Meet the people at Nordic Energy Research
During the spring of 2021, Nordic Energy Research will present its employees. The purpose is to give our stakeholders an impression of who we are - our professional as well…
During the spring of 2021, Nordic Energy Research will present its employees. The purpose is to give our stakeholders an impression of who we are – our professional as well as social interests.
At Nordic Energy Research we share a desire to work together to drive the Nordic added value forward and build a sustainable society.
Meet us below:
Nicki Carnbrand Håkansson
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
On 25th January 2019, the Nordic prime ministers signed the Declaration on Nordic Carbon Neutrality in Helsinki. The new vision for a more carbon neutral Nordic region increased Anders’ interest for energy and energy cooperation. According to Anders; the new vision places energy at the core.
I am not a scientist, but I am immensely fascinated by how the Nordic cooperation works – how policies are created, and how they can be implemented. Nordic Energy Research is only one out of 12 institutions under the Nordic Council of Ministers; it is a complex bureaucratic system that covers many sectors and topics. The Nordic partnership is complex. Politics is complex, states Anders.
With the new vision for a more carbon neutral Nordic region, the region will not come close to its ambitious climate goals without focusing on energy, which has become increasingly clear for Anders after working eight years at the Nordic Council of Ministers.
A common Nordic interest in energy and sustainability
In the field of energy and sustainability the Nordic cooperation has developed to a closer and more targeted cooperation.
The Nordic region is not only a natural choice for multilateral cooperation due to its similar political and economic dynamic and goals; the region shares several cultural traits that makes it easier when policies and strategies are discussed. Most notably must be our passion for sustainability and battling climate change, and the focus on overall energy security. As these challenges are collective problems, it is only natural to seek a common Nordic solution, explains Anders.
The clear imprint of energy cooperation and research in the Nordic Council of Minister’s new vision was the main reason why Anders decided to continue his career at Nordic Energy Research.
Nordic Energy Cooperation; Challenging, yet, incredibly rewarding
There are many actors and opposing interests when five countries are working together to come up with multilateral solutions. It increases the complexity of your work. It is, however, one of the things that also makes working like this immensely fascinating. The challenges make an interesting career.
Lastly, one of the things that makes working for, and advocating, Nordic energy cooperation fulfilling, is the understanding that if you work hard and make the right decisions, you have the possibility to make real change for the better, adds Anders Geertsen, as a conclusionary remark.
- Name: Anders Geertsen
- Age: 64
- Nationality: Danish
- BA in Economics and MA in French from University of Copenhagen
- Diploma from INSEAD Paris
- Leisure: Loves sailing
Antti Silvast has always taken a great interest in the “Nordic model”, especially when it comes to energy systems and welfare. One of the main reasons he became interested in working at Nordic Energy Research is the opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary environment, combining his knowledge of the energy sector, and his experience from academia.
“I wanted to expand my knowledge of research funding and its impact. Both are main themes shaping European as well as Nordic energy research. I knew that Nordic Energy Research has an interdisciplinary approach, and as a sociologist, I would like to contribute to strengthening the discipline of social science in energy research. Nordic Energy Research provides an ideal environment to pursue this goal, which ultimately motivates me,” explains Antti Silvast.
Antti works mainly on Nordic Energy Research’s involvement in the ERA-Net Smart Energy Systems, a funding instrument designed to support public-public partnerships within Horizon 2020. The purpose of the funding instruments is to coordinate and in some cases “top-up” funding for joint transnational calls.
“Before joining Nordic Energy Research, I also worked as an evaluator for the ERA-Net Smart Energy Systems. ERA-net has a requirement for interdisciplinarity, all projects must include a technical, an economic and a social component, which I find interesting. Right now, everyone is demanding transnational co-operation with a focus on sustainability and digitization, and that is exactly what I believe ERA-Net contributes to,” says Antti.
Antti Silvast brings valuable experience from academia to Nordic Energy Research.
“I am a social scientist with a PhD and more than seven years of experience in project research. In addition, I have previously worked as a software designer. This skill is relevant as many of the tasks in Nordic Energy Research are about managing different kinds of data. Hopefully, my background will contribute to the work we do in pursuing energy challenges and establishing research programs, says Antti Silvast.
The research Antti collected for his PhD examined the Finnish and Scandinavian electricity infrastructure, including a case on integrated markets. With a focus on risk, security and resilience.
“What excites me the most in my new position is the opportunity for teamwork – working together and receiving feedback from colleagues about what works, when we solve challenges. I think the biggest challenge is moving from academia to an environment that is still closely linked to research – however applied research – and which often takes place at a faster pace.”
Challenges and Opportunities
The Nordic countries are considered leaders in international co-operation when it comes to transmission grids and energy markets.
“There is a long tradition of well-established research collaborations across the Nordic countries. From my previous research I know that the increasing complexity of energy systems and markets presents challenges – not least in the light of the policies pursued at both national and EU level. Nordic researchers have been visibly active and have extensive experience in meeting this complexity and offer a big resource to addressing these issues,” says Antti Silvast, who looks forward to supporting this Nordic tradition from his new job at Nordic Energy Research.
- Name: Antti Silvast
- Age: 42
- Nationality: Finnish
- Education: PhD, University of Helsinki
- Leisure: Family, reading and music