Traveller’s observations from summer travels in Europe – Green energy transition

Green energy transition – There is no one solution but many

About global warming and energy

Vacation is something we all wait for and look forward to. This year I was fortunate enough to travel around the Alps in France, Italy, and Switzerland. And yes, before you ask, I did fly to Europe instead of taking, for example, train, which would have been a more sustainable option. But I thought as many of us that I will compensate the flight otherwise and save time getting where I want, as “time is money” they say. During COVID we had been travelling around Finland and used a lot of the car/train solution, which is a very good option.

Now after being back at work, I look back to our travels with bittersweet feeling. Bittersweet while at many places in the Alps the global warming was proceeding with a fast pace. In the French Alps in Chamonix Mont Blanc, we visited La Mer De Glace ice cave and glaciers. The glaciers are melting and whilst the temperatures were record high, they are melting even faster. The yearly marks on the rocks showed how fast the La Mer De Glace glacier is melting, and it was evident that global warming has just accelerated during the last years. The same was visible in Matterhorn, where we went to glacier where summer skiing is still possible as one of the last places in the Alps. The locals everywhere were complaining about the heat, melting ice, increased summer storms and draught. In the old days you could go up to the mountains and be refreshed, but now the temperatures up over 2000 m were well over 20°C.

As we are facing global warming at the same time with Pandemic and war in Ukraine, our mind and focus strays away from the acute warnings of global warming. As UN’s António Guterres states, “we are on a fast track to climate disaster”. Our scientists have warned and showed us scientific proof about the global warming, but we are either lazy, dumb, or just stupid. “Seeing is believing” and unfortunately that is many times true, I have witnessed it myself now.

About Energy

At the same time as we are struggling with energy questions in Europe, partly due to the Russian war in Ukraine, we still have a lot to do. As we have lots of challenges in energy questions, we also have lots of opportunities and the development and innovations are moving on faster than ever. There is still a lot to do in optimizing the existing systems and our own behaviours as a consumer. In Italy and France, I was surprised to see that they had the central heating on during the months of June and July even though it was very warm outside. Everywhere I went I had to adjust the heating to minimum as the batteries were hot and warming up the apartments. In Finland our central heating is pretty much off during the summer or at least adjusted so that the batteries are not on during the heat wave. I am sure there are lots of things and examples where we can improve and save energy by doing it. In many places the best discussion I had were with the local people about energy. In Switzerland we had a taxi driver who was very knowledgeable about the new sustainable green energy solutions. I learned a lot from him about the geothermal energy pilots they had done in Switzerland and his thoughts about new green energy sources like hydrogen.

We at CLIC Innovation are in the heart of green energy transition. Personally, I have found it sometimes difficult to understand the challenges around energy, as my background is in business, and I am surrounded by colleagues, customers and partners the most of whom have technical, chemistry or engineering background. But what I have learned during the last year’s working here is, that the green energy transition is truly a systemic challenge, a transition which requires existing solutions to work side-by-side with new innovations in an integrated manner. Transition means optimization of existing solutions and new innovations in many fields like energy storages, new energy sources & technology &services, sector coupling, new infrastructures and system level changes etc. There is no one solution but many.

If you are interested in knowing more about green energy transition, check out our activities with one of our open innovation ecosystems GreenE2.

Author: Tiina Laiho, Head of Services and Communications, CLIC Innovation