While everyone claims to be leading renewable energy efforts, Norway is doing the work. So much so, that they forgot to tell anyone. The secret is out now and that’s a good thing.
When it comes to renewable energy, Norway may be the world’s best-kept secret. In fact, it can be surprising to hear just how far ahead the country is regarding the green transition. Innovations within floating wind; hydrogen and ammonia production; electrical vehicle and ferry infrastructure; and power grid optimisation would not be possible without the efforts of Norwegian companies and government support.
Norway still boasts a robust oil and gas sector despite this work. The country contains the largest oil reserves in Western Europe and has become the biggest supplier of EU gas. Championing renewables while simultaneously being dependent upon oil and gas isn’t the easiest position to be in. Still, it provides a unique perspective and knowledge base which others can learn from.
“Norway continues to prepare for a future without oil and gas. Even though the country is still a large exporter, we also have a wealth of renewable energy technology and knowledge that can be exported as well,” Mr Rudi Clausen, CEO and Co-Founder at Funky FOMO says. “If the world commits to the green transition now, the benefits of this can be realised much sooner.”
For example, all electricity generated in Norway is derived from renewable sources. Hydropower accounts for the lion’s share of power, filling gaps with wind and thermal sources. That hasn’t stopped the country from continuing to explore other opportunities. The development of renewable energy technology is being led by Norwegian companies who are contributing across the value chain.
The green transition can be seen in other areas as well. The Norwegian parliament has a stated goal to have all new cars sold by 2025 be zero-emission. In 2022, electric vehicles accounted for more than 80 percent of new car sales. There has been a simultaneous focus on the infrastructure. Clean power charging stations can be found up and down the country.
Another aspect of Norway’s renewable energy secret can be found in developing these innovations. Global startup tracker StartupBlink ranked the country as the ninth best in the world for energy and environment startups.
The Secret’s Secret Location
While Oslo is the official capital of Norway, the Stavanger Business Region along the western coast is the country’s energy capital. In 1965, the area saw a flurry of activity after the announcement of Norway’s first offshore drilling licensing round, and it’s only grown from there.
Eventually Statoil, or what is known today as Equinor, the national energy company, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and countless other contributors to the oil and gas sector set up shop here. In less than 50 years, the Stavanger Business Region went from a canning centre to an energy powerhouse. And now, it must pivot even quicker to a green future.
“At the moment, the Stavanger Business Region is an oil and gas hub. That needs to change and fast. The green transition is well underway with the emphasis on renewables only growing. With its status as Europe’s energy capital and Norway’s investment in the energy transition, all the ingredients are there for this to become the world’s green energy capital,” Mr Clausen proclaims.
There is competition for that title. Cities from Aberdeen to Vienna have all staked a claim to being the green energy capital. Even in Norway, there is a focus on Oslo ahead of the Stavanger Business Region. According to Mr Clausen, this is an issue of publicity, not competency.
“We are spearheading the green transition here. We are a place where everything is already assembled in one place. It is a place where global companies can learn more about what is happening and find opportunities that don’t exist anywhere else in the world,” Mr Clausen explains. “When people visit, it opens their eyes to new possibilities.”
Speaking of people, the region also has something other locations cannot match–talent and a lot of it. The Stavanger Business Region has roughly 46,000 people working in the energy sector. Many of them are currently employed in the oil and gas sector, but that’s going to change.
“There are a lot of skilled people working in the Stavanger Business Region’s energy sector. Not all of them can stay in oil and gas forever. And not all of them want to work in oil and gas forever,” Mr Clausen points out. “We are a talent and knowledge centre when it comes to energy. We have solutions supporting the green transition and are developing innovations that can accelerate efforts in the coming years.”
The goal now is to not keep these a secret. Promoting both Norway’s robust renewable energy capabilities and the Stavanger Business Region’s aims to be the world’s green energy capital can be beneficial to all.
That is what led to the creation of RENEW HUB, a renewable energy ecosystem in the Stavanger Business Region. The space is located in the beautiful municipality of Sandnes, a destination known at various times for pottery, bicycles and now, technology development. Its location is well suited for the organisation’s main objective of bringing together stakeholders, investment, expertise and innovation in one place so the green transition can be scaled and shared.
“Seeing is believing. We want people from around the world to visit the Stavanger Business Region and RENEW HUB so they learn more about what’s happening here as well as the opportunities for collaboration that exist,” Mr Clausen says. “Instead of talking to 15 different people in 15 different places about 15 different topics, it can all be done here. And we encourage any parties interested in the green transition to see it themselves.”
From Stavanger to Asia
Asia is seen as the next frontier for renewables and the green transition. Many countries have both the appetite for change and a general framework to do so. Taking the next step is now the challenge. This requires a higher level of knowledge that typically comes through experience or working with an experienced partner.
“Asia is the future. It is where the change is happening,” Mr Clausen states. “But Asia needs knowledge. The region has made a lot of progress when it comes to green energy but there is still fine tuning and optimisation that can be done. This is an area where Norway excels.”
That is what makes the Stavanger Business Region such an interesting destination. Why go anywhere other than the place leading the world’s green transition?
“We have already overcome many of the same challenges Asia will face as they transition to renewables. We can share that knowledge to ensure the same missteps aren’t repeated,” Mr Clausen notes. “Having proven technology, expertise and a partner is more favourable than trying to navigate the green transition solo.”
Ultimately, no one has all the answers regarding the green transition. What’s more, there isn’t a lot of time to waste if various climate goals and clean energy targets are to be reached. The answers are out there but they won’t be discovered if no one is willing to ask for help searching for them.
“We need to stand together. The green transition won’t be completed if everyone is working alone. Collaboration is possible if you know where to find partners,” Mr Clausen explains. “Collaboration opportunities exist even if we don’t know they exist yet.”
- Norway has notable renewable energy technology and knowledge that can be exported worldwide
- Global startup tracker StartupBlink ranked Norway as the ninth best country in the world for energy and environment startups
- The Stavanger Business Region is Norway’s energy capital and home to many companies in the oil and gas sector
- Efforts are underway to transform Stavanger Business Region into the world’s green energy capital
- The Stavanger Business Region has roughly 46,000 people working in the energy sector
- RENEW HUB is a renewable energy ecosystem in the Stavanger Business Region assisting green transition efforts globally
- Norway faced many of the same green transition challenges Asia will face as the region transitions to renewables
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