Nicki Carnbrand Håkansson believes that people mainly associate the name of Nordic Energy Research with the natural sciences. Yet, Nordic Energy Research is the platform for cooperative energy research and policy development under the auspices of the Nordic Council of Ministers, a mandate that is interdisciplinary by nature.

As an interdisciplinary institution Nordic Energy Research contributes with different perspectives when preparing new projects and programs, and according to Nicki  the legal perspective is generally very applicable – just like an economic or a technological one.

“Nordic Energy Research not only finances technological projects and programs, but also works with financing agreements, public procurement and assists in the implementation of directives. As an intergovernmental organization, we must also adhere to the GDPR, like many others. In combination, this makes a legal perspective very useful, and Nordic Energy Research a highly interesting workplace for people with a legal background like mine,” says Nicki.

Bridging Scientific Solutions and Societal Applicability

Perhaps quite naturally as a young professional with a law degree, Nicki is concerned with bringing the legal perspective into the energy debate and the international research environment.

“It is important that all perspectives are taken into account in order to achieve successful collaboration on energy matters, but if the science and technology are in place without the legal, political and economic institutions necessary to implement it – then the technology can not be used efficiently. At the same time, one should not forget that technically and legally viable projects are sometimes hindered because of opposition from the public, for example wind power projects in several Nordic countries. In other words, energy lies at the intersection of legal, political, and economic matters – and there are several interesting social scientific research topics that would be interesting and important to fund in my opinion,” explains Nicki.

Controversies vs Opportunities

Regional cooperation on energy research and policy initiatives do however entail some controversies and challenges. An energy solution that is generally accepted in one Nordic country can be “politically explosive” in another (Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage or Wind Power for instance).

“However, I believe that we, as an international Nordic institution, have a good starting point and therefore the opportunity to fund research on energy solutions that are of Nordic interest, even though they may be controversial to initiate on a national level. As a Nordic institution, we can also consider the special characteristics of each country and come up with a solution that will hopefully suit most people. So, in the end, when the tides perhaps turn on an energy solution, Nordic Energy Research might already have a funded and developed knowledge base to take a starting point in. This is challenging, but particularly exciting, and of great importance if you ask me,” says Nicki.

From Celebrities to Carbon Capture and Storage

Personally, Nicki is very interested in sports and entertainment and, as a student, she considered  becoming a lawyer specialised in intellectual property- and labour law.

“During my studies, my dream was to work with football players’ contracts and ensure that artists’ copyrighted works were protected. But during an exchange semester at the University of Bergen, I did a course in comparative energy law and was immediately interested in that subject – a fascinating discipline that I thought was both innovative and at the forefront. A good friend of mine works as a trainee at the Nordic Council of Ministers in Copenhagen and he encouraged me to explore opportunities within the Nordic organization. When I noticed that Nordic Energy Research in Oslo were looking for trainees, I applied right away.”

What motivated Nicki to apply was the opportunity to gain experience and knowledge she could bring back to Sweden, in addition to working in the civil service.

“After I had written my master’s thesis on Carbon Capture and Storage, working for Nordic Energy Research gave me the opportunity to apply my theoretical knowledge in practice. It also felt very compatible with my background and interest in nature and the environment, so it entailed a complete reversal of my career plans; a choice and path I am very happy with today,” concludes Nicki.

  • Name: Nicki Carnbrand Håkansson
  • Age: 25
  • Nationality: Swedish
  • Education: Master of Laws from Lund University with a focus on energy law
  • Leisure: Loves the outdoors, a good book, food and pleasant moments with friends and family