TUM, TUM speakers

At the panel discussion on the topic of the “Transformation of the Global Energy Markets”, which took place on 1 June 2015 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in the context of the TUM Speakers Series, Thomas Raffeiner, CEO and founder of The Mobility House (TMH) talked about the end of the oil era and his visions for a successful “Energiewende” (“energy transition”). TMH was above all able to enthuse interested students and other attentive listeners with his position and vision regarding the transformation of the energy market.

After the opening by the Vice-President of the TUM, Professor Hana Milanov, which stressed the importance and topicality of the subject for society and especially for research at the TUM, Robert Flaechsig, economic advisor to HRH Prince Abdulilah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, spoke on the subject of the “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: an approach for energy policies concerning sustainable power supply“, before the highlight of the event began, a panel discussion with visionaries and top managers of the energy sector, led by Hendrik Loven, journalist and moderator at the BR and ARD.

In addition to Thomas Raffeiner, representing The Mobility House, Ulrike Anders, CEO of TAL Transalpine Pipeline, and Philippe Boisseau, Member of the Executive Committee of TOTAL S.A. and President of the Marketing & Services and New Energies business unit, also took part.

It soon became clear: The Mobility House is different! From the choice of entry onto the stage, via clothing and appearance, through to the views and visions about a transformation of the energy industry, the differences between the major oil companies and a green start-up like TMH were evident. However, anyone who had expected a discussion between David and Goliath, was surprised by a debate on an equal footing. All the participants in the panel discussion were given the opportunity to present their view of the future of petroleum as a raw material and to explain their company’s strategy in this area, as well as giving an assessment of the further development of energy supply and an evaluation of the German “Energiewende”. In doing so, each participant was able to explain what contribution their own company was making in this area.

Thomas Raffeiner Interviewed at the TUM Speaker Series

Changing the World in a Sustainable Way with the “Energiewende”

There was general agreement amongst the panel members that there had to be and that there would be a world without oil for power supply in the future, while there were significant differences with regard to the implementation of this idea. In his remarks, Thomas Raffeiner went into greater detail about the falling production costs of battery storage units, solar power generation which is becoming more and more reasonably priced and about new, innovative market players who are accelerating the abandonment of the oil era. Here he gave Solar City as an example, a company which can be traced back to an idea of Tesla founder, Elon Musk, and which designs and installs complete solar energy plants for its customers, as well as financing and operating them, if required. He also said that The Mobility House is already contributing to enabling mobility without dependency on petrol and oil through its charging stations for electric cars, today. While Mr Raffeiner used this to explain convincingly why the end of the oil era can and must start straight away, it is hardly surprising that the representatives of the oil industry were in agreement that it would still take decades until we reached this point and that until then it would be particularly important to make the supply more efficient and ecological, without neglecting the economic aspects.

Thomas Raffeiner stressed the importance of a rapid abandonment of oil with a quote from Sheikh Zaki Yamani, the second Oil Minister of Saudi Arabia, who had said: “The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the Oil Age will end long before the world runs out of oil.” A sentence that met with great approval amongst the audience and, as was shown in conversations after the discussion, will be remembered by many listeners. While the representatives of oil, Philippe Boisseau and Ulrike Anders, pointed out the complexity of supply, the difficulties of changing the system and the hardships of developing countries and new industrial nations in terms of ensuring supply, Thomas Raffeiner of TMH made it clear that it is time to jettison concerns and, instead of hesitating, to finally be proactive, which means he also welcomes the “Energiewende” in Germany and sees it as a major step forward because it has the potential to change the world in a sustainable way.

Even if the participants in the TUM Speaker Series stuck to their positions as expected, the event showed clearly how different market players deal with the subject of the “Energiewende” and what large differences there are in the evaluation of this exciting field between the oil giants and a green start-up like TMH.