Transatlantic Climate Bridge – Charlotte, NC

I was in Charlotte, NC, last Thursday, November 12, to attend the conference “Transatlantic Climate Partnerships: Renewable Energies Featuring the Carolinas.”

“Featuring the what?!” you might wonder…. typical stereotypes are that only researchers, BMWs and failed banks originate from the Carolinas. But the truth is that the Carolinas – North and South Carolina that is – are much more diverse and possess a strong “sense of urgency” (see John Kotter or his interview in Inc. Magazine), especially when it comes to the environment: They are going full throttle toward renewable energies (RE). Find out why exactly the Carolinas were chosen after the break.

True Story (as if I usually tend to lie): North and South Carolina both have legislative climate commissions that work to advance the topic on the political end. There is a total of 23 states with similar legislative tools in place. As John Morrison, North Carolina’s Assistant Secretary of Energy, tried to convey in his presentation: The legislature must provide positive incentives for such developments in energy technology. Furthermore, the Charlotte Regional Partnership is pursuing this with the Charlotte energy-hub initiative, which has the economic benefit in mind that developments in the renewable energy sector carry with it.

The conference was sponsored by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Atlanta as well as Duke Energy. Speakers included Jörg Mayer, Managing Director of the Renewable Energy Agency of the German Federal Ministry of the Environment and Agriculture; John Morrison, Assistant Secretary of Energy in North Carolina; Hans Hartenstein, President of Evonik; and last but not least Ivan Urlaub, Executive Director of the NC Sustainable Energy Association.

Hans Hartenstein discussed several interesting points. As the president of Evonik, he discussed the types of renewable energies that are suitable in terms of utility-sized generation of electricity: Solar Thermal (thermal topping; feeding additional heat energy into heat requiring processes that would otherwise require natural gas) and Biomass/Waste-to-Energy

The afternoon of presentations (which can be found here) was followed by a panel discussion that focused on financing options and public policy regarding renewable energy projects.

Panel Discussion - Charlotte, NC - Nov 12, 2009

From Left to Right: Ken Haris, Wells Fargo - Steve Rhyne, K & L Gates - Rusty Jewett, Sencera - Henry Campen, Parker Poe

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