Photo of Maria Johansson

Maria Johansson

Senior Associate Professor

More Efficient and Flexible Energy Use – Increased Competitiveness and Reduced Climate Impact

Sweden aims to have no net emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere by 2045. Achieving this goal requires measures that make energy use more efficient and replace fossil fuels with renewable alternatives.

It is important not to study processes and companies as isolated islands but to broaden the system boundary and view energy use from a larger perspective. This approach is central to my research. What may be an improvement measure for an individual process, company, or organization can, from a broader perspective, turn out to be a deterioration. Several of the research projects I am involved in are interdisciplinary, and I am also the director of research studies for the interdisciplinary graduate school "Graduate School in Energy Systems," whose purpose is to "increase knowledge and understanding of how the development of the energy system depends on the interaction between technology and the society's regulatory systems, political decision-making processes, and the interests and actions of various stakeholders."

Reduced Dependence on Fossil Fuels

A question where a broader system perspective is of great importance is how Sweden's dependence on fossil fuels can be reduced. Electrification and conversion to renewable fuels are important opportunities that need to be studied from a system perspective. However, electricity production from wind and solar is weather-dependent, and as the share of wind and solar power in the electricity system grows, strategies are needed to balance production and demand at every moment. The electricity system can be balanced through 1) dispatchable and flexible electricity production such as hydropower and bioenergy, 2) energy storage such as batteries and hydrogen, and 3) flexible electricity use. In my research, I have studied how the industry can be a flexible electricity user and what barriers and drivers exist. Additionally, since biomass is a limited resource, it is crucial to use it in a sustainable way that provides the greatest climate benefit. In my research, I study this in various ways, such as the use of biofuels in industry, efficient and sustainable use of wood-based materials in the construction sector, and sustainable biogas solutions.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is not just about energy-efficient technology. To achieve more efficient energy use, effective energy management is also required. How to achieve effective energy management and what can promote or hinder it is something I study in my research. Despite profitability being demonstrated for measures to improve energy efficiency, companies do not always implement these measures. The gap between profitable measures and what is implemented is usually called the energy efficiency gap. Here, I study not only energy management within a company but also include its suppliers.

Reusing Heat

Another question I study is how to use the surplus heat that arises in industrial processes in an energy-efficient and climate-smart way. There are several possibilities here, such as reuse in the process where the heat was generated, use in another process within the company, external use in other operations such as district heating or electricity production. True surplus heat is the heat that cannot be reused in processes within the company. How to use this surplus heat most efficiently can vary from case to case depending on the existing conditions.




Bruna Maria Xavier, Patrik Thollander, Per Hilletofth, Maria Johansson (2024) Exploring energy management integration into upstream supply chains: a systematic literature review Frontiers in Energy Research, Vol. 12 Continue to DOI


Igor Cruz, Danica Djuric Ilic, Maria Johansson (2023) Using flexible energy system interactions amongst industry, district heating, and the power sector to increase renewable energy penetration Energy Efficiency, Vol. 16, Article 53 Continue to DOI
Louise Ödlund, Maria Johansson, Danica Djuric Ilic (2023) Towards Sustainable Energy Systems in a Backcasting Perspective
Christoffer Wadström, Maria Johansson, Gazi Salah Uddin (2023) The influence of global and domestic uncertainty on electricity supply: A study of Swedish power sources Energy Reports, Vol. 10, p. 958-972 Continue to DOI
Danica Djuric Ilic, Louise Ödlund, Maria Johansson (2023) Towards a Sustainable Future: A Review of Heating and Cooling Solutions