Decentralisation + digitalisation = decarbonisation

As a prelude to the Nordic Energy Challenge 2021, Nordic Energy Research presents the five selected participants in a portrait series. Meet Krishnaswamy Sankaran. How have you previously worked with…

As a prelude to the Nordic Energy Challenge 2021, Nordic Energy Research presents the five selected participants in a portrait series. Meet Krishnaswamy Sankaran.

How have you previously worked with sustainable transport?

I have been working on sustainable transport, energy, and supply chain infrastructure development over the last years. I am engaged in activities related to research and development of innovative solutions, business development, and policy and regulatory advice to regional and national governments. In 2020, I won the prestigious 2020 Mission Innovation Award given by 24 global countries and the European Commission for my contributions in decarbonisation, circular energy, materials, and economy.

What is your idea about?

In my opinion, there are three important and urgent goals for decarbonising the Nordic transport ecosystem. Firstly, we must strategically reduce the overcapacity of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, especially in the private transport segment. Secondly, we must efficiently integrate low- and zero-carbon transport solutions with (renewable) energy ecosystems. Thirdly, we must systematically map the entire Nordic transport ecosystem to closely monitor and manage carbon footprint at different levels.

My idea of reaching these three goals across the Nordics is built on the strengths of decentralisation and digitalisation – to decentralise transport resources and processes, and to use digitalisation tools when mapping the complete network from vehicle, to infrastructure, city, and country.

How did you get your idea?

As a Swiss citizen of Indian origin, I have been deeply inspired by the Nordic region over the years. I will always be grateful to the Nordic ecosystem for providing me experience and opportunity to engage in important issues such as sustainable transport, energy, and circular economy. I am strongly convinced that in addressing these challenges in a proactive and innovative manner, the Nordics are not only a role model to the rest of Europe, but to the rest of the world as well.

Having worked in different industries and international organisations, and advised regional and national governments in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, I understand the systematic nature of challenges and opportunities in energy, transport, and infrastructure sectors. By investigating how we can use digitalisation and decentralisation tools for addressing such challenges, and by having a good understanding of technology, operations, strategy, and policy and regulation, I have been able to get different perspectives and connect the dots. Systems and design thinking have also extensively helped me to gain insights about these sectors.

How does your idea contribute to the Nordic region becoming CO2 neutral?

The Nordic region has done a lot to reduce its carbon footprint already, but the transport sector is one of the last battles to win. It is also the most difficult one to decarbonise, given its complex nature, which requires transformation on multiple levels – individual, social, technological, economic, and policy levels. To succeed in this transformation process leading to carbon-neutrality in the region, we must cleverly decentralise public and private transport resources and processes and establish a smart digital backbone infrastructure to enable people, businesses, and governments to monitor their carbon footprint and take smart environmentally friendly decisions.

Why is an event as the Nordic Energy Challenge important?

Nordic Energy Challenge provides an excellent platform for individuals and organisations to present their innovative solutions to some of the pressing issues in the Nordics. The Nordic region is seen as a benchmark for many other regions in Europe and the rest of the world in domains such as sustainability, circular economy, renewable energy, etc. It is also regarded as a pioneer in many of the energy-related topics. There are no other forums at a regional level that identifies and elevates innovations and innovators in the energy sector in the way it is done here. Hence, for me personally, it is one of the most important and relevant forums for attracting talents to address complex challenges. It provides international credibility and recognition to those who are committed and dedicated to transform the region. To this end, I strongly believe that the Nordic Energy Challenge is not only setting a high standard for innovation – it also creates a strong foundation to encourage and motivate future generations of innovators.

Personal information

Name: Krishnaswamy Sankaran

Job: CEO, Radical Innovations Group AB, Finland

Education: Doctor of Science in Engineering Sciences from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at ETH Zurich. Executive master’s in leadership jointly from Wharton, Columbia University and London Business School

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