- May 10, 2022
- May 14, 2022
As part of its Laboratories of Democracy Initiative, Aspen Germany hosted the first in-person meeting of the second round of exchanges in Schwerin, Germany, on May 10-14, 2022. The project brings together a group of German and U.S.-American state legislators each year to facilitate a values-based discussion and an exchange of ideas about how to tackle current international policy challenges on a subnational level. Besides general transatlantic topics, the core topic of the 2022 exchange is climate and energy.
The visit to Schwerin gave the participating parliamentarians the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania state government, engage in dialogue with experts on climate and energy, visit regional best practices and companies, and exchange ideas with each other. Minister Bettina Martin of the Ministry for Science, Culture, Federal and European Affairs welcomed the German-American delegation to Schwerin, provided an overview of the state government’s climate and energy policy goals, and exchanged views with the group on the role of state-level politics and opportunities for transatlantic cooperation. A visit to the state parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was also on the agenda. At the invitation of Birgit Hesse, President of the State Parliament, the parliamentary group met for a joint lunch and exchange. In her personal address, Ms. Hesse explained the workings and tasks of the Landtag. The exchange was followed by a private tour of the castle and grounds, which is home to the state parliament.
In line with the focus topic of the second exchange round, the group visited regional companies and research institutions active in the field of climate and energy in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. In the greater Rostock area, the group exchanged ideas with Peter Rößner (CFO), Dr. Peter Sponholz (CTO), Gunnar Krüger (CBDO), and Kiran Bhojani (Executive Director) of the Apex Group. The joint discussion and the subsequent tour of the company premises focused on the potential of hydrogen and future solutions for its storage and transport. The visit to Erndtebrücker Eisenwerk GmbH (EEW Group) and exchange with Robert Dreves (Managing Director), Andreas Dietze (Director Technical Business Development USA), and Martin Blodow (HSE) focused on offshore wind energy. The company manufactures monopiles for the construction of offshore wind turbines and gave the delegation an insight into its monopile production at the pipe mill.
The German-American delegation also visited Stadtwerke Rostock. Alexander Christen, Press and Public Relations Officer, presented the company’s future plans in the field of heat generation and storage and showed the group the newly constructed heat storage facility. The parliamentarians also had the opportunity to delve deeper into the topic of bioenergy during a visit to the Agency for Renewable Resources and the straw heating plant on the premises. Dr. Torsten Gabriel (Deputy Managing Director), Birger Kerckow (Head of the Department EU/International Affairs) and Dr. Hermann Hansen (Public Relations Officer) presented the work of the agency and explained the potential of bioenergy use especially for smaller regions and municipalities.
The topics of hydrogen and wind energy were also discussed in more depth with other experts from the region. The North German Hydrogen Strategy and the expansion of a green hydrogen economy were taken up in an exchange with Ulrike Kramm from the Department 700 “Basic Issues of Energy Policy” in the Ministry of Economics, Infrastructure, Tourism, and Labor. During a roundtable discussion, two board members of the regional WindEnergy Network, Holger Matthiesen (Managing Director Europe, Aker Offshore Wind Europe GmbH) and Christian Weiß (CEO, Gesellschaft für Wirtschafts- und Technologieförderung Rostock mbH), presented information on the expansion of wind energy in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Lea Baumbach (Municipal Consultant, Project „Dialogue on the Future of the Energy Transition“) and Carla Fee Weisse (Communications Manager, Project „Dialogue on the Future of the Energy Transition“) from the State Energy and Climate Protection Agency Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania shared their experience and knowledge around the acceptance of wind energy in the region. Wind energy could also be experienced personally during the visit: At the invitation of Johann-Georg Jaeger, Chairman of the State Association of Renewable Energies MV, the parliamentarians had the unique opportunity to climb an 80-meter-high wind turbine and exchange views on political, bureaucratic, and social challenges in the expansion of wind energy. On September 13-17, 2022, the second in-person meeting of the 2022 cohort will take place in Trenton, NJ, in the United States.
The Aspen Institute Germany thanks all speakers and participants of the second cohort of the Laboratories of Democracy Initiative: Barbara Becker MdL (CSU), Member of the Bavarian State Parliament; Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath (D), Member of the California State Assembly; Hannes Damm MdL (Alliance 90/The Greens), Member of the State Parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania; Representative Anna Eskamani (D), Member of the Florida State House of Representatives; Silke Gebel MdA (Alliance 90/The Greens), Chairwoman of The Greens in the Berlin House of Representatives; Assemblymember Don Guardian (R), Member of the New Jersey General Assembly; Daniel Karrais MdL (FDP), Member of the State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg; Tamara Müller MdL (SPD), Member of the State Parliament of Rhineland-Palatinate; Senator Marc Pacheco (D), Dean of the Massachusetts State Senate; Senator Ann Rivers (R), Member of the Washington State Senate; Gerd Schreiner MdL (CDU), Member of the State Parliament of Rhineland-Palatinate; Senator Ryan Weld (R), Majority Whip of the West Virginia State Senate; Christian Winter MdL (SPD), Member of the State Parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania; Senator Andrew Zwicker (D), Member of the New Jersey State Senate.
The project is supported by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany, funded by the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).