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northern German green technologies

Thursday 18 August, 2011

It’s appropriate that the last international event I attended in Chicago before I left for India was with the Krauts, the 1’s who got me started in all this international stuff. They hosted this event: GREEN TECHNOLOGY: COOPERATION PERSPECTIVES FOR THE US MIDWEST REGION AND NORTHERN GERMANY  Part of the visiting delegation was stuck in Hamburg because of bad weather, but the show did go on.

Chicago’s new mayor Rahm Emanuel made a showing  before he ran off to open a school & noted that German firms employ 36K employees in the Chicagoland area.  On environmental notes, he added that Chicago has the most headquarters of wind companies & the most urban solar farms in the U.S.   He also wants to double the number of LEED certified buildings in Chicago.

You should be able to find most of the information presented @ the conference on the GACCOM website, so I’ll just hit the highlights here.

Frank Horch of the city of Hamburg kicked off by letting us know that his city is the 3rd largest port in Europe & 3rd largest aviation location in the world.  Jan Rispens of Renewable Energies Hamburg (erneuerbare energien hamburg, gmbh) said Germany has set a target of 20% of it’s energy needs served by renewable sources by 2020.  Investments of €20B has created 340K jobs & now creates 17$ of total energy production.  Solar is still expensive, but they are building solar photo-voltaic cell farms.  25 renewables companies in Hamburg employ 4K with a turnover of €5B.  60% of the world’s wind energy know-how is within 2.5 hours drive from Hamburg.

Panel 1:  Vattenfall is the #2 generator of wind power.  15% of their electricity comes from renewables & now they must replace the 20% of electricity that was generated by nuclear power.  Nordex created 200 jobs when they opened their new plant in Arkansas.  They see 25% better wind potential than in Germany.  AWEA has 2500 members & collaborates with EWEA.  Commonwealth Edison will be required by law to provide 20-25% of it’s energy via renewables by 2050.

Panel 2:  Buildings consume 1/2 of all energy consumption & create 1/3 of CO2 emissions.  Heating & cooling take the most energy, so investment in insulation is needed.  While green building of CO2 neutral houses mitigates environmental impact, the more pressing issue is how to make the existing housing stock more efficient.  1.6M ft2 are LEED certified daily in the US.  According to energy modeling data, predicted energy use occupancy goals are not being met.

Panel 3:  Energy transmission & storage are still challenges.  Hydrogen fuel cell technology is coming in the next few years.  There are 3 criteria for electrical/utilities issues:

  1. Whether or not it’s clean energy is a political issue.  Rechargers are 100% renewable.
  2. All users should be entitled to free access.
  3. Charging stations must fit with urban development.

Battery-operated cars are coming to the market before hydrogen powered cars, but hydrogen filling stations are expensive & it’s not certain that there’s a market there yet. Changing traffic lights to LED’s saved 70%.  Hamburg’s Climate Action Plan devotes €25M to these issues from the public budget.  We need to use the 3 S’s:  save, store, & substitute.

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