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By Ingo Koenig

What does the agri-food sector produce? The obvious answer would be food. Well, this is not entirely true. About 40% of what the food sector produces is waste and with the bulk of it thrown out by the consumers – that sounds anything but lean. Throughout the value chain from field to belly approximately that amount ends in the trash can in Canada, the figures – if available – are similar for other developed countries.

Why? A lot of it has to do with our spoiled taste buds and visual preferences. Would we really buy the two-forked, crooked carrot or the lettuce that has a few brown corners? Or what about that yogurt in our fridge that has somehow managed to sneak into a corner where we almost forgot about it and now is dangerously close to code?

Some of it also has to do with the sometimes perverse incentives to overbuy on our weekly treks to the supermarket – if it’s Buy-One-Get-One-Free, we may as well, shouldn’t we?

Whether it’s consumers demanding ever more sanitized products from the industry, government bodies micro-regulating the shape and size of produce, or industry price wars that started this mess, we do not know. What we have learned is that there are creative ways in which to benefit from this overproduction of waste (and at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by composting or rotting food) from gleaning fields for produce eliminated from the value chain right at harvest, ‘dumpster diving’ for edibles at grocery stores, to using what can truly no longer be meant for human and animal consumption as feed stock in biogas plants.

Engaging with groceries and food producers before they throw out what they deem unsalable and redistributing it to those in need is what Toronto-based Second Harvest has been doing for over 25 years. With their seven trucks, the organization rescues produce, dairy, meat and bread that would have otherwise gone to waste from food outlets across the city and region and distributes it to food banks, meal programs and shelters. Last year was a record year for Second Harvest – 6.4 million pounds of food was rescued and delivered to those in need.

However, the observation that we consumers throw out food that need not go to waste also holds true for Second Harvest’s own clients. Koenig & Consultants is therefore supporting the organization in a pro bono consulting project in which we jointly look for ways to tackle this challenge and thereby increase the impact Second Harvest has on food waste reduction and providing healthy and nutritious meals to those unable to afford them otherwise.

Ingo studied business administration and economics at Kiel University where he received a PhD in economic policy and also earned an MBA from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, USA. Visit www.koenigconsultants.ca


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Ingo Koenig

Wind turbines aren’t a small investment. The average wind turbine these days represents an initial investment of about US $ 3.5 million, with more costs arising through operation & maintenance. All due diligence aside, the striking predominant position of one player in different regional markets suggests that factors other than mere checkmarks behind a list of technical and financial criteria matter in the purchasing decision. Ultimately, the question seems to be whom do investors – be they commercial, public or average citizens – trust with their money?

The United States is known around the world for its iconic brands supported by the financial might of multi-billion dollar corporations dominating the consumer goods industry. It is one of those brands that has also taken over the American wind turbine market with a share of 40% of installed capacity in 2009 – General Electric.

Americans have been imbibed with the brand since infancy and though long extended to other industries, the household name GE represents in the field of all things electric made the foray into wind turbine manufacturing in 2002 seem almost natural.

We trust in what we know. Among the chiefly commercial developers of the country’s large scale wind farms, the factual evidence of GE having done it before in other sectors has certainly contributed its fair share in them trusting in GE’s power to deliver – if not, GE’s in-house bank will probably have persuaded the last doubting Thomas.

The German wind turbine market on the other hand is dominated by a very different company – Enercon, which holds a market share of a whopping 60%, multi-sector corporations are virtually absent from the top-of-the-crop. So what does Enercon do right?

While, Germans are sticklers for technological innovation and products that are built to last. Enercon, the pioneer of the gearless wind turbine, has been able to spark trust in the longevity of its products among the German developer science – mostly average citizens organized as community groups who are in it for the long haul – through in-house production of all turbine parts and the garnishing of their offer with service packages.

In the community environment, the fact that ‘my neighbour has it’ has certainly worked to Enercon’s advantage as well. Finally, Enercon is still family-owned and managed, which must strike a chord with groups who are themselves standing in with their own money for the success of a project.

Canadians haven’t had a large choice so far. The market has been small and wind farm developments mostly large in size and driven by commercial developers and tender processes initiated by provincial authorities. In this environment of limited domestic expertise and manufacturing capability, Canadians have trusted in the opinion of the world and made the global leader Vestas also market leader in Canada with a 50% share.

The dominance of Vestas highlights the importance Canadians attach to eminence and experience in their choices – not only is Vestas the wind energy pioneer but the company has been the first mover in many countries new to wind energy and could thus be counted on for its know-how of working with local suppliers and authorities not familiar with the industry.

It will be interesting to see if and how the Canadian market develops once it is picking up speed, domestic expertise grows and more manufacturers compete with their products for the trust of not only large developers but also community power groups developing their own projects.

Ingo studied business administration and economics at Kiel University where he received a PhD in economic policy and also earned an MBA from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, USA. Visit www.koenigconsultants.ca


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Ingo Koenig

A CTT-lead mission of business people from Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph went to the Husum Wind Energy 2010 in Husum, (Northern) Germany. Our goal was to attract European wind power companies to come to and invest in Ontario.

The Fair and the place are commonly known as the birthplace of the global wind energy industry (and I was born there). Since 20 years the Husum is hosting the “Who’s who” of the global wind power industry. This year has seen 34,000 visitors and more than 900 exhibitors. The town itself has only 20,000 inhabitants. One easily can imagine that this creates an interesting experience in accommodation, logistics and night-life for everybody during the five days.

In general the European companies (and we met around 40 in person) welcomed us positively and curiously. We talked to OEMs, inverter companies, blade manufacturers, developers, logistics companies, financiers, local business development companies and wind energy associations.

They all wanted to learn about the opportunities in Canada particularly in Ontario with its Green Energy Act introducing a reliable Feed-In-Tariff-scheme. Most executives would prefer to personally move to Canada than to the US.  Canada does have a stronger “brand” with the people.

However despite an overall optimistic outlook we faced some reluctance to “make a move”. The main reasons given were:

1. The uncertain political situation in the US towards renewable energies

2. Ambiguity on how Ontario’s Green Energy Act would evolve in the future

3. The perception that the market had already been divided between some bigger players.

Ticker-news from the fair: … A Cambridge logistics company managed to deliver the only undamaged wind turbines to a site in Nova Scotia… Numerous OEMs are looking into building facilities in Ontario, but haven’t made up their mind yet… First and second tier suppliers are also prepared to make a move as soon as the OEMs decide… Gearless drive OEMs are disappointed about the Domestic content rules as they only assume gear drives…Last week one of the wind and solar-PV developers we met decided to come to Ontario in cooperation with an equipment manufacturer…

Ingo studied business administration and economics at Kiel University where he received a PhD in economic policy and also earned an MBA from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, USA. Visit www.koenigconsultants.ca


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Ingo Koenig

I was interviewed recently on the differences between Community Power projects in Germany and Ontario.

In Germany wind power is “big business” and up to 90% of wind farms have community participation. After comparing the FIT rules, the tax rules, incentives and legal structures we came to the conclusion that the main difference is in the motives and scope for community projects. In Germany the drivers for the vast majority of community are:

  • A passion to change the energy landscape from coal/nuclear to renewable sources
  • Share the burdens and benefits of the project with other members of the local community
  • Earn some decent returns on your investment (of time and money)

In Ontario, however,  this last point is undermined and almost a “no-no” when discussing Community Power projects. Almost exclusively co-op and not-for profit structures are discussed as entities with equal (or no) profit-sharing and one-share-one-vote etc.

However the co-op-model has not been applied to many wind or solar farms in Germany.  Personally I do not know of any. For the most part, there have been Limited Partnerships with profit-sharing and voting based on equity-share.

This model attracted a high number of highly educated and sophisticated individual investors into the industry. These same people very often switched their careers and are now entrepreneurs, managers, professional advisors etc. for renewable energies enterprises. This in turn has meant a professionalization of the community projects they own and run and results in better returns for the community projects. And again, more people are attracted into the community power space.

Something to think about when in Ontario Community Power projects are regarded as “granola-bar-eater-projects” by some of the “big players”.

Ingo studied business administration and economics at Kiel University where he received a PhD in economic policy and also earned an MBA from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, USA. Visit www.koenigconsultants.ca


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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Click on Chart to enlarge

By Ingo Koenig

In one of my recent blogs a commentator claimed that no coal plants have been closed due to growth of renewable power generation capacity in Europe.

This prompted us to look at the net changes (addition of new capacity minus de-commissioned capacity) of power generation capacity in Europe in the year 2009. The result is that out of the five largest net capacity additions, four were based on renewable sources (Wind, Solar, Biomass and Waste), which together accounted for almost three-quarters of the total additions with another quarter coming from Natural Gas.

Coal and nuclear power had a negative balance, which means more plants were closed than added to the grid. Coal plants newly added had a much lower carbon foot-print than the ones taken off the grid. This is not a one-year effect: 2008 showed the same trend and looking at the 10-year-period between 2000-2009, one finds that Wind and Natural Gas have been the leading sources of power added to the grid, with Solar coming in third.

Nuclear power, coal and fuel oil based power generation capacity was taken off the grid massively (22,000 MW).

We conclude that Wind, Solar, et al have contributed to a large extent to the de-commissioning of fossil fuel and nuclear based power in Europe and hence helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Ingo studied business administration and economics at Kiel University where he received a PhD in economic policy and also earned an MBA from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, USA. Visit www.koenigconsultants.ca

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By Ingo Koenig

Germany is the dominant player in today’s solar PV market with more than 50% of the installed capacity worldwide.

Why? It is not because of the great sunshine… The federal government was early out of the gate with a favourable feed-in-tariff law in 2000. Several technological innovations have been developed in (Eastern) Germany and regional development supported the establishment of manufacturing plants for all parts of the solar PV value chain.

Ontario has granted feed-in tariffs between 80 and 53 cents that are significantly higher than the old German tariffs that now will be reduced by 15% by July 1. A large number of Solar-PV-FIT contracts have been awarded, creating a customer base in Ontario.

It will be interesting to watch if the German market continues to grow. If yes, other tariffs need to reduced as the technology allows for lower rates to keep solar-PV  a profitable investment.

However the higher rates in Ontario seem appropriate as a solar roof-top installation in Germany costs around 40-50% less than in Ontario.

Now the questions is: Do the tariffs reflect the higher costs of the installation in Canada or do the higher cost of installation, created by the higher feed-in-tariffs, provide extra-profit for earlier leaders in the development of solar-PV-installations in Ontario. I tend to believe the latter is the case.

Source for chart: European PV Industry Association (EPIA)

Ingo studied business administration and economics at Kiel University where he received a PhD in economic policy and also earned an MBA from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, USA. Visit www.koenigconsultants.ca

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By Ingo Koenig

Renewable energies have been “infant” industries wherever and whenever they started.

New industries prosper best if the legal framework is supportive and stable. The development of wind energy in Germany is an example where imperative steps in legislation over the years had a tremendous impact on the growth of the industry.

Recently, the Canadian provinces Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and British Columbia have started or will originate initiatives towards a stable and supportive regulatory environment for renewable energies.

The first positive developments can be seen in the growth patterns of installed capacity. Last year, 950 MW were added to the Canadian grid; the strongest year so far. However, a huge potential is still to be harvested. Canada’s land mass is 27 times larger than Germany’s; Ontario alone with a similar legislation has a landmass three times bigger and with similar or even better wind capacities.

A favourable legal framework is a good start and a precondition, but is not sufficient for a prospering renewable energies industry. Transmission capacity, financing, local expertise are also very important, but useless if the political environment is not stable.

When the wind of change blows there are always some who start building walls …others start building wind farms

Ingo studied business administration and economics at Kiel University where he received a PhD in economic policy and also earned an MBA from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, USA. Visit www.koenigconsultants.ca

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