U.S.-German clean energy initiative Sun & Wind Belt puts spotlight on security

Business group’s 2022 Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue Side Event addressed need to break energy dependence on Russia and move faster to renewables

29. March 2022, Berlin — The transatlantic business initiative Sun & Wind Belt launched its 2022 program with a U.S.- German roundtable event on Monday, 28. March, focused on building security through energy independence. Viewed live online by a global audience, the discussion was an official Side Event of the 2022 Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, the German Energy Ministry’s annual conference focusing on clean energy and energy independence.

Speaking at the event, former Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern underscored the Transatlantic Sun & Wind Belt’s objective of strengthening U.S.-German partnership on renewable energy: “We need to build a U.S.-German supply chain,“ asserting that it is “of utmost importance to increase our [energy] independence.”

In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the growing public awareness of the risks of energy dependence on autocratic regimes, the Sun & Wind Belt brought together experts to examine the intersection of security and clean energy: Erin Sikorsky (Director of the Center for Climate & Security), Kern (currently Managing Director of the Blue Minds Company), Prof. Dr. Veronika Grimm (German Council of Economic Experts), Angelina Galiteva (Board Chair of California’s grid operator ISO), and Rich Hossfeld (SB Energy CEO, member Softbank Group).

Coming from the public and private sectors, the speakers addressed the urgency of the energy transition and the breadth of solutions being implemented in both countries. The discussion also highlighted the extent to which Germany and the United States can accelerate adoption of renewables by sharing knowledge and working in tandem.

The event featured a keynote presentation by Prof. Sikorsky:

“In addition to preventing the most catastrophic security outcomes from climate change, a more rapid move to clean energy would also pull the rug out from under petro-dictators like Putin.” Addressing the longer-term security challenge Prof. Sikorsky pointed out that, “the geopolitical reality is that countries with economies rooted in oil may not transition without a fight.” But she closed with the warning: “The longer we wait, the slower we go, the harder and more painful it gets.”

Prof. Dr. Grimm noted the costs we are already facing:

“We have very long relied on the cheapest alternative, gas supplies from Russia. We haven’t diversified because of the price […] but we will now experience that resilience is costly, energy security is costly, security per se in Europe will be costly.” In addition to the consequences economists are now warning about, Grimm called attention to the risk of not halting oil and gas imports: “What are the long-run consequences of financing the war?”

Kern extended the discussion to socio-political risks:

“The situation I fear is that we’ll have no choices if there is a further escalation of the conflict [with Russia]. If we do not cap gas prices, this could cause extreme social damage […] and an immediate backlash—and would definitely prevent us from reaching our climate targets.” Considering this nexus of factors, Kern explained, “We have a triangle of concerns: we need secure energy, clean energy, and affordable energy.”

Galiteva underlined how renewables address security and climate risks, along with offering a growing price advantage:

“The lowest cost resource on the grid, by far, are renewables and we should be transitioning faster. If we want the highest value, most diverse, most reliable grid, it has to be reliant on renewables. And, of course, on the technologies that support the renewables, so we can reliably operate 365 days a year, 24 hours, 7 days a week, every hour of every day.”

Pointing to the centrality of reliable energy regulation that prioritizes renewables, Hossfeld stated:

“Today there is more capital sitting on the sidelines, waiting to invest in [renewable energy] manufacturing, infrastructure, and projects, than I’ve seen in 15 years. All they’re looking for — given how long it takes to build — is a stable policy framework to guide that investment. This is an outstanding opportunity for policy-makers to put in place that framework and unlock hundreds of billions or trillions of dollars in a pretty short time frame to achieve decarbonization.”

His statement reinforces the Transatlantic Sun & Wind Belt’s core policy demand in both Germany and the U.S. The initiative advocates for a joint regulatory framework that will enable investors, along with renewable solution providers across the entire value chain from manufacturing to transmission to storage, to scale up funding and production and thus to achieve the energy transition faster.

Transatlantic Sun & Wind Belt co-founder Milan Nitzschke (CEO SL Naturenergie) concluded: “There‘s nothing more peaceful and secure than an energy source you don’t have to fight about because it’s ubiquitously available and affordable to everyone.”

The organization will continue to roll out events and advocacy efforts throughout 2022 together with the roundtable’s facilitator, Berlin-based cleantech strategy agency DWR eco.

Link to event: https://youtu.be/QTqp5IhUNtc

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About the Sun & Wind Belt

The Transatlantic Sun & Wind Belt is the first German-U.S. business initiative to promote the acceleration of the transition to renewable energies and the green transformation more broadly, aiming to drive in-depth cooperation between the United States and Europe. Founded in 2021, the group has gained support and engaged participation from the largest private sector actors in the renewable energy sector on both sides of the Atlantic. With the goal of establishing a stable and transparent joint regulatory framework that prioritizes renewable energy, the Sun & Wind Belt initiates dialogue with political stakeholders and promotes the exchange of expertise, best practices, and investment between the U.S. and Germany—the two largest market-based leaders in renewable energy development and deployment.

Transatlantic network discusses financing the green transformation

Bottlenecks in regulation and financing must be eliminated to drive green energy transformation

Washington DC/Berlin, November 15, 2021 – Developing a climate-neutral energy supply is the biggest investment project of this century. At the Transatlantic Sun&Wind Belt Roundtable, leaders from the U.S. and Germany shared their views on how to secure financing for the green transformation. It became clear that in the U.S. and in Germany, current instruments are not sufficient to accelerate the expansion of renewable energies fast enough to reach climate goals.

Before even talking about financing, the regulatory environment must be adapted. “Right now, the problem is not the lack of available capital or the willingness to invest – it is the lack of investment projects!” said Dr. Jörg Kukies, State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Finance at the beginning of the event. Christian Kern, former Chancellor of Austria, Managing Director at The Blue Minds Co. shared this view: “We have already lost too much time. Policymakers must act quickly, eliminate regulatory bottlenecks for wind and PV projects and drive the energy transition forward with generous funding and smart regulation.”

When it comes to identifying the right financing instruments, a more in-depth exchange between the U.S. and Germany would add value for both sides. “When it comes to financing green transformation projects, we face similar issues in the U.S. and Germany. Exchanging best practices on how to provide investment security and incentivize investments would be beneficial for stakeholders in both countries,” said Trond Rokholt, Managing Director of the New York Green Bank. The biggest U.S. green investment bank finances large and small-scale renewable energy projects and aims to attract private-sector capital to accelerate the deployment of clean energy throughout New York state.

To prevent a future financing gap when the number of RE projects increases, Dr. Gerald Prodobnik, CFO of Deutsche Bank Corporate Bank, called for the evaluation and necessary adjustment of measures. “Investments in the expansion of renewable energies are characterized by high volatility and a long duration. Therefore, we need to establish reliable framework conditions in order to secure funding for these projects.” In addition, in developing projects, “investments by SMEs as well as large players, but also by private investors, must be both promoted and secured,” Christian Kern said.

One of the main takeaways from the discussion was that German and U.S. companies are basically facing the same challenges and opportunities for a strategic realignment. “We have the technologies, and we have the potential. Renewables are even cheaper than fossil sources, and investors are ready to step in on both sides of the Atlantic. The key is now to create reliable framework conditions to get the investments into the market,” said Milan Nitzschke, founder of the Transatlantic Sun&Wind Belt.

More than 25 representatives from industry and energy suppliers from the United States and Germany participated in the virtual roundtable of the transatlantic business initiative. The initiative’s goal is to create a transatlantic network for the exchange of best practices to promote the energy transition and the expansion of renewable energies.

About “The Transatlantic Sun&Wind Belt”
The Transatlantic Sun&Wind Belt Initiative is the first transatlantic business initiative to promote the further enhancement of the green transformation and drive in-depth cooperation. The initiative engages in active dialogue with political stakeholders and promotes the exchange of expertise, experience and investment between the U.S. and Germany – the two largest market-based leaders in renewable energy development and deployment. Website: www.sunandwindbelt.com

Press Contact
Sophia Tischinger
M +49 151 72 83 88 50

Social Media
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/sun-wind-belt/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sunandwindbelt

New transatlantic business initiative Sun&Wind Belt launched successfully

Berlin/Washington, 08/18/2021 Sun&Wind Belt is the new transatlantic business initiative on green transformation – driven forward by companies. Sun&Wind Belt brings together businesses on both sides of the Atlantic whose aim is to support politics with plans to ensure decarbonization. On August 16, Sun&Wind Belt hosted a virtual roundtable with a broadly positioned lineup of keynote speakers and participants. As a next step forward, Sun&Wind Belt will develop concrete proposals for a successful energy transition and actively approach policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Successful kick-off with a virtual roundtable

Overall, more than 25 company representatives participated in the kick-off event of Sun&Wind Belt. Among the participants were some of Europe’s and America’s biggest windturbine and solar panel manufacturers as well as innovators in the field of battery technology, hydrogen and e-mobility and industrial energy users. Together with experienced speakers, the prerequisites for a successful energy transition in Germany and the U.S. were discussed from different angles.

Milan Nitzschke, RE expert and founder of the Sun&Wind Belt, gave a brief introduction on the initiative. He explained that “we already have the technologies to make energy transition a success – renewables are already cheaper than fossil technologies and ubiquitously disposable. Now we only need to deploy them”. Peter Beyer (MP), Transatlantic Coordinator of the German Federal Government, gave insights into the perks of a closer transatlantic cooperation in climate issues: “If we work together and set standards, the U.S. and Germany will accelerate the deployment of carbon-free technologies and accelerate energy transition on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Charlie Dent, Executive Director and Vice President of the Aspen Institute Congressional Program based in Washington DC, took a closer look in deploying renewable energies from a U.S. perspective: “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill is a major step towards the clean energy transition. An initiative of businesses from both sides of the Atlantic will help to build on this groundwork to gain speed and quality both in the U.S. and Germany.” Dan Byers, Vice President of the Energy Institute of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, dived deeper into the regulatory situation on the U.S. side and highlighted needs for action. “We need decisions that endure for longer than one legislation period – and we need them now. Both our countries need to align on policies to enable a bidirectional investment flow across the Atlantic “, he said. “We have a lot of opportunities and face common challenges across the pond at the moment – having a platform to identify and work together on these challenges is a great thing.”

A closer cooperation between U.S. and Germany is a logical step

One key takeaway from the discussion was that Germany and the U.S. stand at the same point on their way to a more sustainable future. As the two leading market economies in advancing green technologies, they share joint interests, similar issues and common challenges. Sun&Wind Belt wants to build on these connections to bring together companies that can accelerate the deployment of renewable energies by working closer together. In the course of the roundtable, four main pillars for a successful energy transition were identified:

  1. Financing the green transformation
  2. Effective and reliable regulation
  3. Exchange of best practices and innovation
  4. Security of Energy supply, geostrategies and security issues

These four pillars define the areas of action in which the Sun&Wind Belt will engage.

Actively advocate policymakers both in the U.S. and Germany

In order to make fast progress in establishing the right standards for enabling a successful energy transition, the Sun&Wind Belt develops proposals for each of the above-mentioned pillars. These proposals serve as a basis to approach policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic with the goal of removing barriers for renewable energy expansion. Alongside this, the Sun&Wind Belt aims at establishing a lively and fruitful transatlantic network by scheduling regular meetings in smaller circles to discuss current topics and work on the concrete action items.

About Sun&Wind Belt
Sun&Wind Belt is the first transatlantic initiative to promote the green transformation and enhance mutual business on this basis – driven forward by companies. The initiative engages in active dialog with political stakeholders and promotes a mutually beneficial exchange of know-how, experiences and also investment flows between the U.S. and Germany, the two pioneers of renewable energies. The transatlantic Sun&Wind Belt is company-driven, which is why it takes a very pragmatic point of view. The initiative sets a clear focus on the future of renewable energies and common, practical approaches that help Germany and the U.S. shape a renewable future.

Press Contact
Sophia Tischinger
M +49 151 72 83 88 50

Social Media
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/sun-wind-belt/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sunandwindbelt