Following the success of green cars, Norway announced on Thursday that it plans buy electric planes. The country plans to purchase electric passenger planes in the coming years to help fight climate change.
Avinor, the state firm that runs 45 airports in Norway, said its commitment to purchase electric planes may encourage the development of hybrid and electric technologies by major aviation companies, like Boeing and Airbus.
“Airbus told us they need a customer and they need a market – and we can offer them both, ” said Dag Falk-Pederson, head of Avinor. “Of course they need a bigger market and more customers. But someone has to start.”
Falk-Pederson says there is “no doubt” in his mind that Norway will be “operating totally electric” by 2040.
He believes that Norway would be ideal for electric planes due to its mountainous landscape, small population and remote towns. Planes can accelerate faster here, which means they require shorter runways.
The biggest issue with battery-powered planes is the bulky weight of the battery. They also offer a limited range.
Transport Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen said Norway will try to repeat its success with electric cars by offering tax breaks and other perks, like recharging points and free parking.
Last year, more than half of the cars sold in Norway were electric. Norway is the world leader in electric car sales, but Denmark, Iceland, Finland and Sweden are following closely behind.
The five Nordic countries make up 0.4% of the world population, but they accounted for 8% of the world’s electric vehicles in 2016. Denmark had a record year for car sales in 2016.
These five countries are ahead of the world in electric car sales due to generous tax breaks and rebates for battery-powered vehicles. Buyers also get a number of perks, like being able to ride in the bus lane, getting a discount on toll roads and the use of free charging stations.
Gasoline in these regions is also heavily taxed. In Norway, drivers can expect to spend close to $8 per gallon, which makes conventional vehicles less economical.
While people can jump on board with battery-powered vehicles, they’re a little more skeptical of electric planes, says the Transport Minister.
The Norwegian government told Avinar to promote the use of biofuels and begin making the shift to commercial electric planes. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help slow the effects of climate change.
Official statistics show that domestic air transport in Norway accounts for 2.4% of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. That figure more than doubles when international routes are included.
Falk-Peterson also noted that electric planes will reduce noise levels and lower the costs of operation.
Before reaching a point where Norway uses fully electric planes, it will need to use intermediary technologies, according to Falk-Peterson. These technologies include hybrid fuel-electric solutions as well as biofuels.
Airbus is currently working on a hybrid model after signing a partnership with Siemens and Rolls Royce. The plane’s first flight is planned for 2020.