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Norway Driving Low-Carbon Mobility with Lighting Tech, Enticing Incentives

Norway is paving the way to a more energy-efficient, low-carbon future through new intelligent lighting technology and strong financial incentives.

Norway is paving the way to a more energy-efficient, low-carbon future through new intelligent lighting technology and strong financial incentives.

The Norwegian government is rolling out a new lighting technology that aims to reduce energy consumption on the country’s less-traveled roads. The system, which is being piloted an hour outside of Oslo in the small town of Hole, relies on radar sensors affixed to light poles that can detect oncoming traffic. When not in use, the LED lights automatically dim to 20 percent of their full power.

“This is in the long term very energy-saving, environmentally friendly and, not least, economical for operations and maintenance,” said Ottar Bjørnstad, senior engineer for Norway’s Public Roads Administration.

This isn’t the first time Norway has toyed with the idea of smart lighting systems. A similar auto lighting system was installed in the western part of the country just last year. In addition to reducing operating costs, the project offers Norway an opportunity to drive down light pollution and CO2 emissions associated with energy consumption.

Smart lighting isn’t the only thing shaping the future of mobility in Norway. According to new data from the Norwegian Road Federation (OFV), 52 percent of new car sales in 2017 were attributed to pure electric and hybrid vehicles — an eight percent increase over 2016.

This is largely due to a suite of enticing consumer incentives Norway has created, which encourage the purchase of low-carbon vehicles over those with traditional internal combustion engines. According to Reuters, new electric vehicles are exempt from almost all taxes and provide drivers with perks such as free or subsidized parking and use of tolls roads.

These incentives are backed by the Norwegian government’s desire to ensure that by all cars sold beyond 2025 be zero emissions. Similar goals are rapidly gaining support across Europe, with countries such as France and the UK pledging to ban the sale of diesel and petrol cars by 2040.

Norway is also encouraging drivers to make the switch to electric cars by introducing financial penalties for diesel and petrol cars. In some regions, for example, diesel and petrol vehicles are required to pay higher road toll charges than their electric counterparts.

“We view Norway as a role model for how electric mobility can be promoted through smart incentives,” a spokesman at BMW’s headquarters in Munich told Reuters. “The situation would probably be different if these incentives were dropped.”

Oddly enough, the wealth accumulated from Norway’s oil and gas production — a sum of around $1 trillion — is driving the extensive incentive program. And while it has been critical in helping the country slash CO2 emissions, it does come at a cost. Electric car financial incentives end up costing Norway 3 billion Norwegian crowns in tax revenue a year.