Norway to fund 8 new centres for Environment – friendly Energy Research

NSP image 06-06-2016

The Research Council of Norway has granted funding to 8 new centres for Environment- friendly Energy Research. Each new centre is guaranteed an annual funding for up to eight years. The total annual allocations from the Research Council to the centres will be roughly NOK 160 million.

The centres were selected on the basis of scientific merit, potential for innovation and value creation, and the extent to which they fulfill government targets relating to energy and greenhouse gas emission.

The 8 new Centres will start up in 2017 – and be fully operating from 2018. The Centres will work to reduce greenhouse gas emission in Norway and inrenationally, utilise energy more efficently, and increase the production of renewable energy. The Centres will also has as a task to disseminate the results of their research and contribute to a knowledge-based debate on environment-friendly energy.

Long-Term Initiative

The funding of the centres is a long-term initiative from the Research Council to generate solutions to climate – and energy- related challenges and promote industrial development. The centres comprise dynamic research groups and a large number of user partners from trade and industry and the public sector. The user partners will take active part in the centres management, financing and research activities.

The long-term perspective for each centre provide greater opportunity to achieve valuable results in the field of energy and climate research – results that can also be applied in trade and industry for added value. The long-term initiative is designed an build upon:

  1. Long-term Perspective
  2. Stable financial framework
  3. Outstanding research environments
  4. Industrial actors
  5. Public administration
  6. Cooperation between research, Industry and public administration

 The 8 new centres for Environment-friendly Energy Research:

Centre:   (1) Norwegian CCS Research Centre –
Focus Area: Co2 – capture, transport and storage
Research: SINTEF Energy Research
Industry: 25 Partners

 

Centre:   (2) Norwegian Research Centre for Hydropower Technology
Focus Area: –          Develop Hydropower technology for the future

–          New solutions for utilising flexible hydropower

Research: Norwegian University of science and Technology (NTNU)
Industry: 31 Partners

 

Centre:   (3) Norwegian Centre for Sustainable Bio-based Fuels and Energy
Focus Area: –          Develop technology for second-generation biofuels

–          Achieve 30 per cent reduction in production cost

Research: Norwegian University of Life Science (UMB)
Industry: 40 Partners

 

Centre:   (4) Centre for Intelligent Electricity Distribution
Focus Area: –          Modernisation of the electricity grid (Flexibility, Efficiency)

–          Enable the grid to handle interactions with renewable energy

Research: SINTEF Energy Research
Industry: 26 Partners

 

Centre:   (5) Centre for an Energy Efficient and Competitive Industry for the future
Focus Area: Raising energy efficiency in Norwegian Industry
Research: SINTEF Energy Research
Industry: 36 Partners

 

Centre:   (6) Research Centre for Sustainable Solar Cell Technology
Focus Area: –          Production of silicon-based solar cells

–          Developing the world’s most environment-friendly process

Research: Institute for Energy Technology (IFE)
Industry: 15 Partners

 

Centre:   (7) Mobility Zero Emission Energy Systems
Focus Area: –          Energy for the transport sector (Hydrogen + Batteries)

–          Business models for zero-emission transport

Research: Institute for Energy Technology (IFE)
Industry: 38 Partners

 

Centre:   (8) The Research Centre for Smart Cities
Focus Area: –          Solutions for zero-emission zones in smart cities

–          Renewable energy benefit for local environment

Research: Norwegian Univercity of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Industry: 32 Partners

 

Proactive integration of environmental protection and renewable development

There is often seen to be a conflict between conservation charities and renewable developers. In the UK the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is often perceived as one of the more vocal of these charities, with wind farms and associated bird displacement and strikes being one of the most of controversial issues.

However, in a newly released report “The RSPB’s 2050 energy vision” UK wide spatial analysis is undertaken, proactively identifying sites for renewable development which would have a low ecological impact (see Figure 1).

ERI image v2

Figure 1. Indicative areas of opportunity for the deployment of renewable technologies in the UK with low/unknown ecological sensitivity, taking into account physical constraints, policy constraints and areas of high/medium ecological sensitivity. Image taken from The RSPB’s 2050 Energy Vision.

The report raises three key points for renewable energy in Scotland:

  • Onshore wind, which has already shown strong progress in Scotland, could continue to develop in harmony with nature. Up to 41 TWh/year could be generated if carefully planned, more than trebling generation from 2014 levels. Repowering existing well planned sites may be an opportunity to increase capacity at low ecological impact.
  • There is very limited capacity for fixed offshore wind (up to 2.3 GW installed capacity) in shallow waters without significant risks to wildlife, unless knowledge of impacts improves, enabling ecologically sustainable development. In the long term, however, there is vast potential for floating wind in deeper waters.
  • There are also large areas potentially suitable for wave energy generation at low ecological risk, if the industry is supported to enable commercialisation.

Additionally, the report suggests Scotland could increase its solar production to 30 times its current level. However, the low power density of this resource in Scotland, coupled with large reductions in subsidy levels, means exploitation on this scale is unlikely.

Overall, the report has been well received by the renewable industry in Scotland, with Scottish Renewables (the representative body of the Scottish renewable energy industry) describing it as “positive”. Lindsay Roberts, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables describes the research as clearly showing: “that meeting our renewable energy targets and protecting our natural environment can go hand-in-hand.”

Such studies pre-emptively identifying areas which are environmentally unsuitable for renewables should help streamline the consenting process; with opposition on environmental grounds being decreased, reducing time and costs for developers. As such initiatives like this should be encouraged; however, the findings should be treated with caution. In this instance the huge reliance on floating offshore wind to create large headline figures should be noted; floating offshore wind accounts for ~90% of the resource identified. Such heavily reliance on floating wind should be treated with caution as although it certainly has huge potential the development of the world’s first commercial site is only just beginning Scotland. So as always, particularly on a 2050 timeframe, studies should be treated with scepticism but this study is certainly a proactive step forward in the relationship between one of the UK’s major conservation charities and the renewable sector.

For greater details on the report visit: http://www.rspb.org.uk/whatwedo/projects/details.aspx?id=350939