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Economy

Siemens and sustainability: interview with Roland Aurich, UK chief executive

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Roland Aurich, chief executive of Siemens UK, on sustainability, renewable energy and why the northern city of Hull is central to its future plans.

The people of Hull had spent two years playing ‘will-they, won’t-they’ when they were finally given the answer they had longed for. German manufacturing giant Siemens announced on March 25 that it was choosing this emerging northern city, along with neighbouring Paull in the East Riding of Yorkshire, as the location for two offshore wind turbine manufacturing plants.

Despite fierce competition from a range of coastal locations across Europe, the game went in Hull’s favour because of the UK’s place as an offshore wind leader and its own location at the heart of the Humber estuary. The decision confirmed that the city really was the subject of a sea change – after it was named city of culture for 2017 just four months earlier.

For Siemens – a firm with a global market capitalisation of over €82 billion – the deal reaffirmed its offshore wind leadership. Hull, once a thriving fishing port, sits 25 miles inland from the North Sea. Some 1,000 direct jobs are expected to be created as part of the deal, which – it is hoped – will help create a renewable energy hub in the Humber region.

The early signs are certainly promising. Just two weeks after the deal was announced, the Hull Daily Mail reported that a “major renewables companywas in talks to move to a business park right next to the Siemens site in the city.

The long deliberation process may have made Hull sweat. But Roland Aurich, UK chief executive at Siemens, is certain that the decision is an informed one – and carefully based on a range of economic and geographical factors.

We really wanted to make sure that the industry has the certainty, because we would never make investments like this unless we saw a stable market trend going forward”, he says.

I would say that the UK has one of the more stable regimes when it comes to making sure we meet our decarbonisation targets and at the same time making sure that capacity is there to avoid the blackouts. It is almost an impossible equation, but I think the UK has come a long way to establish that framework. There is a bit of envy from other countries like Germany and others, which are probably watching pretty closely at what the UK has been doing.”

Roland Aurich, chief executive of Siemens UK

The positive market conditions for offshore wind that Aurich speaks of have led to the UK being described as the “most attractive” country in the world for investing in the technology. As a windy island with over 11,000 miles of coastline, it is not difficult to see why.

David Cameron joined the energy secretary Ed Davey in July last year in cutting the ribbon on London Array – the world’s largest offshore wind farm, which has capacity to power Hull’s 100,000 or so homes four times over. Meanwhile, the government’s long-term strategy, unveiled in August, hopes to boost the UK’s position at the forefront of the industry.

It is a different story for onshore wind, which continues to divide opinion among voters and businesses alike on both value for money and aesthetics. The Conservative party is even reportedly including measures to curb development of onshore turbines in its manifesto for the 2015 general election.

I think they need to be extremely careful in proposing things like that”, says Aurich, who concedes that debate around onshore wind is a “neverending story”. He adds that wind conditions are more attractive and reliable offshore – added to the fact there are fewer dissenting locals about to stall the planning process.

Aurich himself is Siemens through and through, having first joined the firm in 1986. He has been chief executive of its operations in Canada and his native Sweden, before moving to head the UK business in 2012.

He explains how innovation and technology have always been core to what the company does. But in the last decade, it has become increasingly cautious about the bigger picture – namely, its impact on society and the environment. It has reshuffled its portfolio, moving away from less sustainable industries and into smart grid, energy efficiency and making cities more sustainable.

The location for our interview, the Crystal, is a prime example of its future ambitions. Situated on Royal Victoria Dock in east London, it is an interactive showcase for what sustainability might look like in our cities.

The building itself has meticulous architecture, with a natural cooling and self-shading design, insulation, solar panels and ground source heat pumps. Its roof harvests rainwater which is then treated and used throughout the buildings for taps, showers and in the kitchen. Meanwhile, its immediate surroundings have been landscaped in a way that maximises conservation and green space. The result is one of the world’s most sustainable buildings.

The Crystal's sustainability credentials (click to enlarge)

But does Siemens’s vision for its own future – to be a sustainable technological leader – include the fossil fuels that we know do serious harm to the environment? Yes – but only ones that emit the least possible carbon, Aurich says.

He adds, “We still need to acknowledge that at least 60% of the world’s global power generation is based on fossil fuels. We won’t be able to switch that off from one day to another, but what we can do is have a much higher efficiency in the power plants that are based on fossil fuels.

In the last 10 years, we have been focusing more on how to make sure that we add value to our customers, and how to make things more sustainable.”

Some of his peers in the business world may think sustainability is a passing fad – a view that Aurich is determined to fight against. It’s a myth that there is a trade-off between going green and making a profit, he explains.

He points to the latest series of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which expertly and alarmingly outlines what’s in store for our climate in the coming decades – including impacts on food prices, national security and the environment – if we don’t act soon.

Urbanisation, demographic shifts, climate change – these are the megatrends that Siemens has been focusing on for years now”, he says. “For us, it’s just evidence again that we are going in the right direction.”

Further reading:

£310m Hull offshore wind plant given go-ahead as Siemens confirms investment

Wind farms an ‘attractive long-term’ investment opportunity

£450m Humber offshore wind turbine scheme given go-ahead

Demand for renewables to drive wind turbine towers market

The Guide to Limitless Clean Energy 2013

Economy

Report: Green, Ethical and Socially Responsible Finance

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“The level of influence that ethical considerations have over consumer selection of financial services products and services is minimal, however, this is beginning to change. Younger consumers are more willing to pay extra for products provided by socially responsible companies.” Jessica Morley, Mintel’s Financial Services Analyst.

Consumer awareness of the impact consumerism has on society and the planet is increasing. In addition, the link between doing good and feeling good has never been clearer. Just 19% of people claim to not participate in any socially responsible activities.

As a result, the level of attention that people pay to the green and ethical claims made by products and providers is also increasing, meaning that such considerations play a greater role in the purchasing decision making process.

However, this is less true in the context of financial services, where people are much more concerned about the performance of a product rather than green and ethical factors. This is not to say, however, that they are not interested in the behaviour of financial service providers or in gaining more information about how firms behave responsibly.

This report focuses on why these consumer attitudes towards financial services providers exist and how they are changing. This includes examination of the wider economy and the current structure of the financial services sector.

Mintel’s exclusive consumer research looks at consumer participation in socially responsible activities, trust in the behaviour of financial services companies and attitudes towards green, ethical and socially responsible financial services products and providers. The report also considers consumer attitudes towards the social responsibilities of financial services firms and the green, ethical and socially responsible nature of new entrants.

There are some elements missing from this report, such as conducting socially responsible finance with OTC trading. We will cover these other topics in more detail in the future. You can research about Ameritrade if you want to know more ..

By this report today: call: 0203 416 4502 | email: iainooson[at]mintel.com

Report contents:

OVERVIEW
What you need to know
Report definition
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The market
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
The consumer
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Competition from technology companies
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
What we think
ISSUES AND INSIGHTS
Creating a more inclusive economy
The facts
The implications
Payments innovation helps fundraising go digital
The facts
The implications
The social debt of the financial crisis
The facts
The implications
THE MARKET – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
PUTTING FINANCIAL SERVICES IN AN ETHICAL CONTEXT
An ethical economy
An ethical financial sector
Ethical financial services providers
GREEN, ETHICAL AND SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE ISSUES IN FINANCIAL SERVICES
The role of investing
Divestment
The change potential of pensions
The role of trust
Greater transparency informs decisions
Learning from past mistakes
The role of innovation
Payments innovation: Improving financial inclusion
Competition from new entrants
The power of new money
The role of the consumer
Consumers empowered to make a change
Aligning products with self
THE CONSUMER – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
For financial products, performance is more important than ethics
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Competition from technology companies
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
Overall trust levels are high
THE ETHICAL CONSUMER – SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE ACTIVITIES
Payments innovation can boost charitable donations
Consumer engagement in socially responsible activities is high
Healthier finances make it easier to go green
SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE COMPANIES
37% unable to identify socially responsible companies
Building societies seen to be more responsible than banks….
….whilst short-term loan companies are at the bottom of the pile
CONSUMER TRUST IN THE BEHAVIOUR OF FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPANIES
Overall trust levels are high
Tax avoidance remains a major concern
The divestment movement
Nationwide significantly more trusted
Trust levels remain high
CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARDS GREEN AND ETHICAL FINANCIAL PRODUCTS
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Socially conscious consumers are more concerned
CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARDS TRANSPARENCY
Strategy reports provide little insight for consumers
Lack of clarity regarding corporate culture causes concern
Consumers want more information
THE ROLE OF FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS IN SOCIETY
The social debt of the financial crisis
THE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS
For consumers, financial services firms play larger economic role
Promoting financial responsibility
CHALLENGER COMPANIES AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Consumer trust is built on evidence
The alternative opportunity
The target customer

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Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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