RENEWable PhD’s

Doctoral research fellows Odin Foldvik Eideland, Karoline Ingebrigtsen and Inger Helene Svartdal. Not present at the time of the photo is Nasrin Kianpoor. Photo credit: Berit Kristoffersen

Kimchi and Spanish road bicycle racing: Get to know the four doctoral research fellows working in the RENEW project.

Sustainable 24/7

-I think it’s so great that ARC can dedicate itself entirely to sustainable energy in the Arctic. There are so many things that can be done, even in small rural communities, that have an impact on our global climate!

Her enthusiasm is contagious – Karoline Ingebrigtsen cares deeply about sustainability. With a Master of science in Energy, Climate and Environment, Ingebrigtsen is specialized in renewable energy. And her interest doesn’t stop at work.

-I care about sustainability in all parts of life. I am lucky enough to get to work with renewable energy at work, but I also think a lot about sustainability in my private life. I try my best to make choices that are less harmful for the planet when possible. I read a lot, and I have been an active member of a Norwegian environmental organization, says Ingebrigtsen.

Karoline Ingebrigtsen visiting Greenland. Photo credit: Karoline Ingebrigtsen

As one of four doctoral research fellows working on the RENEW-project, Ingebrigtsen will focus her time on studying and developing the battery technology needed for the Smart Senja-project.

-To ease some of the pressure on the local power grids in Husøy and Senjahopen, the plan is to install batteries that can be charged with locally produced power from for example solar panels. This way, when the energy consumption is at its highest during the day, the batteries can contribute with extra electricity into the power grid. This will hopefully lead to fewer black-outs and damages in the local circuit, says Ingebrigtsen.

How big should the batteries be? What materials should they be made of? And at what time during the day should they send their electricity into the power grid? Those are some of the questions Ingebrigtsen will work on for the next few years. But how did she end up in RENEW?

-I care about sustainability in all parts of life.

-When I saw the position opening up, I was already working at SINTEF (independent research organization based in Trondheim, red.anm.). I was working with smart infrastructure and consumption of electricity there as well, and I enjoyed my time in Trondheim. Still, I felt there was something missing in my life. It’s something about the rugged, beautiful landscape in Northern Norway that I can’t live without. I love hiking, skiing and just being in the nature in Northern Norway, and it’s just easier to live the life I want to live in Tromsø, says Ingebrigtsen.

From Iran to Narvik via Denmark

In spite of starting only a few weeks ago, Nasrin Kianpoor is already full of ideas and projects. As the fourth and last PhD-student to be recruited to RENEW, Nasrin had her first day in January 2020 and is located in Narvik.

-I am so amazed by the people in Narvik, they are so warm and friendly! Everything is of course a bit new right now, but I am very happy with my coworkers and the work environment, says Kianpoor.

Kianpoor has her origins in Iran, where she graduated with a master’s degree in electrical engineering in at the Shiraz University of Technology. Before coming to Narvik, Nasrin worked at the University of Aalborg at the Department of Energy Technology. She dedicated her time there to renewable energy and microgrid concepts.

Nasrin Kianpoor. Photo credit: Nasrin Kianpoor

-During my time in Aalborg I came across the vacant Ph.D. position in electrical engineering at UiT. The topic was interesting and relevant to my background so I applied. The rest is history as they say, and here I am in Narvik working with RENEW!, says Kianpoor.

Kianpoor will be working on developing an intelligent distribution system of electricity for the two fishing communities.

– The objective of my part is to develop and implement technologies, support methodologies and tools needed for optimal operation of a future robust, flexible and intelligent distribution system, says Kianpoor.

Besides work, Nasrin is looking forward to the summer when she can explore the nature around Narvik. She enjoys hiking, going to the gym and cooking.

Many people do not realize how far the development within renewable energy has come.

Solar panels FTW

Odin Foldvik Eideland has always had his mind set on living in Northern Norway. Born and raised in Kviby outside Alta, he can’t do without the magnificent nature in these parts.

-I love being outside in nature, where cycling and cross-country skiing has always been a big part of my life. To be able to combine my two passions, nature and academia, there is no better place than Tromsø. Here you can go hiking and bicycling in beautiful scenery in the summer and skiing in the same beautiful scenery in the winter, says Eideland.

In the RENEW-project, Eideland will explore the possibilities of setting up solar panels on Husøy and Senjahopen. By producing more electricity locally in the two fishing communities, it should ease some of the pressure on the already overloaded power grid, which in turn should reduce the risk of black-outs.

Odin is the first person from Finnmark county to be part of a professional road bicycle racing team in Spain. Photo credit: Odin Foldvik Eideland

-I did my Master of Science in Energy, Climate and Environment at the University in Tromsø. I’m particularly interested in renewable energy sources and how they perform in the Arctic region. Many people do not realize how far the development within renewable energy has come. Solar power can actually be a great source of energy production, even in the Arctic region. It is green, it is reliable during the summer months and the technology is becoming cheaper, to the point where people can install them on their houses and sell electricity to their neighbors, says Eideland.

Another thing many people don’t realize is that Eideland, according to himself, is the only person from Finnmark county to ever compete professionally in road bicycle racing as part of a Spanish club. He has competed in numerous races with his club Dare Gaviota based in Murcia, as well as being part of various Norwegian clubs through the years.

Eideland has taken part in some memorable experiences through his cycling, one of those being Tour de Maroc, a 10-day, 1500 km race under the burning Moroccan sun.

Kimchi and culture

The Korean delicacy, although pungent, gives Inger Helene Svartdal exactly what she needs to brighten up the dark, Arctic nights.

-I’m a foodie in every sense of the word. I have been lucky enough to travel a lot over the last few years, and one of the places I’ve been is South Korea. Anyone who has ever been there knows how important kimchi is for Koreans. From my stay there, I bring with me two things: a deep-seated knowledge of Korean culture, and deep-seated love for kimchi, says Svartdal.

There is virtually no precedent to what we are doing.

Knowledge of culture is one of Svartdal’s strengths, which is why she has been recruited to fill the part of the social scientist in the 4-piece group. With a bachelor’s in social anthropology from UiT, and a master’s in International Relations and Diplomacy from AAU in Prague, her background is both diverse and solid.

-I will study the relationship between technology and society. How do the local population in these fishing communities experience the technological changes that are being introduced? The transition to a green and sustainable society is not just a question of technological innovation, but also of a social reorientation; we have to change the way we live our lives. How do you do that in a way that causes the least amount of resistance from the citizens? That is what I want to find out through my work, says Svartdal.

Inger Helene Svartdal in Seoul. Photo credit: Inger Helene Svartdal

The next few years, Svartdal will be doing interviews and studying the attitudes of the local population closely as the project develops. The implications of her research, she says, could be massive.


-There is virtually no precedent to what we are doing. The knowledge we will get from this project will be unique internationally. Numerous small communities around the world similar to Husøy and Senjahopen can benefit from our research. In the long run, this could help reduce climate gas emissions significantly, says Svartdal.