Norway goes electric as Australia remains ICE bound

by Chris Becker

Those crazy Norwegians! Saving money from a sovereign wealth fund and then investing in their future with huge incentives to electrify the transportation grid. It’s not like they spend over $42 billion a year importing oil to power their cars like Australia – which has less than two weeks of strategic reserve if that lifeline is cut – or use expensive coal to power their electrical stations when cheaper, more efficient renewable power generation and storage is available, do they? (Hint: in Norway its almost all hydroelectric)

More from The Hill:

Norway set a new world record last year after nearly a third of all its new car sales were electric, a step toward the country’s goal of cutting out fossil fuel vehicles altogether.

The independent Norwegian Road Federation announced on Wednesday that 31.2 percent of all car sales in 2018 were electric, Reuters reported, an increase from 20.8 percent in 2017 and just 5.5 percent in 2013.

Sales of gasoline and diesel cars plummeted in conjunction with the benefits Norway offers for electric car owners, such as tax-exempt status, free parking and charging stations.

Meanwhile Australia keeps the dream going with less than 1.9%, according to the latest ABS data:

Still better than the US though, which is the pioneer of superior electric vehicle technology and production. Cleantechnica estimated that late last year, the 1 millionth electric car was delivered in the US, still behind Europe overall in August, and still comprising less than 1% of all car sales.

If Australia doesn’t want to be left behind, especially as the nation clings to an urban sprawl narrative and unsustainable population growth, then significant incentives to change to electric passenger vehicles are essential and well overdue. Given there’s no domestic car manufacturing left to subsidise, and the economics and reality of renewable power generation is now objectively superior to fossil fuels – an industry with significant government financial support – there’s plenty of budgetary support to adopt Norwegian style measures. 

 

Comments

  1. You guys aren’t a crazy as us!
    We could be Norway like, but to do so would mean removing the subsidy we pay to pay to Rio Tinto/Sumitomo to run the Tiwai Point aluminium plant. That would then swamp the local grid with hydropower, and as ex-PM, Sir Joh Key roughly told us ” We can’t have that! Because that would mean the retail price of electricity would fall and that would be bad for the power companies”

    (NB: The percentage of New Zealand’s electricity provided by hydro generation has been between 50% and 60% for the last decade, compared with a high of 84% in 1980.)

      • ResearchtimeMEMBER

        Norway has heaps of hydro… power is super cheap, not as cheap as France, but…

        Norway is not a good example. Recent studies show, that if the power to electrify your care is not renewables/nuclear, then you actually create more CO2 than a normal petrol engine.

      • “Recent studies show, that if the power to electrify your care is not renewables/nuclear, then you actually create more CO2 than a normal petrol engine.”

        Which is complete BS. Even using full fossil fuels it is close – BUT ONLY if you ALSO completely ignore the power required to distil oil into petrol.

      • ResearchtimeMEMBER

        There is a real lack of science here guys! Just think about it for a milli-second before you comment again. Its simple physics!!!!

    • Technically it isn’t a subsidy. Meridian Energy voluntarily sells the Aluminium company the power that cheaply as there is no other user. The other potential limiting factor is the North Island / South Island interconnector. All that power for Tiwai point comes from the Manapouri station at the bottom of the South Island. You’d probably need to increase the capacity on the DC link to be able to ship more power to Auckland.

      https://www.meridianenergy.co.nz/news-and-events/tiwai-point-expansion-supported-by-renewable-energy

      But agreed the NZ energy system is interesting. As an Australian I did some work in the NZ sector in 2010/2011 when you govt was doing the mixed ownership model privatisations and my first question was right where are all the coal fired power plants! Amazed back then there was only 1 (Genesis) and it is probably closed now. Run of river hydro in winter and snow melt lake fed hydro in summer. NZ is like one giant renewable battery.

    • Is it subsidised or do they get a discount as a large consumer with agreements to load shed during shortages?

      Closing manufacturing (production) simply to provide cheaper power for domestic consumption does not sound like a good strategy to me. Also unlike many things Aluminium can be recycled virtually indefinitely using 5% of the original energy input.

      Then again I’m sure NZ can milk some more cows or get some more tourists or something, now they’ve already given up on oil and gas exploration.
      If you want to do comparisons with Norway you better talk about how the $1 trillion+ in assets was funded.

  2. We need electric vehicles to help combat AGW, which keeps delivering us unpleasant surprises, such as:

    In theory, hotter air holds more moisture, so AGW will increase rainfall. That’s happening.

    BUT why are rivers drying out then?

    Turns out that hotter, drier soils absorb more water, so the higher rainfall is ‘snapped up’ (to use an Australian real estate term) by the soils and never gets to the rivers.

    D’oh! The Liberal Party has no idea. And the National Party deniers are a disgrace.

    https://thinkprogress.org/climate-change-rain-water-resources-a4af51b3b28c/

  3. It’s these concepts that any Australian govt struggles with:
    ‘tax-exempt status’ and ‘free’.
    How can mates make a quid?

  4. Tritium EV chargers, probably close to the most advanced designs available and marketed world-wide are manufactured by a company based in Brisbane. So we have a foot in the door technology-wise.

    • Ourfiniteworld is Gail Tverberg’s site. Apart from being a retired 90 year old fossil, she’s also a well known climate denier, working in cahoots with oil industry operative Euan Mearns.

      Credibility = 0

      She’s long claimed that AGW is not a problem because fossil fuels are depleting so fast that they won’t be around to cause it in the future. This flies in the face of all other estimates showing that if we keep on digging up and burning the known, proved fossil fuel resources, we’re toast. She’s a liar, and she’s lying for a rea$on.

      • R2M credibility = 0

        cornucopian spruiker who shows up here every time renewable energy is being discussed like batman chasing the bat signal

      • Me a cornucopian? Haha, you clearly do not know me. I’m known as a megadoomer who advocates having no children.

      • I advocate no children because of how children face a bleak future, not because I think it will help the AGW problem

      • You under-rate human ingenuity. We’ll be fine. The people we have to fear are in Govt — there is no human ingenuity there. Just rampant corruption and nest-feathering.

  5. Sorry Chris, you’ve not sold me. Why exactly should the government be providing massive subsidies to electric car buyers?

    If it is to reduce strategic risks around importing oil, then wouldn’t a bigger strategic reserve be the better solution? Even if all new car purchases from tomorrow were electric, it’d still be decades before the vehicle fleet would be all electric.

    If it is to reduce GHG emissions, then wouldn’t a half decent carbon tax/emissions trading scheme be a much more efficient, much cheaper way to do it?

    Eventually electric cars will be competitive with ICE cars on their own, and the switch over will take place anyway. Subsidising their purchase in the mean time strikes me as massively inefficient and distortive, and a good way to transfer billions of dollars from the tax payer to the predominantly rich people who will be able to afford a new electric car.

    • Don’t forget that a few million electric cars (with their large batteries) could be helpful as a buffer for an electric grid that has a significant reliance on renewables.

      • Haha, imagine that. Any vehicle plugged-in has the potential to become part of a virtual power plant! That’s not a bad idea.

      • @Simon

        Rectifier Technologies, an Australian company, is likely to announce the successful development of a 2 way charger (charge your EV from solar panels and then either feed back surplus electricity from the EVs battery into the grid or else use that electricity domestically) sometime in the next 6-12 months. They are already making components for Tritium, and are hard at it.

      • This idea has never made sense to me.

        You suck down the charge on your EV overnight (either personally or by feeding it back into the grid).

        Then you drive it to work the next day (assuming it’s got enough charge left to get you there) where it almost certainly gets parked somewhere it can’t be charged (at least for another 10 years before most parking space have a charger).

        Then you drive it home again in the afternoon (assuming it has enough charge left) and maybe catch an hour of charge from your solar in summer, before the house or grid starts sucking it out of the battery again.

        Lather, rinse, repeat ?

      • Um, Smithy, most vehicles will be sitting in garages at home, used as shopping carts and getting kids to school, people will get to work on trains etc.

      • Over 2/3 of people in Sydney and 3/4 to 4/5 of people in other capitals drive to work (I don’t know if that includes tradies and the like where “vehicle” and “work” are largely synonymous).

        Why will this change ?

        *Especially* if, as promised, EVs are cheaper to run and autonomous vehicles become more common. Nobody is going to get on a train or (especially) a bus when they can get into their car and tell it to take them to work.

      • About 2/3 of people in Sydney and 3/4 to 4/5 of people in other capitals drive to work

        Ah, well that’s the problem right there. A sea-change is required. When I worked in London, almost nobody drove to work

        But anyway, most households have 2+ cars, so what I said still holds true for most families.

      • About half of households have two or more vehicles, but it will be a long time (10+ years) before they have replaced both (even longer for all) cars with EVs, and pretty much guaranteed that the first EV will be purchased as the commuting car.

        The much-hyped speedy take-up of EVs has always seemed hopelessly optimistic to me. The average vehicle age has been at ~10 years old basically forever, and EVs have near zero presence in the lower end of the market, nor are likely to for another couple of years.

        We are comfortably a decade – probably more like 15 years – from EVs being the majority of vehicles on the road. At least absent massive subsidies and punishing taxes on older vehicles.

      • Couple points

        New tech uptake happens slowly … then all at once. Many examples of this. Couple it with prohibitive taxes on FFs and you’ll see people running not walking to EVs.

        Regarding using EVs as a huge battery: if they can charge them quickly, they can easily function as batteries. How fast can they charge them? How does 120 miles (190km) in 8 minutes sound? Would that get you home?
        https://newatlas.com/abb-350kw-fast-charger/54377/

      • You do realise R2m not everyone lives near public transport. This is not London or EU and our crappy overpriced cities follow the US model which relies on cars.
        Plus, until EV cars cost the equivalent of a ICE car nobody will buy them. A corolla is 20k and the Renault Zoe is 60k. You do the maths.
        Your just trolling everyone here.

      • Cars wont just sit at work Smithy. They will drive back home and get re-charged.

        Self drive cars will be here within 10 years so we won’t have to worry about car parks being retrofitted for charging (despite me thinking it will take less than your 10 year estimate).

      • New tech uptake happens slowly … then all at once.

        An EV isn’t “new tech” in the same sense as horses and carriages changing to cars (or dumb mobiles to smartphones), where the functional change was massive. They’re only an evolutionary step. The functional difference to the typical user between a ICE and EV is minimal (ie: lower running costs).

        Now, when every major manufacturer has an EV option for all it’s mainstream vehicles in the $15-50k range – and they’re all likely to do it around the same time (+/- a year or two) – the new car sales of EVs are going to look spectacular.

        But, a) that’s not going to happen for ~5 years, b) it’s not going to happen quickly (ie: EVs won’t reach the lower ~$25k price points for a while) and b) it then takes ten years for that to filter down to be the average vehicle (ie: about 3 years until they start hitting the second hand market for the first time, etc), which is the point.

        Things like ABS and stability control would be something similar in terms of takeup. Sure, they’re pretty much ubiquitous now (though even that’s to some degree a product of legislation), but they were luxury vehicle features for many years before filtering into pleb cars.

        The average vehicle age isn’t ten years because the average punter _wants_ to be driving around in a 10 year old car. It’s because that’s how often they can afford (or need) to replace them. This is also the reason I think second hand ICE prices – at least at the lower end of the market – won’t drop off quite the price cliff people predict (higher end is a different matter – though then you get people buying cars for more than just functional reasons so “interesting” or specific-use ICE vehicles will probably hold their value better).

        I expect to see the majority of new cars sold as EVs in the mid-late 2020s and the majority of vehicles on the road being an EV around 2040 (+/- a few years). That’s a timeline I’ve had for years now and I haven’t seen anything yet to convince me it’s wrong.

      • Cars wont just sit at work Smithy. They will drive back home and get re-charged.

        Which (roughly) doubles the numbers of vehicles on the road during, and the length of, rush hour and from a vehicle ownership perspective doubles the mileage they’re doing and the energy they consume. So this is another prediction I think needs to be taken with a grain of salt due to both the negative public and personal impacts.

        Self drive cars will be here within 10 years so we won’t have to worry about car parks being retrofitted for charging (despite me thinking it will take less than your 10 year estimate).

        It takes (let’s be optimistic) ~10 years after the first genuinely autonomous vehicles are available for sale before they become commonplace on the roads. When are we going to see the first autonomous vehicles that will be trusted and legal to drive themselves without even a single human onboard (or with a human who is asleep or drunk), even when they’re surrounded by vehicles driven by dangerous and unpredictable humans, do you think ?

      • it’s not going to happen quickly (ie: EVs won’t reach the lower ~5k price points for a while)

        Disagree. I think it will happen quickly and soon. You can already buy electric cars in China for around US$1000. For AU$15000 you can expect something a whole lot better
        https://youtu.be/kILXXaqspcI

        The average vehicle age isn’t ten years because the average punter _wants_ to be driving around in a 10 year old car. It’s because that’s how often they can afford (or need) to replace them.

        I only replace my vehicle every 10 years or so because there is no pressing reason to do it sooner. If you give me incentives to buy an EV, such as increasing fuel taxes and subsidizing EVs, I’ll do it immediately 😯

        This is also the reason I think second hand ICE prices – at least at the lower end of the market – won’t drop off quite the price cliff people predict

        Fuel taxes are key here. I predict taxes will make ICE prices plunge.

        I expect to see the majority of new cars sold as EVs in the mid-late 2020s

        I say 2023-2025. We are almost in agreement.

      • R2M i look forward to this utopia and i would buy an EV if they were comparably priced and infrastructure there but this is straya and i think we are still a long way off which is unfortunate

      • Disagree. I think it will happen quickly and soon. You can already buy electric cars in China for around US$1000. For AU$15000 you can expect something a whole lot better

        These sorts of tiny cars have been available in overseas markets for years as ICE. They haven’t been sold here because people wouldn’t buy them. I see no reason why this attitude would change and they would start selling here [in any great volume].

        I only replace my vehicle every 10 years or so because there is no pressing reason to do it sooner. If you give me incentives to buy an EV, such as increasing fuel taxes and subsidizing EVs, I’ll do it immediately

        I did *explicitly* state “at least absent massive subsidies and punishing taxes on older vehicles”.

        If the Government wants to drop zillions of dollars to encourage people to buy EVs, that changes the landscape significant. That said, it really would need to be a lot to get them down into the ~$30k +/- 10 ballpark (and still won’t address the second hand market). Given they all need to be imported, that may come with some consequences. The money would probably be better spent supporting local manufacturers, but that was a plan that needed to start 5-10 years ago.

        I say 2023-2025. We are almost in agreement.

        I will be surprised if every major manufacturer even manages to have an electric option across their main lines by 2023. Most seem to be planning at least one more generation of ICE vehicles, which is about 4-5 years, taking us to a wave of EV models – especially at the budget end of the market – hitting the markets from all manufacturers ca. 2025 onwards.

      • Toyota: 10 electric models worldwide in the early 2020s.
        VAG: 50 electric models worldwide by 2025.
        Hyundai: 38 models (but including hybrids as well) by end 2025, but only 7 by 2023.

        (It is unclear by “model” whether they mean a vehicle family (Eg: Corolla, Golf) or a particular variant within that family. For example, there are twenty different body/trim/transmission/engine combos for a Corolla. If each one of them counts as a “model”, then that’s hardly any at all.)

        The rest are similar.

        That article supports my timeline more than yours. If anything, it’s more pessimistic than me – VW, described in the article as the “most bullish”, is only expecting electric vehicles to be 20-25% of sales in 2025.

        It also highlights what I suspected but wasn’t sure of, that most manufacturers seem to be expecting a transition phase via hybrid vehicles. I’d expect that to drag out the adoption of majority EVs even more.

        I stick by my late 2020s prediction.

      • HadronCollision

        What % of Australians need to drive on a daily basis as they do not have ready access to PT. commence calculation with a near entirety of Rural and Regional Oz. Cycling not an option for most of them either

    • Why exactly should the government be providing massive subsidies to electric car buyers?

      Here’s why.
      Can you read a graph? Are you one of those frogs who cannot feel the water starting to boil?

      • If what you want to do is reduce GHG emissions, then subsidising electric vehicle purchases is a terrible way to do it. Where a carbon tax might cost say $50 per tonne of carbon abated, electric vehicle subsidies cost $350-650 per tonne. https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/stock/files/gillingham_stock_cost_080218_posted.pdf

        Hell, why not just raise fuel excise on fuel – simple, way cheaper way to reduce carbon emissions, and it would actually raise revenue rather than being a massive burden on government.

      • @R2M – – From earlier post about fast chargers – Your link.
        “Unfortunately, there’s currently nothing on the market that can handle that kind of power, with many cars limited to 50 kW charging to preserve battery life.” – – So Fast charging is NO use at present !
        Other stuff you pretend to be almost expert at is just read & believe like your waffles about man made climate change.

      • Hardôn, I was making a point about tech and what’s in the pipeline. Current tech lets you use DC superchargers to add 275km in just 30 minutes. That’s the current state of play, and it makes my point just as well.

    • Then you’re not thinking long term or with the time value of money/capital.

      government already massively subsidises ICE cars via no carbon tax and direct subsidies to coal power generation
      reduction of strategic risk via bigger reserve agreed, however its likely it will take less than a decade to switch to mainly electric – Norway are forecasting 2025
      to reduce emissions, ALL schemes need to be implemented, ASAP, with cost a secondary factor – it may be too late anyway with the amount of carbon in the atmosphere
      electric cars are more competitive than ICE right now in terms of power, reliability, range, safety. Only obstacle is subsidising of ICE vehicles and non-renewable power.
      rich people start the tech trend, then the consumer middle class picks it up – been the same for every technology throughout the 20th and 21st century.

      • Fine then. Surely the sensible thing to do then is to remove the subsidies to ICE cars and coal power stations, not introduce another distortive, inefficient subsidy.

      • Subsidies are justified and desirable when the government is seeking a particular outcome with alacrity. That’s the one situation where they are good.

    • You’re right, Dr Emmett Brown had this technology back in 1985. A few domestic centrifuges and we’ll be running our cars on plutonium in no time!

      • That’s often true. But this is truly an existential crisis. We need to bring all weapons to bear on it, and a little social inequity is trivial collateral damage

  6. Jumping jack flash

    Excellent news. Quickly now Australia!

    Doing this would have two enormous benefits. Firstly, it would help achieve those emission targets.

    But most importantly, we need electric cars to achieve total energy independence, releasing us from the vice-grip of gouging private companies over which the government has little to no control. Private companies who, after being sold the keys to the kingdom (by lazy politicians looking to shirk the responsibilities for which they were paid handsomely), ran rampant in an orgy of gouging.

    This rampage of gouging has no end in sight, and is intensifying – as indeed it must for the next 30 years, due to the colossal debt that everyone has been fooled into taking on, and must now repay in full plus interest.

    • But most importantly, we need electric cars to achieve total energy independence, releasing us from the vice-grip of gouging private companies over which the government has little to no control.

      When did we re-nationalise the power grid ?

      • Many families will be able to charge their cars with panels. You cannot produce your own petrol in the backyard

  7. “Those crazy Norwegians! Saving money from a sovereign wealth fund and then investing in their future with huge incentives to electrify the transportation grid. ”

    Yeah saving money they earn from selling oil. Nice for them.

    • Selling oil while they can. It’s a self-limiting business plan. They know it, and are keen to build a post-fossilfuel society

      • That’s the kicker. We talk the talk, but it’s global pollution HQ here, even though we’re small on the overall %. EV’s aren’t going to solve it with the Chinese building 100’s of coal fired PS. If the planet don’t do something about population growth we’re all f’d.

      • If the planet don’t do something about population growth

        I’m all for pop. planning and fewer humans, but it’s not the key issue. The 350 million in north America produces many times the CO2 that Africa, with over 1B people, produces. It’s HOW we live.

      • @R2M …no argument, but as the billions now living on the breadline get into the western consumption gig like china/india we’ll descend faster into extinction. I know your views on that, but the planet can sustain x people…that’s my point along with just living sustainability, but as you know our neolib system isn’t designed for it. We just consume and pollute to hit the quarterly reports, and globalisation see more pollution from shipping almost everything around the globe. None of our pollies have a clue…it’s sickening. There are better ways to live, but not for out elite..they want all the cake.

  8. I have an electric car in HKG and it works very well for me here. Am planning a return to Sydney this year and am struggling to see how it could make sense to bring it with me. The infrastructure is just so poor. Expect I’ll be renting for at least a year so home charging a challenge. Any dissenting views?

  9. Diogenes the CynicMEMBER

    Australia is more suited to EVs than Europe as many people living here, have garages with power points which is all you need for any EV than isn’t an UBER or delivery truck. We don’t even need special charging stations in those garages as our voltage is much higher than the US, so you can trickle charge those batteries at night. I’m looking at making the change for my aging Honda (now 13 years) although the choice, price and availability of EVs in Australia leaves a lot to be desired (mostly due to us being a small market, left side drive, no government subsidies).

    As for the changeover – remember smart phones? One moment only a few nerds and business people had them, the next all the kids at school have them…ICE cars will plummet in value when that tipping point occurs.

    • I’m looking at making the change for my aging Honda (now 13 years)

      Keep it a couple more years, is my advice. You’ll be sorry when you see the improved tech and better prices if you jump now

    • As for the changeover – remember smart phones? One moment only a few nerds and business people had them, the next all the kids at school have them…ICE cars will plummet in value when that tipping point occurs.

      Smart phones are a massive improvement over dumb phones (except for battery life).

      EVs are an incremental improvement over ICEs (lower running costs, though usually not lower enough to make up for the higher purchase price, at least not yet).

      I think a better comparison would be the adoption of things like ABS and ESC in the vehicle fleet.

  10. Tony Benn was derided by the Establishment media for being part of the loony left, yet when he was UK Energy Minister in 1977 he proposed a sovereign wealth fund from North Sea oil with the proceeds going to re equipping British industry. It never eventuated and then Labour lost the 1979 election

    • “proceeds going to re equipping British industry”, no no no, the manufacturing industry don’t pay enough to the political class, which explains why we don’t have one. To keep the Australian property market going, introduce a sovereign wealth fund that extracts wealth from the mining lobby to the property lobby. Turn Australian’s two biggest sectors and political lobbyists against each other.

      • It was much the same in England where policies were more tailored to suit The City, the financial sector of London than they were for manufacturers. Hence when Thatcher came in she hiked interest rates to pump up the pound which caused a deflationary recession and a reduction in union power. The subsequent massive unemployment was paid for by the North Sea oil revenue. The financial sector did well and inflation receded. In 1984 the manufacturing sector ran a deficit on trade for the first time in 150 years, British manufacturing never really recovered from that, George Osborne put a focus on manufacturing with his March Of Industry policy several years back, a tacit admission that the Tory hero Thatcher greatly harmed British manufacturing

    • Probably a good outcome in the end: re-equipping the shipping industry would have proven a complete waste of money.

      Ships are built better and cheaper elsewhere.

  11. In order to sell more beans and lamb chops to Asia, we also told the auto manufacturing and its production (manufacturing) engineering expertise (probably more strategically crucial to Australia than design engineering expertise that for the short term remains) to frig off just as this sector is transitioning from ICE to other energy sources, allowing new entrants enter the market..

  12. Norway does not have mass immigration. AUS could have been powered by Snowy Hydro if AUS stopped mass immigration. To boot, the mineral wealth per capita would have been huge.

    AUS is over 29% foreign-born! Absolutely insane.