The capital of Germany, Berlin, is commonly referred to as one of the global leaders within the renewable energy economy, as, for example, it is the top cleantech exporting country, with more than a 16 percent share within the international cleantech trade. With multiple avenues to promote clean technologies, including an exit market, early adopters of clean technologies, numerous engineers, and first class researchers and research centers, Berlin can slowly take over as the international hub for clean technologies.
1 ) Support from the Government. The seat of the government is housed in Berlin, and without its support in leading the total transition to renewable energy and energy efficiency through comprehensive policy frameworks, Berlin would not have been able to rise up to take the cleantech leader’s seat. The cleantech sector has been steadily growing with a large number of capital investments made to various clean technologies. Because of the governmental support, numerous “green” jobs have been created and millions of tons of carbon dioxide have been reduced. The government has been very influential on the various feed-in tariffs. Through these, Berlin has been able to get the investments necessary to fund all their renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
2 ) Large Clusters of Clean Technology Industries. Berlin is known for having a large cluster of businesses, research institutes, and venture capitalists all involved in the clean technology center. The “cleantech cluster” actually makes up a majority of the employment opportunities as well as research activity flowing out of Germany’s capital city. For example, one of the main automotive companies, Daimler, has a huge automotive plant in Berlin, and the plant has been very active in creating the means necessary to mass produce electric and hybrid vehicles.
3 ) The Berlin Solar Atlas Project. As the cost of energy continues to increase, Berlin is constantly looking for more viable energy options. As one of the largest global producers of solar energy products, Berlin is constantly looking for ways to assist homes and businesses with saving money and aiding environmental protection. Their “Solar Atlas Berlin” project is a way for the city to further promote the usage of solar energy as an optimal energy choice. Individuals visit the atlas and are able to see the “solar potential” of different buildings. A three-dimensional model of Berlin is presented and individuals can see if the roof of a particular building is suitable for solar panel installation and how much solar energy from that location they are able to receive. It is part of Berlin’s ongoing process to be a “green metropolis.”
4 ) Berlin Climate Change Conference. Ultimately one of the most important goals for Berlin is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. It has been noted that in order to reduce the amount of emissions, there needs to be a sustainable energy policy, living and building standards, modern transport policy, promotion of climate protection technologies, and dissemination of information through training and education. The Berlin Climate Change Conference is a few days of exchanges between the government, businesses, and society on how to increase their “green economy” even further by providing items, such as various resource and climate saving technologies.
5 ) Berlin Electric Car Network. Daimler AG, one of the largest German car manufacturers, has partnered with RWE AG utility to install a network of electric car chargers throughout Berlin. Known as the “e-mobility Berlin project,” Daimler is providing over 100 new lithium-ion battery electric cars and RWE AG will take care of the development, installation, as well as operation of estimated 500 charging points throughout the capital. It has received funding from the German federal government and the charging points will be throughout private residences, work place, and parking areas. According to the Chairman of the Boar of Daimler AG, Dieter Zetsche, “Our joint initiative is a good example of what can be achieved when policy makers, energy suppliers, and the automotive industry all work together towards the same goal.”
6 ) Berlin Impulse. The Berlin Senate created Berlin Impulse to provide the city with information on the consumption of rational energy as well as the use of renewable energy sources. The goal of this energy efficiency program is to enable everyday people to understand the importance of the shift to renewable energy. The Berlin Energy Standard is a known advice system, “which aims to help landlords and tenants to choose ‘the most efficient and more valuable energy service.’ It does cover renovation, but deals mainly with advice on energy supply.”
7 ) Solar Roof Exchange of Berlin. Aside from the Solar Atlas Berlin Project, there is also the Solar Roof Exchange of Berlin program. Existing before the Atlas Project, it was created by the Senate Department for Health, Consumer Affairs and Environmental Protection. It provides companies that operate solar arrays direct access to roofs that are publically owned. Starting in 2011, the program promoted the marketing of all suitable roofs. According to one individual, “Together with the Solar Atlas, private and public property-owners on the one hand and providers of solar technology on the other will have at their disposal an internet-based platform that brings together supply and demand.”
8 ) Energy Saving Partnership Berlin. A partnership was created between the City of Berlin and the BEA – Berlin Energy Agency, to develop and apply an effective model to improve energy efficiency throughout all buildings. This model has offered help to more than 1,300 buildings that have been upgraded, provided a large reduction in CO2 levels by investing in energy efficient projects.
9 ) Vattanfall Business GROUP Central Europe. Vattanfall has currently set its eyes on Berlin to assist in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to stop the climate change throughout the world. In Berlin, it has been very big in pushing renewable energy sources, especially wind power. It has numerous wind power projects in the works to decrease reliance on fossil fuel sources.
10 ) Berliner Energieagentur. Founded in 1992, the Berliner Energieagentur agency is based on an initiative started by the Berlin House of Representatives with equal shareholders from a number of Berlin power players. The goal of this agency is focused on “the reduction of energy consumption and costs in buildings and installations through the identification of energy saving potentials. Long-term cost effectiveness is guaranteed by means of energy concepts and saving strategies.”
Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org