I was very pleased that Sten Bergman, founder of Swedish energy consulting company StonePower AB, was willing to conduct the following interview with me. Mr. Bergman was the co-author of the recently published Elforsk report on Low Energy Nuclear Reactions
Can you provide a little background about yourself, and how you became involved with StonePower?
I studied among others plasma physics at Chalmers University in Gothenburgh, Sweden in the early 70-ies. My first work was to commission nuclear power stations in Sweden (Oskarshamn, and Barsebäck). Later I helped start up large wind power plants for Sydkraft (now EON). Being R&D manager for ABB Relays and manager for ASIC Design at ABB Corporate Research in Västerås. I came to Japan in 1989 as a Science and Technology Attaché.
I Became Director for Transmission and Distribution at Elforsk (Swedish Electrical Utilities R&D organization) in 1993. From 1999-2002 I served as a Senior Energy Specialist at the World Bank in Washington DC, working with the Africa Rural and Renewable Energy Initiative.
From 2002, when returning to Sweden, I started my own consultant company, StonePower AB in 2002. Since 2012 I am also president of Elbil2020 AB, a local initiative in Stockholm to demonstrate electro-mobility in Sweden. From 2013 I am further partly employed by SP (The Swedish Technical Research Institute) to work on Smart Grid Research and Demonstrations.
What are the missions and objectives of StonePower?
StonePower´s mission is to help NGO´s, large and small (innovation)companies with technology dissemination and market development, especially when it comes to “breakthrough technologies”.
StonePower has been project manager for a number of rural pilot projects in Southern Africa, performed studies of cost effective electrification etc., for the World Bank, Bilateral Donors, WWF and private companies. StonePower supported the development of Rural Pilot projects in Uganda, Tanzania, Swaziland, South Africa and Zambia.
StonePower worked a few years as Board member and Marketing Director for Globelive International, a Swedish startup company specializing in water desalination.
Since 2007 StonePower has been Project Manager for “Plug-in Hybrids and EV infrastructure project” at Elforsk. In 2012 StonePower developed a new Smart Grid technology and formed Smart Innovation Sweden, a company that works with basalt fiber reinforced concrete technology for smart grid applications.
How did you become interested in the LENR field?
The interest started already in the 70s when studying plasma phenomena, like solar protuberances. As a Science Counselor I followed some Cold Fusion development in Japan and in the 90s I made a “classified” preliminary analysis of Joseph Papp´s “Nobel Engine”. Since then I have closely followed the field of plasma related phenomena and new nuclear technologies, developments in superconductivity, ball-lightning, etc.
How did you get involved in preparing a report on LENR for Elforsk?
I suggested to Elforsk already in 2010 to have a closer look at Cold Fusion/LENR technologies and got the task of preparing an overview report together with Margaretha Engström from Vattenfall in 2013.
What was your role in the preparation of the Elforsk report (you are not the only author)?
Margaretha, with a similar plasma physics and nuclear engineering background, prepared a comprehensive internal document at Vattenfall, examining the market potential for LENR technologies seen from a utility perspective. I complemented this study with some plasma physics background, patent analysis and edited parts the report for Elforsk.
After carrying out your research, what is your evaluation of the state of LENR, and of its potential as an energy solution?
Current analysis and evaluation of LENR technology development implies positive signs for practical engineering to come in the next decade. Theory also needs to be further developed in order to make LENR scientifically accepted. As an energy source LENR could be a severe competitor to all fossil-fuel and Renewable electric/heat generation, as it can be scaled both upwards- and downwards. As such LENR can be the key enabler for the smart grids to come. For that reason LENR Power generators could serve as the source for numerous micro-grids for the 1,2 billion people not yet connected to electric grids.
What can you tell me about how officers at Elforsk have received the report — do you know anything about their intentions with regard to LENR?
Elforsk has an open mind on LENR and is interested to find out more about the technology and its practical applications in order to evaluate its future potential. It does not mean Elforsk is 100% convinced of the LENR itself, but as a strategic element for utilities, it can be a disruptive technology with huge impact on the electricity/and heat markets.
You are a consultant to various NGOs and governmental bodies — what level of awareness and interest have you found in LENR among people you work with.
LENR is a “new technology” on the verge of being accepted but it will take a fairly long time to penetrate NGOs and Governments. It is also a hard task for global power industries to adopt, as initially the markets will be both scattered and small. The immune defense of large companies is currently blocking much LENR experiments. Also LENR technology is not on the radar for R&D financing, so this will keep the experiments very much in a hidden state. However, as I see it, the interest now grows rapidly in certain SME´s and innovation companies. Breakthroughs, will of course change the paradigm when it comes.
Recently the World Bank and United Nations issued a challenge to provide funding for energy for all, which would require raising $600-800 billion per year until 2030. Do you have any idea how they plan to meet this massive goal, and if LENR might figure into their plans?
I have no idea how WB and UN plan to meet the goal in the “Energy for All initiative”. Based on my past experience from the Africa Rural and Renewable Energy Initiative, WB did not favour adoption of new technologies, as WB procurement rules clearly stated “proven technology” as the only solution for support. By this rule LENR cannot come into consideration, unless there are some specifically demonstrators developed. I believe the initiatives for that must come from other organizations.
What is your outlook regarding the future of energy technology? What technologies are you most enthusiastic about, and why?
I think that future energy systems must be much smarter than today´s system. This will mean asynchronous power delivery and Digital Power Grids and we will therefore need more energy storage at local level. This will also open up for small-scale power generation, where LENR is a potential candidate both for electricity and heating/cooling.
I have a feeling LENR is a robust technology, (as we see more and more variations) and given that we can manage to control any thermal “runaways”, it would fit nicely in that future grid system, both in rural and urban settings.