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Posted on on May 26th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

This report of ours starts with the May 22nd, 2013 meeting of The Vienna Club of Thinkers. The Topic was Energy Turnaround from a thinking person’s point of view. The presenter was Wilhelm Michael Zankl and the audience looked and sounded like a Mensa Club reunion.
The location was Cafe Benno, Alser Strasse 67, 1080 Vienna, and the club meets every Wednesday 8 PM.

The second event was the following day at the Renner Institut (the Governing Austrian Socialist Party Think tank) at their usual meeting-place at Garden-Hotel Altmansdorf (Hotel 2), Oswaldgasse 69, 1120 Vienna – and the topic was “Does the Energy Turnaround create jobs?

What drove our attention to these meetings is the upcoming introduction of the SE4All (Sustainable Energy for All) at the three-day meeting at the Austrian Presidency Halls – the Hofburg – May 28-30 – next week. But let me immediately say that I do not think that there was any direct planning of these meetings because of the conference – at least the people I talked to at above two meetings did not know about the larger event, rather I think that the topic of Energy Policy being picked up these days by the European Commission in Brussels, is the general motivator of these meetings, and the newspapers keep providing motivating articles as well.


In 1990, Zankl wrote “Energy, Anergy, Anarchy” with the latest edition of 1995 – the content of his logic has not really changed since. He cooperated with Hermann Scherr and Jeremy Rifkin and the system is clear. The road in front of us is clearly depicted:

You see a car nearing a decision point:

– No Oil – this is the end of the way

– No Nuclear – with a two kilometer slippery slope, at 3km you get storm and lightning and a sign of turn around

– Water, Sun and Wind – clear choice.

What is energy? It means “Inside – Somewhere” from two Greek words – then you divide it – you can use it.

Fast run down takes us to Archimedes, Leibnitz, Carnot (First law of Thermodynamics, Rudolph Clausius (Second Law of Thermodynamics).

Energy is Power, mass, and Work as energy per time and power per distance.

Anergy is what escapes to the environment. Entropy tells us we cannot bring it back – it pollutes the Environment and Hermann Scherr said it ought to be taxed – rather then the CO2.

There is an energy entropy, a matter entropy, and an information entropy – nothing is 100% sure. Order is the lowest entropy. A constructive process can be seen as negative entropy.

Biology uses energy sparingly but we humans waste it. But energy is existence. Energy is Welfare. If you want to waste energy – waste solar energy – it is there for us to waste. We get to politics and here to the conflict of interest with the notion of centralism – farmer unions and bio-energy.

He sees no problem if 10 billion people operate 5 billion electric vehicles with power derived from the sun and wind. The Turnaround must change the corporate economy to a people’s economy.

Growth Sustainability is not possible – this needs boundless energy that is not produced with oil, coal, Natural Gas.

Regenerative energy comes from wind, photovoltaic, biogas.

Time bombs: Change of Ocean Streams (the Gulf Stream), Melting of Glaciers, Methane Hydrates.

Global Warming but in Europe cooling because of the melting of glaciers.

Looking at 160,000 years CO2 curve we see the risingin the last 23,000 years with very intensive rising in the last 200 years.

He calculates the waste of money because of our neglecting to use the energy from the sun. The loss per meter square is 100 Euro and it is estimated that at least 30 Euro could have been easily obtained. This is decentralized energy – not the Desertech kind which he rejects.

At Q&A time much more came into focus. Vienna could export electricity if all roof space were used.

In the audience was also Herbert Rauch who in 2005 wrote with Alfred Strigl “Die Wende der Titanic” (The Turn of the Titanic) and created the “EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE PROMOTION OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT”  ESD  —

It is just a pity that our corporate world never really built policies around the ideas of these thinkers – and we stopped a long time ago wondering why.


The four hour long, two part, Renner Institute Seminar with encouragement from the European Commission, was a mixed bag. It included a variety of presenters divided into two panels by the moderator – Mr. Guenther Strobl, the Business Editor of “Der Standard.” The first panel dealt rather with generalities and the second panel was defined as from sectors. So the first panel had CEOs of major Austrian institutions and full audience, while the second panel lost half of the audience and that was a pity.

The first panel included the Director of the Board in charge of Energy at the Wiener Stadtwerke (the Vienna Energy that  supplies around two million people with electricity, gas and heat.) Mr. Marc Hall; Mr. Sven Hergovich The Environment and Transport head of the Labor Board of Vienna; Mr. Manfred Pils of the Austrian Power Grid and with the Naturamico International; and Ms. Theresis Vogel, business chair of Climate and Energy Funds.

I just did not believe my ears – the word “Nachhaltigkeit” or Sustainability in any form – was not mentioned by these speakers even once.

Indeed – the first speaker was Mr. Pils and he spoke of the problem that Fukushima made nuclear impossible and that in the EU 13 million people living at the sea-shore will lose their homes if the sea level rises by one meter. He mentioned the big bill that the EU pays for importing energy.
Then he asked – How do you finance efficiency? The investor is not the one who benefits from the increased efficiency of a building.

He spoke of the gas network as the best way to deposit energy and suggested the recycling of CO2 by making CH4 out of it. Sounds good but when and how?


Ms. Vogel stressed efficiency as Europe is committed to decrease CO2 emissions by 80-85% by 2050.


Mr. Hall also stressed efficiency and reminded us of Amory Lovins’ NEGAWATT. He defined Energy Turnaround for Germany as Electric Power creation and the avoidance of liquid fuel for mobility.


Mr. Hergovich suggested numbers for new jobs but did not clearly explain how it will be done.


The Q&A was lively and at the end I engaged Mr. Hall on the issue of the missing concept of Sustainability as a starting point to the discussion.
That is when I learned that the gentleman regards fossil fuels as renewables – only it takes a little longer. Climate Change is not something he worries about. Nice – but I do! It seemed that the members of the panel had in mind the rear-guard effort of surviving assault from people they do not trust.


The second panel, was much more open to innovation.  I will mention them in the order of their appearance – as the later they spoke in the pecking order, the better it got.

First speaker was Herbert Lechner the scientific coordinator of the Austrian Energy Agency – a government institution.
He compared Germany and Austria and spoke of Energy (R)EVOLUTION as choice between Evolution and Revolution in order to achieve the 2050 goals.
This can be achieved only if Zero-Emission buildings are part of new construction. But that is only the tip of the iceberg – the old buildings will continue to waste energy until replaced he explained.

The second speaker Michael Strebl, the CEO of Salzburg Netz GmbH, the promoter of the Smart-Grid of the Salzburg region. They work with Siemens. In the Koestendorf community they plan to use heat-pump systems.

Ms. Karin Tauz is the Head of the Business Unit that develops Electric Mobility for the Austria-Tech company that belongs to the Federal Government for Technology oriented political measures themes. She sounded very goal oriented and in tune with what politics needs in order to come up with solutions. She actually got applause from the remaining audience.

And now the last speaker – Mr. Hubert Ladinger who is with Ludwig-Boelkow-Systems Technology GmbH of Ottobrunn, Bavaria, Germany.
They work on a system to store electric power by creating a gas that is usable – CH4, H2 …

Finally I heard the word Sustainability. uses electrolysis to create these usable gasses and thus a way to store the energy obtained from the sun or the wind – for later use that can include Fuel Cells or Gas Turbines. THEY SELL WIND-GAS and before you know they can replace the Fracking-Gas !!  Further – he actually had employment figures and made suggestions to answer the questions that were posed before the first six speakers said what they did.

As part of the Q&A, it occurred to me that the seminar was actually very good because it exposed the negatives and eventually landed on a positive. And really what are seminars for? I respect a seminar when it provides the listener with enough ideas so he can leave and create by himself – in this respect – this seminar was a great success. Just listening to people tooting their horns hardly ever is worth the time spent.

Also – to the suggestion of EVOLUTION vs. REVOLUTION – it became clear to me that it is neither.


Further, it seems that the word REFORMATION with its old use in the replacement of corrupt church behavior of the Middle Ages, a new system based on much less waste and simpler demands by the public of the time, is indeed what the ENERGY TURNAROUND will have to come up with.

It was clear to me that voicing this to the people that came to the seminar will fall on deaf ears – and it did. But the LOGIC THINKERS might appreciate this better. Also I hope that next week’s three days exercise might come up with a beginning of a roadmap to get us to 2015, 2025 and beyond.


Over the weekend several articles and advertisements came to my attention:

First the self-congratulatories in Der Standard and the Kronen Zeitung of the Austrian OMV Oil Company about its Pipelines and Technologies – that they want us to think that are what is needed to secure a good energy future.

Then the article in the Business Section of the “Die Furche” of May 23, 2013, by Austria Ambassador to China Irene Giner-Reichl “Focus Energy-Revolution” about the Upcoming Energy Forum that starts May 28th. THE SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FOR ALL concept being based on Electricity that has a largely increased content coming from Renewable Energy. As per the UN, the intent is to double the Renewable Energy content  by 2030.

And in the weekend Der Standard – 25/26 May 2013 – Mr. Guenther Strobl, the moderator of the Renner Institute panels of May 23rd, has interviewed former German Environment Minister and former head of UNEP – Professor Klaus Toepfer, who told him that the idea of having a cheap energy policy in the EU does not make sense. My God, why did Mr. Strobl not take advantage of this concept at his Thursday panels? Or did this interview happen only on Friday the 24th?

The use of gas from underground fracking shale in order to replace reliance on more dirty oil is not something that can be noticed only in passing – a much more serious look at this technology is needed. But then this will not come up unless investigative reporting is ordered by editors of respected media.

Further – just saw the “Die Presse” of today – Monday, May 27, 2013 – article by Professor Emeritus at the University of Vienna Physics Department who lectures on Energy – Professor Gero Vogel. The title is “THE BIG SOBERING UP FROM THE ENERGY TURNAROUND” – the Energiewende – that this old-timer professional was very suspicious all the time because he knew that the talk of having “OECOSTROM” in Austria was just not true. While getting its electricity from hydro-power, nevertheless September to March Austria is short of water and imports from the European power market the nuclear and coal generated electricity from the Czech Republic – which the Austrian deride for their way of producing that electricity in the first place. (for those interested – the reference is to -“Die grosse Ernuechterung nach der Energiewende.”)

The Professor is obviously right describing the political reality – but like him saying that the weather now is warm and the snow melted, which is factually not true, as Austria is now again in the middle of a two weeks spell of freezing weather – he is wrong about the potential of having clean energy – honestly – for all of the EU. The Energy turnaround is not behind us – the truth is that we have not entered it yet. The conservative leaders of business hold us back for their very narrow economic reasons that if allowed will push us to environmental hell.





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