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Expert perceptions of low-carbon transitions: Investigating the challenges of electricity decarbonisation in the Nordic region

Sovacool, Benjamin K., Kester, Johannes, de Rubens, Gerardo Zarazua, Noel, Lance
Energy 2018 v.148 pp. 1162-1172
carbon, cities, climate, electricity, energy efficiency, energy policy, industry, interviews, prioritization, stakeholders, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Scandinavia, Sweden
The five Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have perhaps the most aggressive and progressive climate, energy, and electricity policies in the world. This study asks: what are the greatest challenges to achieving the region's low-carbon goals in the domain of electricity? To provide an answer, the authors conducted 227 semi-structured interviews with 257 participants from 201 institutions across seventeen cities within the Nordic region. Those interviewed represent a diverse array of stakeholders involved with electricity technology, policy and practice. Although respondents identified 40 distinct electricity challenges, the integration of renewables was by far the most frequently mentioned (14.5%). Five other challenges were also mentioned the most frequently by respondents: electrification of transport and other sectors (10.6%), managing intermittency (8.8%), carbon intensity (8.4%), supporting local grids (8.4%), and adequate capacity (8.4%). Interestingly, items such as energy efficiency, consumer awareness, industry, energy security, and public opposition were mentioned by only 1.8% (or less). The article concludes by what this heterogeneity and prioritization of challenges means for future Nordic research and policy.