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Northern Sweden will become world-leading in the climate transition of basic industry

Published: 29 January 2021

Northern Sweden has the potential to globally show the way for a successful restructuring of the basic industry. A new focus at Luleå University of Technology in close collaboration with Swedish industry will develop the natural resource-based basic industry towards the UN's Sustainability Goals – while maintain and increase in profitability and competitiveness.

Northern Sweden has the potential to globally show the way for a successful restructuring of the basic industry. A new focus at Luleå University of Technology in close collaboration with Swedish industry will develop the natural resource-based basic industry towards the UN's Sustainability Goals - while maintained and increased competitiveness.

– We know that it is right here in northern Sweden that the technical development and restructuring of our national basic industries can be a precursor to how to achieve the UN's Global Sustainability Goals, Christina Wanhainen says, Professor of Ore Geology at Luleå University of Technology .

We need to use more natural resources

To achieve the climate policy goals and manage the transition of the basic industry, we need to use more natural resources, forest, ore and water, which are largely found in northern Sweden. New technology and methodology are needed, new products and new solutions for fossil-free electrification, energy storage, efficient use of raw materials and the use of residual products.

Northern Sweden could be seen as a large demonstration plan

Luleå University of Technology's initiative SUN – Natural resources for sustainability transitions, emphasizes that our natural resources ore, forests and water are a prerequisite for achieving the UN's global sustainability goals. In collaboration with Skogsindustrierna, Vattenfall Vattenkraft AB, LKAB, Lundin Mining, Boliden AB, Epirock, Sandvik, ABB and Svemin, Luleå University of Technology has developed an activity plan for the research initiative that takes place across borders in scientific disciplines, industries and natural resources.

– Northern Sweden could be seen as a large demonstration plant where our research shows the wider world how we successfully can re-structure the natural resource-based industry towards fulfilling the UN Sustainability Development Goals while maintaining and enhancing its competiveness, Christina Wanhainen says, scientific leader of SUN.

Energy-critical metals are needed

To reduce climate change, more energy-critical metals are also needed. These include tellurium, nickel, cobalt and lithium for solar cells, electric cars and battery production. The metal neodymium is used, for example, to manufacture powerful magnets for generators in our wind turbines. All these valuable energy-critical metals that we need to achieve the climate goals can be extracted in Sweden today with great consideration for the environment, but such extraction is also based on the existence of social acceptance.

– Technological development concerns not only technology but also human conditions. In order for the basic industry to transform to fossil-free production and to enhance its competiveness, there is a need for a large number of highly educated people in the next twenty years. And to attract them, we need to build attractive societies, Patrik Söderholm says, Professor of Economics and deputy scientific leader SUN at at Luleå University of Technology.

Our future areas at Luleå university of Technology

Christina Wanhainen

Christina Wanhainen, Professor and Head of Subject

Phone: +46 (0)920 492401
Organisation: Ore Geology, Geosciences and Environmental Engineering, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering
Patrik Söderholm

Patrik Söderholm, Professor

Phone: +46 (0)920 492078
Organisation: Economics, Social Sciences, Department of Social Sciences, Technology and Arts