NTRANS focuses on the role of the energy system in the decarbonisation of sectors such as energy, transport, industry, and buildings, as well as our everyday lives. The objective of NTRANS is to develop theory, methods, competence, and knowledge to support key transition stakeholders and contributors in the development and implementation of transition strategies.
NTRANS asks (1) How can the focus be extended to include citizens and their interaction with technology and systems? 2) How can the transition be made deeper and affect the production, distribution and consumption of goods, as well as the interaction between sectors? 3) How can the transition be speeded up, in order to achieve emission reductions and improve the interaction at the interface between energy, climate and sustainability?
- Deep decarbonisation and wide societal change: This research area includes perspectives from social science and humanities to understand the energy transition. There has been a particular attention on just transition, controversies and transition politics. We are currently working on getting an overview of central controversies in the Norwegian energy transition. We have mapped the effects of smart grid pilots and flexible electricity use in the Norwegian energy transition, and we have gained a deeper understanding of the wind energy controversy in Norway. Our researchers are also reviewing literature that looks at justice and participation connected to energy communities. This research area collaborates, amongst others, with FME CINELDI and FME NorthWind.
- Accelerating the energy transition: Major societal changes are often characterized by intertwined social and technological changes, and are very demanding for everyone involved. In such processes, some actors are given new opportunities while others have to involuntarily adjust, regarding for example business models or routines in everyday life. If the transition has to happen quickly, it often becomes even more difficult. Researchers at NTRANS look at how increased pace creates additional challenges, and ask how these can be handled politically. For example, we have looked at how different sectors must interact to succeed in electrification and building value chains for hydrogen. Research studies show that rapid change through electrification of ferries is easier to achieve if local companies have relevant expertise that can be mobilised, and then they often see business opportunities. In this way, large companies can become co-players instead of opponents in the transition.
- The future energy market: The research area addresses the development of future market design from local to multinational level. We have looked at consequences for Norwegian stakeholders and market design solutions for offshore wind development. Due to variable power production from renewable sources, the delivery of flexibility is an important part of the future energy market. Ongoing research aims to understand incentives to offer flexibility and suggest solutions that ensure an efficient supply of flexibility resources. In addition, the development of a model framework for integrated analysis of the energy and power system has been started. This will provide insight into how market design supports sector integration.
- Robust and feasible transition pathways towards a sustainable future: The research area contributes with new research on long-term analysis and scenarios. The research partners have developed a 10-step approach for integration of the different research disciplines in NTRANS. This method will enable us to make analysis that includes environmental aspects, techno-economic aspects, as well as socio-technical aspects in the transition to a sustainable society. This method will be tested through analysis of the Norwegian transport sector.
- User case: NTRANS user cases create possibilities for collaboration between researchers, businesses and public actors. They also contribute to joint knowledge building on selected topics. Researchers and user partners cooperate to identify research questions to investigate. User cases have been organised as research sprints, these are tasks to be solved within 6 months. To ensure connection among the partners, the research sprints build on innovative technological, social or political solutions that their users are working on; so-called pilots.
At the start-up of NTRANS, we organised four seminars with user partners, where we selected three user cases to be prioritised during the first two years:
* Development of low-emission societies (UC1)
* Renewable power production and various utilisation (UC2)
* Radical transformation of the transport sector (UC3)
UC3 has become three different cases on hydrogen in maritime transport (UC3a), freight transport between cities (UC3b), and goods and utility transport in cities (UC3c). In 2021, a user case on CCS has also been launched, and new user cases are being planned.
NTRANS addresses the energy systems role in rapid and deep decarbonization of key emitting sectors, such as buildings, transport and industry. Below, we summarize the challenges addressed:
- Deep decarbonization and wide societal change.
- How can we accelerate the transition to low-carbon societies?
- Designing the future energy market.
- Development of feasible and robust transition pathways for a sustainable future.
The centre takes a whole system perspective, and studies the interplay between humans, technologies, stakeholders, industries, markets and policies, and the impacts of the energy transition on wider societal change. Parts of the research will be in close cooperation with existing FME research centres.
NTRANS includes user partners from public administration and local government, energy companies, industrial companies, interest organizations, service providers, and infrastructure and building owners. We have included several start-up companies working with digitalization and novel business models in the mentioned sectors.
A tool for interaction with the user partners is cooperation in user cases and pilots. The user cases will provide a number of relevant results in a 1-2 year perspective and play a central role in the learning of both researchers and stakeholders. The user cases to be started up in year 1 are:
UC1: Building the future society
UC2: Green industry and renewable power development – an integrated view on energy export and local value creation.
UC3: Radical transition of the transport sector.
UC4: The role of CCS – effects on welfare and the transition of society.
UC5: Offshore wind – accelerated implementation and Norwegian value creation.
UC 6 The role of hydrogen in the transition.
Importantly, the user cases also make it possible to frame the actions the stakeholders will make in a 2030 perspective into the longer horizon of the 2050 pathways developed in NTRANS.