Focus on innovation at the Swiss Energy and Climate Summit

The 10th instalment of the Swiss Energy and Climate Summit cast its eyes to the future: “Building Tomorrow” was the theme of this year’s event, where participants visited two days of lectures, discussions, and exhibits in Bern on September 13-14.


Photo Credit: SwissECS

Every year, over 700 decision-makers from industry, energy, finance, insurance and construction sectors, representatives of NGOs and the Swiss government take part in the SwissECS. It showcases cutting-edge technologies from energy and environmental technology that play a key role in climate protection. Participants find out more about current energy and climate issues in various formats, such as keynote speeches, interactive podiums, innovation pitches, breakout sessions and an exhibition zone featuring demonstrations of the latest solutions.

Climate protection leads to economic growth

In his speech, Felipe Calderón emphasised the economic urgency of climate protection. The former Mexican President and Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate explained that the assumption that we must decide between economic growth and climate protection is a widespread and fatal error. Investment in renewable energies would create many more jobs than the fossil fuel sector.

Innovative entrepreneurship for energy transition

The energy transition policy can only be realised with innovative and marketable products and services, said the Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann. This is the only way Switzerland can maintain its competitiveness and affluence whilst protecting the environment. The country needs creative thinkers and courageous entrepreneurs who are given adequate freedom by politicians, he emphasised.

Innovative technologies offer solutions

The showcases at this year’s SwissECS were presented by three entrepreneurs. Frank Verschraegen, project manager at the DEME Group, presented the innovative E-Island pumped storage project, which is constructed in the sea and operates using seawater. Pumped storage is currently the only possibility for storing large quantities of energy both safely and reliably. The challenges facing this technology include the lack of suitable sites and the growing scarcity of water.

In order to make bicycling more comfortable and attractive as a means of transportation, Assaf Biderman founded the tech company Superpedestrian in 2012. In collaboration with robotics specialists, he developed the Copenhagen Wheel, a device that makes it possible to quickly convert normal bicycles into e-bikes. The smart-wheel innovation was named one of the 25 Best Inventions by Time Magazine in 2014. In production since 2015, the costs run at 1200 US dollars per bike and will soon be widely available across the European market.

Christian von Olshausen is co-founder of Sunfire GmbH. Last year, they succeeded in producing “Blue Crude”, an artificial diesel fuel from water, CO2 and green electricity. The German industrial engineer is convinced that the numerous value chains based on petroleum products cannot be replaced without great economic damage. Therefore, these resources should be synthetically and cleanly produced, and the costs appropriately distributed.

No life without oceans

Oceanographer and National Geographic Society explorer Sylvia Earle’s love for the ocean was felt in every sentence of her speech. The 81-year-old American came to Bern in order to convey the urgency of effective ocean protection. The oceans are the basis of our entire ecosystem, she explained. Our lifestyle has ruthlessly exploited the oceans for the past 100 years, but we still have the opportunity to change course and choose what kind of a future we want.

Sustainable portfolio soon mandatory

Investors are increasingly demanding that their money be invested sustainably, says Caroline Anstey, Global Head of UBS and Society. In the fight for clients, the image as most sustainable bank is already in the heat of competition. Banks need to focus more on their key function as mediator between people with good ideas and people with money, according to Anstey. This way, the financial sector can make a decisive contribution to the energy transition policy.

The next SwissECS will be held in Bern on 21-22 September 2017.

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