Posts Tagged ‘environment’

1Lina Ingeborgrud

Lina IngeborgrudMarch 21, 2014

Pure electric driving pleasure: the electric car in our comfort society

The car has become an essential part of our transportation system – it gives us the flexibility and the possibility to go anywhere, anytime. Most people in Norway have a car, and almost feel as if they can´t make it through the day without it. However, the car is also a threat to our environment, responsible for 1/3 of Norway’s CO2-emissions. What impact does this have on Norwegian car users?

In January 2013, I was an intern at Transnova for three weeks, and am now writing my thesis in collaboration with them – about the electric car in our comfort society. Transnova is a governmental agency that provide grants to different projects to reduce CO2-emissions from the transportation sector. I find this very important, and in my thesis I focus on user experiences – their needs and thoughts about cars in general, and electric cars in particular. A lot of people in Norway use electric cars, and increasing their use even further has been proposed as a means of reducing emissions from private transportation. But is there a gap between the electric driving experience and the experience of comfortable transport?

Norway has the highest number of private electric cars per capita in the world. Why and how has the electric car become such a success story in Norway? First of all, there is a willingness in the political arena for supporting low-emission technologies, and the Norwegian government has given the electric car a lot of advantages compared to the petrol car. These advantages include no sales tax or duty on purchase, free parking in municipal car parks, free use of bus lanes in cities and exemption from tolls & congestion charges. These incentives will continue until at least 2017, or until there are 50,000 electric cars on the roads (there are currently approximately 23,000). What will happen to the electric car in the future? It is very important not to forget the users: what do users mean by the term ”comfort” when it comes to transportation? I wanted to find out.

My research data was gathered from 15 interviews – 8 with electric car owners (most of them had the family car Nissan Leaf) and 7 with people driving petrol cars. Most of the electric car owners had a petrol car as well, but they tried to use this only when necessary. All the electric car drivers told me their electric car felt more comfortable than their present – or earlier – petrol car. They described their electric car as a safe, environmentally friendly, economic, aesthetically pleasing and exciting technology with great driving characteristics. The petrol car drivers – on the other hand – felt guilty about the environment when they used their cars and said that this guilt diminished their enjoyment from driving.

The political incentives designed to encourage electric car usage were important in the beginning – when drivers first made the decision to go electric. However, as they became accustomed to using their electric car the relative importance of these incentives was reduced. Instead, users valued electric vehicles in terms of both the material and technical equipment, and also the rewarding feeling of being more environmentally friendly. The research found that environmental awareness and comfort were able to act in synergy to create a more pleasurable driving experience. Both electric and petrol car users valued cultural, internal and environmental values as being important in their vehicle choice. If we wish to increase the uptake of electric vehicles as much as possible, it is important that policies appeal to these values as well as the economic incentives that have been used so far.

At Technoport 2014, Transnova will participate in a Share the Problem workshop on the afternoon of Mon 28th April.

The workshop will design a conceptual “point and explain” prototype of the electric vehicle that disregards the conventional automobile as an aspirational model. Register for Technoport 2014 now to participate in the session and attend other workshops and talks from internationally renowned speakers on technology and innovation.

Image credit: Transnova

Opening Remarks by Rajendra K. Pachauri
11Annette Hovdal

Annette HovdalOctober 1, 2013

IPCC’s climate report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is between 95 and 100 % confident that global warming is caused by human greenhouse gas emissions.

On Friday 27 September, the IPCC presented a summary of the first part of the fifth main report on climate change since 1990. The report itself was presented yesterday.

According to the IPCC the temperature will continue to rise, but has not increased as much in the last 15 years, as previously suggested. However, if emissions continue to increase significantly this century, the temperatures can rise by more than 4 degrees Celsius up to 2100. Large amounts of the ice in Greenland and at the poles have melted. The sea level will rise between 25 and 82 centimeters by 2100. The wet areas will get wetter and the dry areas drier, and there will be more extreme weather, but perhaps not as bad as previously thought. For Norway the climate change means extreme rainfall and sea level rise.

The response in Norway

However, the report shows that it is still possible to prevent the most serious consequences if the world’s nations agree on swift and deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. The report shows that climate change up to 2100 will depend on emission levels ahead.

Some political parties and the environmental movement hopes that the report puts an end to the debate on whether climate change is manmade, and start the transition now. For example, Ola Elvestuen in the liberal party, says that politicians have to pursue policies that are consistent with the challenges we are facing. We still have the ability to prevent the most serious climate change, but we have to initiate the process of restructuring now.

Fredric Hauge, Bellona President, says that the report is an order from our globe. The order is to change course in climate politics, towards more full scale facilities for carbon capture and storage, more renewable energy, more energy efficiency, more money to ensure a transition within the industrial sector and more electric cars on the roads.

Read the other Norwegian environment organization’s comments on the report here.

The IPCC report

This first part of the report is a status on the research done on earth’s climate, how the climate system works, and how we human’s is changing it. The second and the third part of the report will come in 2014, and looks at the climate change’s effects on society, and how we can limit the effects.

The IPCC is a body established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1988. Participation is offered to all countries that are members of either the UN or WMO. The main mandate is to provide assessments of the world’s total knowledge about climate change and its effects. IPCC’s first assessment report came in 1990, the fourth in 2007, and the fifth is thus today.

To learn more about the process writing the report, click here.

Photo by: World Economic Forum (Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)

Ocean Forrest
11Annette Hovdal

Annette HovdalSeptember 16, 2013

Future prospects in aquaculture: the challenges in making aqaculture sustainable

15 August, Technoport visited Aqua Nor at Trondheim Spektrum, the world’s biggest aquaculture exhibition. Our day at Aqua Nor were exciting, and we learned about the future prospects in aquaculture, the challenges in making aquaculture sustainable, but also on how to solve these challenges.

Future prospects in Aquaculture
- Expressed in human consumption, we obtain 98 % from land-based production, and only 2 % from the sea, and there lies great business opportunities in the bio marine sector, said Karl A. Almås (CEO, SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture), when welcoming to the SINTEF seminar, “Future Prospects in Aquaculture Technology”. The seminar, happening during Aqua Nor, gathered industrial leaders in the Norwegian aquaculture industry, to speak about the possibilities and limitations for future growth in aquaculture.

Karl A. Almås, CEO at SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture, says there are great business opportunities in the bio marine sector Photo by: Thor Nielsen

The industrial leaders agreed that there are great possibilities for future growth in aquaculture; the carbon footprint of salmon is 8 times less than of beef, and is therefore more sustainable. However, the industry is also facing challenges. The speakers pointed to different challenges, saying that one for example needs to solve the sustainability issues.

One of the sustainability challenges is linked to the fish meal for farmed salmon. For the salmon to be a healthy product, it has to contain omega-3 fatty acids, in other words; fish oil. The problem is that the price and demand for fish oil increases, but the access of fish oil is not growing. Einar Wathne (CEO, EWOS), said there is a need to find alternatives to the fish oil in the fish meal. Another sustainability problem is sea lice. Farmed salmon with sea lice that runs away is a threat for the wild fish. Diseases the farmed salmon get is also a problem, and means production loss. Development of new vaccination is important here, Edel Anne Norderhuus, Research director in Pharmaq, said.

Trond Giske, the Minister of Trade and Industry, held a speech about Norway’s interests in the marin- and maritim sector under the seminar. Photo by: Thor Nielsen

To realise the possibilities in Aquaculture, one needs to solve the challenges, said Alf-Helge Aarskog (CEO, Marine Harvest). Several elements were mentioned to solve the problems, for example new technology, a closer tie between the operators and the technologists,  development of new vaccination, more researchers from Europe working on the challenges, and more recruitment of people to the aquaculture industry. The leaders also called for more agriculture area around the coast of Norway.

Ocean Forest – a project to make aquaculture sustainable

At Aqua Nor the environmental foundation, Bellona, and the fish farming company, Lerøy Seafood Group, presented the new company, Ocean Forest.  Later this fall, the new company will establish a test facility at Sotra in Hordaland, to test integrated aquaculture on a large scale.

Ocean Forest med vindmøller

An illustration of how Ocean Forrest might look like. Photo: Bellona

-The goal with Ocean Forest is to address aquaculture environmental challenges, help removing CO2 from the atmosphere, at the same time as creating economic value, said Fredric Hauge (president, Bellona) in a press release, during Aqua Nor. The company will do research on how ecological interactions between species can help to solve the environmental problems that farming operations create, and at the same time seek economic value by being in the driver’s seat when it comes to finding new sources of biomass and bioenergy.

Technoport is confident that aquaculture is one of the solutions to the worlds growing need for food, provided it is done in a sustainable way. Ocean Forest is an exciting initiative. We hope the collaboration between Bellona and Lerøy will contribute to solve the sustainability challenges that the aquaculture industry is facing, and make fish farming a green alternative to meat.

There were 480 different exhibitors at Aqua Nor, and 18 500 visitors, from 65 countries visited Aqua Nor 2013.

Photo by: Bellona (illustration of how the Ocean Forrest facilities migh look like)

Global Water Partnership (CC)
5Erling Hess Johnsen

Erling Hess JohnsenSeptember 11, 2013

Cleaning the ocean of plastic in 5 years

19 year old Boyan Slat may have developed a plan to clean the world’s oceans of plastic in just 5 years – with profit.

No one knows exactly how much plastic that floats around in the ocean, but it’s a lot. And it is a huge problem, causing damage to both ships, and of course the marine life. Part of the problem is also that the plastic is not static, it moves around, and gathers in so-called gyres.

The traditional way for removing plastic is by attaching a giant mesh to a ship. The problem with using a mesh is that it results in a lot of by-catch due to the varying size of debris, plus it takes time and would generate a lot of emissions.

Instead, Boyan Slat and The Ocean Cleanup Foundation are working on a more elegant solution. They suggest using floating booms instead of nets, able to cover a much larger area. These giant booms will float around at low speed – following the ocean currents exactly like the plastic itself. What makes the idea so brilliant, is that virtually no piece of plastic is too small to be gathered by the booms, and due to the low speed, it is very unlikely that the vessel will cause any damage to planktonic species.

And unlike ships using a mesh, the booms will generate no emissions, as they are solar and hydro power based. Slat and his colleagues have estimated the surface-floating plastic in the ocean to be about 7.25 million tons, and all this, he says, can be cleaned up in only 5 years by using 5 vessels.

And best of all: the plan costs less to execute than the income they are likely to receive only by recycling the plastic. “In other words, it’s profitable”, he says.

Though the solution has yet to be tested before we know whether it’s feasible, the Ocean Cleanup Foundation is optimistic. They are currently working on a feasibility study to be published within the coming months, and at the same time expanding their staff.

What do you think, is this the solution to one of our main environmental problems?

Photo by: Global Water Partnership (CC)

Marchlyn Resovoir
1Henrik Karlstrøm

Henrik KarlstrømSeptember 10, 2013

What do people think about Norway as Europe’s “green battery”?

The politics of Norway’s energy supply is not something that many people often think a lot about. However, in recent months a discussion about whether Norway should increase its production of renewable energy, and extend more cables to neighbouring countries to become Europe’s “green battery”, has started. Here, I will try to discuss the issue of an increased power exchange with the rest of Europe, by looking at what average electricity users think about these questions.

But first, what is the idea behind the “green battery”? Well, Europe is rapidly increasing its adoption of renewable energy, with Denmark now being 40 % renewable, and Germany approaching 20 %. This is mostly good news, as this power replaces more polluting sources of electricity, or at least keeps some coal or gas plants from being built. However, renewable energy is less stable than fossil fuel energy, because it relies more directly on the current weather conditions. When it is windy, Spain can get two thirds of its power from wind turbines, but when it is not it needs to get power from somewhere else.

This is where Norway and the idea of a green battery come in. With its large supply of hydropower, which is stable, and can be turned on or off in a matter of minutes, Norway is an ideal candidate to act as a regulating instance in an electricity grid where renewables is an increasing part of the mix. It is also a potential source of income for Norwegian electricity companies and the Norwegian municipalities that mostly own these utilities, as well as the Norwegian state, which gets more tax revenue from it.

Because of its beneficial environmental effects, several environmental organisations, such as Zero and Bellona, strongly support the adoption of more renewables in the Norwegian energy mix. They are lobbying for increased power exchange with other European countries. Local governments in the south of Norway (link in Norwegian) have also voiced support for the scheme, wishing to benefit from increased exports.

Continue Reading

photo by: ohefin
Kjell Jøran Hansen
11Annette Hovdal

Annette HovdalJuly 11, 2013

Solar mirror: the sun always shines in Rjukan

Rjukan, a small Norwegian city, is situated in a deep valley. The sun is gone for 6 months every year. A big solar mirror will now give Rjukan sun throughout the year.   

May 2013: After years of planning, the work on installing a big solar mirror, a heliostat, with a surface of 100 square meters, began on a hillside over the city. When the construction is completed, it will adjust the sun’s movements, reflect the sunlight, and transmit light to a fixed spot in the city centre throughout the year. A computer program will make sure that the mirror adjusts the sun’s movements.

The construction weighs 14 ton, and every part is moved up on the hillside by a helicopter.  In Italy you can find a similar construction, but it is not nearly as large and complex as the one in Rjukan.

However, the idea to use a big mirror to reflect the sun in Rjukan is not at all new. In 1913, a worker, Oscar Kittelsen, suggested that Rjukan should install a mirror up on a hillside so that the sun would reach the city centre during the winter.  Now, finally, a hundred years later Kittelsen’s dream is coming to life (

To see how the solar mirror works, click here

Photo by: Kjell Jøran Hansen (CC)