Green Tech Scandinavia
Green Tech Scandinavia

Scandinavia’s Pioneering Role in the Green Tech Revolution

For decades, people have lauded Scandinavia for its future-oriented outlook on how it approaches daily life. Strong social cohesion and a solid safety net have both helped to foster all kinds of innovation, and with many cities close to stunning natural scenery, it’s unsurprising that many people in the north have a close connection to the outdoors. 

With talks around what people and businesses can do to ensure a more sustainable future growing louder, it’s also not a huge shock that the Nordic region has been a pioneer in initiatives to help in this respect. Cities like Oslo and Stockholm have some of the cleanest air in Europe, and Iceland has managed to significantly increase its renewable energy output. 

Further south, Denmark has also introduced several initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions. Its capital city’s carbon neutral plan was ambitious, though it might take longer than expected. And of course, many of the country’s cities are well-known for their bicycle-friendliness. 

Heading into the future, and Scandinavia has played a significant role in the green tech revolution. Several start-ups are flourishing across the region, and urban planning has become smarter when looking at its potential impact. From wind energy to electric vehicles, this corner of the globe has lots to teach others. 

Today, we’ll look at what the Scandinavian countries – along with Finland and Iceland – are doing to help push the world toward a greener future. 

Why Scandinavia? 

Scandinavia isn’t the only region that has pushed toward a greener future, but each country is doing a much better job than many parts of the world. Several unique factors have helped Sweden, Norway, and Denmark – along with Finland and Iceland – to lead the way in green technology. 

We’ll go into more detail with specific green energy case studies in Scandinavia shortly, but let’s first highlight some key statistics and initiatives showing the commitment to sustainability. 

  • 47% of household waste in the Helsinki region is recycled. (
  • 50% of energy in Denmark comes from wind or solar power. (
  • 79.3% of new cars sold in Norway, in 2022, had 100% electronic batteries. (

Why does Scandinavia have the right environment for sustainable initiatives, though? Here are a few pointers. 

Strong Government Support 

Unlike many countries around the world, many people in Scandinavia have strong trust in their governments and institutions. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Denmark was the only EU country where trust in its government actually increased. In 2021, the country ranked 7 out of 10 for trust in government. 

Meanwhile, according to the OECD, 67% of people in Sweden said that they trusted their government in 2020 – much higher than the OECD average of 51%. 66% of Finns said that they trusted the government in 2021, and in the same year, that figure was 77% in Norway.

Several pointers could explain why people in the Nordics trust their governments more than other countries. It’s partly because politicians are held accountable, as we saw after the 2008 financial crisis in Iceland. Strong electoral participation and a history of coalition governments also play a role. Politics in Scandinavia is less about power, for the most part, and more about driving positive changes for the citizens of each country. 

Geographical Features 

Scandinavia is surrounded by natural beauty almost everywhere you go. The mountains and fjords of Norway need no introduction, and Sweden’s forests and lakes are also picturesque. Denmark lacks mountainous features but does have an abundance of stunning islands and beautiful beaches. With these landscapes, it’s hard not to be aware of your surroundings and want to protect them. 

Some Nordic countries, such as Norway and Iceland, have felt the effects of overtourism in recent years – which has threatened the very landscapes that people come to visit. With that in mind, more sustainable tourism approaches have been explored. The threats that could come with dramatic climate change are also difficult to ignore; in Denmark, for example, almost a quarter of the country is within 10 meters of sea level. 

Societal Awareness and Cohesion 

Janteloven does have its downsides, and some could argue that it can disincentivize people from achieving greatness at times. But one of its biggest benefits is that it promotes a collective mentality, and Scandinavian societies are some of the most cooperative that you’ll see anywhere. 

This desire to work together and improve everyone’s lives helps breed the right environment for long-term initiatives like sustainability. 

Safety Nets 

The Nordic model has gained a lot of attention worldwide for being able to blend economic growth with ensuring that people are looked after if they encounter difficulties. Knowing that your basic needs are met is a huge advantage for being able to innovate, especially when it comes to long-term initiatives like green tech. 

Thanks partially to the safety nets in place, entrepreneurs in Scandinavia have been able to have more time and attention to build start-ups that could potentially improve the green tech landscape in the future. 

Case Studies of Green Technology in Scandinavia 

Now that we know a bit more about the background of Scandinavia and sustainability, we can dig a little deeper into exactly how these countries are taking the initiative to promote a better environmental future. 

Sweden’s Ambitious Transition to Renewable Energy 

Sweden is Scandinavia’s largest country and has long been a driver for innovation in the region. It’s often looked at as one of the most outward-looking Scandinavian countries, with several famous Swedish companies – such as Spotify – making significant moves around the world. 

And now, the country was aiming for a big transition to renewable energy. As mentioned by, Sweden had planned to become carbon-neutral by 2040.

In 2021, the percentage of renewable energy in Sweden was 63%. Several initiatives have been put in place to help the country achieve this goal, such as the Sara Cultural Center in Skellefteå. Located in the north of the country, the building features both solar panels and electric batteries. The building, completed in 2021, cost over $100 million. 

Meanwhile, Stockholm has been running its buses on electricity since 2017 – which was eight years ahead of its initial target. And if you live in the southern city of Karlshamn, you can get your post delivered by electronic bikes. 

Norway’s Electric Vehicle Revolution 

Car travel is essential for getting around many parts of Norway, but the country has been active in limiting the environmental impacts of these vehicles. For example, the fast-growing capital Oslo has made many parts of the city center car-free. 

But what’s arguably even more impressive is that Norwegians are some of the biggest electronic vehicle users in the world. 20% of all of Norway’s cars are now electric, and several policies have helped encourage this trend. 

As an example to the above, the first 500,000 Norwegian Kroner (c.$49,586) on electric vehicles in Norway do not incur VAT when you buy them. On top of that, electric vehicles didn’t have road tax between 1996 and 2021 in the country. 

Norwegians with electric vehicles can also bring these onto ferries for 50% of what they would pay for other kinds of vehicles. And between 1999 and 2017, electric vehicles in Norway could enjoy free municipal parking. 

Denmark’s Wind Energy Success 

There aren’t a huge number of downsides to living in Denmark, but one of the least pleasant things is how bad the weather is for most of the year. More specifically, the wind can be brutal – especially during the winter. 

But one advantage of how windy Denmark is, is that it’s the perfect spot for some forms of renewable energy – more specifically, we’re talking about wind power. You won’t be surprised to hear that Denmark was the first country to make wind power commercially available. It was also the first country to install an offshore wind farm. 

Wind energy has become an important part of Denmark’s economy, as has renewable energy in general. Domestically, it has significant advantages. For example, the Kriegers Flak wind farm is located between Denmark, Sweden, and Germany – and was completed in 2021. This wind farm can provide energy to up to 600,000 households in Denmark; for context, the country’s current population is around 5.9 million. 

Denmark is home to several major renewable energy companies, such as Vestas Wind Systems. The company made over €14 billion in revenue in 2022, which – while not as profitable as in other years – is still pretty sizable. 

Locally, the Danish wind energy industry is vital for the country’s economy. In 2019, for example, over 30,000 people were employed within the sector. 

In addition to the growth in wind energy, fossil fuels aren’t as important as in other countries. For example, in 2022, these accounted for just 15% of energy usage in the country. 

Iceland’s Geothermal Energy

Being a remote island that’s three hours from mainland Europe and five hours from North America by plane, Iceland has always needed to be resourceful. The people who live there are some of the most inspiring that you’ll ever meet, and they’re a testament to how creative the human brain can be when it comes to solving problems. 

When it comes to natural resources, Iceland has an abundance. This is especially true when we look at geothermal energy; all you need to do is visit one of those hot springs to see what we’re talking about! 

Almost all of Iceland’s energy – around 99.8% – comes from renewable sources. These figures are roughly broken down as follows: 

  • Hydropower: 73%
  • Geothermal energy: 26.8%

Meanwhile, when talking just about central heating, 90% of that comes from geothermal energy. 

Copenhagen’s Public Transport Network

Copenhagen had ambitious carbon-neutral goals for 2025, which we’ll talk more about shortly. While it ultimately didn’t reach these, the Danish capital has still made significant progress toward a sustainable future. One visit will show you just how popular bicycles are here, for example. 

But even if you travel by public transport, you can still do your bit for the environment. Many of the buses in Copenhagen already run on electricity, as do the yellow harbor bus ferries in the city center. And by 2025, the municipalities of Copenhagen and Frederiksberg aim to have replaced all motor-powered buses with electric ones instead. 

The Role of Innovation and Start-ups 

Much of the innovation surrounding green tech in Scandinavia is being driven by ambitious start-ups and established companies alike. Initiatives like net neutrality require businesses to find market gaps and meet these needs, and those that have been around for a while will also need to adapt to changing policies. 

Let’s now have a look at some of the companies making a difference in the Scandinavian green tech scene. 

Voi Technology 

eScooters are far from perfect, and they can become a huge annoyance to residents. However, one positive of using them is that they are quite energy-efficient. Although Copenhagen has taken action to crack down on eScooters, you can find them in some parts – and Swedish company Voi is one of the suppliers. 

eScooters are more popular in Sweden, where you’ll especially find them in Stockholm and Malmö. Voi also operates in Helsinki, Oslo, Aarhus, and various other Nordic cities. Further afield, you can find these scooters in Belgium, the Netherlands, and numerous other European countries. 

Donkey Republic 

Donkey Republic is a bike rental service that was founded in Copenhagen in 2014. You’ll find these orange bikes across the city, and you can rent and return them using the app. The company has also expanded to numerous cities in Finland, most notably Turku and Porvoo. In Sweden, Donkey Republic is available in Malmö and a small selection of other spots. 

In addition to Copenhagen, Donkey Republic is in Aarhus, Odense, and numerous other Danish cities. And across Europe, you can use the service in the Netherlands, Belgium, and elsewhere. 

Donkey Republic has both normal bikes and eBikes. Over the course of 2023, it has rolled out many additional eBikes in Copenhagen. 


Ørsted is one of Denmark’s most recognizable energy companies, and it has made huge efforts toward sustainability in recent years. The company has announced its aims to stop using coal in its operations by 2025, and it previously aimed to reach net zero by the same year – though this later had to be postponed. 

The energy giant focuses on numerous green tech initiatives, too, such as solar energy and offshore wind solutions. 


Norway has also made moves in the renewable energy space, and NorSun is one of the country’s most promising green tech start-ups. Founded in 2005, the company – as you might have guessed from its name – focuses on the solar power sector. 

NorSun develops parts for solar energy frames, and it has received a grant from the EU’s Innovation Fund. In total, it has received over 500 million NOK in funding from different investors and companies.


Danish start-up Ento utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to help improve energy optimization. The tool integrates data from numerous points, such as solar panels and district heating. After collecting data, the Ento platform then shows where projects should be prioritized. 

Ento serves numerous industries, such as retail and manufacturing. Using the technology, it’s possible to see where savings can be made on energy – along with ensuring that not too much energy is used in certain places. 

Challenges and Future Directions 

Although the Scandinavian green tech revolution is very much underway, that’s not to say that there aren’t associated challenges that need to be addressed. First, let’s look at the potential difficulties that the region might face as we move toward a sustainable future. 


One of the biggest challenges that might impact Scandinavia’s role in the green tech revolution is money – as is the case in most places. Although the region is one of the wealthiest on the planet, businesses and policymakers still need significant investment to implement these new technologies. We saw how expensive the cultural center in Skellefteå was as one example, and each initiative will likely require the equivalent of millions of dollars. 

The climate of the Nordic region will also likely cause problems for the implementation of some green technologies here. Solar power is one clear example. Though the technology can work on cloudy days, it’s often not as good as when it’s sunny. 

This becomes a big challenge in the winter. Solar energy doesn’t work at night, and much of Scandinavia is covered in darkness from November to late February. In the arctic regions of Sweden and Norway, for example, the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon for over a month in some places. And in Denmark, much of the country has significant cloud cover – along with having short daylight hours. 

Although wind energy is reliable in many parts of the Nordics, solar power probably won’t be as much. Other sources, such as hydropower, will be important. 

Timescales are another challenge. Setting ambitious targets is a good thing, and it has helped many projects make more progress than would otherwise be the case. But in some cases, the timescales for goals have proven too much. For example, Copenhagen’s aim to become carbon-neutral by 2025 looks like it will be a step too far. 

Another challenge could be bureaucracy. While Nordic governments are pushing for a more sustainable future, a lot of paperwork goes into giving projects the green light. Moreover, some problems might take a while to find gaps to fill them. 

Future Plans and Ambitions for Green Tech in Scandinavia 

Okay, fine – there are challenges facing green tech in Scandinavia and the Nordics. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone is giving up and throwing in the towel. There are numerous plans and ambitions to make the region even more sustainable than is already the case, and these are a small selection. 


Gothenburg has been hailed as the world’s most sustainable destination in the past, and Sweden’s second-biggest city has an air of optimism whenever you visit. Its innovative locals have appreciated the outstanding natural beauty not far from the city center, and it’s unsurprising that sustainability is at the top of their minds. 

One ambitious project in the city is Citygate, which is primarily used for business. The building is the tallest office block in the Nordic region, and it will be powered completely from renewable sources. 


Finland has some of the world’s cleanest air, and that is particularly notable when you visit Helsinki. The country’s largest city is a hotbed of innovative ideas, and almost a decade ago, the Finnish capital made an ambitious move to remove cars from its city center streets in 2025. 

The route planner was intended to be a mobility-on-demand system, which would make it easier to get around the city. Although it hasn’t materialized, public transportation in Helsinki is excellent – and you’ll be able to get pretty much anywhere you need in the capital region with it. 

Urban Farming in Sweden 

Sweden was historically a rural country, and much of its population still lives outside of big cities. The country’s harsh climate makes growing vegetables difficult at many points in the year, but urban farming could provide a solution and limit the reliance on imported goods. 

Grönska in the Huddinge district of Stockholm is an indoor farming initiative that’s the largest of its kind in Europe. It aims to solve problems associated with importing vegetables, such as lower nutritional value and the energy consumed by transporting these goods around. 

Green Technology in Scandinavia is Booming, But It Has a Long Way to Go 

The Nordic countries have been pioneers when it comes to renewable energy. Denmark’s wind power success is one such example, and the total reliance on renewable sources from Iceland is another way to highlight the resourcefulness of people in this part of the world. Ambitious initiatives have been made to power big buildings in Sweden, and efforts to limit the amount of gas-guzzling vehicles on the streets have also been made. 

Of course, not everything is perfect. Several challenges, such as implementation and funding, could impact how quickly initiatives moved forward. But on a bigger level, the attempts the Nordic countries are making to push for a sustainable future could have bigger benefits further afield. 

Besides exporting ideas, showing the world how it could be done can inspire other nations and regions to make a bigger push for green technology and other sustainable practices.

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