Empowered Futures - A global research school navigating the social and environmental controversies of low-carbon energy transition.

Knowledge and competence on energy transitions transcends technological innovation. Energy developments divide opinion and generate controversy. Recognizing the social and political nature of power, Empowered Futures is a research school providing research-based competence on conflict mediation, equitable policy and development frameworks to achieve just energy transition.

  • The aim of Empowered Futures is to significantly strengthen the societal and professional relevance of doctoral education by addressing the social and environmental controversies of low-carbon energy transitions. In this PhD school, key research environments in Norway join forces to educate scholars of the future in energy social science.

    The Faculty of Landscape and Society at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) will work together with multiple academic and societal partners to form an innovative, collaborative and international state-of-the art research school.

    Empowered Futures enables a coordinated and unique platform for collaboration, knowledge sharing, joint courses and activities with governance and business partners. The School targets a broad range of social scientific PhD candidates with a specific interest in building careers (in research, business, consultancy and the public sector) geared to both critically explore and empower energy transitions, and to enable workable and just pathways through the controversies they generate.

  • Join Empowered Futures

    Our call for new candidates in 2023 is now open. Benefits of membership include fully funded PhD courses, workshops, internships, policy roundtables, field trips & co-publishing opportunities. Travel grants are available along with access to a strong network of industry, academic & societal partners.

    Deadline for applications is 20 November 2023.

    Who can apply?

    PhD or Post-doctorate Fellows in the first 18 months of their PhD or postdoctoral fellowship, whose research interests are within energy / renewable energy and/or low-carbon energy transition.

    Benefits of membership

    PhD courses, training workshops on communication and impact assessment, internships, practica, policy roundtables, and study tours. All of the activities are fully financed by Empowered Futures. Grants will be made available to members of the School to assist with funding travel and accommodation. Members join a network of PhD and postdoc fellows as well as national and international faculty and partners associated with the PhD School. We will help to facilitate continued contact between members as an alumni network. We will actively respond and promote the interests and output of all members. Opportunities will be created for candidates to write and co-publish together, and where when feasible, with the experts connected to the school.

    Selection criteria

    The committee will select candidates based on the following criteria: (1) thematic fit to the scope of the researcher school, (2) the potential benefit to the applicant of participation in the researcher school, and (3) academic quality of the submitted material.


    Deadline to apply for school membership in 2023 is 20 November 2023.

    2022 Cohort

    The first cohort of new members to the Empowered Futures research school has now been selected. Congratulations to the 16 new candidates, who come from Norway, Denmark, Chile, Sweden, Ireland, UK, Spain, Ghana, Netherlands, France, Czech Republic and Switzerland. They are affiliated to the following institutions: Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU);  Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), University of Oslo (UiO); UiT- The Arctic University of Norway; University of Agder (UiA); University of Bergen (UiB); Lund University; Roskilde University;  Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; University of Edinburgh; University of Strathclyde; University of Leeds and Charles University in the Czech Republic.

    • Practica 2023

      Coordinated by Nordic Edge and Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

      With local government and private sector partners, we will design biannual field labs and experiments to develop and test monitoring and regulation methods and technologies and discuss implications through PhD group work. These arenas will help PhD candidates develop vital skills and confidence for their projects and future work. They will also serve as sites to test methodological and theoretical approaches, with applied synergetic value for local governments in energy development contestations, e.g., by assessing socio-ecological needs to direct spending by municipalities generating revenue flow from new wind power or inserting socio-spatial justice aspects and energy use patterns into electric charging station expansion plans, to improve upon current planning modes and strategies.

      Financing is available to cover travel and accommodation for PhD School Members. More details to come soon.
    • Internships 2023

      Coordinated by Multiconsult and NMBU.

      The school will facilitate PhD candidates to gain practical experience in the business and governance of energy development and planning, with at least 3 annual internships in local government, energy companies, government regulatory bodies and consultancy companies . There is also potential to develop research exchange with our wider international network. This activity aids recruitment, work-life relevance and the co-production of relevant and tested skills and knowledge. Landsam NMBU has existing experience in the organization, credit production and guidance of internships with work life partners.

      Financing is available to cover travel and accommodation for PhD School Members.

    Activities archive

    John McNeish speaking at Empowered Futures roundtable, Cafe Opera, Bergen

    16 Oct 2023

    Roundtable discussion, Cafe Opera, Bergen, Norway

    Roundtable on the roles that academics play in sustainability transformation

    Nome municipality logo

    25 Aug 2023

    Social & Environmental Impact Assessment workshop, Nome, municipality, Telemark, Norway

    Social and environmental impact assessment workshop exploring the conflicts and controversies that commonly accompany impact assessment.

    Rjukan Solarpunk Academy logo

    21 Aug 2023

    PhD course, Rjukan, Norway

    Exploring and Communicating Competing Narratives of Energy Production Across Time and Space. Hosted by Rjukan Solarpunk Academy.

    Vegard Solhjem Knutsen speaking at Empowered Futures roundtable, Arendalsuka

    14 Aug 2023

    Policy roundtable at Arendalsuka, Arendal, Norway

    The battle for land between energy and nature: which knowledge counts? UiA tent, Arendalsuka, Arendal, Norway

    Sola Kommune

    25 May 2023

    Excursion to Stavanger / Sola Kommune, Norway

    Field excursion to learn about Sola kommune's plans for a different energy future

    Communications workshop, Bjørnafjorden Hotell, Bergen, Norway

    23 May 2023

    Communications workshop, Bjørnafjorden Hotell, Bergen, Norway

    Meet and greet and academic writing masterclass with Benjamin Sovacool

    Wind turbines over a mountain in Fosen, Norway.

    02 Dec 2022

    Energy transitions and controversies

    NMBU Global Development Studies Lecture 2022

    Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate NVE

    01 Oct 2022

    Internship at NVE

    The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate


    29 Sept 2022

    Kick off Seminar

    16:30-18:30h Vitenparken, NMBU

    Studenter på campus, NMBU.

    Congratulations to all candidates accepted to the first cohort of Empowered Futures

    Candidates come from Norway, Denmark, Chile, Sweden, Ireland, UK, Spain, Ghana, Netherlands, France, Czech Republic and Switzerland.

    Meeting invitation

    NMBU Global Development Studies Lecture 2022

    Join Mikaela Vasstrøm in a discussion of the controversies of wind power policies in Norway (video)

  • Illustration of planned factorty in Arendal, Norway: Morrow Batteries

    Norway and the Geopolitics of Battery Minerals

    Blog post by Anna-Sophie Hobi, PRIO Blog

  • Academic partners:

    Societal Partners:

    Advisory board:

    • Benjamin Sovacool, University of Sussex, UK
    • Adrian Smith, University of Sussex, UK
    • Gisa Weszkalnys, London School of Economics, UK
    • Gordon Walker, Lancaster University, UK
    • Ingmar Lippert, Brandenburgiche Technische Universität - Berlin, Germany
    • Timothy Moss, Humbolt University - Berlin, Germany
    • Lina Dencik, Cardiff University
    • Mette High, St. Andrews University, Scotland, UK
    • Nathalie Ortar, ENTPE France
    • Simone Abram, Durham University, UK
    • Lars Kåre Grimsby, Norwegian University of Life Sciences
    • Erling Holden, Norwegian University of Life Sciences
    • Samuel Adamarola, Norwegian University of Life Sciences
    • Laura Tolnev Clausen, University of Agder, Norway
    • Kjell Overåg, University of Agder, Norway
    • Hans Kjetil Lysgård, University of Agder, Norway
  • Portrait

    Anna-Sophie Hobi


    School Board Representative

    Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

    PhD programme: International Environment and Development Studies

    PhD project: Gigafutures - 'Green' industrialisation and the imagining of a large-scale battery industry in Norway.

    Academic publications:

    Mutondoro F, Hobi A-S, Dhliwayo M & Chiname J (2022). Resource-Backed Loans, COVID-19 and the High Risk of Debt Trap: A Case Study of Zimbabwe. In: COVID-19 and Sovereign Debt: The Case of SADC, edited by DD Bradlow and ML Masamba (Pretoria University Law Press).

    Hobi, A-S (2020). (Extr)Activism, Governance and Power: A Short Account of Advocacy. In: Ethnographic Vignettes: Social Change and Social Encounters in Solwezi, Northwestern Zambia, edited by R Kesselring, Basel Papers on Political Transformations. Basel: Institute of Social Anthropology.

    Birgitte Nygaard


    Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

    PhD programme: Science and Technology Studies

    PhD project: Framings of Norwegian Wind Energy Futures. The aim of the project is to examine how understandings of the future role(s) of wind power are shaped, by whom, and how it relates to Norway’s position in the world and its identity as an ‘energy nation’.

    Academic publications:

    Nygaard B. & Hansen T (2020). Local Development through the Foundational Economy? Priority-setting in Danish Municipalities. Local Economy, 35 (8): 768-786.

    Kollerup SS & Nygaard B (2018) Waste management in apartment buildings - an insight into citizen behaviour. Centre for Green Transition, City of Aalborg.

    Cristián Flores Fernández


    Humboldt University of Berlin

    PhD programme: Geography

    PhD project: The project aims to investigate the interdependent global, national, and local dynamics that interact in the process of expansion and intensification of lithium mining in the salt flats of northern Chile and wind power generation in the southern region of Magallanes.

    Academic publications:

    Flores Fernández C & Alba R (2023). Water or mineral resource? Legal interpretations and hydrosocial configurations of lithium mining in Chile. Frontiers in Water5, p.51.

    Daniel Molin


    University of Oslo

    PhD programme: Human Geography

    PhD project: From petrol stations to charging networks.
    The project aims to develop better understanding of policy making to change infrastructure systems by comparing electrification of transport and charging infrastructure in Norway and Sweden.

    Finlay Bain Kerr


    University of Strathclyde

    PhD project: Minewater Geothermal Energy: just, place-based models for energy resource development. The research explores the tensions and considerations present in the MWG development ecosystem in Scotland to illicit greater understanding on how to overcome embedded injustices in the energy system.

    Greg Grant


    Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

    PhD programme: Landscape and Society

    PhD project: Hydropower Development in Norway: A Historical Case Study of Socio-Spatial Impacts and Contemporary Implications for Landscape Democracy and Energy Justice. The project aims to investigate the historical development of hydropower in Norway as a case study of the socio-spatial impacts of a new energy technology, its influence on landscape perceptions, and to explore the implications of these combined impacts for the concepts of landscape democracy and energy justice today in the context of social controversy related to the 'green shift' to sustainable energy sources.

    University of Oslo (UiO)

    PhD programme: Just Transition in Urban Mobility

    PhD project: The project seeks to develop better understanding of the significance of different places and access to mobility through experiences of people’s own mobility, their possibilities and restrictions, and how they experience policy measures and intervention through a case study in Oslo.

    Academic publications:

    Vedeld T, Hofstad H, Solli H & Hanssen GS (2021). Polycentric urban climate governance: Creating synergies between integrative and interactive governance in Oslo. Environmental Policy and Governance, 31(4), 347-360.

    Norheim B, Haugsbø MS & Solli H.(2016). Areal og transport og nullvekstmål. Plan48(5), 14-19.

    Solli H (2014). Har Riksrevisjonen skylda for detaljbasert styring?. Stat & Styring24(4), 42-44.

    Solli H (2007). Means to learn and control. The effect of BP business standards on local supplies in the oil industry in Azerbaijan. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift–Norwegian Journal of Geography61(1), 34-37.

    Håkon da Silva Hyldmo


    Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

    PhD programme: PhD Programme in the Social Sciences

    PhD project: The project aims to improve understanding of how policies, industries and communities in Europe and Indonesia are shaped by the ideas of ‘green deals’ and green energy transitions. The project will combine studies of ‘green deal’ discourses in Europe with case-studies of extractive mineral practices (rare earths, nickel and tin) in Indonesia.

    Academic publications:

    Nunn J et al. (2022) Standardised data on initiatives—STARDIT: Beta version. Research Involvement and Engagement,  8(1), 1-28.

    Coscieme L et al. (2020) Multiple conceptualizations of nature are key to inclusivity and legitimacy in global environmental governance. Environmental Science and Policy, 104, 36-42.

    Sanders A et al. (2017) Guinea pig or pioneer: Translating global environmental objectives through to local actions in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia’s REDD+ pilot province. Global Environmental Change, 42, 68-81.

    Lara Maria Santos Ayllón


    University of Edinburgh

    PhD project: The role of emerging technologies in the energy transition: a justice and responsible innovation exploration of marine energy and green hydrogen in island communities. The research explores marine renewables and hydrogen as two emerging energy sources and technologies in the Orkney Islands through justice and responsible research and innovation frameworks in a time when decisions about renewable energy system design continue to be based primarily on lowest monetary cost, along with being "low-carbon" at point of generation.

    Academic publications:

    Ayllón LMS & Jenkins KE (2023). Energy justice, Just Transitions and Scottish energy policy: A re-grounding of theory in policy practice. Energy Research & Social Science96, 102922.

    Abram et al. (2022) Just Transition: A whole-systems approach to decarbonisationClimate Policy, 22(8)

    Ayllón LMS (2022) A justice and responsible research and innovation exploration of marine renewables and green hydrogen in island communitiesScience Talks.

    Larry Ibrahim Mohammed


    Arctic University of Norway (UiT)

    PhD programme: Comparative Indigenous Studies

    PhD project: In Pursuit of Self-Determination; Indigenous Peoples voices in search of impacts- A comparative study of renewable energy projects in Norway and Canada. The goal of the project is to contribute to the bigger discussion on the depth of indigenous peoples' self-determination, specifically, by examining the level and impact of indigenous people's participation in renewable energy projects in Norway and Canada.

    Line Lefstad


    Lund University, Sweden

    PhD programme: Sustainability Science

    PhD project: The project aims to analyse the various opportunities, contradictions and trade-offs that characterise different imaginaries of carbon capture and storage (CCS) in future Scandinavian/Norwegian energy systems.

    Marieke van der Star


    University of Oslo (UiO)

    PhD programme: Human Geography

    PhD project: Residential mobility in the green compact city: class-led appropriation of urban resources.The project researches the socio-spatial inclusiveness of low carbon urban strategies in terms of housing, mobility- and transport justice in the Greater Oslo region. The project is part of INCLUDE (socially inclusive energy transitions).

    Academic publications:

    Van der Star ME & Hochstenbach C (2022). Continuity among stayers: Levels, predictors and meanings of place attachment in rural shrinking regions. Journal of Rural Studies.

    Mathilde Rainard


    University of Leeds

    PhD project: Fairness implications of low carbon energy policies in the UK and France, an intersectional approach. This PhD takes an intersectional approach towards justice implications of energy demand reduction policies in the housing and transport sectors in the UK and France, to generate policy recommendations for a fairer net-zero transition in the UK, with implications for France and other EU countries.

    Academic publications:

    Rainard M, Smith CJ, & Pachauri S (2023). Gender equality and climate change mitigation: Are women a secret weapon?. Frontiers in Climate5, 946712

    Nicol Staňková

    Czech Republic

    Charles University, Prague

    PhD programme: Sociology

    PhD project: The PhD project examines democratic processes and perceived justice in the context of local energy projects in the Czech Republic.

    Academic publications:

    Sýkorová M, Tománek P, Šušlíková L, Staňková N, Habalová M, Čtverák M, Macháč J & Hekrle M (2021). Voda ve městě: Metodika pro hospodaření s dešťovou vodou ve vazbě na zelenou infrastrukturu.

    Macháč J, Hekrle M, Meyer P, Staňková N, Brabec J & Sýkorová, M (2020). Cultural ecosystem services and public preferences: How to integrate them effectively into Smart City planning? 2020 Smart City Symposium Prague (SCSP), 1–6.

    Shayan Shokrgozar


    University of Bergen (UiB)

    PhD programme: Social Science (Department of Geography and Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation)

    PhD project: The project investigates the social and environmental implications of solar energy transitions in Rajasthan, India.

    Academic publications:

    Sareen S & Shokrgozar S (2022). Desert Geographies: Solar Energy Governance for Just Transitions. Globalizations, 1–17.

    Shokrgozar S (2021). The Case for Degrowth Energy Technologies. Tvergastein Journalvol 1, 94–109.

    Dunlap A, Søyland L & Shokrgozar S (2021). Editorial Introduction: Situating Debates in Post-development and Degrowth. Tvergasteinvol 1, 7–31.

    Ulrik Kohl


    Roskilde University, Denmark
    Malmö University, Sweden

    PhD programme: Society, Space, and Technology

    PhD project: Democratizing urban energy transitions. Community energy activism in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Denmark. The PhD project explores the agency of grassroots and other energy activists, their learning processes and capacity building, and how they challenge and overcome institutional barriers, to develop community energy. The aim is to better understand the potential for democratizing and accelerating Europe’s clean energy transition through the empowerment of collective actors and their decentralized production of locally owned renewable energy.

    Academic publications:

    Kohl U & Andersen J (2022). Copenhagen’s Struggle to Become the World’s First Carbon Neutral Capital: How Corporatist Power Beats Sustainability. Urban Planning7(3), 230-241. [5].

    Kohl U (2022). Is the Industrial Turn Killing Denmark’s Energy Cooperatives? In: G Getzinger & F Häller (Eds.)Conference Proceedings of the 20th STS Conference Graz 2022: Critical Issues in Science, Technology and Society Studies Verlag der Technischen Universität Graz.

    Kohl U (2022). Renewable energy and democratic enterprises. Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, Denmark.

    Enoksen EM & Kohl U (2021). Dänemark. Die Rot-Grüne Einheitsliste: Links der Mitte-Links-Regierung. In: C Hildebrandt, D Koltsida & A Bouma (Eds.) Left Diversity zwischen Tradition und Zukunft: Linke Parteienprojekte in Europa und ihre Potenziale (pp. 141-157). VSA Verlag.

    Andersen J & Kohl U  (2021). The Copenhill Crisis: What Corridor Talk Can Tell About the Dark Side of Planning Energy Transitions. 1-2. Abstract from The 8th Ethnography and Qualitative Research Conference, Bergamo, Italy.

    Enoksen EM & Kohl U (2021). The Red-Green Alliance: To the Left of a Centre-Left Government. In A. Bouma, C. Hildebrandt, & D. Koltsida (Eds.), Radical in Diversity: Europe's Left 2010-2020 (pp. 127-143). Merlin Press.

    Vegard Knutsen completes internship at NVE

    Vegard Solhjem Knutsen


    School Board Representative

    University of Agder (UiA)

    PhD programme: Energy and Society

    PhD project: The research project explores in the context of Norway why land-based wind power is controversial, what the driving forces behind resistance to wind power are, and how policies and planning practices can be rethought to enable a just pathway towards energy transition.

    Academic publications:

    Bårnås KS, Dahlstrand K & Knutsen V (2021). Voldsoffererstatningsordningen: Opplevd betydning av voldsoffererstatning blant mottakere. Tidsskrift for erstatningsrett, forsikringsrett og trygderett18(1), 7-32.

  • Fred. Olsen Renewables 

    Fred. Olsen Renewables has over the last 25 years established itself as a renewables company of significance. The company covers the whole value chain from developing to constructing and operating onshore wind farms. It is committed to developing renewable energy sources both as a sound business model as well as in genuine support of the shift to a decarbonised society. Fred. Olsen Renewables is further developing its business footprint through solar projects, hybrid projects (solar and wind in combination), and floating solar projects. It is embedded in the company’s culture to maintain a sustainable business model while minimising its own environmental footprint.  

    Fred. Olsen Renewables seeks to expand and develop new energy projects and technologies in Norway and internationally, with careful consideration given to local ecology and society. The company has several projects related to onshore wind and solar energy and is currently venturing into an energy development project called HYPE, with support from the Research Council of Norway. The project will explore potential technical wind-solar energy synergies as well as operational strategies for solar installations under challenging climatic conditions in the Adger region of Norway. 

    As a partner, Fred. Olsen Renewables will be a valuable contributor to the strategic direction of Empowered Futures by discussing and providing input to the educational programmes and course curricula. The company will take an active part in the PhD courses, seminars, policy roundtables, and excursions by sharing experiences, challenges and opportunities related to development of renewable energy, seen from a developer’s perspective. Fred. Olsen Renewables will also provide candidates with opportunities for internships and consider co-developing an application for a business-PhD scholarship with partnering universities.   

    Fridtjof Nansen Institute 

    The Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI) is an independent foundation engaged in research on international environmental, energy and resource management politics and law. The overall objective of FNI is to understand the underlying forces in international environmental and resource politics, and on that basis make well-founded contributions to political solutions to problems in these areas. 
    FNI carries out research on the energy transition in Norway, Europe, and other world regions, and is a member of the University of Oslo’s INCLUDE research center on achieving a just energy transition. 
    FNI researchers offer expertise on climate and energy policy, opposition to renewable energy projects, and global environment and climate governance. FNI, along with University of Oslo (UiO) and Rjukin Solarpunk Academy, will plan Empowered Futures’ first PhD course to be held in Spring 2023. Throughout the partnership, FNI will also contribute to policy roundtables, impact assessment workshops, communication workshops, and practica for Empowered Futures members.   


    Multiconsult is one of the leading engineering consultancy firms in Norway. The firm offers multidisciplinary consultancy services to public and private clients worldwide, especially in the renewable energy sector. Multiconsult is involved in a wide range of services including strategic energy sector planning to project feasibility studies and environmental impact assessments to construction supervision and project audits and evaluations. 
    Multiconsult’s involvement in the entire cycle of renewable energy projects has provided exposure to the many dilemmas faced by project developers, governments and civil society in the locations targeted for hydro, wind, solar and power transmission developments. Whilst the firm’s role is typically to generate knowledge for well-informed decision-making, it acknowledges that the professional integrity of consultants can sometimes be challenged and be subject to public scrutiny. 
    Multiconsult and Empowered Futures believe that the practical experience of Multiconsult’s large team of renewable energy consultants can serve as a valuable asset to the research school. It can offer training and internships to PhD candidates and hopes to also benefit from the academic research that will be undertaken. By bringing together such a variety of stakeholders from the public, private and university sectors, Multiconsult and Empowered Futures believe that better practices can be developed, both in research and management, for a more sustainable low-carbon energy transition. 

    Naturvernforbundet (Friends of the earth Norway)

    Naturvernforbundet is one Norway’s largest environmental organisations. It has over 100 local teams and around 36,000 members who have committed themselves to taking better care of nature and the living environment. Both climate change and the loss of natural diversity are happening dangerously quickly, and the rapid development of renewable energies, such as bioenergy, water, and wind power often comes into conflict with natural values.  

    Naturvernforbundet emphasises a reduction in energy consumption, both in Norway and globally, in order to meet the IEA's Net Zero Roadmap 1.5 C Scenario, which states that global energy use must be lower in 2050 than today. For Naturvernforbundet, a green transition is not just a transition to renewable energy, but a transition to a society with lower consumption of energy and materials. Nevertheless, Norway still has no systematic investment in energy efficiency.  

    Naturvernforbundet has presented a road map for a “Fossil-fuel-free Norway” by 2040 without extensive destruction of nature for increased renewable energy production. This includes halving energy use in buildings, which will release large amounts of clean energy for other purposes, and that new infrastructure should be adapted to a zero-emissions society, such as transport being moved from road to sea and rail and prohibiting the construction of new motorways which may result in greater natural interventions and energy requirements.  

    Naturvernforbundet also works to ensure that products must be suitable for repair, reuse and recycling; a functioning circular economy is essential for a large reduction in the need for energy and materials. While we wait for oil and gas operations to be gradually phased out, Naturvernforbundet promotes building alternative, less energy intensive business activities instead of increasing electrification from renewable power. As a valued partner of Empowered Futures, Naturvernforbundet will be instrumental in the forthcoming policy roundtables.  

    Nordic Edge 

    Nordic Edge is Norway’s official, national innovation cluster for smarter, more sustainable cities and communities. The cluster drives innovation, business development and societal change through cross-sector and cross-border collaboration. Energy transition is a vital part of this transformation, in particular the production, transformation, and distribution of energy in urban areas. 

    Nordic Edge operates as a hub for year-round activities for its 120+ Norwegian members and large international network. The member base in the cluster includes small, medium, and large companies, research institutions and universities, the municipal sector, and financial institutions. Nordic Edge provides expertise within the fields of communication, co-creation, cross-sector collaboration, facilitation, workshops, and full-scale conference and exhibitions.  

    Empowered Futures can help strengthen the links between members from the private sector and academia. This will aid companies in bridging the knowledge gap that occurs between everyday activities and current research. The School will also be of vital importance to the sustainable energy transition by making doctoral education more relevant for the labor market; Empowered Futures can help fill a significant gap in both the labor market and the educational programmes of Norway. Nordic Edge will be a valuable partner by both hosting and supporting various activities, including practica, policy roundtables, and internships for members.   

    Rjukan Solarpunk Academy 

    Solarpunk is a visual representation of ideas that communicates knowledge between academic research and art. Art can inspire differently than traditional research, and artists can help generate new ideas in these times of environmental crises. Artists are a crucial resource for imagining innovative solutions to the most urgent questions around us. 
    As part of an artistic-academic collaboration with Empowered Futures, arts collective Rjukan Solarpunk Academy will organize a biennial Solarpunk Arts Festival starting from the summer of 2023. The festival will take place in the unique setting of Rjukan, home to the Sun Mirror - arguably the most famous solarpunk art piece ever made. A big part of solarpunk is using technology to improve a sustainable life. The Sun Mirror runs on solar and wind power and is thereby self-sustainable and works in harmony with nature. 
    The Solarpunk Arts Festival will have four editions in the next eight years, each with a different theme derived from Empowered Futures research. In collaboration with different artists, the festival showcases the research around low-carbon energy transitions and opens up questions around sustainability in new ways. Each art piece included in the festival will originate from questions surrounding the research and therefore act as a method of communication that makes science more accessible to wider audiences. Rjukan Solarpunk Academy will also host PhD courses for Empowered Futures members. 

    Sola kommune 

    We are delighted to partner with Sola kommune (Sola Municipality) as part of Sola’s climate and environmental plan to address business cooperation on the green shift. Sola municipality is a national hub for the oil and gas industries, therefore it is important to build a bridge from these industries towards the green shift in the region. Sola recognises the challenges faced between rhetoric and practice and the importance of establishing a knowledge-based response. 
    As part of Empowered Futures, Sola Municipality plans, amongst other things, to hold lectures on the municipality’s ongoing work related to climate and energy. Sola will also arrange internships for candidates involving local case studies related to climate and energy issues. 
    Sola envisions that through cooperation with Empowered Futures, PhD education will become more relevant for the society in the Northern Jæren region, by training candidates to reconsider questions and renew understandings in the light of sustainable social development. Generating a network of competent researchers will be to the benefit of the labour market in the strong commercial municipality of Sola, as well as throughout Norway and beyond. As a valued partner, Sola kommune will organise policy roundtables and offer practica and internships to Empowered Futures members.  


    Statkraft is one of Europe’s leading renewable energy companies, and globally, with investments in wind, solar, hydropower, and new energy technologies. Statkraft has been generating renewable energy for more than a century, primarily through the abundant resource of Norwegian hydropower. The Company is now committed to the shift to a de-carbonized society as well as to maintaining a sustainable business model. Over the next decade, Staktraft is determined to use its business to accelerate the transition to renewable energy, while also using its expertise to help with adaptation efforts.  

    Statkraft has met numerous challenges in seeking social acceptance and environmental sustainability while managing the development and expansion of new energy technologies. Statkraft’s robust internal management system, The Statkraft Way (TSW), outlines policy and guides all actions, including social, environmental, and ethical decision-making and implementation. Dialogue with stakeholders, benefit-sharing, and sustainability are at the core of Statkraft’s way of working. Climate policies have a large impact on Statkraft, and the Company follows national, European and global climate policy development closely to assess their impact. Statkraft also invests significant resources in market analysis to have a robust basis for future investment and operation decisions. 

    Statkraft’s 100+ years of experience in the Nordics developing, constructing and operating hydropower plants and over 25 years of experience with other renewables, energy services and energy trading globally, provides a wealth of research resources and industry knowledge. As a valued Empowered Futures partner, Statkraft will be instrumental in organising policy roundtables, practica, and internships for members. 

    Vestland fylkeskommune 

    Vestland is situated on the west coast of Norway, with a population of 630 000 throughout its 43 municipalities. Vestland’s vision is one of innovation and sustainability. It aims to continue to be an important host to value-creating businesses while being a driving force for sustainable development. 
    Vestland has high climate change mitigation and adaptation ambitions on its path towards a sustainable climate and energy transformation. The decisions regarding sustainability targets on both a local and global scale must also offer a just transition. Vestland addresses the interconnected climate and nature crises accordingly. Energy transformation and climate footprint reduction actions must also ensure sustainable land use planning and conserve or reconstruct the very basis of our existence, our ecosystems. This level of complexity is new and challenges priorities on many levels. 
    Vestland is an important community developer; the largest producer of renewable energy in Norway, with many businesses eager to take part in the energy transformation. The potential to produce more renewable energy is great, but challenges exist, for example in distribution. By partnering with Empowered Futures, Vestland can further develop the region in a sustainable direction where social and environmental controversies and consequences become part of the bigger picture. Candidates can look upon this as an opportunity to integrate science, regional development, and politics as a change agent towards a low-carbon society.  Members can benefit from the PhD course, policy roundtables, and internships offered by Vestland fylkeskommune throughout the partnership.   

    Neil Davey

    Neil Davey

    PhD Fellow

    Communications Advisor