Successful summer course

Successful summer course

Top image: Students investigating the new solar panels at Linken. Longyearbyen is experiencing a shift from being a coal mining town to using new renewable energy sources. Photo: Lars Henrik Smedsrud/UNIS

The course name might be a mouthful, but the content is crucial as Longyearbyen soon will shift from being a coal mining town to using new renewable energy sources. Here’s a recap of the summer course in Sustainable Arctic Energy Exploration and Development.

7 July 2021
Text: Maria Philippa Rossi

The Arctic is rapidly warming, and Svalbard is seeing less sea ice and snow, warmer winters and melting permafrost. The use of fossil fuel is a major contributor, but there is a shift underway.  The aim of the course is to provide an interdisciplinary survey of tools for assessing the merit, challenges and risks of different potential renewable energy exploration and development choices.

During the course the students acquired knowledge about present energy use and production in Longyearbyen. They got insight into present challenges in Arctic energy supply and use, and had interesting lectures on solar- and wind power and marine energy. The students also learnt about hydrogen as an energy carrier and geothermal energy. The latter has great potential locally in Longyearbyen.

Students visiting the operating mine in Barentsburg. Photo: Lars Henrik Smedsrud/UNIS

Students visiting the operating mine in Barentsburg. Photo: Lars Henrik Smedsrud/UNIS

As with all UNIS courses, field work and visits are an important part of the learning outcome. Students went on a hike to Linken across from Longyearbyen to inspect a new solar power installation run by K-Sat.

In Svalbard, the energy has come from coal for the last century. An important part of the course is a trip to the operating coal mine in Barentsburg.

Discovering future energy supplies

Many small Arctic townships depend on diesel generators for both heat and electricity. This is also the case for the Ny-Ålesund research stations. The students went for a field visit to explore what possibilities there are for future energy use.

Svalbardhallen is a popular place for the local residents for recreational sports, climbing or a comfortable dip in the pool. The students met with Dag Arne Husdal. He explained how it has been possible to reduce the hall’s energy use by 50% over a couple of years by using heat pumps and control of air-exchange more effectively.

Ready, set, bicycle! Students visiting Svalbardhallen

Ready, set, bicycle! Students visiting Svalbardhallen to learn how they’ve cut their energy needs i half. Photo: Lars Henrik Smedsrud/UNIS

“It is a very meaningful course to run, as many actors in Longyearbyen are now working on this problem” – says Adjunct Professor Lars H. Smedsrud.

He has enjoyed visiting UNIS regularly over many years.

“Normally I research and teach on how Global warming affects our climate system. Here the students get to work hands on with the solutions to the problem, and we can experience the practical challenges so directly.”

Group work final reports summer 2021:

Feasibility of local sustainable food production in Longyearbyen through geothermal energy supply
Hydrogen storage for different energy supply and demand scenarios in Longyearbyen
Social Acceptance of the Energy Transition in Longyearbyen
Opportunities for thermal energy storage in Longyearbyen
The reliability of wind power in the Longyearbyen area

Read more about AGF-353/853 Sustainable Arctic Energy Exploration and Development

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