Transformation to Clean Energy
Benjamin Franklin said: “Nothing is certain except for death and taxes.” If he has a rebirth now, and if he is willing to take a short trip to Norway, he might consider adding subsidies to the two certainties.
Automobiles play an important part in an individual’s life; the benefits are immense and higher than the costs associated with it. But in the case of the society, the cost associated with using an automobile far outweighs the benefits –costs include air pollution and its effects like diseases and traffic congestions and a waste of time, etc.
Considering the social cost, governments across the world impose a higher tax on gasoline driven automobiles and subsidizes public transportation and electric vehicles (EV).
The Norwegian government has been providing a slew of benefits for electric car owners: incentives for vehicle purchase, waivers on taxes and local benefits. The result is very visible in the Norwegian roads, 30% of cars have plug-in cables.
According to a report published by The International Energy Agency, the Nordic region (comprising Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) has the presence of around 8% of the total number of electric cars in the world. This region represents the third largest electric car market after China and the United States. Norway is the world leader with a 39% market share of electric car sales.
If the sales of EV are accelerating at this pace, by 2025, traditional cars will not be sold in Norway. And by reducing the carbon footprints, it can embrace the reduction targets under the 2015 Paris climate accord with relative ease.
In addition, it will also reduce the whopping amounts that it has to cough up for buying emission certificates from other European countries for meeting the targets. These savings will compensate for the generous subsidies that it gives for EV owners.
The fossil fuels that the world over is trying to reduce, have been the main source of income for Norway. The current transformation is likely to recompense for the selling of its fossil fuels in the past decades. In the future, the subsidies will phase out and will be replaced by higher taxes on gasoline-driven vehicles.
But the customers have grievances about the EV infrastructure. How the government is going to solve the problems is critical for the growth of the EV industry.
Controversy over the wind park
Norway’s ambitious plan to build a wind farm in a Reindeer grazing area has met with negative reactions from Sami people, the traditional Reindeer herders, and the United Nations.
Despite the severe criticism, the Norway government went ahead and is in the final stages of the mega project.
According to a research paper, “Do terrestrial animals avoid areas close to turbines in functioning wind farms in agricultural landscapes?” The authors explain that animals like roe deer and European hare are affected by acoustic factors and keep away from the turbine area.
Another research paper, “Wind farm construction impacts reindeer migration and movement corridors.” The authors come to the following conclusion:
“The combined construction activities associated with even a few wind turbines combined with power lines and roads in or close to central movement corridors caused a reduction in the use of such corridors and grazing habitat and increased the fragmentation of the reindeer calving ranges.”
Norwegian government should seriously take into account the severe impacts of the project on the traditional herders and Reindeers and try to mitigate the negative effects.
France implemented fuel tax with the same objective of shifting to cleaner energy. But the poor communities living in rural areas protested against the government. And the implementation of the tax had to be postponed.
Inequality is pronounced in France when compared to Norway. This might be the reason for the strong negative reaction in France.
The newspaper article published by The New Republic depicts the racism and poverty in France. The poverty is even reflected in the school system, showing a dichotomy between the low income and wealthy students.
Unfortunately, when the government ignores the poor, their children’s education gets affected. The effect is increasing unemployment and criminal activities leading to the vicious cycle of poverty. The same poverty forces citizens to protest against taxation and other reform movements.
Elon Musk’s experiments
In the USA, another revolution is taking place to find a way out of the dreary traffic jams –Underground tunnel. As road congestions directly lead to enormous wastage of time and pollution, building underground tunnels can be a great relief to the city traffic. That is what Elon Musk, the multi-billionaire behind Tesla and Space X has accomplished.
The Tesla chief was annoyed with the city traffic and the idea of an underground tunnel was born. He tweeted that “traffic is driving me nuts” and he was “going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging.”
The 1.8-kilometre tunnel was unveiled on December 18, 2018. It seems to be a solution for traffic jams in urban areas according to Musk. But critics say that it will create more traffic congestions in the future. Also digging the earth’s surface without serious research can be dangerous and it may not be viable in other geographies.
The cost is a big deterrent for the majority of the countries. It cost a whopping $10 million to complete the tunnel. How many countries can adopt this technology is what everyone is guessing?
The clean energy is the need of the hour. Only when the citizens and the government come on the same page can it be implemented successfully.
This article is written by our regular guest writer Rajesh Trichur Venkiteswaran.
Rajesh is a freelance journalist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
© Rajesh Trichur Venkiteswaran / #Norway Today