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Ruggero Schleicher-Tappeser speaker

Ruggero Schleicher-Tappeser

Writer, Speaker, Strategist

Ruggero Schleicher-Tappeser is a writer, political advisor, entrepreneur, and theorist in the fields of energy, transport, sustainability, climate, and regional development.

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Ruggero Schleicher-Tappeser's videos

Available for

Languages: 

  • English
  • German
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Ruggero Schleicher-Tappeser's 2024 biography

About Ruggero Schleicher-Tappeser

Ruggero Schleicher-Tappeser is writing on the changing relationships between technology, society and nature. He combines his natural science and social science background with public policy and business experience across various European cultures. A strategic thinker – with special expertise in energy, transport and spatial development policies – he aims to give practically useful orientation in navigating the present poly-crisis.

Ruggero has been following and inspiring the energy, transport, and sustainability debates in various roles for decades. He was an activist and a journalist, established his own think tank and played key roles in setting-up research institutes and foundations. As a consultant, he supported the development of the International Renewable Energy Agency and coordinated one of the last efforts to set up a large European PV factory before the collapse of the industry. He acted as a diplomat, co-founded multiple technical start-ups and is the author of many influential reports, books and articles in his areas of expertise.

In combining practical experience and theoretical reflection, Ruggero Schleicher-Tappeser is convinced that a historical perspective on the interdependence of society, technology, and nature is urgently needed. He aims to promote global cooperation and mutual learning to avoid the impending catastrophic deterioration of natural conditions for human life on Earth.

Ruggero Schleicher-Tappeser was introduced to the debates on technology, energy policy and European integration at an early age. His father worked at a EURATOM research centre in Italy. That’s why, born in Germany in 1952, Ruggero grew up and went to a European School in northern Italy. He graduated in physics in Bern/Switzerland, under the guidance of one of the pioneers in climate modelling.

A key experience that motivated him to abandon an academic career, was his central role in the successful worldwide press campaign of a local Third World Action Group defending its claim “Nestlé kills babies” in a court case against the multinational company. This triggered an international boycott movement, which led to a reversal in infant formula policies.

He co-founded the Swiss Energy Foundation, a leading voice in the opposition to conservative Swiss energy politics. For a decade, he was an author of influential reports on alternative energy perspectives and a freelance science and technology journalist for print and radio in Switzerland.

Convinced that he needed to understand more about politics, Ruggero then turned to social science research, joining the then newly established Institute for Ecological Economics in Germany, developing an approach for regionally oriented technology policies.

In 1989, he founded an independent think-tank, the ‘EURES Institute for Regional Studies in Europe’ in Freiburg/Germany. Research projects for the European Commission and national governments, and hands-on consulting in various European regions covered regional development policies, industrial innovation networks, sustainable development in European Structural Funds, and sustainable European transport policies.

After the dotcom crisis, which thwarted his attempt to establish an online “Sustainable Quality Management” system for programmes and projects with an Italian partner, Ruggero moved into a diplomatic role, serving as Secretary General of the Alpine Convention, the first international treaty with ambitious, wide-ranging sustainable development objectives, ranging from culture to spatial planning. Resolving political stalemates, cross-cultural learning processes, and conflict-loaded transport policies were key issues during his term in office.

With his next role, Ruggero returned to the energy debate: Advising the German government throughout the founding process of the International Renewable Energy Agency IRENA, helping to forge an international coalition and drafting the first structures and budgets. A key experience for understanding present dynamics in climate politics. Located in Berlin, he then focused on renewable energy, photovoltaics and grid issues as a freelance consultant and international speaker.

More and more involved in industry strategies, from 2013 to 2015, he coordinated a European effort to build a gigawatt-scale factory for photovoltaic cells and modules – an initiative by the main European solar research institutes and the world’s largest equipment manufacturer at the time to revitalise the European photovoltaic industry. A challenging diplomatic, financial and technological task involving governments and industrial leaders, mainly in France, Germany and Switzerland, eventually failing in a worsening political environment for renewable energies.

Before refocusing on writing in recent years, Ruggero co-founded and co-led a small start-up for 3D-printing Silicon Carbide Alloys for mechanical use, power electronics, and batteries. This was an occasion to learn from within the intricacies of the start-up economy and to dive deeper into material sciences than ever since his degree in physics forty years earlier.

Ruggero Schleicher-Tappeser's 2024 talks & topics

Giving up fire – solar electricity allows us to avoid climate catastrophe but challenges long-standing human habits

Shifting energy supply to solar electricity and abandoning the burning of fuels fundamentally changes how we source and use energy, making the system many times more efficient. While this seems to be the only way to provide sustainable living for ten billion people, the challenge to rapidly transform habits and ways of thinking older than the Greek myth of Prometheus is huge and causes fierce resistance.

The history and future of electricity – motor of development and subject of fierce power struggles

Discovering properties and opportunities of electricity has been an adventure since the beginning of industrial development. Thermal and hydroelectric power plants have been growing in size while electric motors and illumination have provided increasing flexibility at the other end of the electric system. Huge investments have gone into essentially the same technologies of the supply system for over 100 years until the turn of the millennium. Since then, amidst fierce conflicts over who will control the future system, we are seeing fundamental changes which will inevitably promote electricity to be the dominant, universal energy of the future.

The quadriga of hope – four fundamental innovations could help to avoid climate catastrophe

Hundred-year-old quantum physics has allowed us to understand nature’s laws reigning at the nanoscale level of atoms and molecules. Before the turn of the millennium microelectronics was the main technological application that started to change our lives. Since then, a wide range of nanoscience-based technologies are ripening rapidly. Photovoltaics, power electronics, electrochemical batteries and radiation-emitting semiconductor devices are the four main innovations ready to transform the energy world – provided they are embedded in a systemic approach reshaping the traditional framework of energy systems. The race between the worsening energy crisis and the worldwide adoption of this new paradigm may well decide over the fate of human civilisation.

Why is photovoltaics getting so cheap?

PV is getting cheaper than all other energy sources. There are many misunderstandings as to why. A long history of doubts and resistance of incumbent powers explains its slow development after discovery. PV is different from traditional energy sources. Its strengths will transform incumbent structures and shift competitive advantages in the global economy.

Ruggero Schleicher-Tappeser's 2024 speaking fees

Ruggero travels from:
  • Germany

Specific fees fall within the ranges shown. These are presented as a guide only and are subject to change without notice.

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