Jens-Peter Saul is CEO of Rambøll, one of Europe’s leading engineering and consulting firms. Rambøll has around 13,000 employees worldwide and advises companies, cities and towns on building and design, transport and infrastructure, urban planning and design, water, environment and health, energy, oil and gas as well as management and consulting. Rambøll covers a whole range of services from urban planning to the overall planning of large projects such as the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel.
Across Germany, the company employs 450 people including 250 at the Germany headquarters in Hamburg. From 1994, Saul worked for Siemens in various positions and most recently as CEO of Siemens Windpower. He is also president of the German-Danish Chamber of Commerce. In November 2015, Olaf Scholz, Mayor of Hamburg, appointed him honorary HamburgAmbassador in Denmark.
Hamburg News: What are your hopes for the Fehmarnbelt-Days? What expectations do you have on this event?
Jens-Peter Saul: The Fehrmarnbelt link creates a new region, which will bring north Germany and eastern Denmark closer together. Awareness of the opportunities has potential especially on the German side. But I expect that we will use the Fehmarnbelt Days with over 900 delegates not only to become aware of the potential, rather we will reach consensus on what measures need to be worked on in order to maximize this potential. It’s worth noting that the region began to merge before the physical existence of the tunnel. For years, partners in various fields have worked together to boost networking required for creating a strong region.
The event offers an ideal platform for exchange and networking among all players in the region. Many long-term, co-operating partners will meet for interesting workshops with tangible reference points to the project. We need to act now and use the concrete initiatives as catalysts of growth.
Hamburg News: Rambøll is managing all the engineering works for the Fehmarnbelt tunnel. Exactly how will the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel ease the economic collaboration between Germany and Denmark?
Jens-Peter Saul: From an economic point of view, the transaction costs for trade and business will be lowered thereby improving the connection in particular between Hamburg and Copenhagen. A good intra-regional travel connection and clever transport concepts will benefit the entire region along the axis and not least through impetus for growth. Apart from the infrastructural dimension, there is also a psychological component. You no longer have to cross over water… now there is a fixed connection between neighbours. The removal of this barrier has symbolic power. It will significantly raise awareness of the other side. The bridge between Denmark and Sweden has already proven this.
However, we should not wait until the tunnel has opened to intensify concrete, cross-border collaboration between companies, economic associations and research institutes. The planning and implementation phase holds lots of potential. Determining the location and capacity for innovation along the Fehmarn route shows a multitude of starting points for joint activities in future. We can build on the existing networking activities and joint projects. On the other hand, there are sectors in which similar and complementary skills can be exploited ever more – in construction, logistics and the Clean Tech sector, but joint innovative developments can also be carried forward in the energy sector. We have to pave the way and take action.
Hamburg News: WindEnergy 2016 gets underway in Hamburg in late September. Hamburg and Denmark are already working intensely together in the renewable energy sector. What effect will the amendment of the Renewable Energies Act (EEG) have on further co-operation?
Jens-Peter Saul: Part of the amendment of the Renewable Energies Act (EEG) is not just the switch to a tendering model; the annual installed capacity is also being reduced. The latter will, of course, have an effect on the German and Danish wind industries as both are leading export nations in the sector. But there is also potential. Denmark has already set up similar tendering processes and learning from experiences beyond borders is possible. And wind energy is also part of the German energy transition.
There are many other thematic fields on which there will be increased focus in Germany such as decentralised energy supply, energy efficiency, smart energy or electric mobility. We Germans can learn plenty from our Scandinavian neighbour in this field. But many Danish firms can benefit from that as well because German is technologically prepared for such issues.
Hamburg News: You have taken over two German wind power consultancies namely BBB Umwelttechnik und Cube Engineering. What was the reason for this and what other steps are planned?
Hamburg News: So far, we have worked mainly in the offshore wind sector and our 65 per cent share makes us an international market leader. The acquisition of BBB and Cube allowed us to expand our onshore wind portfolio significantly. Now, we assist our customers with our engineering and consultancy services along the entire value chain. Not least, BBB and CUBE both have attractive customer bases and established, extensive networks. Both companies provide 60 per cent of their services in Germany. The acquisition has allowed us to further expand our position in Germany.
Hamburg News: What are the features of economic and cultural relations between Hamburg and Copenhagen?
Jens-Peter Saul: Hamburg and Copenhagen seem like sister cities to me. Each city reminds me of the other one. The cities are so prosperous, modern and innovative. There are multifaceted relationships between companies similar to those between the cities and economic organisations. The sectors are also suited to each other. Both cities are strong in terms of logistics, life sciences, energy, environmental technology and tourism. Both cities have high standards of living, which is crucial for attracting talents. All these sectors offer diverse opportunities for co-operation. We have to bring the companies together for that.
Hamburg News: As president of the German-Danish Chamber of Commerce in Copenhagen and as HamburgAmbassador, you have a direct link to companies. Which other Danish companies can we expect to welcome in the Hanseatic city?
Jens-Peter Saul: Hamburg is naturally the first port of call for Danish firms. The first big city over the border, the perfect launching pad for the remainder of the country or even Europe. Not least, Hamburg is also an important port for Danish industry. Exports from Jutland occur via the A7 and the Port of Hamburg. And the Danes feel at home in Hamburg. The Flying Tiger, the Mash restaurant chain, Joe and the Juice have opened shops in Hamburg recently. In November, Illums Bolighus will open a store on the Neuen Wall. Hamburg is and remains a highly attractive location for Danish firms.
Interview by Karolin Köcher
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