Energy research gets infusion of social science

Photo: Research Council of Norway

Photo: Research Council of Norway

The Research Council will be introducing a stronger social science component into research on environment-friendly energy. To this end, three new FME Centres for Social Science-related Energy Research (FME Samfunn) will now be established.

Each of the centres will receive funding from the Research Council of NOK 5-10 million per year for up to eight years.

The centres are a supplement to the eight FME centres established in 2009 in the areas of offshore wind power, CO2 management, solar energy, bioenergy, environment-friendly energy systems and energy-efficient buildings.

“The objective is to develop strong research groups in the field of social science-related energy research that can provide user groups in the ministries, directorates and trade and industry with fact-based knowledge about the impacts of energy-policy measures before decisions are taken to implement them,” says Tone Ibenholt, coordinator of the FME scheme at the Research Council. Thus, dissemination of research results will be en important task for the three new centres.

The funding announcement for FME Samfunn centres is part of the Research Council’s efforts to follow-up the 2010 national budget, which signals a need to increase the focus on social science-related energy research.

Priority research areas

The Research Council has identified several key areas that the FME Samfunn centres are to cover, including development of models and energy scenarios for analysis of energy markets, studies of the impacts of international climate and energy policy in Norway, energy use and analyses of instruments for achieving policy objectives in the energy sphere, and innovation and value creation in the areas of renewable energy, energy-efficient solutions and CCS.

Two-phase application process

The application process will consist of two phases: A project outline must be submitted to the Research Council by 15 September 2010, and a full application must be submitted by 1 December 2010.

All applicants must submit a project outline to be eligible to submit a full application under the final funding announcement, but no applications will be rejected on the basis of the project outline.

The FME Samfunn centres will be selected primarily on the basis of their relevance to key user groups and the scientific merit of their research.

The centres chosen for funding will be announced in February 2011.

Funding for five to eight years

Each centre will receive an allocation of NOK 5-10 million per year for an initial five-year period. An evaluation will be conducted to determine whether funding is to be continued for an additional three years.

The research institutions themselves will be required to provide a minimum of 25 per cent of the centre’s budget, while the Research Council will contribute up to 75 per cent.

Source: Research Council of Norway

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