Russia, Norway to Develop Arctic Electric Road between Murmansk and Kirkenes

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Russia and Norway have agreed to build an “Arctic Electric Road” between their two countries, in a development that both provides greater connectivity and is eco-friendly. The Arctic Electric Road Project is a joint undertaking between the Murmansk Regional Government and officials in Norway and is on track to build an electric car charging infrastructure along the border highways between the two nations.

The initiative comes at the instigation of the Bellona Foundation, an independent Norweigan non-profit organization that aims to meet and fight the climate challenges, through identifying and implementing sustainable environmental solutions. The foundation has offices in Oslo, Brussels, Murmansk and St.Petersburg. The Arctic Electric Road project came about when in marking Russia’s Year of Ecology in 2017, Bellona donated an electric car charger to the city of Murmansk, the region’s first. And it was this project that gave rise to the Arctic Electric Road, a memorandum of understanding among Bellona, Murmansk, together with Norwegian energy company Varanger Kraft, to install chargers on the highway between Russia’s Arctic and Norway.

Rune Rafaelsen, the Mayor of Kirkenes on the Russian-Norwegian border, told reporters that his first trip by electric car to Murmansk had inspired him to take part in the project. “In the summer I first arrived with Bellona on an electric car from to Murmansk from Kirkenes, I promised that by the end of the year we would build a fast charging station in Kirkenes,” he said. “I am pleased to announce that in mid-December this year (2018) we will open this station.”

The electric charging facilities will be placed on the current route E105, a distance of 223km that typically takes 3 hours to drive.

It was Bellona’s persistence, said Rafaelsen, that had got the project off the ground. Next year, Varanger Kraft is slated to open another charger in Kirkenes, and yet another in the Northern Norwegian town of Vadsø.

The idea of building an electric car charging infrastructure is catching further south in the Murmansk region as well. Vadim Ulyanov, Director General of the Murmansk Region Development Corporation, told the round table that more e-car charging stations are under negotiation. These, he said, would be built with liasion with officials overseeing Russia’s vast federal filling station network with an eye toward positioning chargers on the roads between Murmansk and St Petersburg, 1,300 kilometers to the south. The first stations, said Ulyanov, would appear in the villages of Zelenoborsky, Monchegorsk and Polyarnye Zori.

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