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KTH Energy Platform Director looks back on the past year

Two persons on a bench.
Energy Platform’s Deputy Director Christophe Duwig and Director Lina Bertling Tjernberg at Tekniska museet for this year’s live broadcast of KTH Energy Dialogue.
Published Dec 10, 2020

Hi there Lina Bertling Tjernberg, KTH Energy Platform Director. 2020 has been an unusual year - how has it affected your activities?

“We were clear early on that in line with health authorities’ recommendations we wouldn’t have any physical meetings, thereby minimizing the infection risk. It was a difficult decision because our activities are based on creating an open and inclusive place for people to meet. We also supported a special appeal made by all research platforms to support initiatives during the corona crisis.

“As a teacher, the changes have been challenging and many people have been frustrated because it’s been difficult to plan teaching. It’s probably been most difficult for our researchers who do experimental work. KTH President was clear that all lab activity would continue and we’d like to congratulate all those who worked hard to push their research forward.”

What’s been lost by not being able to meet physically, and how has this affected research?

“It’s actually one of the biggest lessons of the year: how important meeting in person is for research. Meeting in person gives us the energy and fibre that is so stimulating and creates new ideas. Of course, it’s possible to go completely digital, but we lose the dialogue that happens at short, impromptu meetings in corridors or by the coffee machine. Furthermore, we need to meet across national borders to find out about each other’s progress.

“So many of us have worked hard to ensure that our foreign researchers, doctoral students, and postdoctoral fellows are able to come here and continue their work. It hasn’t been an easy year either for them or for those of us who have done everything we can to be understanding and to support them.”

Despite the lack of physical meetings, you’ve held several events during the year, including live digital broadcasts such as KTH Energy Dialogue. How is planning going for next year?

“Digital has given us the opportunity to widen our reach, including to those who want to attend our events but are unable to travel. However, creating digital meeting places has also required more preparation and access to technical expertise. Digital has also opened up new ways to better document our activities. Next year, I’m looking at how we can create hybrid solutions where attendees can participate how they want. My colleague Christophe Duwig already did this earlier this year when he made a virtual presentation of research results possible in conjunction with KTH Energy Dialogue.”

“Next year’s KTH Energy Dialogue will take place here in Nymble at the main KTH campus, on November 18, 2021. During the event, we hope to provide the same inspiration we saw this year when we highlighted our major research projects and collaborations. This year’s KTH Energy Dialogue showcased the enormous breadth we have to our research and the major technology solutions we work with to create a more sustainable future.”

Next year sees the launch of, among other things, a workshop on January 26th on Sweden’s national electrification strategy, what will be happening then?

“We’ve decided to hold a national workshop so that the research community can provide input to work on the national electrification strategy. There’s some great work being done by a large number of knowledgeable researchers who need an opportunity to contribute, including to the electrification of transport, capacity challenges, charging infrastructure, and how we can shift the energy system to being renewable and sustainable.

“For the same reasons, we contributed to several referral responses on energy issues during the year. We see that our knowledge is needed and we need to become better at seizing opportunities to make it available. To this end, I also hope to be able to contribute more in my role as a member of the standing programme committee of the World Energy Council, (WEC), next year. The pandemic put this work on hold, but we’ll get this work going again next year. We also have a start-up seminar in January - we’ll be sending out invitations in due course!”

This year’s school visits were also held digitally - why has it been important to continue with these events?

“The visits give us the opportunity to reach out and inspire new collaborations across disciplines. We see how they spark new ideas and result in contacts between researchers who can benefit from one another’s knowledge in new collaborations. So far, we have received several applications to our internal calls for projects that can be traced to our open days. Christophe Duwig is responsible for these calls and we’ll be revealing more about them in future newsletters. 

“And lastly, I’d like to wish everyone a happy Christmas and a lovely break!"