The Nordic Energy Challenge 2024 is well underway, addressing the timely topic of Citizen Engagement. Engaging citizens is a vital component for achieving a socially sustainable energy transition, and Nordic Energy Research is looking forward to receiving an array of creative solutions from this year’s Nordic energy challengers for an inclusive green shift.

“We must humanise the green transition”

One of the jury members this year is Klaus Skytte, CEO of Nordic Energy Research. He points out that the Nordic region should not only be green but also socially sustainable.

“Trust and common values are some of the cornerstones of Nordic cooperation. The green transition affects all of us, for example, through our way of life or our shared climate. We are all part of it and we all should be. Therefore, we must ensure that it is an inclusive process,” he says.

Thereby, the Citizen Engagement theme fits into the Nordic vision of becoming the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030. Klaus elaborates:

“The green transition in energy production, distribution, and usage necessitates new infrastructure and construction—often very visible, as in the case of wind farms, solar panels, and transmission lines. Similarly, hydropower and geothermal energy installations can change the landscape. This affects citizens’ and local resistance.”

“We must humanise the green transition through an inclusive, cultural shift towards a green future. Citizens need to be engaged, and we need to establish mutual trust and common values. In many ways, this is a new situation for the energy sector and regulators, and it is not an easy task. We must think innovatively, exchange experiences, and learn from each other’s best practices,” he concludes.

Klaus Skytte at the Energy Security and Citizens Conference in Reykjavík, where one of the sessions was dedicated to Citizens’ Engagement.

In light of the excellent project proposals from past years, the expectations for the ideas of 2024 are high. To select the most relevant, complete, comprehensive, and innovative contributions, we have appointed a jury of highly qualified representatives from the Nordic energy community.

Klaus has assessed proposals for the Nordic Energy Challenge annually since 2020, and is therefore an experienced evaluator of ideas aimed at tackling challenging energy issues. Previous challenges have been themed around Energy & Security, Energy in the Arctic, Sustainable Transport, and Green Energy Transition. How does Citizen Engagement relate to these issues?

All the themes addressed over the years pose challenges that need to be solved in the green transition towards the Nordic vision of becoming the most sustainable and integrated region in the world,” says Klaus. “Energy plays a crucial role in the green transition, as well as in the daily lives of all Nordic citizens. We need inclusive processes to ensure that it is a holistic transition that considers all aspects and impacts. This raises challenges that we, with the Nordic Energy Challenge, would like to draw attention to and find solutions for.”

Nordic added value

A key element of the Nordic Energy Challenge, and therefore an essential aspect in the evaluation of the submitted proposals, is Nordic added value – that is, the elevated benefits of finding common solutions in the Nordic region.

In what ways does the Nordic Energy Challenge generate Nordic added value? According to Klaus, the Nordic Energy Challenge is a unique activity at Nordic Energy Research in its way of bringing in innovative thinking.

“Our societies are undergoing changes. We have a vision and directions for the green transition. At the same time, we have external factors such as geopolitical unrest and others that affect our everyday lives. This continually presents new challenges and requires new ways of acting. Nordic Energy Research aims to shape innovative research and promote new ideas with exciting perspectives, which, in turn, can bring added value to the Nordic region,” says Klaus. “This is where the Nordic Energy Challenge comes in. It is an invitation to all Nordic stakeholders with different profiles and expertise to submit proposals for innovative solutions that can contribute to solving a common Nordic societal challenge related to the energy sector.”

Take on this year’s challenge!

We encourage all stakeholders to submit a contribution; companies, researchers and academics, non-profit organisations, business and sectoral associations, think-tanks, students, and individuals. To participate in this year’s Nordic Energy Challenge, please submit your abstract to Ditte Stiler by 16 May 2024 at 13:00 (CEST) at the latest.