Berlin – New York

Last Thursday was an incredible day at the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany New York Office. I joined the Cleantech Conference Berlin – New York at the German House. Speakers from Berlin and New York were both passionate with what they are doing. All the audiences were very involved in the discussion and networking.

As I mentioned earlier in my blog, I was interested in learning more about the environmental policy in Berlin as well as how the public and private investment/incentives on Cleantech startups. I think my goal was fulfilled quite well.



Policy and landscape

I would like to list the numbers and facts that impressed me:

  • Federal level GHG reduction target: 40% by 2020, 80-95% by 2050 (1990 baseline)
  • German is phasing out nuclear power by the staged capping targets: 8.5GW in 2011; and will completely shut off the remaining nuclear (11.5GW) by 2022.
  • 30% of the electricity is generated from the renewable sources, including solar, offshore and onshore wind.
  • Nearly carbon-neutral building stock by 2050 (47% of the GHG comes from building sectors in Germany)
  • 91% of the German Cleantech companies are SMEs
  • About 1/3 of the Cleantech startups in Germany are doing Energy Efficiency work
  • 1.4 billion Euro Venture Capital (VC) raised in the first half of 2015 for all the startups in Berlin (London: 1.1 billion Euro). Berlin has become the European Silicon Valley.
  • In terms of VC, the public sectors are more active than the private sectors

Interesting startups/cases/things in Berlin

  • Formula E, unlike another FIA championship Formula 1, redefined the motor racing sports. Formula E uses electric vehicles powered by renewable energy (0% emission, and 100% renewable). According the presenter, you can barely hear the noise. All the tyres last for the entire game and will be recycled at the end of the game. By the way, Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio is the chairman of Formula E Sustainability Committee. Oh, New Yorkers, you can see the race next year in Brooklyn.
  • Hyperion Energy produces solar energy in a sustainable and economical way. They have a special thermal energy storage technology using solid block materials which keeps the maximum temperature higher than the regular liquid molten salt. The storage cost of Hyperion Energy ($5-6/kWh) is lower than Molten Salt Storage ($23-55/kWh). Two co-founders are confident for their unique selling point combining the production and storage in an affordable way.
  • Clean Energy Pack (CEP) is something in between Tesla Powerwall and your phone backup battery. It is a portable battery you can carry within your electric cars. When your car needs power, you can simply charge from CEP.img_20161103_150429-2
  • X-wind is a high-altitude wind power plant technology using a unique blade design. The design looks nearly invisible in the sky, just like a kite. Compared to the traditional windmills, they are 3 times more efficient, bird-friendly, and have much less noise.
    picture1 (photo: X-Wind)
  • GleenSheep is a waste-to-energy startup. Facilities can get a closed container from GleenSheep. All the wastes generated at the facility from food waste, plastics, to industrial by-products will all be put into the container. Natural gas is required as a starting energy to start the conversion process. If my understanding was correct, they can recover the fuel from the plastics. But I don’t really agree their technology using a single method to deal with different types of waste. I always think reuse and recycling should be the first steps. Then we can think about compost/biodigestion or waste-to-energy. Although single-stream collection is easy for tenants and facility managers, I doubt the cost and effectiveness on-site or off-site sorting process. Single-stream waste collection tells people they don’t need to care about their behaviors. It doesn’t help anything for the public awareness of minimizing consumption and reducing waste. GleenSheep redefines the way how facilities can recover the energy from the waste which is great. I think there should be a better way to do a systematic analysis for all the energy required for the conversion and the comparison between different options for different wastes.
  • SunOyster is a solar co-generation technology (CHP). The receiver converts the solar energy into both PV electricity and heat at the same time, reaching a total efficiency of up to 75%.
  • Faunder measures energy consumption precisely room by room using a smart algorithm.

I think the conference aimed to let New Yorkers to know more about German technology. There are more German speakers than local speakers. Next, I will summarize some of the things talked about the New York City Cleantech.

New York

Policy and landscape

  • NYU’s Urban Future Lab is a regional incubator for smart cities, smart grid and clean energy ideas. Different programs at Urban Future Lab gives startup companies a place to refine their ideas and get essential aids in legal, business development and financial services.
  • NYSERDA encourages research on energy and environmental policies. NYSERDA also offers many incentives for energy efficiency in the state. For example, the Proof-of-Concept Center Program at Urban Future Lab is funded by NYSERDA.

Two startups in New York

  • Fentrend is a high performance window and door services company. To be more specific, Fentrend helps designers to find the window and door solutions for their project. Designers no long need to spend a lot of time doing research on thousands of options. Fentrend use their data to give designers a solution fits their needs.
  • Radiator Labs eliminates the uneven heat distribution in steam buildings. Steam heating is very common in many buildings in NYC. Radiator Labs helps reducing the overheating and creates more comfort.

Kai Hennig, the Deputy Consul General of Germany, mentioned there are many exciting events in the German House every year. In the afternoon, Julian Jahnz, the Vice Consul, Economic and Press Affairs, showed me the upcoming exhibition (Nov 3 – Dec 16, 2016). It shows how a German artist turns the New York City MTA MetroCards people dropped into art. This is just an example to feel how Lincoln Center looks like. Make sure to check Nina Boesch’s website see more great work.

metopera_1410_large(Photo: Nina Boesch)


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