Soon 100% electric cars on the Arctic Race of Norway

September 27 th 2021 - 09:30

© A.S.O.

How do you equip a cycling race with only electric cars, in a region lacking electric charging stations? Against all odds, the Arctic Race of Norway has become the professional cycling race with the largest number of electric cars in the world. This required a combination of innovation, cooperation, and will. The goal is now to become one of the most sustainable cycling races in the world, and to use 100% by 2022.

All cycling teams equipped with electric cars

"If we want to reach the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting global warming, everyone has to contribute, including sports events," says Knut-Eirik Dybdal, director of the Arctic Race of Norway. As the riders prepared to start the eighth edition of the Arctic Race of Norway in Tromsø this year, 65 Hyundai fully electric cars were part of the race. Each cycling team was given two electric cars, as were the vehicles for race management, assistance, and some of the organization's members. "The feedback from the teams was positive, the cars provided were perfectly adapted. In addition, several teams have said that it is positive that the Arctic Race of Norway is taking a broader responsibility for the environment. They have appreciated being involved in this project," says Dybdal.

Collaboration at the heart of the project

Cycling teams usually participate in European events with their own vehicles. Due to the remote location of the Arctic Race of Norway, all cars are provided to the teams by Hyundai, Official Partner of the race. When preparing for the 2019 edition, which was held in the Lofoten, Vesterålen and Ofoten regions, Hyundai and the Arctic Race management came up with the idea of introducing electric cars. 46 electric cars were ready for the race that year. A practical question was immediately raised: where and how to charge so many cars? With so few electric charging stations in the region, it was crucial to find a solution to charge more than 40 electric cars in one place at one time. When contacted, the region's electricity producers jointly proposed, with Fortum's help, the installation of three mobile charging trailers. These could follow the race overnight, and be connected to the local high-voltage grid at the appropriate locations. "It was great to see how normally competing companies worked together to develop a solution that benefited the entire region," says Dybdal.

A new business is born

The collaboration has been so successful that in 2020, the electricity producers joined forces to create a joint company, Fri Energi, whose goal is to develop electric mobility solutions. The company is owned by Nordkraft Prosjekt AS, Andøy Energi AS, Vesterålskraft AS, Trollfjord AS, Lofotkraft Muligheter AS and Arctic Sport AS. Ida Texmo Prytz, Grid Director of Hålogaland Kraft Nett (the company managing Nordkraft’s electricity network), chairs Fri Energi’s board. According to her, Fri Energi is developing new opportunities for value creation and new green jobs. "We aim to create value in the north. Through this regional cooperation, we will continue to develop mobile charging solutions in various sectors. Green competitiveness is a priority area for the national authorities. With the establishment of Fri Energi, we are taking a decisive step forward in the green shift," says Ida Texmo Prytz.

Further support in 2021

In 2021, nine faster mobile chargers developed by the Finnish company Kempower were added to the three charging trailers used in 2019. A 12-person charging team was responsible for setting up the chargers, connecting them to the local power grid, and supervising all 65 electric cars used for the Arctic Race of Norway 2021. To provide power to the chargers on the first three stages, Fri Energi partnered with grid company Arva, owned by the electricity producer Troms Kraft. "As one of the largest hydroelectricity producers in Northern Norway, we want to contribute to the transition to always more renewable energy. We therefore wholeheartedly support the idea of the Arctic Race of Norway becoming a bicycle race that uses only electric cars," said Stein Gunnar Bondevik, director of communication and external relations at Troms Kraft. In connection with the finish of the race in Harstad, the grid company Hålogaland Kraft Nett was responsible for the power supply in cooperation with power producer Nordkraft.

Eco Lighthouse environmental label

As part of this extensive project to develop its electric fleet, the Arctic Race of Norway has initiated a more comprehensive approach and has obtained the Eco Lighthouse (Miljøfyrtårn) environmental certification in 2021. This is the most recognized environmental certification system in Norway, which demonstrates the commitments made by the race to reduce its impact on the environment. "Through the establishment of a 100% electric car fleet, we affirm our ambition to become the most sustainable bicycle race in the world. Many conditions must be met to achieve this goal. Thanks to the Eco Lighthouse label, we have gained a better understanding of what is needed. We have also put in place strategies and procedures that will lead us to our goal," explains Dybdal.  

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