NTNU and SINTEF in new national energy research effort

(16.02.2009) NTNU and SINTEF will be key players in six of the eight new national centres for environmentally friendly energy that were created by the Research Council of Norway in early February. “We are proud that we can contribute with our combined expertise to making the energy revolution possible”, NTNU Rector Torbjørn Digernes and SINTEF CEO Unni Steinsmo said.

Top management at NTNU and SINTEF praised the government, industry, and the Research Council of Norway for the decision to invest in eight new national "Centres for Environment-friendly Energy Research” (CEER).

SINTEF and NTNU are the host institutions for four of the eight centres, and will be partners in two others.

The Norwegian government has committed as much as NOK 1 billion for the centres over the next eight years, with another NOK 1 billion from industry, in accordance with both the national R&D strategy for energy, Energi21, and a broad-based political agreement on climate reached by the Storting in February 2008.

Cooperative between Industry and research
Digernes and Steinsmo are pleased that the national research effort on renewable energy will be undertaken in centres where research and industry work together on common problems. Each centre consists of several research institutions and industrial enterprises, with the potential to add more partners over time.

The two leaders believe that Norway should invest in technologies where the country already has strong expertise. The model created by the government takes this approach, the two said.

Important global contributions
“The development of this technology is one of most important contributions that Norway can make to the world on climate issues”, Steinsmo and Digernes add.

“The new centres will be very important in Norway's international climate efforts. The Trondheim research community is already collaborating extensively on climate research with leading groups in Europe, USA and China /Japan. We will now build on this and develop both the technology and awareness of what will be needed for an energy revolution.”

Substantial emissions cuts
“We will work with our partners to ensure that Norway and the global community get the most return from our efforts. Norway in its role as a provider of cutting-edge research and technology can contribute to global emission cuts that are many times greater than the cuts we can make here in Norway alone", the two leaders said.

This goal will be achieved through three main strategies:

  • A sharp increase in the production of electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass.
  • The capture and storage of CO2 emissions from the use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.
  • More efficient end use of energy (energy efficiency).

New industry, new revenue
The centres were selected by the Research Council of Norway based on the applicants’ expertise and the opportunities the different groups offered for value creation and innovation.

The centres are expected to develop technological breakthroughs in renewable energy, but the initiative will have the added benefit of building the nation’s academic expertise by adding new positions for PhDs, postdocs and researchers.

“This new environmental effort that the government is financing will stand or fall based on our ability to continually bring forward new professionals with the skills we need”, Digernes and Steinsmo stressed.

High quality applications
The research council chose 12 applications for its “final round” of evaluations.

Digernes and Steinsmo stressed that all applications were very high quality, and involved considerable work. The result was that different research and industry groups established cooperative efforts on various aspects of environmentally friendly energy. NTNU and SINTEF are hopeful that this effort can continue, even for centre applications that were not selected for the final round.

“These applications are of such high quality that it will be important to make use of these efforts in other ways. We are happy to work with the Research Council and industry to determine how this can be achieved”, Steinsmo and Digernes said

“One important aspect is to make sure that we keep the community perspective in mind. This will be crucial in ensuring that we make the kinds of changes a new sustainable energy regime will require”, the two added

The following new centres include NTNU and SINTEF as leaders or partners:

  • Research Centre for Offshore Wind Technology.
    Host organization: SINTEF Energy Research
    Centre leader: John Olav G Tande
  • BIGCCS Centre - International CCS Research Centre
    Host organization: SINTEF Energy Research
    Centre leader: Nils A. Røkke
  • CEDREN – Centre for Environmental Design of Renewable Energy
    Host organization: SINTEF Energy Research
    Centre leader:Atle Harby
  • CenBio – Bioenergy Innovation Centre
    Host organization:University of Life Sciences - UMB
    Centre leader: Lars Sørum
  • ZEB – The Research Centre on Zero Emission Buildings
    Host organization: NTNU
    Centre leader: Anne Grete Hestnes, NTNU
  • The Norwegian Research Centre for Solar Cell Technology
    Host organization: IFE
    Centre leader: Erik Stensrud Marstein