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Sweden’s EU presidency and extensive co-operation key themes of the spring semester

A group of women.
The Kraftkvinnor association delegation during the EU Brussels visit in April. Photo: KTH
Published May 30, 2023

KTH’s Energy Platform organised several events during the spring, on topics such as fusion technology, solar energy and materials research to enable the energy transition. The Platform was also involved in EU debates and Brussels visits, and even something a little more unexpected: a TV reality series!

Hi there, Lina Bertling Tjernberg, Director of KTH’s Energy Platform. During the semester, Sweden has chaired the EU Council of Ministers; how has the Energy Platform been involved?

“It’s been a fantastic opportunity for Sweden, which, with its focus on solving the energy crisis, has for example pushed the issue of market design. The Swedish Parliament’s Committee on Trade and Industry hosted an inter-parliamentary EU conference entitled Challenges and Opportunities for the EU’s Future Energy Supply. I moderated a debate on the energy transition  with representatives from all Member States and young innovators. The debate made it clear how different our areas of focus are on the energy transition. My own conclusion was that we must accept that we think differently, so we can move forward together with that insight.”

“I also visited Brussels  with Kraftkvinnor. For two days, we met representatives from the EU Commission, the Council of Ministers, the EU Parliament and several organisations and businesses to discuss energy issues. I was particularly pleased to meet the EU’s energy commissioner Kadri Simson and have time to discuss current energy policy with her.”

“We also met ENTSO-E, a forum for all of Europe’s transmission network operators -
the infrastructure of our energy supply. The forum commissions joint studies on the long-term development of networks, which I can really recommend. In particular, I spoke with Sonya Twohig, ENTSO-E Secretary-General, about the historic moment on 16 March 2022 when Europe’s electricity grid was synchronously connected with that of Ukraine and Moldova. The fact that this was successful under her leadership was a major breakthrough and she’s a really big role model for me.”

KTH’s Energy Platform also organised several events in the spring term; tell us more!

“The year started with an exhibition held with the KTH Library  based on our anthology ‘ Towards the energy of the future – the invisible revolution behind the electrical socket’ . We also held a number of popular science lunch seminars.”

“Internally, we had two major events this semester: a seminar on fusion  to explore long-term investment in fusion technology; and a seminar on solar energy to encourage greater knowledge exchange and research collaboration at KTH. The solar seminar was a result of KTH Energy Platform’s work in recent years to find new forms of collaboration to strengthen our joint energy research. When we learn more about each other’s work, we can achieve more together.”

“In May, we arranged a seminar  together with the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) and KTH’s Materials Platform in which we took a broad approach to research that is underway to strengthen a sustainable energy transition. This was a popular event with participants joining in person and digitally.”

Co-operation with wider society is a key aspect of KTH’s Energy Platform mission; how has that looked?

“Energy continues to be a key issue in society, in business and political debate, which is why I spoke at Dagens Industri’s Framtidens Elmarknad and the SvD Energy Summit. The SvD event was preceded by an interview in which  we drew attention to the importance of basing decisions on knowledge rather than political ideologies.”

“The energy sector faces a major challenge in attracting skilled employees and several campaigns are underway to build awareness and attract people to the industry. One example was demonstrating expertise in the reality series Högspänning on Viaplay  which follows the everyday life of those working in energy supply and in the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise’s film celebrating entrepreneurship  together with Swedish TV chef Tareq Taylor; and in conversation with Annika Ramsköld, Sustainability Director, Vattenfall, in the Energy Studio: a new online series from Vattenfall .”

So, what’s happening at the beginning of summer; I imagine Almedalen is on the agenda?

“Absolutely, energy is one of the more important topics there and several KTH researchers will be present. I’ll speak at Dagens Industri’s Energy Day on June 29th, and at a seminar arranged by LKAB, in which we address the role of nuclear power in the energy system, the challenges associated with the granting of permits for the expansion of electricity grids, and the need for the industry to be more flexible.”

“There’ll also be time in the summer for international exchange. We’re presenting research results at the CIRED conference  in Rome, and in July it’s the annual meeting of the IEEE Power & Energy Society in the US. Developing international contacts and collaborations is necessary for research, and since the pandemic we know how important in-person meetings are.”

“Next week I’m attending the Speaker of the Swedish Parliament’s annual research conference and I’ll deliver a presentation about permit processes for electricity grids to the Trade and Industry Committee. A key starting point for the summer will be the government’s national climate meeting  on June 16th. The meeting is part of efforts to develop a climate policy action plan. This is a long-awaited initiative that involves many leading players in the energy industry. My dream is that together we can lay the foundations for a new broad and long-term energy settlement for Sweden; I have great hopes for this in the autumn.”

Then it’s time to recharge for the autumn; which events coming up this autumn would you like to highlight?

“In collaboration with KTH’s Digitalisation Platform , we’re planning an event on data-driven methods and solutions. Another theme will be nuclear power - we’re planning an event together with the French embassy focusing on Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). The highlight will be our annual KTH Energy Dialogue on 30 November , this year on Energy Security and Resilience, at which KTH energy researchers and external participants meet to exchange research ideas and results. In addition, autumn, as always, promises a series of school visits in which the Platform visits KTH researchers to learn more and find new opportunities for collaboration.”

“In the meantime, everyone at the KTH Energy Platform would like to wish you all a really good and restful summer vacation!”

Text: Magnus Trogen Pahlén