Laurence Reszetar, Director of International Business Strategy for the Minnesota Trade Office, discussed what makes Minnesota different from other states in the Midwest, and from states all over the country. “We’re looking at the decarbonization of industries,” says Reszetar. “What do we do (in government) to decarbonize, how do we approach this intelligently so that we can leverage the technologies to remove the the carbon in packs of those industries to try to get us to a place where we have sustainability.”
Continuing Connections: Building a bridge between Germany and Minnesota
On Monday, September 18, 2023, Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM) was joined by members of the German-American Chamber of Commerce (GACC) and other German-American companies to discuss shared goals around clean energy and ways the two can work together. This meeting took place during an important time for Minnesota, as the state has recently enacted a 100% clean energy by 2040 standard, setting the state on a path to rapid decarbonization.
“We are excited to share more about Minnesota and the big areas of opportunities that continue to emerge as we drive this clean energy transition forward,” said Gregg Mast, Executive Director of CEEM.
With a full table of industry professionals, CEEM, along with its fellow Minnesota partners was able to showcase the progress Minnesota has made at the state, federal and international levels. CEEM’s newly released 2023 Clean Jobs Midwest report was an important highlight for this meeting, showing that there are great strides being made in Minnesota toward a clean energy future. Amelia Cerling Hennes reminded everyone that, “The clean energy transition is good for everyone.”
The meeting was attended by
- Martha Erhard, Senior Manager, Consulting Services & Trade Missions, GACC
- Felix Kederer, Consultant, Government Projects & Trade Missions, GACC
- Gregg Mast, Executive Director, CEEM
- Amelia Cerling Hennes, Managing Director, CEEM
- Laurence Reszetar, Director of International Business Strategy, Minnesota Trade Office
- Nate Long, Regional Trade Specialist, Minnesota Trade Office representatives
- Dr. Tariq Samad, Senior Fellow for Research & Advancement University of Minnesota Technological Leadership Institute
- Dave Basile, National Sales Manager, Elektro-Automatik,
- Austin Hanohano, Regional Sales Manager, Digatron Power Electronics,
- Beatrice Schulz, Head of Department Technologies and Markets, BVES – German Energy Storage Systems Association
- Michael Spurr, Public Affairs Manager, ADS-TEC Energy
German American Chamber of Commerce
The German-American Chamber of Commerce is celebrating its 60th birthday this year. The organization began in 1963 and since then there has been profound growth and investment in creating and maintaining the economic ties between the United States and Germany.
According to GACC, in their 60 years of building transatlantic relationships, they have:
- More than 100 market entry clients.
- 1.6 mil Christkindlmarket attendees.
- 80+ apprenticeship companies.
Their United States partnerships have:
- Maintained 5,600 subsidiaries.
- $637 Billion in investments.
- Created more than 855,000 jobs.
During GACC’s trip to Minneapolis, several of the partnering organizations presented their work to a group of local advocates and business leaders.
BVES-German Energy Storage Systems Association is a group made up of industry-leading energy storage companies that provide storage to heat, electricity and mobility (transportation) sectors. It currently has over 300 members, with many of those being international organizations. BVES states they are “a dialogue partner for politics, administration, science and publicity.”
“With targeted lobbying at the interfaces of political decision-making, we are working to improve the regulation and policy framework for energy storage (national and international),” they state.
Similar to CEEM, BVES has a set of goals that they are on track to achieve, such as supporting Germany in its goal to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2035.
BVES has outlined ways they plan to support their members and government to reach their goal of 100% renewable energy:
- Decentralizing energy-sourcing
- Creating a new structure of energy systems
- Showing that power is the new currency, and that it is important to store it efficiently
There is a push for these changes because, as BVES puts it, “Renewable Energies can be generated anywhere, but not anytime. Anytime availability: only with storage.”
By updating renewable energy storage technologies, there will be more opportunities for the energy to be used efficiently. Flexibility is a key factor in achieving net-zero, and introducing battery storage to the three main energy sectors allows greater flexibility in all three.
Advanced System Technologies (ADS Tech)
Advanced System Technologies creates “battery-based” platform solutions for different electrical applications. They also create infrastructure that will support new tech such as the expansion of electric vehicles by implementing battery charging stations in new ways. ADS uses a battery storage system booster to increase the use of transferred energy. This technology is distributed by placing EV Chargers with the booster packs in places like grocery stores, gas stations and restaurant parking lots across the US and Europe.ADS Tech
Digatron Group started in 1968, and now has almost 60 years of experience and is considered the “electronic innovators” within the battery storage industry. Digatron manufactures in the USA, China, India and Italy and is based out of Germany. They work to provide solutions for energy needs working with partner groups to create new energy products like electronic tests and formation systems for all types of batteries, such as lithium-ion pouches, cylindrical and
Elektro-Automatik has nearly 50 years of experience working as a private company and now has 350 team members internationally. Based in Viersen, Germany, Elektro-Automatik is a leader in the manufacturing of programmable digitally controlled (DC) supplies and technologies, as well as a leader in research, development and training (for developing areas of electrification (transportation, renewable energy, electro chemicals and more).Elektro-Automatik
MINNESOTA’S ROLE IN THE INTERNATIONAL MARKET
Minnesota is currently a driving force to a “Green Economy”, and has the 17th largest economy in the states. Minnesota is also home to 15 Fortune 500 companies, showing that there is a possibility for large growth across different industries. There are over 750 international-based companies in Minnesota and Reszetar says, “We are blessed to have an abundance of foreign-owned enterprises operating in Minnesota across a variety of industries.”
One of the reasons there are so many companies that call Minnesota home (or their international home) is because the workforce will continue to grow. Another important reason to move a company here is that “Minnesota is a relationship-based state,” explains Reszetar. There is an emphasis on creating longstanding and solid relationships to provide the best service possible.
Minnesota’s 2023 legislative session was historic, with major strides made to accomplishing the state’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2040. With support coming from the federal government in the form of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), there were possibilities for funding projects across the state and the country. CEEM went into the legislative session with a priority list, and from that list, a majority of the top priorities were met.
CEEM’s priorities that passed:
- Governor Tim Walz signed into law in February the 100% clean energy by 2040 bill (that requires all Minnesota utilities to operate on 100% carbon-free energy by 2040)
- Creation and funding of the Minnesota Energy Alley initiative
A breakdown of all of CEEM’s priorities and other important energy legislation can be found here.
The work being done in the State Legislature helps to establish Minnesota’s commitment to a clean energy future. Minnesota’s clean energy economy goals are also something that makes the state a competitor when attracting new businesses. In an era of extreme growth, it is more important than ever to build connections and foster relationships with those who have similar goals.
Minnesota’s growth in the clean jobs sector is an important factor for companies to move to Minnesota and Amelia Cerling Hennes pointed out that, “Minnesota’s clean energy job growth is 50% faster faster than the overall economy.” Cerling Hennes also reminded the room that, “This growth is important because everyone wants to support an industry that’s growing and supporting local economies.”
“This (report) truly is a small business success story, as we grow our clean energy economy here in the state of Minnesota, these small emerging companies are really helping catapult Minnesota to a leadership position in the transition.” Gregg Mast
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA CONTINUING TO BUILD GROWTH IN THE CLEAN ENERGY INDUSTRY
Dr. Tariq Samad with the University of Minnesota Technological Leadership Institute discussed the measures that the university is taking to continue education for professionals in the clean energy industry through a master’s degree professional program. This degree is designed for those who have already begun their careers and are looking to build new skills to further their sector.
These professional programs play a key part in growing Minnesota’s clean energy economy by creating opportunities for Minnesotans to go into different industries that may lead them to a better future. This also provides opportunities for new workers to go into the clean energy industry from other sectors.
Minnesota’s growing clean job force and its continued legislative efforts create a unique space for the clean energy industry to expand its reach. International partnerships are an important part of this continued growth and there are many opportunities to build connections. CEEM and GACC have the shared goal of building more relationships between companies in Germany and Minnesota.