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Interview with Prof. Peter Droege
Peter Droege directs the Liechtenstein Institute for Strategic Development, the global advisory and research organization for the rapid transition to regenerative communities, cities, regions and infrastructure. Professor Droege serves also as President of Eurosolar, the European Association for Renewable Energy, and as General Chairman, World Council for Renewable Energy.
1.What is your particular area of expertise?
My expertise lies in researching and designing ways in which our human-made world – settlements and infrastructure – can become entirely based on renewable energy – more than that: become life affirming, regenerative worlds. I am an architect of future cities designed to be better able to both counter emissions excess and other destructive aspects of the way modern societies organise their lives – and survive in this time of accelerating climate change.
2.How would you explain your current work to a stranger on a bus?
As a practice geared R&D planning organisation LISD is by its very charter fully, 100%, focused on sustainability geared, regenerative urban planning and community outreach efforts.
3.Where do you carry out most of your work?
In board rooms, city halls, helicopters, air planes, on trains, conference centers, community halls – and on the streets of city regions worldwide. But it also happens on the internet, in social media and on the telephone, such as much of the LEAP (LISD Embedded Action and Practice Program) that supports and trains students and emerging professionals from Africa, India and the United States.
4.What first inspired you to study your subject matter?
I long searched for the essence of building, urban design and planning – the purpose, if you will, of built human civilization. What can we possibly contribute to Earth, to other species? What are the root causes of the environmental disaster creeping up on us? This led to the realization that the most essential infrastructure is energy systems: the dead end street of fossil and nuclear systems have centrally contributed to the demise of global ecosystems, species – and the very real prospect of our own.
5.What’s the most exciting part of your job?
It is wonderful to see communities succeed in achieving energy and financial independence, to throw off the shackles of centralized fossil and nuclear power systems and industries, and to embrace the democratic, bottom-up liberation that lies in the intelligent distribution of renewable energy resources.
6.What keeps you awake at night?
The thought that we are late, very late. Too much compromise, too much complicity, lip service, postponement – too much belief in the power of system conforming approaches. Will we be able to make up for lost time, engage in the kind of bold action that is called for? For this we developed our RRID projects – efforts in rapid regenerative infrastructure development.
7.What false preconceptions do people have about your job?
Some people still think that sustainable development research in general and renewable energy in particular is a domain of a marginal effort, something that costs a lot of money – while in reality this is a powerful – and by now mainstream – way of enhancing the survivability but also the profitability of projects, infrastructures and communities.
8.What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned this week at your job?
That would be the realisation, based on subjective experience, that the community of researchers working in these areas is growing massively, and daily – and that the number of practitioners of change – those apt to engage in research in action, so to speak – is growing even faster. But it was also interesting to see, once again, how much reaffirmation and dissemination of long-tested and proven facts is still required even among knowledge communities, and often repeatedly so.
9.What do you think will be the next big discovery or development in your field?
The next big development is already in the making: autonomous, zero added cost, intelligently managed and distributed energy systems as public and shared infrastructure, universally accessible but supremely focused on maximising access and empowerment, prosperity and income of individuals, households, neighbourhoods, communities and regions.
10.What are the biggest pain points in the industry?
Painful is definitely the challenge posed by incumbent industries, incumbent mind sets, fears of innovation and resistance to change. Retrograde forces have systematically slowed down and even undone progress to a carbon emissions free, renewable future – and just may have cost millions, of not billions of lives – once all is said and done and the current climate change momentum has played out fully.
11.How have you used books for your own professional research and how it influenced your work, research or thinking, or help you solve a problem in your field? What outcome did it lead to?
Books are my livelihood – and writing and reading are the engines of my intellectual engagement. They are the very pillars of my research and professional design work. Books and papers are our way of connecting, here at the Liechtenstein Institutes for Strategic Development in Berlin, Germany and Vaduz, Liechtenstein. We rely on friendships, collaborations, associations, networks and partnerships to reach out, and support others in reaching out – and we use books and scientific papers to do so. Books alos lead to conferences – they are inextricably connected to same. Our European Green India Summit (EUGIS) is one such collaborative effort, inconceivable without the intelligence and enlightened generosity that is the very hallmark of collaborative regenerative practice ultimately borne of the effort to assemble books.
This book, Urban Energy Transition 2nd Edition – Renewable Strategies for Cities and Regions is the very outcome of one such network efforts. It is the crowning of decades of work culminating in the last 18 months of highly intensive research and writing – 33 seminal and fresh chapters finely crafted by more than 60 authors from all over the world, selected and designed to propagate, proliferate regenerative design, infrastructure technology, finance and governance – sharing the science, knowledge of regenerative cities and regions.
We are pleased to offer you a free chapter – access this content by clicking here – The Urban Energy Transition: Pathways to Climate Neutrality in Our Cities. If you find this content interesting, please continue reading and browse the entire book on ScienceDirect.
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