Svalbard will be a showcase for renewable energy solutions in the Arctic

Longyearbyen summer

Top image: Longyearbyen and Svalbard are facing an energy transition. This is the background for the cooperation agreement between UNIS, Store Norske and SINTEF. Photo: Graham Gilbert/UNIS.

Longyearbyen and Svalbard are facing a huge energy transition. UNIS, Store Norske and SINTEF have therefore entered into an agreement on strategic cooperation within renewable energy systems adapted to Arctic conditions. The goal is to make Svalbard a showcase for renewable energy solutions in the Arctic.

15 March 2022
Press release from UNIS, Store Norske and SINTEF

The background for the collaboration is the future energy transition in Svalbard and in Longyearbyen, which can be briefly described as “from coal to zero” (CO2 emissions). The partners will contribute to an energy supply that creates robust Arctic communities.

Solar -, wind – and geothermal energy

Among the topics the parties will work closely on in the future are local energy production, with a focus on solar, wind and geothermal heat, future energy storage where batteries, thermal and renewable energy carriers are the focus areas, and management of hybrid energy solutions.

Today’s government platform with the “green industrial boost” as one of the main goals, gives clear signals about the way forward. This will affect both education and research, and how innovation and business development will take place – also in Svalbard.

An investment in renewable energy systems and how these will work in our vulnerable nature will be an increasingly clear profile at UNIS, which has between 700-800 students annually from more than 40 nations.

“To offer this type of research / researcher education (both master’s and doctoral education) we believe will increase the attractiveness even more, just think about what exposure we will get through publishing this internationally! UNIS will take responsibility for educating candidates with relevant Arctic competence that will influence the global ripple factor of the energy transition in Longyearbyen”, says director of UNIS, Jøran Moen.

New research centre

The partners already have significant activity in the area, but now see the need to accelerate and strengthen their efforts. In the long term, the ambition is to formalize the collaboration through the establishment of a research centre in Longyearbyen and associated laboratory and test/pilot infrastructure. But before we get there, the agreement is now about working more closely and more coordinated with the development of various projects and attracting more partners.

“We at SINTEF look forward to contributing our expertise to deliver new environmentally friendly technology. We have 72 years of experience with research and innovation where energy system, technology and business development run in parallel. Now there are several hundred researchers with us who work with relevant issues, it would have been good if some of these could have conducted their research here on Svalbard and contributed to the restructuring here”, says research director Jack Ødegård in SINTEF.

“A zero-emission energy system adapted to Arctic conditions represents a ‘fruit platter’ of opportunities for researchers and companies that want to set a clear agenda for the green shift. This change will also apply to Svalbard. And, not least, these new solutions will be robust so that they can lead to industrialization and thus become an exciting international market for the right players. Store Norske will be such a player that takes the investment seriously”, says CEO Jan Morten Ertsaas of Store Norske.

Group photo of collaboration partners UNIS, Store Norske and SINTEF
Energetic cooperation. Front from left: Anna Sjöblom (Professor UNIS), Jack Ødegård (research director SINTEF), Gijs Breedveld (research leader, UNIS). Back from left: Jøran Moen (director UNIS), Jan Morten Ertsaas (CEO SNSK), Guttorm Nygård (head of energy SNSK). Photo: Elisabeth Aasland Moen/UNIS.


About UNIS
The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) in Longyearbyen is the world’s northernmost educational institution. UNIS teaches and researches Arctic biology, geology, geophysics, and technology. UNIS has approx. 800 students each year and 100 employees. Contact: Jøran Moen, director at UNIS, tel.: 915 56 414.

SINTEF is one of Europe’s largest research institutes, with multidisciplinary expertise in technology, natural sciences, and social sciences. SINTEF is an independent foundation that since 1950 has created innovation through development and research assignments for business and the public sector at home and abroad. Contact: Jack Ødegård, Research Director, SINTEF, tel.: 930 59 461.

About Store Norske
Store Norske was established in 1916 and has been a cornerstone company on Svalbard for over a hundred years. The company is state-owned and subordinate to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Store Norske’s operations consist of mining, development and management of residential and commercial real estate, energy, and logistics. Contact: Jan Morten Ertsaas, CEO of Store Norske, tel.: 909 13 585.

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