Norwegian roadmap for Research Infrastructure

Environmentally friendly energy

Research on environmentally friendly energy encompasses the areas of renewable energy, energy use, energy systems, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and energy policy.

Research objectives 

Research activities in environmentally friendly energy are to promote the long-term, sustainable restructuring of the energy system, the central elements of which are increased availability of renewable energy, enhanced energy efficiency and flexibility, and closer integration with Europe. For carbon capture and storage (CCS), key objectives are reducing costs and realising the storage potential in the North Sea. Research efforts are to help reduce Norwegian and global greenhouse gas emissions, as well as strengthen Norwegian industry and enhance its international competitiveness. The Energi21 strategy document is Norway’s national strategy for research, development, demonstration and commercialisation of energy technology.

High-quality research infrastructure is crucial for the energy sphere. A combination of laboratory work, model development and simulation are needed to ensure reliable, sound results. Laboratory-scale testing is valuable for realising new and improved solutions in order to reduce the risk of errors and deficiencies when industry implements the solutions.

The Portfolio Board for Energy, Transport and Low Emissions is responsible for the targeted efforts in environmentally friendly energy. The portfolio plan for this area describes the goals and priorities for research activities. Activities under other portfolio boards are also important for research in this area, particularly the Portfolio Board for Enabling Technologies and the Portfolio Board for Natural Sciences and Technologies. 

Existing research infrastructure 

Environmentally friendly energy covers a broad range of topics, and existing infrastructure is extensive. The Centres for Environment-friendly Energy Research (FMEs) help to ensure good coordination and utilisation of research infrastructure and close ties to industry.

Norway is well-equipped with regard to infrastructure for wind power and marine energy production. In addition to general infrastructure, there is a fair amount of specialised equipment such as wind measuring instrumentation (Equipment For Offshore Wind-Energy Infrastructure (EFOWI) and Offshore Boundary Layer Observatory (OBLO)) and a full-scale floating wind turbine (Hywind). In the area of hydropower, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) has two key facilities, the Vassdragslaboratoriet (hydropower) laboratory and the Waterpower Laboratory. Funding was allocated to renewal and upgrading of both laboratories in 2019. The infrastructure is closely related to the activities of the HydroCen FME. Good infrastructure for measuring the environmental impacts of wind power and hydropower has already been established. 

The Norwegian laboratory for silicon-based solar cell technology (NSST) was established in 2009 and at that time entailed an important improvement of laboratory infrastructure in this area. Infrastructure for biofuels and other biorefining has been modernised in recent years through close collaboration between the R&D actors. The Norwegian Biorefinery Laboratory (NorBioLab) is important for research on pre-treatment and upgrading to biogas, bioethanol, biodiesel and other biorefining. The infrastructure has been coordinated and upgraded via NorBioLab. 

ElPowerLab and Smartgridlab are two national energy system infrastructures. Established laboratories at the institutions are also important. The National Smart Grid Laboratory is now fully operational. While it targets distribution and markets, it also addresses energy use in buildings. ElPowerLab, which targets energy system components, received funding in 2016 and is close to completion. 

Extensive infrastructure for research on energy use in buildings has been developed around previous and ongoing FMEs (ZEB and FME ZEN) and the Centre for Research-based Innovation (SFI) Klima 2050. The ZEB Flexible Lab is a full-scale commercial building for testing individual components and materials in practice and was scheduled for completion at the end of 2020. The HighEFFLab is targeted towards energy efficiency in industry and received funding in 2016. Currently under construction, the laboratory will accommodate testing of theories, components and systems on a larger scale before their implementation. 

Infrastructure for developing enhanced technology for fuel cells and electrolysers, the Norwegian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Centre, received funding in 2016 and is now fully operational. This infrastructure supports R&D on technology for producing hydrogen from renewable energy sources and for applications of hydrogen in the transport sector and more. Infrastructure for research on the transport and storage of hydrogen gas received funding in 2019. Research on material properties is a core area of the infrastructure.

Research infrastructure for CCS is largely integrated into the ESFRI project European Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage Laboratory Infrastructure (ECCSEL), coordinated by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). ECCSEL is a European project that integrates R&D infrastructure from several countries. The infrastructure has received Research Council funding in several rounds. In addition to ECCSEL, there are a number of large pilot projects, the main ones being the Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM), Aker Solutions’ carbon capture test unit, SINTEF’s pilot plant for carbon capture, and field laboratories for storage in Svelvik and Longyearbyen. 

Need for new infrastructure, upgrades and/or coordination 

In the years ahead, there will be a need for upgrades and replacement of existing equipment and for entirely new laboratories in the area of energy. In general, digitalisation, safety and security, circular value chains and reuse are becoming increasingly important aspects of new energy-related infrastructures, and must be emphasised when establishing laboratories.

In the area of renewable energy, existing infrastructure needs to be upgraded and developed in a number of areas, including solar cell technology. Needs in this area are in continuous development and existing infrastructure must be renewed in order to remain at an international level. Wind power will play a key role in the restructuring of global energy systems and is seeing strong growth internationally. The market for offshore wind power provides export opportunities for Norwegian industry. Infrastructure that helps to enhance the Norwegian supply industry in the global market is crucial. It will be necessary to develop maritime technology, electro technology and material technology laboratories.

In the area of bioenergy, technological breakthroughs require updated laboratories, and further investment is needed in both advanced analytical equipment and equipment for biological, biochemical and thermochemical conversion and combustion technology. Further research on the climate and environmental impact of introducing different types of biofuel in the marine and air transport sectors will require upgrading of laboratories for testing and developing sustainable biofuel. Going forward, there will be a need for infrastructure and expertise related to developing sustainable biocarbon for forestry, agriculture and industry.

Solar cells are increasingly used in buildings in Norway, and solar cell use by end-users is addressed under two FME centres: the Research Center for Sustainable Solar Cell Technology (SuSolTech) and FME ZEN. To generate a knowledge base about solar cell use in Norway, there is a need to develop research infrastructure for monitoring solar irradiation and performance. It is also necessary to establish infrastructure for design and testing of solar panels, both in relation to building technology and energy performance.

Given the rapid development and high demands that will be made of the energy system going forward, it will be necessary to upgrade and expand existing laboratories in this area. This particularly applies to ICT infrastructure and software for monitoring and managing the energy system. Equipment that enables experimental activities and research on larger components and higher effects as part of a power system will also be necessary.

There is a need to further expand a national research infrastructure within the entire field of electrification of the transport sector (batteries, fuel cells, hydrogen and direct electrification). In the area of batteries, there is a need not only for generic research infrastructure but also for specialised equipment for testing and characterisation of commercial batteries and battery systems. Equipment that forms the basis for developing new battery materials and concepts will also be essential. 

Hydrogen production from natural gas, in combination with CCS, will open up new business opportunities for Norway. The export of hydrogen from Norway will promote large-scale use of hydrogen in power production and industry. Infrastructure related to this type of hydrogen use will be important, as well as research infrastructure related to storing and transporting liquid hydrogen.

For developing next-generation carbon capture technologies, it is important to upgrade existing equipment and develop new infrastructure for carbon capture from industrial sources. Infrastructure that supports safe and effective CO2 transport by pipeline and ships will also be necessary. The needs for CO2 storage are related to further developing storage pilots, and testing CO2 injection as well as storage capacity and integrity. New infrastructures should ideally be relevant to either climate-positive solutions or hydrogen production combined with CCS. The development of Norwegian CCS infrastructure should be organised through ECCSEL. 

For social science research, it will be important to establish open, joint databases and frameworks. Joint data infrastructure can help to increase the quality of research results by improving quality assurance of input data and assumptions, broader scientific approaches, better comparability across analyses and more openness about methods and databases. Examples include a joint framework for linking models across different modelling traditions and sectors, curation of databases on energy technologies, costs and energy/climate policy measures in different countries, and curation of databases and time-series for the global carbon budget. 

Interface with other areas 

The field of energy research encompasses a wide array of disciplines and technologies. Equipment in a number of other areas plays an important role in energy research alongside specialised infrastructures. In particular, this includes nanotechnology and materials technology, which are applied throughout much of the field of energy research and are essential in research on solar energy as well as on batteries and fuel cells. Equipment in the area of bioresources is used for bioenergy research, and the equipment for maritime technology (towing tanks and ocean tanks) is of great benefit for marine energy research. Equipment for climate and environmental research is important for scientists studying the environmental effects of renewable energy.




ECCSEL – European Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage Laboratory Infrastructure

ESFRI Landmark

ELPOWERLAB – Future distribution and transmission electrical grid components lab

Under establishment/in operation

HighEFFLab – National Laboratories for an Energy Efficient Industry

Under establishment/in operation

HydroCen Labs – Norwegian Research Centre for Hydropower Technology Laboratories

Under establishment/in operation

NABLA – Norwegian Advanced Battery Laboratory Infrastructure

Worthy of funding


Under establishment/in operation

ZEB Lab – Norwegian Zero Emission Building Laboratory

Under establishment/in operation

Norwegian Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Centre*

Funding period completed/in operation

NSST – Norwegian laboratory for silicon-based solar cell technology*

Funding period completed/in operation

OBLO – NOWERI Norwegian Offshore Wind Energy Research Infrastructure*

Funding period completed/in operation

SmartGrid – National Smart Grid Laboratory & Demonstration Platform*

Funding period completed/in operation




E-INFRA ved UNINETT Sigma 2 – a national e-Infrastructure for science

Under establishment/in operation

NorBioLab – Norwegian Biorefinery Laboratory

Under establishment/in operation

* Infrastructures where the project period with Research Council funding has been concluded, or was scheduled to be concluded in 2019, do not have a separate project description on the roadmap. You will instead find a reference to the infrastructure's website or the Research Council's project bank.

Messages at time of print 1 June 2023, 00:20 CEST

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