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Stronger together: the University of Bergen (UiB), Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL), the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) and NORCE have joined together to create Energiomstilling VEST. Pictured (R-L): Gunnar Eskeland (NHH), Jens Kristian Fosse (HVL), Kristin Guldbrandsen Frøysa (UiB), Aina Margrethe Berg (NORCE), Geir Anton Johansen (HVL), Leif K. Sandal (NHH) og Gunn Mangerud (UiB). Photo © Jens H. Ådnanes, UiB
Academics in Greater Bergen have launched a new partnership, aimed at helping the world to shift to clean energy sources such as solar and wind.
The city’s four major research institutions – the University of Bergen, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, the Norwegian School of Economics, and NORCE – have come together to form a new knowledge cluster.
The Energiomstilling VEST (Energy Transformation WEST) cluster launched recently an event at the University of Bergen’s grand hall, including speeches, panel debates and even competitions.
Students competed to come up with the best, most creative and most viable ideas linked to energy transformation, while primary school students drew pictures of what they thought energy systems would look like in future.
Going forwards, the four research institutions will work together to spread knowledge about clean energy, and help the public sector and industry to go from fossil fuels to climate-friendly power sources.
Writing in a comment piece, the partners stated: “Our institutions make up a knowledge bank. We want the rest of society to capitalize on this bank.”
Students were challenged to come up with ideas for energy transformation. The winning teams (pictured here) received prizes during the Energiomstilling VEST launch event. Photo © Jens H. Ådnanes, UiB
Seeing the bigger picture
It’s no secret that the world’s climate is changing – and countries across the world are scrambling to hold temperature increases below 1.5 degrees, in order to avoid massive upheaval to our economies and to people’s lives.
The UN has stated that in order to achieve this ambitious target, the world will need abandon fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.
However, Greater Bergen’s research institutions believe that these technologies should be seen as part of a much bigger picture.
“National energy systems are shaped by the interaction between technology, resources (coal, gas, oil, hydropower, solar, wind, biomass), politics, culture, land use and the country’s financial situation,” they write.
Energiomstilling VEST will therefore bring technologists together with legal experts, economists, sociologists and psychologists, in order to better understand how societies are affected by energy change. This includes looking at negative impacts such as layoffs in certain industries.
Overall, the researchers hope to use this knowledge to guide countries around the world as they seek to move away from fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas.
Zero-emissions by 2030: Natalia Golis (MDG), the Deputy Mayor of Vestland County Council, stated that the county will be emissions-free by 2030. “We need education in order to meet the need for restructuring, and a politics that is built on knowledge and expertise that we don’t have as politicians.”
Greater Bergen’s strong research environment
Greater Bergen’s four major research institutions are already involved in climate and sustainability research. Together, the organizations are responsible for a number of initiatives:
- Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research – This centre aims to better understand the climate, for the benefit of society. A partnership between NORCE, the University of Bergen, the Institute of Marine Research and the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center.
- Bergen Offshore Wind Center – Run by the University of Bergen, this centre’s aim is to coordinate and strengthen research into offshore wind energy. The centre focuses on the mapping of wind resources, wind farm site selection, and wind farm operations.
- Ocean Sustainability Bergen – The centre at the University of Bergen that works with partner institutions worldwide on ocean science and education. It also coordinates activities relating to the University’s status as the Hub for SDG 14: Life below water.
- Energy, Natural Resources and the Environment – Based at the Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen, researchers in this centre cover climate change, energy markets, and the management of renewable and non-renewable resources.
With the launch of the new Energiomstilling VEST knowledge cluster, the exciting energy research environment in Greater Bergen is sure to gain even greater momentum.
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