– This discussion didn’t even exist two years ago – and now it’s suddenly a realistic solution, tells Hampus Alfredsson, a researcher at RISE’s (Research Institutes of Sweden) Electromobility Unit.
Hampus Alfredsson is involved in several electric flight projects in Sweden. Alfredsson, who holds a M.Sc. specializing in energy systems, is greatly interested in and has previous experience of the electrification, energy supply and charging infrastructure of electric vehicles. He is involved in the NEA project (Nordic Network for Electric Aviation), which was launched in October 2019. Alfredsson also runs a strategic initiative for electric flights at RISE.
Alfredsson was invited as a speaker at Energy Week in Vaasa in March with respect to the Kvarken region’s own FAIR project which currently has its funding application being processed by Interreg Botnia-Atlantica, the Regional Council of Ostrobothnia and Region Västerbotten (The event has been rescheduled and will be organized on 15–18 March 2021 *) . The FAIR- project will be launched already in May 2020 if it receives funding. The project’s goal is to create synergy between other electric flight projects with the purpose of together increasing knowledge of the potentials of electric flights and also of accelerating the implementation of regional electric flights and initiating cross-border innovation processes in relation to these.
NEA – one of the projects to create synergies with
– The NEA project continues until spring 2022 and enjoys broad representation from all the Nordic countries, Alfredsson tells. Aircraft manufacturers, airlines and airports participate in the project, which has four different areas of focus.
Firstly, to develop standards for the infrastructure of electric-powered flights. Secondly, to extract new business models made possible by them. One of the advantages of electric flights is the independence from the current centralized system where aviation hubs are formed by capitals. Another is the possibility to create new, direct and shorter routes to smaller localities and between the Nordic countries.
– Thirdly, the NEA project focuses on the adaptation of electric flights to climate change in terms of our Nordic climate and the weather conditions during parts of the year, Alfredsson continues. And lastly, to build a cooperation platform at EU level and globally.
– The Nordic countries will be pioneers and simultaneously export our gathered knowledge to the world. The general transition to more sustainable air travel, focusing on electric-powered flights, will also be brought up during the presentation at the Energy Week in Vaasa.
– Interest in electric-powered flights has increased dramatically during the past year, also at political level.
There’s a lot going on right now, and Sweden is developing a passenger airplane prototype that can seat 19 passengers and has a maximal flight distance of 400 kilometers. It may not sound like much, but in Sweden this would cover about a third of all domestic flights and in Norway up to 50 percent, Alfredsson says and summarizes:
– In other words, we already have the potential to cover a part of all flights in the Nordic countries with electric-powered flights – and this potential will increase as battery technology develops.
There are several benefits – not least for the smaller airports who have also shown great interest in the topic. – We’re at an exciting stage, and I’m optimistic that electric flights will develop in the coming years much in the same way as electric cars have in the past decade, Alfredsson states.
* EnergyWeek announced new dates for the event 8th of April; new dates 15-18 March 2021 (www.energyweek.fi)
Text: Anna Sand Photo: Press photo