Electric short haul planes could be flying Norwegian skies as soon as 2030, a new report released by state-owned airline Avinor and the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority suggests.
The report was commissioned by the two organisations to address the reduction of flight-related carbon emissions in order to reach the Scandinavian nation’s Paris agreement objectives.
“The world is facing a climate crisis, and it is in the transport sector that we will take the biggest emission reductions,” says transport minister Knut Arild Hareide in a statement.
“We have to deliver on this, and electric aircraft can be part of the solution.”
Handing over the report to the minister at an event last Thursday (Europe time), Avinor CEO Dag Falk-Petersen said that the conclusions of the report were very clear.
“Our recommendation is that Norway should be one of the main arenas in the world for electrification of aviation,” he said according to a release from Avinor (translated from Norwegian).
Norway depends on flight as a major form of transport, and its electrification is not only a key step to achieving this goal but would also create jobs and also lower operating costs compared to fossil-fuelled aircraft.
“In order to ensure a continued good transport service in Norway, it is in Norway’s self-interest – both on a climate, district and transport policy basis – that zero and low-emission aircraft are developed that can initially traffic the unique Norwegian short-haul network and are adapted to Norwegian weather conditions,” said aviation director at the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority, Lars Kobberstad.
There are a number of established aerospace companies developing electric flight technology, including Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Boeing as well as startups such as Brazil’s Embraer and even Australia’s own Magnix, which has developed an electric propulsion system being tested by Canada’s Harbour Air.
Currently a typical battery energy density of 250Wh/kg means that such aircraft are limited to short-haul flights of 350-400 effective range, the report says.
But that could change, with solid state battery technology expected to increase energy density to more than 650Wh/kg in time, doubling or even tripling flight range.
Nevertheless, even with today’s capacity, Avinor expects that commercial flights in Norway – which has a number of closely located airports particularly in its northern reaches – carrying almost 20 passengers at a time could be reality within the decade.
“It seems clear that there are no insurmountable technical obstacles to developing electrified fly,” the report says (translated from Norwegian).
“Based on existing technology knowledge and expected developments should be technically possible to develop, certify and put in regular civilian scheduled flight with up to 19 passengers from 2025 to 2030, and larger aircraft after it.”
To put the report into action, Falk-Petersen says government policy is needed so that Norway – which is already the world’s leader in electric cars by market share – can capitalise on its unique position to spearhead electric flight.
“Norway’s dependence on aviation, ample access to renewable electricity, a unique short-haul network, active and interested players and the political will to electrify the transport sector, means that Norway is well-suited and recognized as a very interesting test area and first market for electrification of aviation.
“Therefore, it is important that Norway adopts a policy package as quickly as possible,” said Falk-Petersen.