Late october I did participate at the International Symposium “Arctic Connections” in Rome, to talk about the energy transition in the Arctic – and how we can move forward towards a greener future.

The environmental footprint of EU and the world has a significant impact on the Arctic. The symphtoms of the global climate challenges are most evident in the Arctic. For example, the Arctic region is warming three times faster than the rest of the planet. The EU contributes to Arctic warming through an 8% share in global greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the EU is responsible for around 36% of Arctic deposition of black carbon, which speeds up the warming of the Arctic, the melting of snow and ice surfaces, and is a harmful air pollutant. The melting of ice and thawing of permafrost in the Arctic further accelerate climate change and have huge knock-on effects.

So, how can we succeed with sustainable development in the Arctic? And how may EU act, to make the Arctic safe, stable, sustainable and prosperous?

President Franco Frattini held the opening speach at the Arctic Connection Symposium, reflecting on the global challenges, and the role of European countries for sustainable development of the Arctic.

Mr. Johan VIBE, Ambassador of Norway to Italy, Benedetto DELLA VEDOVA, Undersecretary of State – Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Morten HØGLUND, Norwegian Senior Arctic Official and Arne O. HOLM, the editor in chief at High North News, Nord University all held opening statements.

In his inspirational talk, Arne O. Holm quoted the Greenland politician Aaja Chemnitz Larsen, in order to explain a crucial premise for the EU’s Arctic engagement:

– Nothing about us without us.

Meaning, the people in the Arctic has contextual knowledge that must be taken into account, before making EU policies that affects the Arctic region.

For two days, the Symposium set the scene for international dialogue, hosted by Società Italiana per l’Organizzazione Internazionale – SIOI, which is the UN Association of Italy, in collaboration with The High North Center at Nord University.

At the Symposium, the phrase «What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic” was constantly repeated by different panelists from outside the Arctic. For some, it seems that the easiest way of protecting the Arctic would be to prohibit industrial activity in the region.

In that regard, it was important for me to share insights on how we do contribute to the global sustainability goals. We are lowering the emissions, because we are basing our industrial activity on renewables. We are exploiting the resources in a responsible manner, by developing more circular economy solutions.

We do contribute to the global sustainability goals, by lowering the emissions, and by creating more circular economy solutions.

Knowing that many associates the Arctic with desolated areas covered in snow and ice, it was also important to show that while we do have winter seasons and snow, life in the Arctic is so much more. Thanks to the warming Gulf stream, and the Nordic people who find it in their hearts to live here, in the High North, we can contribute to global sustainability in so many ways. By developing attractive communities we maintain geopolitical stability in the Arctic region. Our development of renewables, clean energy technologies and green products is in the best interest of the Arctic, the EU and the world.

Our precense and our green industrial development is in the best interest for the Arctic, the EU and the world.

The hydroelectric power plants in our region are producing endless amounts of green energy. The industry in Norway, are based on hydroelectric power. The power intensive industry in Norway is also based on hydroelectric power.

The process industry in Northern Norway were built in close proximity to these hydroelectric power plants, and the industrial value chains have grown as their industrial activity increased. So has the cities and the communities up north. One example is the Alcoa Aluminum production site in Mosjøen, producing green aluminum for the global market. The energy transition also offers new industrial opportunities. Nearby the Alcoa site, Gen 2 Energy is going to produce green Hydrogen, and Bergen Carbon Solutions will Capture Carbon Dioxide for producing Carbon Nano Fibers.

In our region Helgeland, we have a long industrial history, way back to Thomas A. Edison. He was the inventor of the light bulb, and also magnetic separation of iron ore. Based on this process, the Dunderland Iron Ore Company (D.I.O.C) was founded in 1902. Dunderland is located only 35 km north of Mo industrial park, and today, the same ore is still being mined by a local company called Rana Gruber, and their products are sold to global markets. For many decades, we have built industrial competence, we hold an industrial DNA, that accelerates innovation and industrial growth.

Minerals and metals are important building blocks for the green shift, so we take pride in making and exporting products made from green energy.

In Mo industrial park, you’ll find three international metal producers, and a wide range of suppliers. Minerals and metals are important building blocks for the green shift, so we take pride in making and exporting products made from green energy. Within Mo industrial park, the companies exchange material streams and energy sources. It is a successful showcase of an ongoing circular economy at an industrial scale. A pilot for carbon capture at an industrial scale will be implemented by Elkem Rana next year, in collaboration with other companies and R&D institutes like SINTEF. This is an important contribution for accelerating circular economy and sustainability.

One of the metal producers is Celsa, a Spanish family owned company. Together with Statkraft and Mo Industrial park, they are establishing a green hydrogen value chain for industrial use. The aim is to replace fossil input factors with green hydrogen, to produce one of Europe most climate friendly reinforcing steel and rolling wire. This includes building a plant for electrolysis-based hydrogen production in Mo Industrial park.

For Celsa, this is an important initiative to achieve their long-term sustainability goals. They focus on sustainable production technology such as hydrogen, to meet society’s need for quality steel without compromising future generations.

Right next to Celsa, Freyr Battery is an emerging producer of clean battery solutions. They are building five giga factories, the first one to be finished is a customer qualification plant – and it will be ready for manufacturing by next year. Developing 43 GWh of battery cell production capacity by 2025 will position FREYR as one of Europe’s largest battery cell suppliers. They are now listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and an important part of a global value chain for energy storage.

These examples shows some of the industrial development by partners of the Arctic Cluster Team. The Cluster has 98 members, covering the industrial value chain from raw materials to products, supported by suppliers, R&D sector, universities and schools.

Within the cluster there are so many more examples of sustainable development, and I would have loved to talk about all of them at the Symposium, but sadly, I had time for only one more. So, I chose to talk about Finnfjord, one of the world’s most energy efficient ferrosilicon producer. In addition to this, together with the Arctic University of Norway, they have developed, and are now scaling up and commercializing the production of Arctic algae. The algae feeds on carbon dioxide from the process plant, and are later used as fish farming food. This way, Norway can increase the production of arctic seafood in a sustainable manner.

Arctic Cluster Team aim to be a driving force for sustainable transition of Norway.

Our technology, processes, green raw materials and products for energy storage and new energy carriers are important contributions to the new standards for sustainable development.

In the Arctic, we have been blessed with unique advantages, that enables sustainable development based on renewable energy. Through our focus on responsible production and sustainable use of resources, we do protect the Arctic, and uptain geopolitical stability, while accelerating the global energy transition.

Monica Paulsen
Cluster Manager