For the second year in a row, the best Energy Scout teams from eight countries were honored by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) for their practical projects on energy and resource conservation in Berlin as part of Young Energy Europe. The festive ceremony was preceded by an intensive social program that offered insights into sustainable production facilities and plenty of space for exchanges among the teams.
After arriving in Berlin last Monday, the 18 Energy Scout teams went straight into professional exchange and presented their practical projects that had won prizes within the national competition. The projects presented by the Energy Scouts painted a diverse picture of very different energy and resource-saving measures coupled with profound cross-sector expertise. Although different regarding the fields of application and scope of the individual Energy Scout’s projects, they were united by the determination with which they pursued their projects. The Energy Scouts had implemented their projects in their companies for the most part or are even currently in the process of expanding them.
Afterwards, the professional exchange continued during an evening solar boat trip on the river Spree. During the quiz, which put climate and energy knowledge to the test in cross-national groups, the Energy Scouts passionately discussed correct answer options. Whether driven by personal attachment to the topic area or simply being hungry – after an exciting neck-and-neck race, at the end there could only be one winning team, which could access the buffet first.
On the second day, an information-packed day with practical examples awaited the group. First, the BMW Group’s motorcycle plant in Berlin offered exciting insights into the highly engineered and optimized steps of motorcycle production. In the process, we learned that a finished motorcycle leaves the assembly line every 75 seconds at the Berlin plant during regular production shifts. The demand for electric mobility increases there as well, which makes it the segment growing at the fastest rate. Afterwards, energy manager Emelie Schmidt and specialist for environmental protection, occupational safety and ergonomics, Marie Walther introduced us to various sustainable practices and measures for saving energy at the plant. In addition to the reuse of wastewater from production processes, these include increasing self-generated electricity through PV systems and the use of heat recovery to operate ventilation systems – measures that are also frequently included in the Energy Scouts’ practical projects, which led to a lively round of questions by the Energy Scouts.
What fits well with riding a motorcycle in the summer? That’s right, ice cream! Consequently, the group made its way to the nearby production facility of Florida Eis Manufaktur GmbH. Since 2013, the company has been shining with its CO2-neutral production, making it the first ice cream manufacturer in Germany to achieve this. In doing so, the company relies on the use of diverse environmentally friendly technologies. In addition to well-known methods such as photovoltaics, solar thermal energy and electric mobility, so-called foam glass ballast is also used. This product, which is 100% recycled from used glass, is used to create a permafrost floor and replaces the conventional floor heating of the freezer cell. The Energy Scouts were able to see these techniques in action during a tour of the plant – tasting included! Finally, the owner and founder of Florida Eis Manufaktur GmbH, Olaf Höhn, went into more detail about the background of his environmentally friendly technologies and personal motives. During the presentation, it became clear that self-sufficiency and autarchy are particularly close to the heart of the passionate entrepreneur. Like the Energy Scouts with their Best Practices, he makes no secret of the implementation of his measures, which in addition to corporate climate protection also bring increased competitiveness. Quite the opposite: imitation is encouraged!
Before the Energy Scouts received awards for their practical projects on the third and final day, they first went to the Futurium on the morning of June 14. Along the overarching topics of technology, nature and society, the Energy Scouts were able to learn about inspiring options for the future and explore their own points of view on controversial issues such as advancing digitalization and modernization in medicine, as well as their consumer behavior.
Arriving at the award ceremony in the Umweltforum, organized jointly with the Unternehmensnetzwerk Klimaschutz, the German Energy Scouts and European Energy Scouts were able to exchange views on their respective approaches to saving energy and resources and learn more about the various projects in the scope of a poster exhibition. The projects represent urgently needed hands-on examples of drive, ideas and intellect, as Frauke Thies, Executive Director of Agora Energiewende emphasized in her subsequent keynote. In order to become more efficient for the sake of climate protection, not wasting energy is essential. The high number of small and large practical projects of the Energy and Energie-Scouts are bringing us closer to this goal. Achim Dercks, Deputy Managing Director of the DIHK, also emphasized the impressive range of project topics that the Scouts are working on. “It pays off to be an Energy Scout and for companies to have them in their operational processes.” Addressing the companies, he continued, “Energy Scouts are a scarce resource, treat them well!”.
Stefan Wenzel, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action praised the Energy Scouts’ practical projects as an outstanding initiative at current times: “The most expensive thing we can do about climate change is non-action. It makes sense to tackle the existing issues.” Amid the joint Paris climate agreement, he considered the European Energy Scouts from the eight countries a “great treasure” that brings international markets together in their efforts to achieve the climate goals and creates opportunities to learn from each other. During the subsequent presentation of certificates by Stefan Wenzel and Achim Dercks, the Energy Scouts were ceremoniously honored for their practical projects.