Transitioned from Oil to Green Tech
It Is Possible to Achieve Climate Targets by 2030

Translated and adapted from an original article by Jarl Henning Nilsen, published by Stavanger Aftenblad on 13 February 2024

Knut Husdal, Lars Husdal, office, Innoasis, Novatech, Stavanger, green tech, innovation, climate target 2030, net zero, sustainability, AI, machine learning

Lars Husdal and Knut Husdal. Photo: Lars Kristian Aalgaard/Novatech

Knut Husdal left the oil adventure for green technology. Investors punishing unprofitable green projects do not scare him. "They can't stop the development," he asserts.

Knut Husdal, CEO of Novatech, is convinced that Norway will achieve its climate targets. The question is not if but how quickly. Pictured here with his brother and co-founder Lars Husdal.


The building in Bjergsted, which once housed The Norwegian Offshore Directorate (formerly known as Oljedirektoratet, or The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate), when the oil adventure took off in Stavanger, now focuses on green innovation.

Knut Husdal, with more than 20 years in the oil industry behind him, is now betting everything on the company Novatech to find solutions to climate challenges. 

Husdal is an eager technology optimist. "Absolutely all challenges humanity has faced since the dawn of time have been solved with technology. A classic example is London and New York, which were about to drown in horse manure. Then the car came – and horse manure became a shrug." he states firmly. 

However, technological optimism does not necessarily translate into an increased willingness to invest. 

The  Paradox
"It costs more to invest in innovation due to higher interest rates and general price increases. There is, therefore, reason to fear that it has become riskier to invest in innovation. This can be challenging for some of the green ideas," says Lene Skjæveland Bø, CEO of SR-Bank's Entrepreneur Academy. 

She observes several signs that quick returns trump green innovation in the entrepreneurial community here in the city.

"It doesn't help if the oil sector is booming, but the profits aren't used to discover the new technology that will save us," says Lene Skjæveland Bø, CEO of SR-Bank's Gründer Academy. Photo: Jarle Aasland

And here lies a paradox: If technology is the solution, why aren't we investing more in it?

The stock markets give a thumbs down.
When Equinor presented its second-best result in history last week, only surpassed by the record year of 2022, the company still plummeted on the stock exchange. Analysts believe Equinor's willingness to invest money in unprofitable renewable energy projects is part of the explanation.

Equinor's platform manager in Norway, Kjetil Hove, gave CEO Anders Opedal a thumbs up during the capital market day in London earlier this year. However, the stock market gave the company a thumbs down, and Equinor experienced its worst day on the stock exchange in almost four years. Photo: Jon Ingemundsen

Earlier this year, it was also revealed that the state climate fund Nysnø's first major success, the solar panel company Otovo, had its market value shaved by 161 million in just one year.

Using AI to reduce emissions
Back in Bjergsted, Husdal explains how his company can help others reduce CO₂ emissions using artificial intelligence. The program they have developed simulates the effects of measures to reduce emissions on oil fields. This way, emissions can be cut while keeping costs down.

"None of these companies are set up to reduce emissions. They are set up to produce gas, bicycles, or cars. Whereas we are set up to figure out how they can reduce it. We can quickly and easily find out with this tool," he explains.

Not afraid of a cash drought
Husdal, unlike Skjæveland Bø, is not significantly worried about a lack of investment. "The fact that some businesses or investors are hesitant is not what stops this development," he says – pointing to the huge sums that have been invested in renewable energy globally in recent years. The picture is nuanced. 

Despite the stock markets' clear signals, investments in renewable energy globally remain stable. 

Novatech and their program NESSi are currently in a pilot phase, but soon they will have to stand on their own financial feet. Husdal does not fear this transition. Photo: Lars Kristian Aalgaard/Novatech

"This will happen faster than we think," Husdal believes. He is not concerned that an excessive belief in technology can become a resting cushion. 

"Aren't you afraid that an excessive belief in technology can become a crutch?"
"Of course, it is if you don't do anything. There are two solutions here: either the authorities will issue very strong guidelines, or you can let the competition play out."

Convinced that the climate targets will be met
Husdal uses another example to explain why technology will lead the green shift. 

"You probably use Spotify but still have some CDs on your shelves. The reason we use Spotify is not that we were forced to or that there was a regulation preventing someone from buying it; it's because it works better," he says, adding, "Those who can't keep up will be outcompeted – and to keep up, you have to cut emissions."

So, is Husdal among the many business leaders who do not believe we will reach the climate targets by 2030? "Absolutely not. I believe the 2030 goals will be met easily, and the 2050 goals, undoubtedly."

Knut Husdal, CEO, Novatech AS, Norway, Stavanger

Want to learn more about NESSi?

Our CEO, Knut Husdal, will be happy to explain how Novatech NESSi® can help your company eliminate emissions.

Knut Husdal
+47 402 01 487 

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Org. nr: 929 484 673

+47 402 01 487