4 Minutes with…Siegfried Knecht, Chairman, Aviation Initiative for Renewable Energy in Germany

knechtTell us about your company and it’s role in the Advanced Bioeconomy.

aireg was founded in 2011 as a non-profit association to advance the production and use of sustainable alternative aviation fuels. Our goal is to find sustainable substitutes for fossil fuels, thereby cutting GHG emissions substantially. We cooperate internationally with sister organizations like CAAFI in the US.

Tell us about your role and what you are focused on in the next 12 months?

In Europe aviation biofuels are mainly favored because of their environmental benefits. Therefore, we pay close attention to the Paris Climate Summit at the end of 2015 and the current negotiations within ICAO to create a global market-based mechanism system for GHG reductions. Both of these developments have a great potential of influencing the prospects of alternative aviation fuels.

What do you feel are the most important milestones the industry must achieve in the next 5 years?

Capacity is key. The US is a role model how to target the bottleneck of creating industrial-scale biorefining capacities. As aireg we are working to enable similar public-private initiatives. Our target for biofuels is to make up 10% of the jet fuel consumed domestically by 2025.

Of all the reasons that influenced you to join the Advanced Bioeconomy industry, what single reason stands out for you as still being compelling and important to you?

Freedom and mobility are of paramount importance to our open societies. Preserving these achievements well into the future requires action today and tomorrow.

Where are you from?

I live close to Munich, Germany. My parents are Banat Swabians, an ethnic German minority in Romania, where I was born. We moved to Germany, when I was a child.

What was your undergraduate major in college, and where did you attend? Why did you choose that school and that pathway?

I have attended a technical college, the RWTH Aachen University in Germany and earned a degree in Computer Science. The field of study, by the time I thought about college, was something new, something that caught my attention. Then and now, the university’s slogan “Thinking the Future” keeps me curious and thinking.

Who do you consider your mentors – could be personal, business, or just people you have read about and admire. What have you learned from them?

Apart from my parents, I would name my first boss, Professor Friedel Hossfeld, Research Center Jülich (retired), and one of my senior colleagues, Dr. Detlef Müller-Wiesner, Airbus Group.

What’s the biggest lesson you ever learned during a period of adversity?

There is always a way ahead.

What hobbies do you pursue, away from your work in the industry?

Currently I am training to run the Berlin Marathon for the 12th time. Apart from that, I love spending as much quality time with my family as possible.

What are 3 books you’d want to have with you, if you were stranded on a desert island.

At first, I would like to have a survival book, such as Bush Craft 101 by Dave Canterbury with me. Some of the hints might be useful, since I haven’t been stranded before. For the other two, I would go for Einstein’s Dreams (A. Lightman) and Klingsor’s Last Summer (H. Hesse).

What books or articles (excluding The Digest) are on your reading list right now, or you just completed and really enjoyed?

Bartleby, The Scrivener (H. Melville).

What’s your favorite city or place to visit, for a holiday?

Due to the fact that I live in Bavaria, I like to spend time in the outdoors in the mountains, hiking and cycling. Besides this the Ticino region (southern Switzerland).

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