Welcome to the second CEO update of 2023. TTTech CEO and co-founder Georg Kopetz tells us why sustainability as a concept is so important to our society, the TTTech businesses, and to him personally and how technology might lead the way to a greener future. He also talks about exciting technology solutions from TTTech to look out for in distributed energy management, precision agriculture, and much more.
Georg, in recent months you have spoken on several panels on topics like sustainability and energy, such as the HERMES ENERGIE-Forum in May or the SPEAK OUT Festival in June. What does sustainability mean to TTTech’s business and to you personally?
Sustainability is a key objective for our organization as well as for our society and for me personally. To me, it simply means that we want to be around tomorrow and that we want to enjoy a good, healthy, and sustainable life on our planet today, ten years from now, and for many, many generations to come. As a company and as a leader, you always think and act so that tomorrow you will not just still be around but also better than you are now – how you can develop your skills and capabilities further as an organization and as an individual in a sustainable way. In Western society, especially Europe, we have made big mistakes in the past because we have developed a huge dependency on fossil fuels, both politically but also environmentally. In the past decades, we have learned that we cannot continue with the current level of greenhouse gas emissions. On the contrary, we have to reduce them drastically to net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible. Furthermore, global warming is endangering our habitat and the biodiversity we need to keep for a healthy balanced ecosystem on our planet. So, sustainability is a key topic for our ecology as well as our business and me personally.
At TTTech, we want to be a leader in sustainability and thus give it a central place in our strategy. Our vision is to improve technologies, to advance human lives, and I believe this can only be done by being sustainable and super careful with the consumption of our natural resources to prevent drastic climate change so that many future human generations will be able to live on our planet, too.
You mentioned fossil fuel dependency as a technological development that is aggravating global warming. Does technology have a place in sustainable development as well?
Definitely. If we invest in the right kind of technologies, we might be able to transform our economy into a more sustainable one without impacting our ecology and the current lifestyle of the people too much. I think what people expect from society, companies, and governments is that they manage this green transition without too much impact on their way of life, wealth, and personal well-being.
So, what can you do with technology? We see on the one hand a big trend towards electrification of the so-called smart machines and on the other hand, that we are able to produce more and more energy from renewable sources at very interesting price points. The number of heat pump installations and registrations of electric cars in Europe is growing exponentially. This means that we are building a new economic backbone in terms of where we are getting our energy from but also how we use it. Electricity from renewable resources, mainly sun, wind, and water, is bound to replace fossil fuels as our main source of energy production and of course, this provides ample opportunities for technological innovations.
Is TTTech planning to expand its footprint in this dynamic sector of renewable energy?
TTTech wants to be a leader in this field, first in Central Europe and then globally in the free economic world. We want to provide the enabling tech solutions to help electrify our mobility sector and industrial infrastructure. When it comes to energy production, we have already built a very successful use case for our safety technologies and dependable networks with Vestas, where we have been providing the central nervous system for their market-leading wind turbines for nearly ten years. Another topic is energy distribution, for example via distributed and smart grids. With our company TTTech Flexibilis in Tampere Finland, we are doing automation and substation networks that play a role in the transmission of electricity. With electric cars and other electrical components that have to be charged rapidly, more and more batteries are installed into the grid, and they all need to be managed. We strongly believe that our TTTech core technologies – edge computing, dependable networks, and safety computing – will play a crucial role in this transition, so this is where we are actively investing, both with partners and within our company. Electricity needs digital networks, it needs edge intelligence. AI at the edge will play a key role, for example, to predict the production and consumption patterns of the “prosumers”, that is, customers who also generate their own power. To control energy assets and other complex critical infrastructure, dependable networks, and safety computing are essential.
Where else can TTTech’s technologies be used to accelerate sustainable development?
Many of our key technologies can play a role in sustainability, as we can see in the example of electrical energy production and distribution. We are also developing cool new technologies in the areas of environmental recognition and environmental sensing. These technologies allow you to fuse several sensors, like cameras, and incorporate elements of machine learning/AI. This is of huge interest and growing demand in the agricultural industry because sensors and camera systems are used more and more by agricultural machinery users to assess plant or soil quality. This creates a need for high-performance compute systems to fuse all this information together. Smart machines can then use the information they gathered to help us save resources or eliminate the need for fertilizers and other chemicals spoiling our nature. For example, an agricultural machine able to detect a weed or pest can also sometimes remove it mechanically instead of using pesticides or herbicides.
Another topic is using resources more efficiently. Many cities now demand from their contractors that they only use sustainable technologies for logistics or waste management. The goal is to reduce greenhouse emissions of course, but also improve air quality. We are very active in the area of municipal vehicles, for example in electric trucks, and we also have the capacity to some extent to support new hydrogen powertrains with our safety controllers.
I think there are many areas in which TTTech is contributing to a greener future and I believe this will only increase in the next quarters as the demand is there. The twin transition – green and digital – in the industrial sector is a huge business opportunity for TTTech.
Does TTTech offer solutions for the circular economy?
We don’t manufacture our own parts, so in terms of recycling, we always depend on the partners and customers we work with and the programs they have in place. However, I believe that the circular economy creates many opportunities for new businesses, which will need control systems, connectivity, and automation solutions that of course, TTTech can potentially provide. I see the circular economy not only as a movement towards optimized use of resources but also as a business engine in and of itself, e.g. to mine precious materials.
What is TTTech doing to lead by example in terms of sustainability?
We are also investing in sustainable energy production and consumption and plan to scale this. Two of our sites are already running on 100% green energy. In our Vienna HQ, we move one step further and will install solar panels that will make us more self-sufficient. We are thinking about using this as a test bed for several ideas we have in the field of innovative distributed energy management and (bi-directional) charging and how we can get the local community involved. We are also in advanced planning state for our Brixen Innovation Campus in South Tyrol, Italy which will be a landmark for sustainable buildings. Details are coming soon, so stay posted for an update.
Thank you, Georg, seems like many interesting developments are coming our way in the next months!
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