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July 19, 2009 @ 9:26 pm
Norway’s Boosts Green Building and Energy Research

Earlier this year, Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy announced 8 new government funded research centres that will conduct concentrated research to solve specific energy challenges. As many of you probably know, Norway is a significant oil producer, so much like the UAE’s efforts to build green, these centres are a highly relevant green policy decision. Norway already generates 99% of its electricity from renewable hydropower, constructed the first industrial-scale carbon sequestration project (StatoilHydro’s Sleipner project) and pioneered simple green roofs hundreds of years ago – many homes in the countryside have a torvtak, literally “turf roof.”

sleipner

The 8 centres have attracted numerous academic and industrial partners and each will receive NOK 10-20 million ($1.6-3.1 million) per year for five years with an optional 3 year extension. The programs are centered on offshore wind energy, solar energy, energy efficiency, bioenergy, energy planning and design, and carbon capture and storage:

  • BIGCCS Centre – International CCS Research Centre
  • Centre for Environmental Design of Renewable Energy
  • Bioenergy Innovation Centre
  • Norwegian Centre for Offshore Wind Energy
  • Norwegian Research Centre for Offshore Wind Technology
  • The Norwegian Research Centre for Solar Cell Technology
  • Subsurface CO2 storage – Critical Elements and Superior Strategy
  • The Research Centre on Zero Emission Buildings

 The Research Council of Norway provides details here. I will focus on the Zero Emission Buildings centre (ZEB).

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According to The Research Council and Azobuild, in Europe over 40% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the construction industry, about 40% of all use of materials and products are related to buildings and buildings account for about 40 % of all primary energy use. Similar statistics occur in the U.S. and elsewhere. To combat these figures, the centre has retained experts in materials technology, construction technology, energy technology, architecture and the social sciences to address the entire value chain of construction. I so doing, ZEB has assembled a consortium of cooperative companies representing over NOK 200 billion of annual revenue and more than 100k employees. They also plan to collaborate with 7 other research institutions around the world including 2 in the U.S.

Azobuild says ZEB’s main objective “is to develop competitive products and solutions for existing and new buildings that will lead to market penetration of buildings that have zero emissions of greenhouse gases related to their production, operation and demolition. The Centre will encompass both residential and commercial buildings, as well as public buildings.”

In my blog introduction I espoused my belief that energy efficiency is better, cheaper and easier than producing new energy and this is one of the underlying themes of ZEB. Professor Anne Grete Hestnes, who heads the centre at Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said the following, “…one kWh saved equals at least two kWhs produced energy. So reducing the energy consumption related to both existing and future building stock complements the broad international research on new renewable energy sources.”

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