Exploring the Nordic electric aviation horizon
Nordic countries have ambitious plans and commitments to promote sustainable flight solutions by introducing electric aircraft for short-haul domestic and cross-border flights. How far is it becoming a reality? What infrastructure, policies, interests and concerns are a help or hindrance? Join the discussion about the Nordic electric aviation development, inspired by three newly conducted Nordregio studies in collaboration with Nordic Energy Research and the University of Akureyri. Which Nordic routes will be the first to go electric? Earlier this year, Nordregio published an accessibility study that identified over 200 potential electric aviation routes in the Nordics. This would significantly cut travel time compared to those going by both car or public transportation and yet be a more sustainable mobility solution. However, the feasibility of introducing the necessary infrastructure crucially depends on energy demands and availability. What stands in the way of electric aviation in the Nordics? The Nordic countries are known for their low population density, breathtaking geography with fjords, lakes, and mountains, and a strong focus on sustainable energy. However, each country’s context varies. Take Finland, for example. Electric aviation could improve connections to remote areas and improve regional competitiveness and tourism, yet substantial investments will be needed. Norway could reduce the environmental impact of travels connected to medical care, family and recreation. In Iceland, support for electric aviation is strong, both for environmental reasons and to further regional development. At the same time, an important concern is electrical safety. “It is exciting how soon electric aviation could become a reality in domestic flights in the Nordic countries. For instance, Icelandair has stated that the 30-seat electric airplane, developed by Heart Aerospace, could be used on all domestic routes, and it is estimated that it will be used for passenger transport in 2028,” says Sæunn Gísladóttir, Researcher at the University of Akureyri Research…
Which electric aviation routes would be most beneficial in the Nordics?
Nordregio launched the accessibility study that identifies over 200 routes in the Nordics in which electric aviation would shorten the travel time by at least 1,5 times, compared to the same route by car or public transport! A Norwegian fisherman Bjørn has just returned to Tromsø after his winter fishing in Andenes. It was supposed to take around 7 hours by car to bring the Atlantic cod home, but since the winter conditions were not the best, it took him much longer than expected. If there were an electric plane route connecting Andenes and Tromsø, the travel time and distance would shorten significantly (from nearly 500km to around 100km), and the environmental impact of such a trip would be reduced. The Nordic region shares many similar accessibility challenges for remote and rural regions. The geographical characteristics of some of these areas, such as large bodies of water, vast forest areas, long coastal lines, mountain ranges and fjords mean that they would experience a significant reduction in travel time using airplanes compared to other modes of transport, such as car, bus or train. About the project This accessibility study is a part of the project “Electric Aviation and the Effect on Nordic Regions”, which aims to investigate how regions and local areas in the Nordic area will be affected by the implementation of electric aviation. The study analyses effects on the local communities, labour market, environment and climate, and the need for developing infrastructure and policies.
Making Europe – and especially rural areas – climate neutral
What kind of transformational changes are needed, effective and just to reach climate neutrality by 2050? EU-funded SHERPA project has just published a new position paper “Climate change & Environmental Sustainability” that focuses on finding answers to the: How do policies facilitate the transition? And what research gaps still exist? Sustainable Hub to Engage into Rural Policies with Actors (SHERPA) is a four-year project (2019-2023) with 17 partners funded by the Horizon 2020 programme. The special thing about the SHERPA project is how it works with the local stakeholders and generates policy-relevant research together at the local level and delivers information to the EU level. Nordregio is a partner in the SHERPA project and steers the work of several of these Multi-Stakeholder Platforms (MAPs). The MAPs have identified local threats and challenges to living and working in ways that will enable transitions towards climate neutrality, and opportunities which could be created and pursued. Based on these discussions, the new Position Paper highlights pathways for a just green transition, including adaptation to climate change. Read the latest Position Paper “Climate change & Environmental Sustainability” Nordregio has been part of several SHERPA publications: Slätmo, E., Löfving, L. (2022) MAP Position Paper (Sweden) – Digitalisation in rural areas. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7243911 MAP_PP-SW_final.pdf (rural-interfaces.eu) AND MAP_PP-SW_Swedish-version_final.pdf (rural-interfaces.eu) Stjernberg, M., Salonen, H. (eds.) (2022) MAP Position Paper (Finland) – Digitalisation in rural areas. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7235125 MAP_PP-FI_final.pdf (rural-interfaces.eu) Mändmets, A., Kärk, K. (2022) MAP Position Paper (Estonia) – Social dimension of rural areas DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7249600 MAP_PP-Estonia_final.pdf (rural-interfaces.eu) Ormstrup Vestergård, L., Refsgaard, K. (2022) MAP Position Paper (Denmark) – Land use and climate change. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7251683 MAP_PP-DK_final.pdf (rural-interfaces.eu) AND MAP_PP-DK_Danish.pdf (rural-interfaces.eu)
Exploring the bioeconomy status quo in the Baltics
The BioBaltic project has published a storymap series that overviews the bioeconomy development in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Both – Nordic and Baltic countries are rich in biological and renewable resources and have a long tradition of utilizing them for generating social and economic benefits through the traditional sectors, such as forestry, agriculture, and fisheries, as well as in manufacturing and related sectors such as tourism. As we transition into a green economy, there is a huge potential for innovation to develop new goods and services from biological resources while creating value locally. In the past year, the project partners across the Baltics have investigated the state of the art of bioeconomy and developed their visions for further bioeconomy development. Their learnings have been summarised in the following storymaps. Press on the picture to access the storymaps: About the project The BioBaltic project provides a platform for generating awareness of different bioeconomy models through peer-to-peer learning and building networks across Baltic and Nordic countries. This collaboration will enable knowledge generation and exchange on different aspects of the bioeconomy transition, including financing aspects, industrial partnerships and symbiosis or the opportunities of digitalisation. Project partners from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are running so-called “Mobile Learning Hubs” and the overall project is coordinated by Nordregio. Funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the project runs from October 2021 until September 2023.
Nordregio celebrates its 25th anniversary
On 15 June, Nordregio gathered the Nordic family and friends from the world of urban planning and regional development to celebrate its 25th Anniversary. More than 100 guests were happy to meet physically and mingle in sunny Hörsalen, Nordregio’s classical meeting hall. The feeling of revival post-Covid was very present as we listened to greetings from Swedish Ministers for Regional development and Nordic collaboration, encouraging us to keep up our work for more research-based policymaking and Nordic knowledge exchange. Filmed on tour by bike, Nordic Council of Ministers’ Secretary-General Paula Lehtomäki emphasized our important role in researching solutions for a more effective and just green transition in line with the Nordic Vision 2030. Live speakers included Katarina Fellman, board member and Director of Åsub/Statistics Åland, and three of our Senior Research Fellows (Mats Stjernberg, Anna Lundgren and Elin Slätmo) looking back to 1997 and gazing into the future of regional studies – urban and rural. This was followed by a very interactive map quiz session hosted by our Head of GIS, Thomas Jensen. Clearly, the world has changed quite a bit since 1997. Katarina Fellman recalled some hard work done to deliver the new institute in parallel with her first baby and said that growth and development had been impressive with both parties. Nordregio has moved from a limited team focusing on spatial planning systems and regional governance to a full house of 48 employees, covering all aspects of sustainable regional development and planning: green transition, social and digital inclusion, and economic competitiveness. Skills provision and green value creation in rural regions are emerging topics, as well as digital solutions for healthcare and care. At the same time, our urban areas strive to be healthier and more inclusive. Future solutions must be green, smart, and place-based, continuously developed in dialogue…
Ministers: “It’s important that people have access to key services wherever they live. “
What’s required for Nordic rural areas to be attractive places to live, settle and work in? The Nordic ministers responsible for regional policy want to know how young people in sparsely populated areas would answer that question. At the Minister’s meeting on the 10th of May, Nordregio’s two research projects were discussed: essential services in rural areas and remote work. The ministers reviewed new innovative solutions that are emerging around the Nordic Region to safeguard essential services in sparsely populated areas. At the meeting, the ministers also brought with them examples from their countries on new ways of safeguarding the public and private services, thereby increasing public confidence that it’s possible to invest, live, and work in sparsely populated areas. “It’s important that people have access to key services wherever they live. Throughout the Nordic Region, we’re seeing interesting examples of grouping services into service points and that new digital services are making everyday life easier for rural residents. It gives people security and is a prerequisite for them to be able to live wherever they want,” says Sigbjørn Gjelsvik, Norway’s Minister of Local Government and Regional Development and host of the Nordic ministerial meeting on 10 May. The distance to the nearest grocery store, pharmacy, library, or school gradually increases the closer you live to the northern borders of Sweden and Finland, and the further west from Copenhagen you live in Denmark. In Norway, the geographical patterns aren’t as clear, but even here there are large differences between the municipalities in sparsely populated areas and large cities. A new knowledge overview Essential rural services in the Nordic Region by Nordregio describes the fundamental need for services in rural areas in the Nordic Region and was the basis for the ministers’ discussion. Swedish service points and Danish education for…