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Idaho National Laboratory engages with Arctic communities at global assembly

September 18, 2023

By Donna Kemp Spangler

Idaho National Laboratory’s Frontiers Initiative will take center stage when climate scientists and policymakers from around the world convene at the 2023 Arctic Circle Assembly in October in Iceland.

University partners and defense experts with INL-led Emerging Energy Markets Analysis (EMA) initiative will participate in panel discussions. They’ll highlight their work on the INL Frontiers Initiative, which is enabling global competition in low-emission industries, including the resulting impact on Arctic strategies and security.

The assembly’s panels were selected from more than 280 submissions in 27 countries and reflect a multidisciplinary approach to accelerate clean energy by addressing resiliency, community needs and social acceptance.

“The focus on changing energy choices for communities with local values in mind resonates with EMA’s approach, which is well situated for the conference,” said Kathy Araújo, director of the Energy Policy Institute, the policy arm for the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, and professor of sustainable energy systems, innovation and policy at Boise State University.

Araújo will participate on two panels related to her energy work.

The panel titled “Opening New Arctic Frontiers in Low-Carbon Economic Development” will highlight the latest innovations in clean energy and how these technologies can drive economic growth in the Arctic. It is led by EMA’s Christi Bell, associate vice chancellor and executive director of the University of Alaska Anchorage Business Enterprise Institute. The topic represents work with her university and EMA collaborators at University of Wyoming and Boise State. The panel also includes Gen. Gary Dylewski, an INL contractor, and EMA member Tara Righetti, professor of law at University of Wyoming.

“Our session will focus on the latest advances in low-carbon technologies, the potential opportunities presented by their use, and the speed at which these technologies are entering the marketplace,” said Bell. “Additionally, we will evaluate the challenges to their implementation, including social acceptance and community readiness, incomplete regulatory and policy frameworks, and long-term operational considerations. We will also explore the reality of military-economic symbiosis, especially as geopolitical posturing intersects with climate and economic changes in the future.”

In that session, Araújo and Boise State collaborator Cassie Koerner will discuss recent work in Nome, Alaska, on energy, critical minerals mining, and related economic development, plus emerging potential in the Arctic with hydrogen in shipping. This study was in collaboration with INL.

Araújo is also participating in a second panel focused on stakeholder engagement and decision making, work that she does with Koerner. Araújo discusses strategies for consent-based siting that values local priorities and knowledge. Here, she will apply principles of social acceptance.

The topics discussed at the assembly align well with EMA’s role to help entities transition to low emission-based energy strategies, plus products and services to increase U.S competitiveness in regional and global markets. EMA provides information about integrated capabilities for the Frontiers Initiative, which works with stakeholders in nuclear first-mover states – Alaska, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah – to secure U.S. leadership in the new economic frontier.

“This is really important to have the INL Frontiers Initiative represented at this prestigious gathering,” said Steven Aumeier, senior advisor of Strategic Programs at INL. “It’s a clear reminder of what the Frontiers group is discussing and urging action on – economic and national security, geopolitical competition and the role of nuclear energy in establishing the foundations.”

The Arctic Circle Assembly is an international gathering representing eight countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, U.S. (Alaska), Canada, Denmark (Greenland) and Iceland.

About Idaho National Laboratory

Battelle Energy Alliance manages INL for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. INL is the nation’s center for nuclear energy research and development, celebrating 75 years of scientific innovations in 2024. The laboratory performs research in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and the environment. 

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Posted September 18, 2023

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