Friday, May 31, 2013

Smooth Acceleration - Energy, Fuel Cells, Cultural Heritage

"What do the three quite different parts have in common? What makes them so prominent to put them into one article?"

"The United Nations estimates that one and a half billion people live without electricity and three and a half billion still rely on primitive fuels such as wood or charcoal for cooking and heating." ['Abundance - The Future is Better Than you Think', page 155]. Extracting the worlds energy resources at very crude ways, either by pumping oil of depleeting oil fields, starting to bring the last natural gas reserves up through intensive fracking, or chopping forests for charcoal or firewood might leave us not just with an empty planet but also puts lots of the cultural heritage out of our collective mind as climate change accelerates.

Lots of research efforts, and finding new fast adaptable ways to use energy that is abundant in existent, such as solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and others are under way. As a region "on the edge" [of Germany] Saxony is strong not only in automotive, semiconductors, but also in (sustainable) energy. As a result of this status it was only natural to see from May 28-29, 2013, the 2nd Dresdner Conference on "Energy in Future" organized by Fraunhofer IWS take place in this city where cultural heritage and technology meet seamlessly.

What during these two days became clear is that even though technology is at very high stakes in this region there is vast opportunity space into practicable implication, new business models around new emerging energy technologies, and the use of exponential information technologies to spread the word, and enable future collaboration connections with end users, and clients to kickstart the 'Power of Pull' and economic strive for the region's organizations.

Only a day later the constituting workshop of "energy saxony", a network on decentralized energy production in Saxony, took place at Fraunhofer IKTS in Dresden. Fuel cells are a large part of the work of this network in order to generate electric power by use of available other means of fuel such as natural gas especially due to its high energy density. This also make this form of energy transformation into electricity of high interest for remote areas.

The third point of the beginning, "cultural heritage" comes into play in the row of events, as just today at the SLUB Dresden, the State and University Library of Saxony, the conference "Climate Change as a Threat to Peace: Impacts on Cultural Heritage and Cultural Diversity". As it became quite clear during this conference our behavior, as humanity, on using the world's resources, especially energy-related, have a huge impact on our cultural heritage. With rising sea levels, changing weather conditions, increasing pollution levels not only tangible heritage as artifacts, buildings and such are threatened. Especially we have to focus, and articulate on intangible cultural heritage loss due to accelerating climate we observe all around the world.

Reflecting on what draws the three conferences together, it is the common thread (man-made climate impact), and the urge to preserve the cultural heritage, and diversity in the future. At the same time we have to, even though we are embedded in our disciplinary silos (to my knowledge there has been nobody at all three conferences) we have lost the ability to perceive, see, and act upon the larger system we are embedded, and part of, even though we are unaware of it as our cultural (intangible) heritage has shaped us that way.

1972 was not only the start of the UNESCO World Heritage Center, it also was the year of the widely acknowledged 'The Limits to Growth' by Jay W. Forrester, Dana & Donella Meadows, and Jørgen Randers with a 40-year update lately.

Where are we today?
Where are we heading?
How do we know that we are on track?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Saxony - A True Global (Emerging) Attractor

Saxony establishes itself as an immigration country - best saldo since 1995

Saxon State Minister for Economic Affairs, Labour and Traffic, Sven Morlok, presented on 2013-04-25 during a press talk at GLOBALFOUNDRIES Fab 1 the most recent developments of the immigration status (from inner Germany, and abroad) towards Saxony. The meeting also took the chance to gratulate Mr. and Mrs. Trepte a couple with Saxon origins that relocated to Saxony, after working three years in Schleswig-Holstein and in 2012 both relocating to Saxony, and working at GLOBALFOUNDRIES Fab 1 now.

The positive overall message that emerged from this morning on the edge of Dresden is that Saxony attracted more people in 2012 (triple the number of 2011) to move into Saxony than Saxons moving out of the state. This is especially valuable in times of the developments of overall workforce (in the tradional sense employment) due to aging demographics.

As the presented data (presentation, in German) showed the strongest inflow of people into Saxony had been from outside German. This indicates the rising awareness of the attractiveness of the region in the world on the one hand, especially in the hightech arena. On the other hand other economic dynamics in the Southern parts of the European Community, and Eastern Europe fall into place.

The cities Dresden, Leipzig, and Chemnitz which have drawn in the most incoming people, and their saldo is mostly positive, are thriving economically. Quite different is the situation on the edges of the Free State of Saxony such as the Ore Mountains, or the Lausitz region that still face a braindrain even though their industries are at high levels of quality.

Several questions by other press members in the round at the end of the presentation made clear that a deeper distinction of the returning people (presently a large number of incoming people is due to students starting their studies at of Saxony's universities), and the intentions of them may lead to further insights on acting towards future labour incentives in Saxony.

Concerning the question on the overall impact of the significantly lower transfer payments by European Community, and the finish of the Solidarpakt II in 2019 State Minister Sven Morlok drew attention to the newest report by ifo Dresden from 2012. He also mentioned that the impact on BIP (Brutto Inland Product) due to this development will be between -0.5% and -1% for Saxony (as stated by a recent research study by ifo-Institute Dresden, ifo Dresden berichtet, from page 21 on, in German)

This drew out another question on whether a specified model of an X PRIZE for job creation as proposed by  Peter Diamandis in the Huffington Post could be put to action in Saxony to not only create jobs, but also draw interest towards Saxony on global scale. At the same time enabling local companies, and uprising startups to generate future economic, wealth, social, eduction, and business innovations that once were famous for Saxony.

Saxony clearly has advantages in comparison to other regions in Germany, even though being on the edge, and only more recently capturing rising global interest. GLOBALFOUNDRIES and other internationally active, and connected players give a more than positive sign on which to build on in the coming future.

May the region further strive, and take the chance of diminishing public funding streaming into Saxony as the driver for lasting economic wealth creation across all disciplines, and levels of business.

Ralf Lippold