Our modern societies would not function for a day without electricity, and out of the energy used by the human race, about 25% is in the form of electricity – the rest is in the form of heat or fuels for transport. Electricity is produced in a variety of ways: through the spinning of a turbine that is propelled by hot air obtained from the burning of coal, natural gas or even oil, or from the heat from a nuclear reaction in a nuclear power plant. Wind and hydro power plants also produce electricity through the spinning of a turbine, but here, no incineration is required and the “fuel” is clean and renewable, just naturally flowing in the atmosphere or in a river. In solar photovoltaic panels, electricity is produced when the sun’s rays separate small particles in the panel material and these are led from one side of the panel to the other, causing a current of charged particles. This current of particles is what we call electricity.
In the future, more and more of the services we need, such as transport and heating, will be powered by electricity. This is a good thing, because electricity is fairly easy to produce using emission-free, renewable energy sources (easier than heat or liquid or gaseous transport fuel that is). If we can produce electricity without emissions, and if we can drive our cars or heat our homes with the help of this emission-free electricity, then we are a lot closer to a carbon neutral society than we are today.
Today, almost one fourth of global electricity is produced using renewable energy sources. In the Nordic countries, the share of renewables in electricity production is greater, more than 70%, because there are ample hydro power resources in Sweden and Norway, and Iceland has both hydro and geothermal resources. In addition to renewable energy sources, also nuclear power and any production form that is equipped with so-called CCS, carbon capture and storage, are emission-free. The share of emission-free electricity globally is 33% and in the Nordics it is 93%.