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Interview with Stian Backe - Energy Master Student

Stian Backe
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EnergyLab

Stian Backe is currently in his second year of the master program in Renewable Energy at UiB. With a solid background and a strong interest in mathematics and energy, his master thesis is about logistics and optimization of the installation of offshore wind farms.

He considers himself as a practical person and wishes to contribute to the world, society and environment in a more technical way. The energy transition needs to be done and he hopes he can use his knowledge to help improving the energy system.

Why did you choose to study a Master in energy and at UiB/HiB?

I think energy is a very interesting topic, and I would like to contribute to changing our energy system. It is a very specific task that needs to be done and this is what I want to do in my career and in my life. It is also related to the value of the environment and I feel the way I can contribute the most is by doing technical stuff.

I like the Master program at UiB. It's nice, interesting and more than I expected it to be. Once you start learning you will realise how useful the knowledge can be in many different fields. I’m very happy with the choice.

What is your best experience with this study?

The moments when I suddenly understand the complicated problems related to math that I have been stuck with for a long time. It's almost like a glimpse. From not understanding anything to understand everything. I really enjoy those moments.

Tell us about your master thesis.

My thesis is about optimizing the installation of offshore wind farms. I work on creating a model to optimize the process of installing the different components. It's not specifically related to wind energy, but it's about how to arrange the different installation vessels. Decide who is going to transport what from which port so that the cost is minimized. Since offshore wind is a very expensive way to produce energy it is essential to minimize costs.

My research cooperates with Marintech and is linked to an EU project - LEANWIND. A model with similar function has been developed in this project, and my research is focused on making it more detailed and to see if it makes a difference to take more small factors into account. I use a program called AMPL and I write everything in LaTeX.

Optimisation models are very general tools, which can be used in many different industries and aspects. I’m very happy to do this research topic, because I have been always enjoying math and optimisation is very much about math.

How do you think this education can be used in your future career?

I really think this education and getting the knowledge of creating these models, which has wide applications, will be very useful for my future career. It would be very nice if I can have an opportunity to continue working on this topic.

How do you think your research can influence the world?

The model can make installation cheaper, and I hope it will be able to solve the problems of size. In addition, this is not only useful for people who arrange the installation ships, but also the people who build the installation ships.

What is the coolest finding of your research?

I think the coolest thing of my research is that you only need to put in the parameters in the model and get the optimal solution out. Also, I think the realization that I can write the models out mathematically and be able to find an optimal solution is the coolest thing.

How do you picture the energy future? What are your visions or hope?

I picture the energy future to be very different in not so many years. The question is whether you can find the balance quickly and transfer the energy consumption from certain resources to different resources. I think making the energy transition and clean energy production happen during the same period is crucial if we want to shift to cleaner energy in the future.