GERMAN CLEANTECH INGENUITY



By Lanie Meyers









"Ten thousand tulips were photographed and ordered based on color criteria by Anna Ridler as a part of her work called Mosaic Virus. This project mirrors that of training a machine learning system and exposes the level of human subjectivity inherent in machine learning since people are its original programmers. Photograph by Lanie Meyers in the Volkswagen DRIVE storefront in Berlin, Germany".


I spent the first few days in February on a weekend trip to the German capital of Berlin, where I had the chance to explore several museums, taste some craft beers, and ogle at world-famous monuments. While strolling between the Reichstag and the German Historical Museum, I wandered into a storefront filled with colorful, interactive art pieces that turned out to be a part of a Volkswagen installation on the latest in artificial intelligence. Happening upon this exhibit was a great reminder of how Germany is known for its technological innovations worldwide. It got me wondering how many other German high-tech and cleantech innovations I know of and how many I’ve yet to discover.


The first that came to mind is the German startup Lilium that has received recognition in the past year for its high-tech electric flying pods. The company’s slogan, “The world’s first electric vertical take-off and landing jet” captures the enormity of their technological innovations and the potential for their jets to take off in future markets as “an air taxi for up to five people.” Lilium imagines a world where high speed, electric, flying transportation becomes the norm.


With similar missions but different approaches, companies like Skeleton Technologies and Electrochaea are focused on using new and upcoming energy storage technologies to power the kinds of devices that Lilium and other companies have created as well as the energy grid at large. Each of these companies builds on years of German excellence in engineering within a culture that prioritizes higher education and is highly conscious of its carbon footprint. Seeing companies with similar missions and goals as Electra is encouraging as we all work harder to create an electrified world where energy sources are reinvented and our way of life adapts to present and future sustainability needs.


In this competitive, globalized world, a single company won’t be the answer to all of our high-tech wants and needs. With a collection of cleantech companies from different ends of the earth forming the basis of sustainable success, we can expect battery, capacitor, and high-tech markets to continue to grow over the next few decades, forming a technology revolution that will shape our future.