Who will bear the German flag in the Winter Olympics?

Nordic-combined skier Eric Frenzel has been chosen as Germany’s flagbearer for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics on Friday.

© dpa / picture alliance

Frenzel was selected for the honor by the German Olympic Sports Association, which held a poll on its website. When Frenzel found out he was nominated to be in the top 5, he said “I feel honored and it is a certain recognition for our sport and me individually.” (Source: DPA)

© dpa / picture alliance

The 29-year-old athlete won the Olympic gold medal in the 10km individual normal hill at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. He also won a bronze medal in the 2010 Olympics and a silver medal in the 2009 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.

Frenzel will carry the German flag during the opening ceremony tomorrow, becoming an “enduring symbol of (Germany’s) national values and indeed of Olympic ideals” and “an inspiration for future generations.”

German Embassy endorses e-mobility at Washington Auto Show

 

The German Embassy endorsed e-mobility with its very own stand at the Washington Auto Show this winter. The German government supports the use of electric cars, offering incentives for consumers and investing in infrastructure and R&D.

This year, we are proud to announce that the German Embassy will be converting its entire fleet of cars to electric or hybrid cars and install charging stations on Embassy grounds. This switch will create an environmentally friendly transportation option for diplomats and staff that avoids emissions and protects public health.

German companies have long stated their plans to switch over to electric vehicle production. Car manufacturers like Volkswagen, BMW, Smart and Daimler are working to produce many new models of e-cars. Some of these were on display at the Washington Auto Show. By the year 2025, VW and Daimler expect that 25 percent of their sales will consist of e-cars alone, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported last year.

This fast progression of the transition to e-cars is aided by the tax incentives put forth by the German government. In 2015, the German government dedicated 600 million Euros for e-car subsidies. In Germany, those who buy an electric car receive a 4,000 Euro subsidy, while those who buy a hybrid car receive 3,000 Euros. The car owners are also exempt from car ownership taxes for 10 years.

To make e-car ownership easier, the German government also plans to install at least 7,000 fast-charging points throughout the country, mostly along the Autobahn, by 2020.

With more than 129,246 plug-in electric cars registered in Germany between 2010 and 2017, the future looks electric!

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy

The Skills Initiative: German Companies Creating US Jobs

German companies with facilities in the USA are applying the German apprenticeship system to train workers for long-term careers, often partnering with community colleges and other training providers. You might catch this video on the German Embassy’s Skills Initiative on local DC channels WUSA9 and WJLA. What do you think about the dual work education system?

Click to learn more about the Skills Initiative and how it brings together German and American businesses and local education/training providers.

Germany’s 2017 Renewable Energy Production

We hope you all had a wonderful transition to 2018!

Looking back at 2017, it is clear that Germany again made strides in its production of renewable energy – and this is bound only to rise even more. A whopping 33.1 percent of Germany’s electricity generation came from renewable energy sources last year according to preliminary data. In fact, Germany experienced many days in which its supply was greater than its demand, causing some German companies to get paid, in a sense, to use it.

In Germany, there are some days where the supply of renewable energy produced is actually greater than needed, usually due to the weather. Examples includes particularly warm or sunny days, some weekends (when businesses and large factories are closed) and days with strong breezes. On such days, large energy consumers (such as factory owners) are occasionally paid to take the power, when the excess power cannot be stored. (This “payment” usually comes in the form of a reduction on a future electricity bill.)

During days when Germany had excess power in 2017, it also often exported this power to neighboring countries.

Throughout last year, Germany broke several renewable energy records. On April 30, for example, 85 percent of its electricity came from renewables, thanks to windy, sunny and warm weather. In the first half of 2017, Germany had generated 37.6 percent of its electricity from renewable energy.

Of course, the fact that Germany produced so much renewable energy is good news. It also highlights the challenges that we face as we make the transition to renewable energy. The extension and adaptation of the power grid to the needs of larger shares of intermittent renewable energy such as sun and wind as well as more storage options are solutions for the future power system.

© Colourbox

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy Washington

Germany’s Tallest Mountain Opens New Cable Car

After two years of construction, a world record-breaking cableway has opened in the Bavarian Alps: the new Zugspitze cable car.

This cable car takes passengers up Germany’s tallest mountain, the Zugspitze, located near the quaint Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Although there was already a cable car in place before its completion, the new cable car is much more efficient, bringing up to 580 people per hour up the mountain, 30 minutes faster than before. The cable car system has the tallest steel tower in the world, the longest cableway span and the highest elevation difference. It’s no wonder that this cablecar system even made its way into US news this week!

For those who have visited southern Germany for skiing or snowboarding, you’ve surely heard about the Zugspitze – Germany’s tallest mountain at 9,718 feet. The mountain is a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding in the wintertime. For the more adventurous types, it is even home to its very own igloo village, consisting of 20 hotel snow houses in the winter. A true winter wonderland!

But whether you’re skiing on the Zugspitze or celebrating the holidays with family in the US, we would like to take a moment to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a joyful holiday weekend!

View to Garmisch Partenkirchen from the mountain Zugspitze in Bavaria, Germany in the summer

Nicole Glass

Editor, The Week in Germany

Apprenticeships in Germany

Some Americans think of apprenticeships as something of the past. Visions come to mind of medieval scenes of tanners, shoemakers, or cobblers. Instead, they may be more acquainted with the phrase “to learn a trade”. Regardless of terminology, choosing to bypass a traditional four year degree for a job-specific training is far less common in the United States than in Germany.

In Germany, half of graduates of high schools and junior high schools chose a track that combines training on the job with further education at a public vocational institution. This apprenticeship model is one reason why Germany has the lowest youth unemployment rate in Europe and has been able to keep manufacturing jobs in the country.

To pull the veil from vocational education and to put a voice to the process, we interviewed an American living in Berlin who is currently in his second year as an apprentice at a German car company.

What kind of apprenticeship are you doing?

I applied at the car company to do a Mechatroniker Ausbildung (Mechanic/Electric apprenticeship). Mechatroniker is a combination of two words: Mechaniker and Elektroniker (Mechanic and Electronic technician). Since most of the vehicles in today’s market have so much technology involved, and with more and more electric vehicles on the streets, they combined both of the fields together, into the one apprenticeship.

Continue reading “Apprenticeships in Germany”

Germany rapidly advances its modern automobile industry

Germany’s Transport Minister Alexander Dobrint once called self-driving cars the “greatest mobility revolution since the invention of the car.” In 2015, the minister even took a test drive in an autonomous Audi A7 on the Autobahn A9.

The German vehicle industry is rapidly changing; just a few weeks ago, German railway company Deutsche Bahn sent its first fully autonomous bus on the road to drive around passengers in Bad Birnbach, Bavaria. (Have no fear: the bus only drove at a speed of 9.3 mph and a human was able to take control of it at any time.)

© dpa / picture alliance

Now, German car manufacturer Daimler delivered its first fully electric lorries to companies across Europe. These so-called “green trucks” can carry loads as heavy as 4.5 tons. Six batteries allow the zero-emission buses to travel 100 km at a time.

Other car manufacturers have also stated their plans for fully electric trucks. And in general, most car manufacturers have big plans for the future, whether it’s related to intelligent vehicles or zero-emission vehicles. Only a few, however, have sent self-driving cars or fully electric trucks to the streets.

But one thing is clear: Germany is quickly adopting the new technologies emerging in the marketplace. Electric car sales were up 137% from July 2016 to July 2017, while Diesel car sales were down by 14%.

Will your next car be an electric vehicle? Or will you wait until the self-driving cars hit the roads?

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy Washington

Germany: Integrating Immigrants

Germany is a country shaped by immigration. Between 1950 and 2014, 44 million migrants came to Germany. During the same period, 32 million people emigrated from Germany. Migrants make up a slightly bigger share of the population in Germany than in the United States. The recent increase in immigration is a result of both the EU’s freedom of movement and the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe. As a result, integration is now an important topic in Germany.

“It is very important that we perceive integration as an opportunity for people who chose to migrate to Germany, but also as an expectation that they will learn German and abide by our laws.”

– Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor of Germany

Julius Böhme represents Germany in World Brain Bee Championship

A 17-year old student from Germany is in Washington this week to compete against 24 other contestants in the World Brain Bee Championship – an annual neuroscience competition for youth. Julius Böhme, a student from Demen, Germany, is representing his country in a competition that tests students on their knowledge of the human brain, including intelligence, emotions, memory, sleep, vision, hearing, sensations and various diseases.

A few months prior, Böhme won Germany’s Deutsche Neurowissenschaften-Olympiade (DNO e.V.), which hosts neuroscience Olympiads as part of the International Brain Bee Organization. By receiving first place, Böhme went on to represent Germany in the United States.

While in Washington, Böhme visited the German Embassy with his parents and girlfriend and spoke about his passion for neuroscience. His interest in the field was sparked about two years ago after his grandfather was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, a neurological condition that adversely affects the mind and the body, he said. Witnessing his grandfather’s suffering is what initially triggered Böhme’s quest for knowledge about the brain. As a young student, Böhme had not learned neuroscience in school, and what he knows now has been self-taught.

“The brain is so fascinating to me and many others because it is that organ that makes us who we really are and we don’t truly understand it,” Böhme said. “Everybody carries a brain. But the majority of people don’t think about the organ that we need to think. I would like for more people to think about how beautiful their organ is and that you really need it. You can live with one kidney, for example, but you can’t cut off half of your brain.”

Böhme is troubled that doctors and scientists understand so little about psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders. After he graduates from secondary school next year, he hopes to attend a university and study medicine, specializing in neurology and psychiatry. His goal is to contribute new knowledge to the field, which would potentially help those who suffer from psychiatric disorders.

Winning the World Brain Bee Championship would “be amazing,” Böhme said. The $3000 scholarship prize would help him pay for university, which can be expensive, depending on where someone chooses to study. “It’s also nice to get feedback that you already know a lot about certain regions,” Böhme says.

The competition will feature six knowledge stations and tests will have various formats, including multiple choice questions and timed oral exams. But regardless of how Böhme fares, his interest in the brain will not waver – and he’s already thinking about the future of the field.

“Every brain is very unique and all the connections throughout the brain make a personality,” he said. “For me it would be great if humanity at some point in the future would be able to track all the connections in your brain and be able to store it in a computer or so, because you can really draw a personality from someone that way.”

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy