Representatives from Southern States Tour Germany on "Green Jobs, Green Energy" Trip
Representatives from Georgia, Oklahoma, Virginia and the US Virgin Islands traveled to Germany in June 2010 for a week-long tour focused on "Green Jobs, Green Energy."
The trip was part of the German government’s "Transatlantic Climate Bridge" initiative, which aims to increase communication and cooperation between Germany and the US in the climate and energy arena. It was organized in cooperation with the Ecologic Institute, a not-for-profit think tank for applied environmental research, policy analysis, and consultancy.
Enlarge image Inside the Reichstag - a world-famous energy efficient building (© German Embassy)
The participants included a state senator, two deputy environment ministers, the CEO of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority, and other high-ranking policy makers and experts, all of whom carry responsibility for energy related issues in their respective states.
Germany’s green growth strategies
The week in Germany offered participants the opportunity to find out more about the country’s ambitious climate and energy policies, such as its development of renewable energy and the implementation of energy efficiency measures, as well as ways of adopting "green growth" strategies in their own states that have proven successful in Germany.
The five day tour was divided between Germany’s capital Berlin and the industrial Ruhr region in the west of Germany.
Starting with visits to the German Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Environment Ministry, and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology in Berlin, participants learned about the political and economic reasoning behind Germany’s progressive climate and energy policy, and its significant contribution to the country’s economic growth and job creation.
A one-day "Smart Energy Dialogue" organized by the Ecologic Institute and the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, offered information from US and German experts about the energy sector’s transformation towards smart energy.
Transatlantic Climate Bridge Roundtable Reception
Enlarge image US Ambassador to Germany, Philip D. Murphy, addressing the southern policymakers (© German Embassy)
A "Transatlantic Climate Bridge Roundtable Reception" at the Embassy of the United States in Berlin was hosted by Ambassador Philip D. Murphy. With the presention of a study on "Greening the Job Market- a Transatlantic Perspective," participants discussed the job creation witnessed in Germany through the growth of the renewable energy industry. State Senator Doug Stoner from Georgia presented the US perspective, focusing on the role clean energy and energy efficiency play in Georgia and the U.S. southern states overall.
An extended dinner dialogue on a floating restaurant on the River Spree focused on the transformation of the energy sector. Two featured speakers launched the discussion: Ulrich Kelber, deputy chairman of the parliamentary group of the SPD in the Bundestag, and Brad Williams, deputy secretary of energy in Oklahoma. This was followed by a lively debate between participants and other energy experts from Germany and the US.
And visits to Berlin’s first "passive house" apartment building and the imposing Reichstag, the seat of Germany’s parliament, offered two living examples of energy efficient buildings powered by renewable energy.
Enlarge image On the roof of the Reichstag in Berlin (© German Embassy)
Transformation of the Ruhr region
After three days in Berlin, participants experienced a taste of Germany’s well-known clean-energy transport system by travelling on a high speed train to Essen in the west.
The three and a half hour journey took the group to the ‘Ruhr’, a region undergoing a radical transformation from the center of coal production to a hub of renewable and smart energy. It serves as an excellent example for regions in the US that are facing similar challenges. The Ruhr region has also been nominated Europe’s Cultural Capital, 2010.
A morning spent at RWE, one of Germany’s largest utilities, offered the chance to test drive an electric car and learn about the company’s cutting edge progress in electric mobility and the creation of a universal network of public and private charging stations.
Enlarge image Test-driving an electric car at RWE, a large German utility (© German Embassy)
Further visits all show-cased the Ruhr region’s re-industrialization efforts.
The Eickhoff Maschinenfabrik, a supplier of coal mining equipment since 1864, has since expanded into a supplier of wind turbine parts. Participants were given a tour through its facility.
The Science Park Gelsenkirchen, where trip participants had a lunch discussion with the Mayor of Gelsenkirchen, is a catalyst for the structural and industrial changes occurring in the Ruhr region and boasts Germany’s first large-scale solar rooftop installation. Enlarge image Solar panels at the Science Park Gelsenkirchen (© German Embassy)
A meeting with the head of the InnovationCity Ruhr taskforce, an association of 70 large international and German companies, illustrated the participating member businesses’ innovation in CO2 reduction, energy efficiency and climate protection.
Watch Oklahoma Deputy Energy Secretary Brad Williams' interview on The Oklahoma News Report (06-16-10) speaking about his experiences in Germany and the Transatlantic Climate Bridge. (The interview starts at about the 7 minute mark and lasts for 4 minutes)
Oklahoma Corporation Commission press release [pdf, 104.17k] Issued by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission regarding Chairman Bob Anthony's and Oklahoma Deputy Energy Secretary Brad Williams' participation in the trip to Germany.
Hugo V. Hodge Jr, Executive Director (CEO), Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority
"The information on how Germany is making their transformation was completely new. I now understand that to affect a change of this nature, it takes the entire community “buy in”. The German Citizens have a desire to bring renewable on the grid and have committed to do so even if means increased cost. We will need that same commitment in the U.S. and I think that will be the biggest challenge."
Brad Williams, Deputy Secretary of Energy, State of Oklahoma
"Much of the detail of the information provided was new, and yes, it brought about a shift in perspectives. A great many ideas were generated on this trip...the trip was easily one of the most valuable experiences that this Office has undertaken."
Katy Dow, Southern Governors Association
"The visit to (German utility) RWE was especially effective, I think, because we had both the hands-on experience (of testing an electric car) and a presentation and roundtable discussion about technology/policy outlook."