By Svetozara Davidkova
Q: Southeast European (SEE) capitals Sofia, Bucharest, Belgrade, rank at the bottom of your European Green City Index – what are the most important steps countries in the region should take to boost city sustainability?
A: Siemens is the largest supplier of environmental technologies in the world. We have set ourselves the target to achieve around 50% of our overall turnover in green technologies. Our focus as Siemens Austria – responsible for the Cluster Central and Eastern Europe which comprises 19 countries – is to be a strong partner for cities in SEE and CEE to become greener. The European Green City Index shows that Belgrade displays good performance regarding energy, as does Sofia concerning the energy efficiency of buildings. Without a doubt there is always a sound basis for further improvement – for the benefit of the people, the environment and the economy. The eight indicators which are reviewed in the index are the focal points for sustainable cities and for our integrated solutions.
Q: What are the biggest challenges related to sustainability that cities in SEE face?
A: It’s a fact that public budgets are getting tighter and tighter. In this situation environment–friendly solutions are often not the first priority. However, there is a need for modernisation in infrastructure and energy supply, as well as in the industry sector. Growth rates are of course not as strong as before the crisis, but we recognise a perceivable demand even if it lasts a bit longer than before the crisis. We have a clear vision and strategy: firstly, we don’t want to offer only technical advice to our customers, but also financial expertise and assistance in financial matters in cooperation with financing institutions like the EU or the EBRD. On the other hand we want to clarify that at the end of the day investments in environmental technologies pay off and save money in the long run. Let me give you an example. Nowadays highly efficient combinedcycle power plants require less gas and exhaust less CO2, ecofriendly trains or energy saving building technologies optimise electricity consumption and therefore save a lot of money. Siemens as a whole is focusing more and more on cities by setting up a new field of activity – Sector Infrastructure and Cities by October 2011.
Q: What are Siemens’s major projects in urban sustainability and energy efficiency in the SEE region and how are they progressing?
A: In Croatia we have received an order for 16 wind turbines for two wind parks, which will provide clean energy for around 30,000 households. For the city of Plovdiv in Bulgaria we are the general contractor for a new electric and heating power plant. This new plant will run on natural gas and will be about 20% more efficient than the existing power plant. The new headquarters of Petrom in Romania were equipped with smart automation solutions from Siemens to make the building more energy-efficient.
Q: What is the size of Siemens’s revenue from sustainability projects?
A: In the fiscal year 2010, Siemens generated global revenues of around 28 billion euro from products and solutions from its environmental portfolio. In the coming years Siemens wants to exceed the 40 billion euro revenue mark from green technologies. We strive for sustainability in every project for the benefit of our customers – be it through highly efficient combined–cycle power plants, ecofriendly trains and metros, energy saving building technologies or transformers.
Q: What other areas apart from sustainability and energy efficiency are in your company’s SEE focus?
A: Siemens as a company lives its values – responsible, excellent and innovative – for over 160 years. In many SEE and CEE countries we have a history which reaches back for more than 100 years. We believe that sustainability, innovation and efficiency are the tasks of today to successfully master the challenges of tomorrow for the society, the industry and the economy. Investments in innovative and efficient technologies like for example in the healthcare sector, designing energy saving computed tomography systems with reduced radiation which are able to be almost fully recycled – pay off quickly, are sustainable and therefore attractive in times of economic adversity.