Germans Think of the Future, Americans Think in the Past

I forgot all about transparency and the web on Thursday. I write very few of these blogs myself. I take them from other sources, because there is so much written about energy and the environment, I have very little to add. I have written my own posts like the ones on Asimov, but they are not even 1% of the total posts. So to that end I always try to cite my sources and very openly post the sources web site here. Well Thurday I did a lousy job. I want to do more on German Energy Advancement but before I do I used this service to find that article: 

 and the article was from the Sierra Club magazine:

For this I apologize. Also none of the articles links work…from now on I will try to be a better linker or at least delink what I can not support. This article is from:


The High-Tech Strategy for Germany


Environmental Technologies –

Clear Water, Clean

 Air, Fertile Soil

In contrast to the 1970s and 1980s when centre stage was given to aftercare environmental engineering – such as filter systems to keep air and water clean – environmental protection considerations are today increasingly being taken into account during the development phase. With this approach, natural resources are to be used efficiently and harmful effects on the environment are to be minimised throughout a product’s entire lifecycle.

 At the same time, new environmental technologies offer economic benefits. Organic solvents pollute ground water and air, have to be separated and recovered – frequently with considerable energy input – and are also questionable in terms of occupational safety. Such solvents could, for example, be replaced in the future by supercritical fluids which – thanks to their easy-to-modify state of aggregation – are much easier to separate.The German environmental engineering sector – which includes the waste and water management industries and parts of the mechanical engineering and plant manufacturing field – employs some 1.5 million people today. At international level, German firms are particularly successful in the air pollution control, noise abatement and recycling fields.With its national sustainability strategy, the German government aims to reduce the air pollution load by 70 percent by the year 2010, double German industry’s energy efficiency and resource efficiency by the year 2020 and reduce land development from currently 100 hectares a day to 30 hectares a day. The German government has committed itself to reducing the emission levels of the six greenhouse gases cited in the Kyoto Protocol by 21 percent over 1990 levels by the period 2008 through 2012.These national sustainability goals cannot be achieved without cleaner and more efficient technology. German industry should therefore be helped with identifying and developing new R&D findings with environmental protection potential and applying them immediately in the domestic market. The German government aims to tap the global market for the German environmental engineering industry and to adapt technologies and know-how to local conditions in threshold and developing countries.

Progressively develop environmental technology for the domestic market

Economic and ecological targets can often be met simultaneously when a product’s entire life cycle is taken into account during the planning and production processes. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds collaborative projects in the manufacturing sector with a view to linking new research approaches with problems in actual practice.

Innovative environmental protection technologies such as self-healing surfaces and waste-free processes are a focus of surface technology and spill over into many sectors – from car manufacturing to the construction sector and furniture industry all the way to the shipbuilding industry. Surface technology has not however had a joint R&D platform because the field has a wealth of user industries and is therefore highly fragmented. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is therefore planning a comprehensive research initiative for this area.

Bionics use nature as a source of inspiration for technology. In order to make it easier to translate creative ideas into products, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is planning a new research campaign aimed at supporting work to develop such ideas to the stage where they are functioning demonstration models or production-ready prototypes.

The Ministry’s Research for Sustainability funding programme supports and funds the development of new environmental protection technologies.

Pilot projects create trust in the reliability of new technologies

In contrast to years past, when the focus of funding was on the retrofitting of systems and on downstream purification processes (so-called end-of-pipe technologies), financial assistance today is provided primarily for first use of new integrated environmental protection technologies, with priority being given to SMEs. The Environmental Innovation Programme of the Federal Ministry of Research and Development funds these industrial-scale pilot projects. These activities, which receive flanking technical support from the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), establish the prerequisites necessary for defining technical standards and establishing legally binding emission ceilings.

Use Germany’s strong domestic market as a springboard for tapping the global market

Sustainability in trade and industry is not just a German aim – it is also a European aim. For this reason, Germany has joined up with Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain in the ERA-NET Sustainable Enterprise (SUSPRISE) project to co-ordinate its national research activities aimed at fostering sustainable enterprises.

Export credit guarantees granted by the federal government (Hermes guaranties) are an important instrument for spurring foreign trade, including in the environmental technology field. The OECD member states agreed in 2005 to extend the maximum permissible terms for export credits for renewable energy and for water and waste-water projects to 15 years. With the new aval guarantee that was launched in 2006, the German government will cover a share of the third-party risk borne by the guarantor. This will substantially improve liquidity, particularly for small and medium-sized exporters. The Federal Environment Agency’s Internet portal at offers extensive information about the capabilities of German environmental technologies and services.

Protect the global water supply

Many threshold and developing countries suffer from an inadequate supply of drinking water and – particularly in megacities – from waste-water problems that can scarcely be handled. The development and sustainability goals adopted by the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 include halving the proportion of the global population that has no access to safe drinking water or adequate sanitation services by the year 2015. This goal is a pressing humanitarian task. The development of the requisite water and waste-water infrastructure however also constitutes an enormous investment market.

The German government is supporting the development of an integrated water resource management (IWRM) system in numerous partner countries, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.

In addition to its development policy projects in this field – Germany is one of the world’s largest donors in the water sector – the Federal Ministry of Education and Research also funds the continued development of IWRM methods and approaches.

German and regional partners from research institutes, government agencies, engineering offices and the water industry participate in these projects.

The International Postgraduate Studies in Water Technologies fellowship programme has been set up to train German and foreign water specialists who, as future decision-makers in their home countries, could help develop the know-how urgently needed there. The networking this will generate between participants could facilitate the German water industry’s access to the growing water markets in threshold and developing countries.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development will offer funding for ten years for a Water Decade office at the University of the United Nations in Bonn as a step to support collaborative international research activities.

More Topics

  • BMU. BMBF, 2006

    Research Programme Resource Efficiency

    A new research funding programme will be launched to boost resource efficiency.
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  • BMBF, 2006

    New Research Focus

    The Research for Sustainability programme will foster the development of new environmental technologies. Initiatives for surface technology and bionics are planned to supplement the current Innovation as a Key to Sustainability in Business and Industry funding campaign.
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  • BMBF, BMZ, 2006/2007

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  • BMU, BMWI, 2006

    Export of Environmental Technologies

    The Internet portal and the recently launched aval guarantee will foster the export of environmental protection technologies.
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