My Effect

Sanna Syri: The energy industry needs a wide variety of expertise to combat the climate change

Slowing climate change demands comprehensive understanding of energy markets and resolute decision-making. For me, training the future experts in sustainable energy systems is the most important way to have an impact.

Smarter energy batteries

I study large-scale energy systems, such as international electricity markets, as well as district-heating systems. With my background as a specialist in curbing climate change, I’m interested in energy policy, the measures it involves and their impacts.

Together with my research group, I do a lot of work to sketch out scenarios for the large-scale energy systems of the future. There are a lot of questions still open: How much more wind power will there be on the Nordic market and how could we best utilize it? How can district heat systems respond to the challenge of rapid transformation to carbon neutrality?

It is certain that radical, large-scale changes will be needed in the near future. According to the recent report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Europe has to quickly give up fossil fuels altogether if it wants to fulfil its part in keeping global warming below 1.5° Celsius.

Carbon trading has a key role

During the depression, the prices of emission allowances dropped so low that the mechanism actually favoured more polluting fuels. Now there has been a rapid escalation in prices, and a tonne of carbon dioxide currently costs more than 60 euros. This has also pushed up electricity prices in Europe.

It is important that carbon trading becomes a credible mecha­nism. This will mean that different actors will dare to invest and cleaner options will become more competitive. This change will take place through market mechanisms, without subsidies, which, according to our research, simply serve to fragment the market. The next extremely important step is that all main polluting countries would agree to increasingly ambitious emission reduction targets, and linking emission trading mechanisms of different regions would be a cost-efficient way forward.

Training future experts to create solutions

The energy industry requires a wide variety of expertise and close cooperation between different sectors. For me, training the future experts in sustainable energy systems is the most important way to have an impact.

Every year, I have around 300 students taking my bachelor’s level course, and I take more than 100 master students to deeper learning. I want to give them a realistic perspective on large-scale energy systems and what can, and should, be done to change them. Doctoral education is a good way to deepen the expertise further. In my group, I have half a dozen young researchers making their doctoral research.

The employment situation for all the graduated students is very good and I am happy and proud when I see that my students find their future as professionals in this field.

Sanna Syri, Professor of Energy Technology and Economics

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