Challenging the myth
Julia Velkova, docent at the Department of Environmental Studies – Technology and Social Change, has been awarded SEK 5.7 million for the project Megabytes vs Megawatts: Understanding Infrastructural Frictions between Data Centers and Energy Grids for Sustainable Digitalization. Researchers will study problems and visions to do with sustainability that arise as energy-intensive data centres connect to the power grid during transformation.
The background is that digital services and artificial intelligence play an increasingly important role in the ongoing energy transformation of societal and industrial processes. However, these services are driven by data centres, a growing digital industry and infrastructure that has received much criticism for having an unsustainable and growing consumption of energy.
Julia Velkova says that she is very happy about the grant and sees it as recognition that it is high time to challenge the myth that new digital technology and big data will automatically solve the current energy and climate crisis.
“The funding will help us understand, for example, how companies such as Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon create new problems for energy supply and how it is assumed such problems will be solved. We want to develop a new perspective on how long-term sustainable interaction between the digital infrastructure and an energy system in transformation can be made possible,” she says.
Björn-Ola Linnér. Photo credit David Brohede
Björn-Ola Linnér, professor at the Department of Thematic Studies – Environmental Change, receives SEK 8.2 million for the project Exploring the Transformative Power of Digital Technologies in Global Environmental Governance. The project will examine how new digital technology can promote the innovation needed for effective international environmental cooperation.
In workshops with different actors and social groups, and in coordination with other LiU projects, researchers will experiment with the new digital format. This includes so-called immersive technologies for games and visualisation projects in collaboration with Norrköping’s Visualization Center.
“It’s tremendously encouraging to receive this research funding, that shows LiU’s strength in developing research on central questions about the future lIes in our good multidisciplinary collaboration,” says Björn-Ola Linnér.
Arvid Erlandsson, docent at the Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, is awarded SEK 4.5 million for the research project The symbolism of climate-friendly financial decisions: Impression formation, impression management and lay-beliefs about three strategies when investing green. Erlandsson is researching financial investment as a type of moral decision.
The project consists of several sub-studies. The ultimate goal is to increase understanding for the symbolic value of different investments and thereby introduce social-based strategies that enable peoples’ financial behaviour to be more consistent with their relatively pro-environmental attitudes. This knowledge must also be communicated both in media and in internal training.
“I’m happy and a little overwhelmed, as in addition to this grant I also received funding from the Swedish Research Council for another research project. There will be a lot of research in the near future. At the same time, it’s important to be humble and remember that there’s a lot of luck and chance involved in these decisions,” says Arvid Erlandsson
The Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation was established in 1963 and has since then distributed almost SEK 3.2 billion in grants, mainly to social sciences research. Priority projects include new research areas and research of a cross-border nature, often with a focus on IT.
It is much less common for LiU researchers to receive grants from the foundation for social sciences than from KAW, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, which supports research in medicine, technology and the natural sciences.
Ulf Melin, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, welcomes the new research grants.
“It’s very pleasing that researchers at the faculty perform so well in such a competitive environment. It’s evidence of creative and diligent work, as well as sensitivity in framing topical, relevant and intellectually interesting research themes and issues,” he says.
• Read more about the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.