Foreign Policy Blogs

The Technology-Driven Economy

Gordon Welters for The New York Times

(A Siemens factory in Berlin for manufacturing turbines. Gordon Welters for The New York Times.)

In a story yesterday in the “NY Times” about the Europeans upgrading their factories – and saving jobs while doing it – a Siemens operation in Berlin was highlighted.  Because of the commitment by this 163-year-old company to sustainability, they have spent $700 million to develop new, low carbon turbines.  The kicker for me comes in the penultimate paragraph:  “Siemens managed to save its customers an estimated 210 million tons in carbon dioxide emissions last year, the equivalent of the amount generated annually by New York, Tokyo, London and Berlin combined.”

I wrote recently about Hermann Scheer, the father of the German renewable energy industry.  He says that we are in a transition from a fuels-based economy to a technology-based economy.  Oil, coal, gas and uranium are often called “extractive” industries.  We go into the earth and rip these fuels out – at great cost of pollution, as I’ve noted here often.  Well, the technology-based energy economy means we access the abundant energy all around us by simply harnessing it.

And we use it much more efficiently.  That’s the path that Siemens and many other big industrial concerns are taking.  The policymakers in Europe get it too.  Europe’s green energy ‘supergrid’ is the story from CNN.  “Plans for a massive electricity grid dedicated to uniting the varied sources of renewable energy available in northern Europe have taken a step forward in January as nine countries formally agreed to work together on the project.”  This is energy independence, folks, live and in color.

Along these same lines, I noted here a smashing op-ed at the FT last spring that tells the story, among others, of a successful test of a decentralized renewable energy network that blows the myth of intermittency out of the water.  We can have all renewable, hugely efficient energy all the time.

For your further delectation, here’s a video, courtesy of the indispensable, of Christian Kjaer, CEO of the European Wind Energy Association.  Wake up and smell the fair trade coffee.  It’s a beautiful morning.



Bill Hewitt
Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change