fail to understand the purpose of the NSN. The NSN isn't there for the UK to suck down hydro. It's a two-way system. The UK has a lot of potential variable renewable resources, especially in wind and tidal, while Norway has a lot of dispatchable hydro.

          You're right that the link could work both ways, you're wrong in believing that it will ever be economic to link different assets in these two countries in the hope that excess generation in one will match excess demand in the other. All of these renewable resources are very poor at the critical winter peaks - hydro will be only part full having been depleted over the summer (or in a dry autumn will be largely empty), on the coldest days wind output is negligible (c6% load factor on the 100 coldest days), and solar in winter (in the UK) will produce at best 20% of its summer output, and potentially low single digit percentages if it is cloudy.

          Hydro as a power source is largely a "use once a year" resource unless you're talking about the barely useable power in run of river systems. Hydro's volumetric power density is appalling, its capital costs are very high. Sure, if you're a communist dictatorship willing to evict a few hundred thousand peasants to build a Three Gorges dam - is that you?

          The whole misbegotten interconnector idea is a fig leaf for DECC (and UK politicians) failure to grasp the nettle of UK energy needs. In the words of the late Sir David Mackay, the government's former chief scientific advisor, powering the UK with renewables is an appalling delusion. Now, with all due respect I think I'll go with Sir David. The answer has always been CCGT if you want low cost reliable power, or nuclear (excluding Areva's half baked EPR) if you're obsessed with carbon emissions. In the UK we've not spent something of the order of £120bn (cash) on crappy renewables. And still we have frequent days when they produce low single digit percentages of our power demand, particularly when power demand is high.

  2. petur
    Thumb Down

    What about oil production?

    If they care about it so much, why are they still a big oil exporter?

    Granted, production is going down recent years but if you want to ban diesel/gas, you should also stop pumping it up?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about oil production?

      That's probably what explains their enthusiasm for hydrogen-powered vehicles, including the national rollout of hydrogen fuel stations - guess where the hydrogen comes from.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about oil production?

      Yes it is ironic that the continued comfortably wealthy life style enjoyed by the population of Norway depends largely on persuading other countries to burn their gas and oil... "Do as we say, not as we do!"...

      I also notice that neither they or anyone else are talking about heavy lorries, the things that keep goods moving all around the world. Moving tons of stuff a long way takes a lot of energy, and not even Musk has made even the lightest of fanciful pontifications on that. Oh, and Zero Emission vehicles and trains (which could take heavy goods) make no sense ultimately if the electricity is coming from fossil fuelled electricity plants. Presumably Norway has a lot of hydro; they're going to need it.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: What about oil production?

        Same point about the Scottish government as well, all talk of no nuclear and renewable energy, and the budget largely funded by selling oil/gas to others to polute instead.

        A bit like closing heavy industry in the EU for pollution reasons (and energy cost) and then buying form China where they use a lot of heavy polluting coal plants and have lax environmental standards. But hey, our voters can feel good!

        1. Bronek Kozicki

          Re: What about oil production?

          On the subject, I was last week watching a Norwegian TV series "Occupied". Quite interesting view on what might happen if Norway decided to stop exploring oil.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What about oil production?

          Except that The Scottish Government make no money from oil extraction or sales. All oil revenue accrues directly to London. See: Devolution v1.0 (Dewar), V1.1 (Calman) and v1.2 (Smith).

          1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

            Re: What about oil production?

            I was talking of the plans for an independent Scotland where oil revenue was assumed. And at much higher oil prices than today.

      2. dilbert77

        Re: What about oil production?

        There are initiatives for converting lorries to run on hydrogen, some of them have come quite far:

        Here's the main point, in case it is lost in Google translation: "From 2017, four lorries and ten forklifts will be run on hydrogen produced from solar power."

      3. Def Silver badge

        Re: What about oil production?

        Presumably Norway has a lot of hydro

        Norway regularly produces more electricity than it uses. Just over 2000 KWh per year per person on average.

        Approximately 3% of the total generated electricity is generated from fossil fuels (gas), while the rest is mostly hydro, geothermal, and wind. What they try not to tell you, however, is that a lot of the nice clean energy is exported and sold at a higher price (mostly to Sweden, I believe) and cheaper electricity from fossil fuels is imported to make up the difference.

        As far as electric vehicles are concerned, 29% of new cars (Feb 2016) are electric. We currently have 27 Tesla Supercharger stations (which are free to use), and most towns (including the village of 3800 people I live in) have free charging points in car parks.

        My next car will be electric. Either when the price of Diesel reaches 15kr/l (it was around 11kr/l this morning) or when the wheels fall off my current car.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What about oil production?

          Well, they're aren't _actually_ importing fossil electricity. It's all theoretical: they sell renewable credits and therefore theoretically are using similar fossil amounts to other countries.

        2. Vic

          Re: What about oil production?

          when the price of Diesel reaches 15kr/l

          That's £1.27 per litre. It was £1.23 at the filling station I visited yesterday...


      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about oil production?

        It's a lot better than other countries that have blown through their petroleum and natural gas resources in the name of freedom rather than investing the income.

        From 2014:

        Just one quote for you:

        "... six per cent of Norway’s hydropower output would be sufficient to operate the

        entire passenger car fleet, if completely electrified."

        Oh, yeah, they're really going to struggle to electrify their transportation.

        Also, while in the long term it's desirable to shift wholly to clean, renewable energy, ZEV still makes sense right now if it comes from fossil. For Norway, even if they did need to use fossil, with all of their dispatchable hydro it'd be a piece of piss for them to use CCGT for their fossil generation and CCGT + PEV is a lot cleaner and more efficient than using petroleum-based fuel. For other countries, CCGT can be used, but it might take a bit of smart charging to match demand to production.

  3. BebopWeBop Silver badge

    Electricity is very cheap - all that hydro power, so that explains why when being the writing on the wall, investing in electrical infrastructure (which really needs to be centrally lead) makes sense, selling off the oil/gas before it becomes 'useless' - well that's business for you :-(

  4. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    More to the point, what is the "Lystresepten" article about?

    1. Holtsmark

      Re Paul Crawford

      It appears to be an article about a pill to make women more... er... ..interested..

      Not sure what the IT angle is, but knowing El Reg, it may end up in Odds and Sodds anyway.

      With regards to making trucks more green:

      Solutions using DME synthesized from regenerative sources as a direct diesel replacement, or alternatively onboard reformed methanol burning htpm fuel cells may be the better pathways for long range vehicles.

  5. jake Silver badge

    Things that make you go ::hmmmmm::

    "If the policy is adopted and put into effect “all new private cars, buses and light commercial vehicles” will be zero-emission."

    But will the manufacture & recycle reality be zero emission?

    Just asking ;-)

    1. aks

      Re: Things that make you go ::hmmmmm::

      The term "zero-emission" is disingenuous as it only refers to zero emissions at the point of use.

      The emissions are generated further back and should include all outgoings. This includes the construction, manufacture and recycling of everything along the chain.

      This becomes most obvious when referring to hydrogen, which is created from oil. If fossil fuels did not exist, synthetic petroleum would be presented as the most energy-dense fuel and a solution to the world's transport problems.

      1. gryphon

        Re: Things that make you go ::hmmmmm::


        I seem to remember a story a few weeks ago where somebody in Singapore got hit with a big tax bill for buying a Tesla. He had thought it would be cost-free since it is a ZEV at point of use but the Singaporean govt. has other ideas and counts all the emissions produced in making the electricity that the Tesla uses.

        Was it something like £25k in tax?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Things that make you go ::hmmmmm::

          However, the Singaporean government's calculations were in fact totally shit.

    2. caffeine addict

      Re: Things that make you go ::hmmmmm::

      Of course manufacture will be zero emissions - it will be done in a different country.

  6. imanidiot Silver badge


    For when stuff needs to be well and truly complicated. The wait is for the first large hydrogen explosion to claim lives in a busy area and hydrogen will be dead in the water again. A modern day Hindenburg if you will. From experience hydrogen is a pain to work with and the consequences of doing something wrong can be severe.

    On top of that, where do people think the hydrogen gas is coming from? The most efficient way we have is frakking oil. And that is not exactly energy efficient or environmentally friendly. AFAIK noone is running an industrial scale electrolysis plant for hydrogen production.

    1. Sir Alien

      Re: Hydrogen

      Same could be said for petrol cars that can also explode and burn in a massive fireball. Most fuel types require an oxidizer to burn including hydrogen and it is also likely that cars will only be designed with low pressure tanks anyway so damage like a petrol car will be limited.

      The Hindenburg only burned because the hydrogen had something to react with (air) once the skin started leaking.

      Like most things in life, it's not "what" you do but "how" you do it.

      - S.A

      1. aks

        Re: Hydrogen

        The Hindenburg fire was likely not a hydrogen explosion. Check on Wikipedia.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Hydrogen

          @Jeffypooh, you are correct. Doesn't really change the outcome in terms of efficiency.

          @aks. I know that. I'm also not saying that. I am only drawing a parallel between what the Hindenburg disaster did for airships and what would happen in a new hydrogen incident.

          @sir alien, there is no such thing as low pressure storage for hydrogen if you want any sort of approximation of efficient energy density. Hydrogen for these purposes is stored at 200 barg or even more. Petrol (and diesel even more so) is surprisingly hard to ignite and even harder to get a proper explosion. Not so with hydrogen which will explode at a very wide mix ratio band, has an extremely low ignition energy threshold and can burn from even tiny leaks. On top of that the flame from a pure hydrogen leak is almost invisible and very very hot. Much hotter than a fuel explosion.

          I have worked with the stuff and it really is not to be taken lightly. It is not even close to comparable to working with petrol of natural gas.

      2. Denarius Silver badge

        Re: Hydrogen

        @SA. Source ? If a petrol car explodes Questions Get Asked, Loudly. See Merkins Nova experience. Despite the best efforts of local urban truck (SUVs to marketting afflicted) owners ramming assorted cars around Oz, vehicle fires are very few. As one would expect as tank design, layout in vehicle and manufacture for safe crush behavior are now understood.

        All of which is different to a _very_ cold compressed gas that is highly dispersable and explosive. Hydrogen cars, so far, use high pressure insulated tanks as hydrogen is stored as a liquid to get the energy density up to something useful. These tanks are why so many hydride projects were tried. Not many announcements of success, if any.

        Success in affordable safe equivalent energy storage to diesel or petrol and rapid refilling would change economics of fuel significantly. Until then, this announcement has all the signs of another greenie self-delusion which will have at best, no real effect on CO2 emissions. Big increase in smug emissions though. (apologies to South Park)

      3. strum

        Re: Hydrogen

        >The Hindenburg only burned because the hydrogen had something to react with (air) once the skin started leaking.

        And because the skin was doped with a cheaper alternative - which was inflammable.

    2. JeffyPoooh

      Re: Hydrogen

      "...where do people think the hydrogen gas is coming from?

      The most efficient way we have is >>frakking oil.<<"

      I think that you spelled 'steam reformation of natural gas' incorrectly.

  7. Andy 97

    Nice plan.

    A great leap forward for a country that has a substantial hydro electricity capacity and (of course) a large sovereign wealth fund from oil revenue to build more capacity too.

  8. Inventor of the Marmite Laser

    What about the zero emissions power stations?

    The ones that will be generating power to charge the cars or making hydrogen to fill them? Oh, wait a mo....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about the zero emissions power stations?

      TLDR: ~95% of electricity generation in Norway is from hydro. While there are other minor sources, it appears that very often, over 100% of local demand can be provided by hydro-power alone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about the zero emissions power stations?

        They've started adding a bit of wind power as well.

        Only looking at 2GW by 2020 though, which is only about 6.5% of the hydro capacity.

    2. JeffyPoooh

      Re: What about the zero emissions power stations?

      A good time to mention that Canada's grid is 65% hydro, 18% nuclear.

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Just one problem there

    Haven't they watched Occupied ?

    Do they really want to live that IRL ?

  10. Schultz Silver badge

    No problem

    With the current trajectory of fuel efficiency in diesel and petrol cars, you can buy a zero-emission diesel SUV way before the deadline. The European emission test will presumably allow a 30 km downhill test-run with plugged-in phone and laptop batteries to help the starter engine deal with the flatter parts of the test track.

  11. jms222

    Zero-emission diesel SUV ?

    I agree the tests are a joke. What we should really do is take the dodgy vehicles, you know the ones that give us breathing problems, off the road NOW and let normal civil legal action take place,

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      That would be pretty much any vehicle produced after circa 2004 or thereabouts. Not really a realistic proposal

      1. DropBear

        How dare you mention realism in anything that involves emissions?!? We simply can't have that!

  12. Tony Armstrong

    Give & take

    I live in Norway and the whole question of electric cars is a strange dynamic.

    The city centre is almost overrun with Teslas & Nissan Leafs plus a smattering of Kia, BMW & VW electric cars, in fact there's over 83,000 electric powered cars in Norway right now out of a total of 2.6 mill.

    When first introduced, electric vehicles enjoyed free charging, free parking, could drive in the taxi/bus lanes to escape the long queues in rush hour into the city centre and also be exempt for toll road charges, no VAT on purchase price and free ferry passages.

    Now people are fearing that these perks which where introduced to get people to go electric will be withdrawn slowly but surely.

    But now when travelling to Oslo, the law states there must be 2 people in the car before you have the right to use the taxi/bus lanes.

    In a shock announcement a few days ago, after 1st March 2017 electric vehicles will for the first time be liable for toll road charges (of which there are many!) during rush hour times.

    From January 2018 that charge will double.

    From January 2020 it will increase another 50% and also be payable at all times and not just during the rush hour.

    In all fairness, if you drive a diesel car, the cost will be a little over £6 to get into Oslo while petrol heads will "only" pay £5 and that's only one way!

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Give & take

      The same sort of discussion is happrning here in the Netherlands, but is it really that strange that temporary incentives are just that? Temporary? I find it only logical that as the amount of electrical vehicles increases the amount of subsidies drop as well.

      1. DropBear

        Re: Give & take

        "is it really that strange that temporary incentives are just that? Temporary?"

        From the point of view of the one granting them certainly not, they were probably never meant to be anything but temporary. From the point of view of those enjoying them, it kinda depends on whether their intended temporary nature has ever been explicitly advertised, comparably loudly to the main feature itself.

        Even so, it's not unreasonable to assume a lot of (less attentive) people might have been reasoning along the lines of "getting exempted from a fairly modest expense for a short time in exchange for spending a lot of money all at once doesn't really make sense - it only starts to balance somewhat if I can count on enjoying those incentives for a long, long time". Which in no way justifies their expectations but I think it helps explaining it.

    2. Perpetual Cyclist

      Re: Give & take

      Here in the UK new electric cars have £5000 discount - but you still have to pay 20% VAT, which on a car costing £25,000 is - £5000.

      You do not have to pay annual tax on electrics, but for the last few years a large number of small diesel cars did not pay it anyway. Similarly for the London congestion charge,

      At present electric cars can charge of free at the Ecotricity fast charger network, mostly located at motorway service stations and similar - but they could start subscription charges at any time. All other recharging networks run on a subscription basis, and some also require payment for each charge - sometimes the payments cost more than the same journey would cost in a diesel powered car.

      The cost of insuring an electric car can be higher (or lower) than an equivalent ICE - a lot of insurance companies do not want the business.

      In the UK electricity is charged at 5% VAT, which is a lot less than the tax on petrol/diesel, which is

      currently of the order of 280%.

      As far as I know, electrics do not get free parking or bus lane use anywhere - unless they are a registered Taxi, of course.

  13. Toro22

    Clearly one for the elections - thought up by Tram Politicians

    This is from the environmental lobby that think you can take the tram everywhere...cos they have one where they live.. in captiol city centre.

    If you take a trip between two nothern cities like Alta and Vadsø, 465km in -30C... I dont think its going to end too well...

    Even within a single local area like Kautokeino with 10.000km2 area, your battery would not fare well....

  14. 2+2=5 Silver badge


    One, so far unmentioned, problem with forcing a transition to battery electric [1] cars is that it is a hidden tax on the future poor.

    For the last 20 years or more, second, third and nth-hand cars have been relatively cheap (compared with the historical average/minimum wage) but still relatively reliable (compared with new vehicles) which enables many of the lowest paid to either (a) travel to a job in the first place or (b) travel to a second job - enabling them to hold down two when one alone would not pay enough.

    Electric battery cars put an end to this 'bangernomics' model because the bit that wears out first is the vital, but expensive to replace battery.

    [1] Assuming battery electric cars are the replacement

    [Oil well gusher fire icon seems appropriate]

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Zero-emission vehicles

    They're called bicycles (although the "motor" may have emission problems after a dinner of beans and cabbage...).

    1. Ilmarinen

      Re: Zero-emission vehicles

      But, nice though they are, they are not.

      You are expending extra energy, you need to eat to replace that. Even if all you eat is Organic (TM), it still gets produced using tractors powered by diesel and delivered by trucks powered by diesel (and if by bio-diesel, well that gets produced by tractors, using diesel, and chemical fertilizers, etc...)

      Sure, a bicycle is a low speed/low power vehicle so low emissions (maybe 100W average), but human food conversion efficiency is fairly low (25%?) and Organic (TM) vegetables not very energy dense (so delivery energy cost/efficiency low).

      Maybe a moped would cause less harm to Gaia?

      And maybe be grateful for the fossil fuels that have lifted mankind from the squalid poverty of what was (a short) life before the agrarian and industrial revolutions?

      1. Rick Brasche

        Re: Zero-emission vehicles

        electric bicycles. even just a kilowatt means some pretty impressive speeds and range on a bicycle sized platform. Enough for most people to actually commute and get to work on weird hours or to runs in to replace a missing co worker on a moments' notice, things regular working folk deal with on a normal basis. Most of the benefits of the bicycle with the speed of a NEV. Or more if you follow some home builders LOL

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the best part about electric cars?

    one switch control of your entire geographical area's ability to travel. Gas stations can be pumped manually and there's no way of knowing what's in a given area at any time without a lot of work inventorying many different companies and stations.

    with EV's, government can shut off the power grid, institute "rolling blackouts" or anything else desired to flex its muscles, create some FUD or dispel some domestic unrest. No refrigerators and no ability to drive more than a day or so (because even most Tesla owners don't keep their cars fully charged) means your rabble aren't leaving the area or going elsewhere for chilled foodstuffs.

    Naw, that scenario couldn't possibly happen in enlightened Europe these days.....

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