The European Green Deal aims to make Europe the first energy-neutral continent by 2030, but there’s more to sustainability than CO2 emissions. As long-standing participants in Inside (formerly known as ARTEMIS), Michael Paulweber and Horst Pfluegl of AVL List take a look at how we as an ecosystem can contribute to this.
More than mobility
The Green Deal means different things to people across the continent, but for Michael the connection is personal. “I have three kids and three grandkids. I want my grandkids and their kids to have the same future we had,” he says. “On the one hand, we’re using too much energy and releasing too much CO2, with effects we’re now seeing on the climate. On the other hand, the number of people in the world is increasing. The amount of energy and space they need is increasing, so everyone has less to use. We need to find ways to have the same level of comfort with less energy consumption.”
“Europe should go further in this direction to really support the Green Deal,” agrees Horst. “We need to do something about global warming and it’s good that we’re turning mobility green – but it’s not just mobility that’s a cause of global warming. There’s the food industry, for instance, or the energy sector. We need to think about the whole story and look at the entire ecosystem. Where do we generate our energy? How do we store it? What’s the best way to convert it?”
Striking a balance
Although widespread support for the Green Deal exists throughout the world of Intelligent Digital Systems, there’s also a keen awareness of the need for sustainable competition with places like the US and China. “There’s a threat that Europe could go in this direction without looking at the rest of the world,” Horst continues. “If we ban the combustion engine in Europe, the rest of the world may just continue. And we shouldn’t just look at CO2 production but also the consumption of CO2 by plants and forests. How can we find a good balance when forests are being burnt down in Brazil, for example? Everybody thinks that if we have better electric vehicles, we have solved everything. We’ve actually achieved nothing if we don’t look at the bigger picture.”
Despite this complex state of affairs, Michael is confident that ecosystems like Inside can make an important contribution to the Green Deal’s goals. “Key Digital Technologies are not the only solution but they do enable things like automation or energy saving using in, for example, AI based decision systems. One of the foremost challenges for the KDT is to find ways of reducing energy usage through better chips, power electronics and batteries. But you also have to introduce predictive software with better control and distribution resulting in less waste of energy and raw materials, which is where artificial intelligence and edge computing enter the game. Something we also introduced into the ECS Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda is the circular economy. You have to look at the whole lifecycle of a car, PC or refrigerator and minimise energy usage as well as ensure the reuse the materials. For example, key digital technologies as image recognition can figure out the different materials in recycling centres and bring them back into the production cycle,” he concludes. “So at Inside, we can and will do a lot to create a liveable future!”