The two pillars of the energy transition: Technological innovation and skills development

magnus-kuschelThe search for sustainable energy solutions presents challenges that require both technology and skills development. Magnus Kuschel, Innovation Manager at Innovatum Science Park, shares his perspectives on how the energy industry needs to adapt and integrate different energy sources and technologies to meet future demands and opportunities.

With a background in companies such as Volvo and SKF, Magnus Kuschel is an experienced innovation leader. He has extensive expertise gained from both national and international business. His industrial expertise, together with a PhD in development and implementation, is of great service when working on the energy sector transition.

– The question of implementation is highly relevant now with the major transition taking place in the energy sector in general and with the potential to realise combined energy parks, says Magnus Kuschel, innovation manager at Innovatum Science Park.

Developing combined energy solutions

Kuschel stresses the importance of finding innovative ways to optimise the energy system, with electrification helping to break the current dependence on fossil fuels. An important aspect in this area is the use of smart combinations in local energy systems.

According to Kuschel, the concept is about integrating different energy sources and technologies, which creates flexibility, frees up power and reduces environmental impact. This can include combining wind power with solar energy, battery storage and other sources to create a comprehensive and reliable energy system.

– Unfortunately, polarised views can easily arise, as can the belief that a single solution is enough, but the energy system is complex, and needs are interlinked in many ways. It’s not either/or, it’s about getting rid of fossil fuels quickly. Where there is wind power, there is potential to supplement it with solar parks. A major advantage is to utilise the existing infrastructure that has already been built. To over-simply things somewhat, it is possible, for example, to add 5 MW of solar power for every 10 MW of wind power without having to make any major changes to the infrastructure. Natural phenomena complement each other, Kuschel says.

He argues that combined energy solutions not only improve capacity utilisation but also provide a sustainable solution that reduces dependence on fossil fuels.

– This shift has already started to take shape in some parts of the world, with several good examples in Germany. The integration of different energy sources has proven to be innovative and beneficial in several ways such as for societal infrastructure services, energy suppliers and climate benefits, Kuschel says.

Skills development as a key to success

Skills development is a critical factor to realise the potential of combined energy solutions and meet the emerging needs of the energy sector. Magnus Kuschel emphasises that the energy sector is constantly changing, and that both current and future professionals in the sector need to develop their skills and knowledge.

– The kind of changes we are seeing now have not happened in more than 50 years, and many individuals may feel overwhelmed. One of the solutions to this is to increase diversity: to include more women and people from international backgrounds. People who have recently participated in the construction of energy systems in their home countries can contribute valuable expertise and perspectives, according to Magnus Kuschel.

Innovatum Science Park, which also includes Energikontor Väst (the regional energy agency of West Sweden), is actively working on skills development to meet the requirements. Two examples that Magnus Kuschel mentions are the collaboration with University West and the University of Skövde.

– The collaboration with University West focuses on work-integrated learning for the electricity system of the future, which is crucial for creating both lifelong learning and developing new flexible services in the Fyrbodal local authority. We are also collaborating with the University of Skövde to create digital twins in electricity and energy, a technology that has the potential to unlock innovation in the Skaraborg local authority area and contribute to skills development for several different services.

Another example described by Magnus Kuschel is the collaboration between Innovatum Science Park and companies in Vårgårda. Players such as Gustavsberg, Magna, Doggy and Sundolitt have joined forces with the CoI (Centre of Innovation) in a project called 3F – Förnybart, Flexibilitet & Företag [Renewable, Flexibility & Business]. These collaborations and networks promote skills development and innovation.

Magnus Kuschel emphasises the importance of co-development as well as collaboration.

– Our best opportunities involve coming together in co-development. No single organisation, actor or sector can solve the challenges we face alone. Co-development saves time, promotes competitiveness, can create new businesses or transform service offerings, and offers benefits for the climate.

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