New thematic research group launched
One of three thematic research groups funded by UiO:Energy was recently launched. Circular Energy is focusing on the role of maintenance and repair of digitalisation technologies in reducing climate emissions.
In the period 2019-2023, UiO:Energy is working to establish and strengthen new professional groups within topics related to the development of sustainable energy systems and society. The groups will also contribute to the development of an interdisciplinary culture and collaboration between UiO researchers, and external collaborations both nationally and internationally.
Three TRGs (Thematic Research Groups) have received funding, one of which is Circular Energy for a Sustainable Circular Economy: Exploring design, maintenance, and repair as energy conservation strategies. It is coordinated by Professor Maja van der Velden at the Department of Informatics and recently had its formal launch.
Obstacles to maintenance and repair
The Circular Energy research group is focusing on maintenance and repair as energy conservation tools. Through repair it is possible to extend the lifetime of digital products such as mobile phones, laptops, servers, routers and so on, thus postponing the loss of energy in the recycling process as well as preventing greenhouse gas emissions generated as part of the production of new products.
– Together with our colleagues of the Department of Private Law (IFP), we are looking into the opportunities and obstacles for product maintenance and repair when it comes to these products. We call them digitalisation technologies, because they are central in the further digitalisation of Norway, says van der Velden.
– This past summer we had a project with three UiO master students, made possible with funding from UiO:Energy, in which we looked into the independent repair sector in Oslo. We created a repair map of Oslo and we are at the moment analysing 26 interviews with independent repairers in Oslo. With my colleague Dr. Eléonore Maitre-Ekern from IFP, I am looking into the obstacles to maintenance and repair for large electronics companies in the Nordics. This study will enable us to propose policies and regulation that support repair, she explains.
Important boost for interdisciplinarity
In order to understand the impact of maintenance and repair of digital technologies, there is a need for both an understanding of maintenance and repair as a social practice as well as activities that can be measured.
– We do this through lifecycle assessments of these products, which enables us to decide when to repair and when to replace. Together with postdoc Tigist Fetene Adane, we are looking into what we gain, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, when we extend the lifespan of a digital product with 1, 3 or 5 years. We are using UiO as our case and thus hope to contribute to UiO’s sustainability efforts, in particular when it comes to UiO’s procurement policies and contracts, which need to have an increased focus on the lifetime extension of products, says van der Velden and adds:
– Obtaining funding for interdisciplinary projects that because of their interdisciplinary have a different take on the formulation of a problem and how to research it, is always a struggle. UiO consists of many strong research groups, but we have not a strong culture to work interdisciplinary within UiO. Things are changing, fortunately, and UiO:Energy plays a central role here with their thematic research area Energy Transition and Sustainable Societies.
The other two TRGs receiving funding and support from UiO:Energy are:
Spatial-Temporal Uncertainty in Energy Systems (SPATUS), coordinated by Professor Fred Espen Benth at the Department of Mathematics.
Energy Transition in Oil ExportingCountries – Discourses on the Green Shift and Climate Change in Norway and the Gulf, coordinated by Professor Brynjar Lia at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages.