Clean heating – green electricity

Clean heating – green electricity

In 2020, Norway will become the first country in Europe to introduce a ban on heating with fossil fuels. The ban means that all energy used to heat buildings in Norway will become green.

Heating with fossil fuels is on its way out in Norway. After having been heavily reduced in recent years, fossil fuel heating will thus be a thing of the past from 2020. The Norwegian State has been preparing for this change for several years and has implemented numerous measures aimed at increasing the number of dwellings which are upgraded in an environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient direction. The measures introduced cover a wide range of initiatives from attitude campaigns to financial subsidy schemes, aimed at making homeowners appreciate the importance of the transition and providing them with incentives to modernise their own homes.

The private home in Western Norway has been through an extensive upgrading process

Renewable power

Norway is already at the forefront when it comes to environmentally-friendly electricity. Right since the 19th Century, Norway has exploited the energy inherent in renewable hydroelectric power and waterfalls. There are more than 1,500 hydroelectric power stations in total in Norway (, and renewable electricity today constitutes 98 per cent of the electricity systems in Norwegian dwellings ( This electricity is primarily generated from hydroelectric power. In the past ten years, wind power has also become part of the Norwegian power production, although it is still on a minor scale. Cutting fossil fuels completely by 2020 means that Norwegian dwellings will be heated by an environmentally-friendly and renewable energy source. At the same time, there is demand for renewable electricity in Europe. In several European countries, renewable electricity is often dependent on the weather and is a less stable energy source. Unlike water, sun and wind cannot be stored in the water reservoirs which form the principal basis for Norwegian hydroelectric power. In addition, the supply of hydroelectric power makes Norway the country in Europe with the lowest electricity prices.

Low emission society

The state enterprise Enova SF was set up in 2001. The object of the enterprise is to contribute to a conversion of energy consumption and energy production. The enterprise, which has, until now, been owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, will become part of the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment from the spring of 2018. Enova works for Norway’s transition to a low emission society. The transition requires that Norway cuts greenhouse gas emissions, ensures security of supply and creates new values. The enterprise therefore works to establish good solutions on the market and contributes to new energy and climate technologies. Enova annually invests more than two billion Norwegian kroner in good solutions which contribute to building the green Norway of the future. This is achieved through State subsidies for environmentally-friendly measures aimed at improving energy efficiency – to private individuals as well as trade and industry.

As one of these measures, the Norwegian State has set up the Enova subsidy scheme. This is rights-based scheme which makes it simple for Norwegian homeowners to receive a reimbursement for energy-efficient measures implemented in their homes. Through 15 different measures, Norway thus wishes to provide incentives for Norwegian homeowners to introduce measures that will contribute to climate-friendly and energy-efficient solutions.

“Since 2015, Enova has made NOK 250 million available a year to homeowners who implement large and small energy-efficient changes in their dwellings. A Norwegian household can receive a subsidy of up to NOK 200,000 for such modernisation. We’ve already come far in the transition and made it well known among the population,” says Tor Brekke, Senior Consultant in Enova SF.

Since the slender start in 2015, the disbursements have increased in line with people learning about the scheme, but there is still some way to go. In 2017, Enova disbursed NOK 165 million to private homeowners. This constitutes just over 70 per cent of the funds available. “The greatest challenge concerns dwellings from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. When renovating these dwellings, many of the homeowners have simply refurbished their dwelling without thinking about the environment or energy efficiency improvements. This is also the segment in which we find most of those who still heat their home with fossil fuels. Enova has extra focus on precisely these dwellings, but, also in this segment, our consultants find that people are positive about receiving advice and support,” says Brekke.

In a house in Western Norway, private homeowner Tor-Martin Kvalsund enjoys the view to the west towards the sea. The dwelling, which is located in the middle of an urban building plot, was built in 1981. After Kvalsund acquired the dwelling in 2015, it has been through an extensive upgrading process, which has included environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient and electricity-reducing measures. The result is that, after the upgrade, the electricity consumption of the dwelling has been halved compared with his previous dwelling – even though his current house is twice as large. His own experience from the electronical and automation industry as well as advice from the Enova energy consultant have helped in the process.

“When I bought the house, it was a real energy guzzler and ranked very low on the energy consumption efficiency scale. My objective was to reduce energy costs as much as possible. Today, the house covers most of its energy requirements from two wells, located around 15 metres from each other under the garage,” he says.

Modernisation and low electricity consumption

Kvalsund has been through the various recommended stages and has received a subsidy for energy consultancy, upgrading of the building envelope, balanced ventilation, water-borne heating, liquid-to-water heat pump and heating control system.

In an attempt to make the installations even more efficient, profitable and environmentally friendly, he has buried a ground collector in the ground outside the house. The plan is to trap solar energy, which will be stored in the top stratum of the ground in the garden outside the house. During the summer, the energy will then move from the top stratum down into the ground and provide heating for the two 130-metre deep wells.

A liquid-to-water heat pump, also known as a mountain heat pump, ground heat pump or sea heat pump, uses energy stored in the mountain, ground or sea to heat water for radiators or water-borne floor heating. Heating based on such a heat pump consumes less energy than when direct electricity is used. In addition to cutting costs, a solution based on water-borne heating will contribute to a good indoor climate by providing good even heating throughout the house.

“When the water circulates outside in the garden, it functions, in principle, a bit like a solar collector. This combination of heat pump, balanced ventilation and water-borne heating results in a highly pleasant indoor climate in the house,” says Kvalsund.

The greatest challenge concerns dwellings from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970sTor Brekke, Senior Consultant, Enova SF

Different measures which are subsidised for private households which modernise Norwegian dwellings:

Energy consultancy

Removal of oil stove and oil tank

Air-to-water heat pump

Liquid-to-water heat pump

Ventilating heat pump

Water-borne heating

Bio oven with water jacket

Bio boiler

Electricity production

Solar collector

Heat recirculation of greywater

Upgrading of building envelope

Balanced ventilation

Heating control system


Why should Norway focus on energy efficiency when it already has green electricity from renewable electricity sources such as hydroelectric power and wind power? Even though Norway has a high percentage of renewable electricity today, electricity consumption is also higher than previously. This concerns new value creation and electricity-intensive technology, and electricity consumption will only continue to increase in the years to come. The number of electrical cars is increasing rapidly. Electrically driven ferries are about to be introduced, robot-operated production is increasing, and many predict that the aeroplanes of the future will use electricity instead of fuel. If the large value creation provided by oil production today is to be replaced with other value creation in the long term, there will be a great need for electricity. This means that it is still an objective to reduce the use of electricity to heat buildings.

When Norwegian homeowners are met with a ban on heating with fossil fuels in 2020, the transition will probably be smooth. In practice, not many homeowners are still heating with fossil fuels. The demand is today so small that it may be difficult to find remaining suppliers on the market. The new ban will be enforced in the form of supervision.



Enova disbursed twice as much in subsidies for energy measures in dwellings in 2016 compared with the year before. A total of NOK 119 million was disbursed for nearly 6500 measures. The subsidy scheme is beginning to be well known in the population, and the growth continued throughout 2017. Last year, a total of NOK 165 million was disbursed in subsidies. Towards the end of the year, there was also an increase in the phasing out of oil-fired boilers.

Text: Tonje Pedersen, Apropos. Photography: Apropos