“Norway and the EU need to cooperate even more closely in the future on the research and innovation front because of all the challenges that need solving in a short timeframe”: these were the words of the Norwegian Minister of Energy Terje Aasland at an event organised by several Norwegian embassies, in collaboration with SINTEF.
The Norwegian minister was participating in the event together with his Belgian counterpart, Tinne Van der Straeten, who said that a key challenge in the field of Energy will be to “connect the countries with huge production potential - like Norway - with the countries with huge demand - like Belgium.”
Both ministers agree that more international cooperation will be needed to achieve our current climate objectives, whether we are talking about cutting greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring a secure green energy supply, or making sure that European industry remains competitive in the sector. Many of the challenges that lie in the way of achieving these objectives can be solved through research and innovation. As Minister Aasland put it: “Each country has to contribute with what it can do best.”
The challenges the ministers are referring to are not trivial. For many crucial technologies, such as offshore wind, carbon capture and storage (CCS), hydrogen, and green shipping, infrastructure will have to be deployed at an unprecedented scale, often across international borders. This process will require trust between nations, said the ministers, and the will to share knowledge on the research and innovation fronts. This collaboration can happen through bilateral and multilateral agreements, and must start as soon as possible.
The event today in Brussels was the last of a series of four, bringing together representatives from government, industry, and academia, to foster dialogue and research about the green energy transition in the North Sea region. The previous events, held in the autumn of 2023, discussed the crucial next steps to develop and strengthen the deployment of offshore wind, CCS, and green shipping in Europe. The events highlighted the immense possibilities in these sectors in terms of strengthening European competitiveness, scaling up energy infrastructure, and enabling a cost-efficient decarbonisation of the energy system.
The purpose of the last event was to address the insights gained so far, and to see exactly how research and innovation can help move decarbonisation forward.
European Centres of Excellence
A key manner in which the necessary cross-border collaboration could be strenghtened is through the establishment of European Centres of Excellence for key topics. These Centres would serve as multinational, long-term research and innovation projects, coordinating efforts to avoid duplicating work, through a co-funded programme.
Previous GreenShift events were held about offshore wind (in Amsterdam), carbon capture and storage (in Dusseldorf), and green maritime shipping (in Copenhagen). The gatherings were spearheaded by SINTEF and supported by the Norwegian embassies in Belgium, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands.