I finally got the option of switching to a fully electric car after using a hybrid car for some time. The hybrid, an Audi A3 TFSIe, was okay’ish, but just a stopgap until upgrading to the real deal. I used it for about a year to bridge the pretty long delivery times for EVs. As with all Volkswagen cars, the Audi was a solid car but plagued with software issues. At the same time, none of their brands were able to deliver an EV within 18 months or less, so I looked elsewhere.

Since I despise SUV-style cars, there is little to choose from, and the company car policy narrowed it further down to two options: the BMW i4 or the Tesla Model 3. I went for the Bimmer, and it was delivered after only 6 months of waiting. A year ago, I was pretty convinced to go for a Tesla, but that changed quite drastically after test-driving the i4 earlier this year. Three things that swayed me over to Camp BMW were: interior, ride comfort, and practicality. Let me explain.

BMW i4


Tesla is known for its very minimalistic approach to the interior; there are hardly any knobs, and everything is controlled through the central screen, at least as far as security regulations allow. This was already awkward during my Model 3 test drive some time ago, and it became obvious that this is not for me. I heavily rely on muscle memory when driving; I keep my eyes on the road, not on a display in the peripheral visual field that has a menu structure that hides basic functions away. This creates too much mental load for me. I’d even consider it a security risk due to distraction.

BMW also uses a huge curved display in their iDrive 8.5 system, but all the relevant information is in the driver’s field of view. That’s a huge difference. The number of knobs is already pretty reduced, but they are still practical and can be operated without looking off the road. The system is also very advanced and snappy, much better than what VW provides. Certainly, Tesla’s software is even more refined and better integrated, but the difference has become pretty small.

Other than software, the materials, haptics, and geometry of the BMW i4 are superior. One can argue about taste, but it feels much more luxurious and offers neat options that are not available on the Model 3 for manufacturing efficiency and margin. Holding the toy’ish steering wheel of a Tesla and looking at the plasticy interior just does not feel like a €50k car to me. The same goes for a lack of modern-day features like a HUD, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. A feature update is far overdue for this car.

Ride comfort

There seems to be consensus that the Model 3 has a “sportive” chassis and damping. I dare to disagree. It’s just poorly built or adjusted. Driving it on some bad roads reminded me of driving a 1980s-era car with basic steel springs. It does not “dampen away” bad roads; it just rumbles along. The suspension may be stiff, but it’s just not comfortable. The i4 is a very different proposition, with air-ride dampening in the back and a well-balanced experience. Sure, it does not feel like a hard-core sports car, but that’s not what I am looking for, and that’s also not what a mid-range Model 3 is really delivering.


The Model 3 is a practical car in general. However, the hatch is far too small to use all that space. You could not get a bike in there, and stacking luggage for a road trip would feel like playing Tetris. The BMW i4’s hatch opens entirely, including the rear window. That allows a lot more space to actually put things in the trunk. Simply put, the i4 is more useful in daily business.

The ugly


So what don’t I like about the BMW i4? Well, foremost, it’s the front design. The “grill” just looks totally awkward and misplaced on an otherwise beautiful grand coupe. I don’t mind that too much, though, and I’d definitely pay extra to replace it with a nicer option. It’s totally subjective, and I don’t like the round front of the Model 3 either. That car looks like a piece of soap.


While the BMW i4 interior is one of the best I’ve seen so far in mid-range EVs, some items feel misplaced in a car like this. Especially the buttons on the center console next to the iDrive wheel feel very cheap and are not worthy of a €65k car. The same goes for the hood, which hides the front cupholders and wireless charging pad. Making this more high-end would certainly not break the bank for BMW but improve the overall quality impression. Speaking of the charging pad, BMW went for a horizontal surface to put your phone on. Apparently they did not expect that people would accelerate with their EVs, so the phone slides away from the pad all the time when having fun. Other brands solve that with angled charging pads.


Since the car shares a platform with the ICE 4-series, it has a transmission tunnel and a regular bonnet. Not having a frunk is no big deal, but the transmission tunnel takes a lot of space at the rear, considering that the roof is already so low that you can’t have someone with >185 cm sit there for an extended period of time. Reducing the size of the bonnet could certainly add 20cm or more space for passengers; for a 4,76-meter-long executive car, there is not a lot of space.


The speed limit of 193 km/h seems to have been added exclusively for model segmentation. The i4 M50 has two motors and is limited to 225 km/h, but I don’t see a reason why the lesser models would be capped below 220. They have plenty of power and torque, and it does not feel like the electric motor would be a limiting factor here. Even the power consumption stays acceptable once top speed is reached.

The good

Everything else about this car is very positive: it has good efficiency (15 kWh/100 km is possible when driving carefully, but who would?) and is very well-built. It’s a great car with an electric engine rather than a native EV, but that’s fine since its EV qualities are outstanding. I saw DC fast-charging rates of 180 kW after preconditioning the battery.

Even the eDrive35 version, with its smaller 61 kWh battery, is perfect for longer trips on the Autobahn. Taking a 20-minute break to relax and charge every 300 kilometers is completely reasonable for me. In 95% of all cases, I charge at home anyway; having a fully charged EV at my disposal every morning is so much more convenient than pumping dinosaur blood! The interesting thing about range anxiety is that almost always, drivers without EV experience are affected by it.

iDrive 8.5 is far better than anything VW has hacked together so far, and it’s a breeze to use. Even the Apple CarPlay integration works flawlessly; although it only supports wireless CarPlay, cables are only for charging. Oddly enough, there is a single USB-A socket in the front, while the sockets in the center box and the rear are USB-C. That one USB-A socket is probably only good for updating maps from a USB stick, as the hood won’t close with most USB devices plugged in.

The handling of the car is phenomenal considering that it weighs just over 2 tons. It’s certainly not super agile on curvy roads, but it’s much better than anticipated. While turning requires at least 12,5m, which is a lot, moving the car in the city or other restricted spaces works very well in general. With the rather low top speed, cruising on the Autobahn is very comfy, and noise isolation is excellent.


Considering those minor issues, I think it is fair to say that the Tesla Model 3 is the better EV, but the BMW i4 is the better car overall.

Energy has become a headline topic in Europe and Germany, primarily because of high prices and supply uncertainty. I will not rant about how the dependency on single suppliers with their own political agenda was a terrible mistake, or that we were indifferent about energy sources as long as the price was low, no matter the ecological impact and financing of a fascist regime. I’ll also not go into details how the transformation to cheap renewable energy was procrastinated for at least 20 years to serve lobby groups that love to externalize the cost of fossil fuels to society - in addition to consumers paying a lot of tax on energy.

Whatever you may have heard, Germany is not a role model for the Energiewende and usage of renewables. We still burn gigatons of lignite and hard coal, other countries have a much cleaner mix of energy sources to produce electricity. As long as we burn a single chunk of lignite, Germany is in no position to give energy advice to others.

Anyway, I write this as an example for how technology can be leveraged to improve the economic and ecologic impact of energy consumption, electricity in particular. Perhaps you can use it as food for thought or consider if the project may be useful for you to replicate. I assume that using low-consumption appliances, LED lighting etc. are a given, if not start doing this before optimizing.

As every household, we were faced with rising cost of electricity. It is very common in Germany to use utilities contracts that lock in a certain price per kWh for a certain duration, usually 12 months. Energy suppliers hedge their risk of price changes by using the electricity futures market, rather than buying on the spot market. At least the good ones do, those who didn’t hedge but sell at 30ct while buying at 60ct on the spot market went bust quite early. Our electricity supplier sent a notice that after the end of the 12-month period, our price would rise from 30ct/kWh to 69ct/kWh, just in time when we got our first EV.

Big Oof!

Since all suppliers are in a similar situation, there is no real alternative, since others either charge the same price or don’t accept new customers to reduce their risk.

While paying 30ct/kWh may be reasonable under normal market conditions with low price volatility, the new pricing contains lots of uncertainty about price development. We would have essentially locked in that uncertainty for 12 more months. We use a lot of electricity, caused by charging EVs, working from home, operating the IT-homelab and smart-home equipment. In our case, that would have meant a price hike of about €1.500 per year. At the same time, monitoring the spot- and futures market shows that prices are indeed fluctuating a lot. Among other factors, this happens because of the merit-order system used in Europe.

In a nutshell, it is an auctioning system where a given power requirement (say 1000MW for 10:00 to 11:00) is purchased from electricity suppliers and the cheapest energy source goes first. Let’s say there are 500MWh renewables at 3ct/kWh, 200MWh nuclear at 8ct/kWh and 200MWh coal at 10ct/kWh. Unfortunately Germany, and many other countries, chose to rely on natural gas to cover peak load. If the other energy sources are not sufficient, gas power plants are being switched on to cover the spikes. Assume that another 100MWh are provided by natural gas at 100ct/kWh to produce the 1000MWh required. Now the merit-order systems falls apart from the perspective of the consumer. Instead of paying 6ct/kWh for the cheap 90% and 100ct for the remaining 10%, the most expensive part of the mix sets the price for all other constituents - so the consumer pays 100ct/kWh.

In this process, providers of renewable energy earn a large profit since they produce for 3ct/kWh but get paid 100ct/kWh, hence “merit”. Most large electricity producers operate multiple sources of energy, including renewables and natural gas, which means they profit a lot from shortages. This system is totally fine in cases where prices for energy sources are relatively similar, however it creates huge price volatility in cases where single energy sources have extremely high prices. Since adding renewable energy sources was more or less blocked by political initiatives for years, there is little the market can do to actually invest and get rid of gas. Regardless if it’s natural gas no longer arriving via pipeline or expensive LNG shipped around the world - gas pushes up prices a lot. Other countries in Europe have similar issues, so there is no quick way of just purchasing electricity from our neighbors to fill the gaps.

After gathering some background knowledge about the market mechanics, I tried to find a better solution for our electricity supply. One where we don’t pay the risk premium incurred by the electricity provider, and one where we don’t have to reduce power consumption. Advanced societies require lots of energy to develop further - and that’s fine as long as they are sourced sustainably and little gets wasted. Adding solar or other self-generated electricity is unfortunately not an option since we live in an apartment, the grid is the only viable electricity provider.

It turned out however that some electricity providers entered the market which don’t use fixed prices but instead forward spot market prices to their customers, with a small fixed fee to cover their operations. Some of those see themselves as technology companies and offer integrations and APIs to automate stuff based on electricity prices and consumption. That’s why I had a good look at Tibber, which provide 100% renewable energy and have created a nice ecosystem of integrations. Using Tibber Pulse as an addon to our power meter allows per-hour billing, which is a great incentive to use less electricity at peak times. Compared to “actual” smart meters, this addon is a one-time expense and does not require professional installation.

Interested? Sign up using my reflink, we both get €50: https://invite.tibber.com/tjibqpvo

During my research, it became obvious that volatile electricity prices offer a great opportunity for arbitrage, regardless of the absolute price. While there are the typical spikes in the morning and the afternoon, electricity is in fact relatively cheap during the night. Here is a graph of electricity prices at a typical weekend in Germany, price spikes are a lot more pronounced during the week.

Normal price curve (weekend)

At this day prices spike to about 32ct/kWh but are below 15ct/kWh for multiple hours. Most people pay a fixed price per kWh and just don’t care about peak load. This leads to the need for electricity producers to switch on their expensive natural gas power plants. Not following this trend would save money and help reduce peak load in the grid.

Great, so how can we save money? And how did I manage to make this price chart look like this?

Optimized price curve

Moving off-peak

Obviously, it makes sense to move some electricity consumption to the night if it is not time sensitive. No - we don’t cook our meals at night, but charging an EV off-peak while power is cheap is entirely possible. Tibber integrates with many Charge Box and EV makers as first-class citizens right at its App. So instead of charging when plugging in, the car will start charging when Tibber tells it to. Since Tibber does not make money with the amount of energy you consume, they don’t care if you use cheap or expensive electricity, either. This is a huge difference to legacy power tariffs and changes economic incentives dramatically.

The same is true for household appliances. In most cases, I don’t care if the dishwasher or the washing machine runs at 17:00 or at 02:00. Modern appliances are “connected” but not directly integrated with Tibber, so I had to build something that takes Tibber price information and triggers the appliances “remote start” abilities when electricity is cheap. I did that with HomeBridge, which comes with many plugins both for Tibber and for smart appliances from Bosch, Miele, Siemens etc. HomeBridge plugins like tibberswitch create events if electricity prices are cheap, those events can then be consumed by your home automation solution, for example HomeKit, to trigger events like “start the dishwasher”.

Automate all the things!

Our baseline electricity consumption could however not be moved since it does not make sense to turn off the freezer for multiple hours or, behold, even our network infrastructure and home server. Instead of moving consumption to times of low electricity prices, we need to move low electricity prices to times of consumption. Batteries are good at this.

Battery buffer

So I started looking into home power backup solutions. There is a great bunch of solutions and educational content out there, just be careful not to get lured into the prepper/doomer rabbit-hole. Jokes aside, of course this is primarily about saving money, but it can’t hurt to have some kWh of backup power in case of a blackout or the zombie apocalypse. Most solutions are made to store electricity from solar panels and feed it back to individual appliances as AC, like powering your cabin somewhere in the woods where there is no power grid.

With advances in battery technology, there have been some very interesting solutions lately that combine quick charging, good capacity with outstanding durability. Products based on LiFePO4 (“LFP”) batteries can store multiple kWh of electricity in a small package, endure thousands of charging cycles and charge within a few hours. Importantly, LFP batteries are very safe and can be run unsupervised forever without the risk of fire based on malfunction or defects. You can literally shoot those batteries without adverse side effects.

Some brands to watch are EcoFlow, Bluetti and Zendure. Zendure is pretty hard to come by in Europe, and they seem to copy EcoFlow quite a bit. Their focus is much for on “solar” generators, while Bluetti and EcoFlow play the “AC charging” tune a bit more prominent. It felt that Bluetti is not really making an up-to-date device that fits my needs, so I ended up in the EcoFlow ecosystem.

This is a case-study and not a product review, however I will include some kinks and learnings that never get noticed in paid “reviews”. Judging from the number of videos at YouTube, manufacturers sends out hundreds of free review kits. The only reviews I can recommend are the ones where people are taking the device apart and check for actual build quality and engineering decisions rather than reading a feature list. All was paid for with own money and I did not take any incentives. Note that all this relates to a 230V/50Hz grid and “EU versions” of devices.

Exploring the ecosystem

First, I had a look at the EcoFlow Delta Pro, which is a behemoth of a “portable” battery. It certainly fills a niche that is left by “true” home battery solutions from BYD, Tesla, E3DC and others. But since I did not plan to re-wire my home grid for battery backup and all the effort would not really pay off financially, I went for the much smaller and economical EcoFlow Delta 2 instead. You can read all the specs on their website, they are correct, I won’t repeat them here.

While reducing our power consumption, I identified that there are just two major appliances left, which continuously use power. A deep freezer and our home server rack. Since those have very predictable power usage profiles, they are the optimal candidates to start gathering experience with battery buffer. Both devices are located in the same room, so infrastructure changes would be minimal.

The Delta 2 has a 1kWh LFP battery built in and can be connected with an extra 1kWh LFP battery to a max capacity of 2kWh for about €1850 all-inclusive. It can also be connected to the 2kWH “Delta Max” extra battery for 3kWh of total capacity. However, that older NMC-based battery will just support ~800 charging cycles before reaching 80% capacity.

Just to mention one downside of EcoFlows expansion system: The connection plug is on the side of the devices and the proprietary plug is not angled and has a very inflexible cable. This is a super inconvenient placement if you use the Delta 2 at any space-constrained area, since you already need a gap for airflow on both sides. Please EcoFlow, put that port to the front or the back or at least offer an angled connector that creates a flush connection!

Usage considerations

The freezer and the rack consume a combined 120W, which means 2kWh is already plenty to cover 14 expensive hours of electricity. It also leaves enough time to charge the batteries with a gentle 300W. The Delta 2 can actually charge at 1200W (1500W with extra battery) but that can’t be good for longevity and efficiency. After all, I’m trying to get as much capacity out of this thing as possible - 2kWh x 365days x 10years.

With the latest firmware updates, the Delta 2 is very quiet when charging or delivering less than 500W. The 1.0 firmware apparently had no fan management built in. Out of the box, it was so loud (easily 60db) that it would disqualify the Delta 2 for in-home use. Luckily, that got patched. Talking about firmware, updating it does usually interrupt AC output. That needs to be taken into consideration when using it as power supply for sensitive devices.

UPS feature

The Delta 2 does bypass AC power while being connected to the grid and only switches to the inverter if the grid power supply fails. That is pretty much what basic UPSs do. EcoFlow actually advertises this feature, but is not very vocal about switching times and compatibility to computers. If switching times are too slow, the connected devices will suffer a brief power outage and restart. A proper double-conversion online-UPS requires 0ms to switch from mains to battery, which means any device connected to the UPS will not even notice that it has switched. Cheaper “line interactive” UPSs require 10-20ms to switch over. The ATX standard requires switching times of about 15ms and many servers will require even lower switching times.

It turns out that the Delta 2 can switch quick enough depending on its load. Switching while being loaded with 600W did not work for my setup, but when only being loaded with 120W the switching time is low enough to keep my home server and network equipment running. Cool! Producing the cleanest sine-wave I have ever seen out of a consumer-product inverter certainly helps.


With 2kWh of capacity and 120W continuous load, one would expect about 17h of runtime. Of course all the electronics of the battery (BMS, WiFi, Inverter…) take an efficiency toll. I found that the Delta 2 is using about 12W continuously while charging and providing AC at 120W through its bypass. 90% output efficiency is a good number for a portable device, especially for such low-power usage considering its beefy 1800W inverter. Input efficiency is about 90% as well, you need to charge 1200Wh at 300W to max out the 1024Wh battery. Many devices are most efficient at 50% load with a bias to the top, you don’t buy a 1000W device if you just plan to just use a fraction of that. The EcoFlow Delta 2 appears to be very well-balanced to serve all ends of the spectrum, though.


EcoFlow recently started adding basic automation capabilities to their app and labeled them as “lab features”. They are exactly as buggy as that sounds. Until they become more usable, I’m resorting to external automation to control battery charging. For now, that’s an Eve Energy plug, which gets switched on and off based on time of day to trigger the UPS function and switch back to charging the battery. I could create automation that factors in energy prices, but I don’t think it is worth it. Energy prices are just one factor, each charging cycle also translates to costs for battery lifetime and the concept of “scalping” only works if there is a large enough difference in price that offsets electrical inefficiencies. That’s almost never the case during the day. Simplicity beats overly complex solutions every time.


One thing that really struck me is the estimate - or rather guesstimate - for remaining battery runtime. This metric is absurdly inaccurate, even though I did a “calibration run”, including a full charge and discharge cycle. Being in IT long enough means I’m skeptical towards any kind of progress bar, but I never experienced a device under-estimating its runtime by 30%. That’s not terrible since I have a very consistent power usage profile, but it led to some suspicion about actual battery capacity and efficiency at the start. The battery will just continue to provide power with “0% remaining” for a couple of hours.

DC operations

Having a battery connected to a server and network equipment at all times raises a question: Why use alternating current (AC) at all? AC is provided by the grid, so many devices that run on DC have AC-to-DC converters at their PSUs. A battery natively produces direct current (DC) and a computer natively consumes direct current, this conversion mumbo-jumbo does not really make sense at first sight. Using DC would reduce the load of the inverter at the Delta 2 and also remove the need to have a traditional PSU at the server. Each of the output sections (AC, USB, DC) can be disabled individually, doing so helps to conserve power, especially the AC unit as it requires an inverter to run regardless of the output load.

Unfortunately, DC output is somewhat limited. The Delta 2 has a car-charger plug output which provides 12V DC at 10A max, not much but just enough to run my server and some network equipment directly off DC. I used a couple of XT60 connectors and a 80W PicoPSU for my server, and indeed that led to ~15% longer battery runtime. While the DC-DC PicoPSU is a lot more efficient at low load, compared to a 300W Seasonic PSU (~95% vs. ~85%), the DC-DC conversion within the Delta 2, converting from the battery cell’s combined 48V to 12V, does not seem to be super efficient. Perhaps that feature is not considered very important, but it’s quite disappointing to see 85% DC-DC efficiency while DC-AC is at 90%. I did not test the USB-C PD output since it would produce 20V at the required wattage and that needs to get converted down again, adding even more inefficiency.

There is another reason to avoid using the DC output on the Delta 2 - DC will always use the battery, while AC can bypass the battery while it is connected to the grid. DC usage will lead to small charge cycles that push the battery from 98% to 100% every couple of minutes, which will certainly have an effect on battery lifetime when doing so for years. It is very possible that all the benefits of DC-DC efficiency gets eaten away by this factor. Since I have to use the inverter anyway for the freezer and the POE Switch, I dumped the idea of using DC directly from the battery.

Final thoughts

With manual and automated energy consumption changes, we were able to dodge most of the price crisis. Using a flexible rather than a fixed price tariff can cut both ways, and one definitely needs to have the means (aka. idle cash) to endure a bad month. I’m convinced it is the right way to do over the long term, as it changes consumption incentives. With enough home automation in place, there are a number of optimizations that can happen without affecting quality of life.

Using a battery buffer to scalp cheap energy may seem to be a bit extreme, but when you play with the idea of owning a powerstation anyway, it’s certainly a consideration. The alternative for me would be a rather expensive gadget that sits on the shelf until it needs replacing. Those modern LFP-based powerstations are super useful for camping or backup power, quite a development compared to the NMC age.

Preservation of our natural habitat has been high on pretty much everyone’s agenda - at least while there is nothing else to worry about. Governments around the world picked up the idea of reducing emissions to slow down climate change, which is a scientific fact. There are of course other environmental concerns, but climate is certainly one of uniquely global impact and has been well understood during the past decades. Sadly it has been underestimated for far too long while spreading comfortable lies. I am convinced that we must act fast to avoid the worst, which is mass mortality and whole regions becoming inhabitable. Planet Earth will certainly survive this in the long run, but most animals, plants and humans living today don’t have the capability to adjust fast enough.

At this time the wishful thinking is to cap global warming below 2,0°C, compared to pre-industrial levels. Given the fact that the world, especially China, is still adding emissions, institutions like IPCC and others expect that we will level out at 3,0°C which will have disastrous impact on most non-wealthy communities. While not being a scientist myself, I think the argument for 3,0°C is very solid and 2,0°C is in fact a pipe dream. That’s a direct impact of doing too little, too late, which has become the norm of governance for wealthy nations.


Lots of people appear to think 2,0°C or other metrics would be a threshold in the future that we must not cross to avoid catastrophe. The catastrophes do however not start when crossing a threshold, we already see shit hitting the fan right now. Any increase in temperature based on today’s levels will have profound impact on the ecosystem and affect us as a species. Some are delayed and exponential effects, and people are notoriously bad at understanding the speed and impact of such processes. Being a realist, I think it is already too late to reverse the trend, and we must find ways to protect ourselves. However, we also need to become a lot better of prevention.

In Germany the government was lobbied into shutting down nuclear power and phase out coal power production only in 2038. In my opinion the correct way would have been to develop and add modern nuclear plants and shut down coal immediately. That is now wishful thinking since it has been passed into law. At the same time, the addition of renewable energy has been slowing down during the past years, which is the real tragedy. This is most due to NIMBYism, people are fine with burning coal somewhere else but detest a windmill in line of sight. This is horrifically stupid and selfish thinking, burning coal is by far the worst source of all sorts of emissions. Following this trajectory, Germany will either end up extending usage of coal and oil or greenwash itself by purchasing dirty energy from its neighbors in the east - and dirty energy is just one part of the problem.

We the people

That could all be seen as an excuse for defeatism, but I see it as a challenge that “we the people” need to do more and be faster with it than government intervention can ever be. Also, political change in a democracy is always impeded by public opinion and if you hurt someone too much too fast, you won’t be able to implement your agenda. There will always be NIMBYs and short-sighted people. We can’t wait until we convince a huge majority to vote for the right parties and implement the right policy to get this going. I don’t mean that in the way some activist groups do, which accept the creation of an illiberal dictatorship to implement their agenda for them - but rather as a challenge to civil society, where everyone can do their part and knows best how to optimize.

Roughly 70% of emissions are created by the 100 largest companies, however that does not reduce the responsibility of consumers when purchasing products from those companies. By “consumers” I primarily mean professional decisions, like where and under which conditions to source your input materials as a company. Many people are in one way or another powerful to influence such decisions. That can contribute a lot more than picking regional food or using public transportation - many of us are catalysts for huge change in their professional lives. The worst option is to wait until global governments put something into law. This is far too slow, an unnecessarily costly transition and will potentially lead to a more authoritarian society.


Another “argument” that is brought up a lot is that a country like Germany emits “just” 2% of harmful gas and is home 1% of the worlds’ population. People tend to think that these quantities do not matter and that the changes we implement are in vain unless top emitters like China change their ways. First, those numbers are wrong. While emissions in Germany may just be 2% thanks to regulation and modern industrial processes, our consumption in Germany leads to a lot of emissions elsewhere, particularly in China. We just outsourced those emissions, we are still causing them. Second, the conclusion is wrong. Germany has been at the edge of high-tech manufacturing for the past decades, and we could be in a great position to supply second-movers like the U.S., India or China with the equipment to reach their goals. There is a lot of wealth to generate in the process. Germany is one of the countries that has the economical, judicial and political power to push changes. In an EU context this which means potentially influencing the behavior of 500M people and 1/4th of the world economy.

Mahatma Gandhi may not have been a role model in many ways, but his quote “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” is spot-on. Tackling climate change requires profound changes in behavior of each individual person. But hey - what if the scientist were wrong? Well, then we created a better world by accident. I can live with that. To be clear, this is not a “holier than you” thing, but rather food for thought how you could make a change as well.

So rather than waiting for government dirigisme, I implemented a few changes which I think have profound impact while maintaining or even improving my quality of life:

No more beef

While everyone talks about energy production and transportation, reducing the consumption of beef is the individual decisions which has by far the largest impact on the environment. Beef production is extreme inefficient and outputs more than 20x as many emissions than producing poultry or plant-based food. It requires about 30x the energy to consume one calorie of energy through beef than using a plant-based diet. This is not just about Carbon-dioxide but primarily about Methane, which is a lot worse for the climate but also dissipates relatively quickly - so a reduction has swift impact. Beef production requires a huge amount of water and pasture, which more often than not means cutting down forests and adding to drought. I still consume meat 2-3 times per week, but reduced beef consumption to zero. Do I miss eating a good steak? Hell yes, I do - but this is a small price to pay, given its advantages.

Home, sweet home

Much energy is consumed by heating and cooling of buildings. This is harder to optimize than purchasing an EV, but I reaped the opportunity to save emissions and, frankly, cost, when purchasing a modern home. We use a very efficient local power plant, good insulation and optimized controls for our underfloor heating. This led to a fossil energy consumption which is about 5x lower compared to the average household. Adding solar and photovoltaics is next on the list, and we consume electricity fully produced by renewables. Sure, that’s the talk of someone who has the means for such changes, but even as a tenant you can lobby your landlords to add more efficient appliances rather than wasting resources. Energy costs will only go up, so energy-efficient apartments become a huge selling point.

Long-lasting goods

Consumerism can be a huge source of emissions - usually elsewhere. Any mobile phone, T-Shirt and fridge comes with an emissions price-tag that is currently an externality to economics. This will hopefully change by using cap-and-trade and border-tax programs for emissions. Using long-lasting goods can severely reduce the emission footprint, so I always put quality and expected lifespan above price or brand when consuming.


Modern cars and trucks add modestly to climate change, but there are very good alternatives, like EVs, that also reduce other kinds of emissions, like sound. EVs are cheaper than fossil cars due to tax breaks, incentives, maintenance and rising price of fossil fuels. They are also a lot more fun to drive. I currently still own a fossil-fuel car, however once that’s beyond usable I will go electric, a charging station is already in place to switch from fossil to renewable energy. At this time I don’t see an economic or ecologic reason to switch cars since the existing one is perfectly fine and has been used for a quarter of a million kilometers. Picking any kind of new car would be worse than continuing to use the existing one. A new car will have to reach break even to offset its production cost and emissions until it’s a net-benefit.

Air-travel is obviously the least effective mode of transportation when it comes to emissions. I try to minimize personal air-travel and offset the rest. Whenever feasible I walk, use my bike or public transportation.

Activism at work

In my role at work, I am traveling a lot and can chose the mode of transportation. Whenever possible, I use the train service or a car rather than air-travel. The cost savings don’t affect me directly like they do when going on vacation, but I think I can make a difference by leading by example and show that reducing air-travel is entirely possible in many cases. There are situations where air-travel is inevitable, but I try to be mindful about that decision. From where I live there is just one national air-travel connection which makes sense and safes time compared to other modes of transportation.

Lobbying for change at work can be very beneficial as well. Too many people just accept their professional environment as carved in stone. In reality, there are many inefficiencies that can be solved. For example, I brought up the case that we were using a Nescafé capsule system for coffee supply - and in our industry, coffee is used a lot. Moving to another solution did not only reduce the amount of waste drastically but also reduced cost and some savings went into coffee machines that create a much better result. Often such solutions exist only due to convenience, unawareness and nobody does question them ever.

Further improvements have been the usage of renewable energy for facilities and making video-calls the default which severely reduced travel. While this was certainly a result of the pandemic, everyone can help make remote meetings the norm, if it makes sense. Always second-guess if business travel is really necessary or if it is rather used as a perk.

What’s next?

Reducing the individual negative impact to our natural habitat is a journey and there are always things to consider as new industries are spun up and deliver better alternatives. Here are a few things I may consider in the near future:

  • Switch from cow-milk to plant-based protein replacements.
  • Further reduce food and consumption waste, these are in fact “free” improvements that do not influence lifestyle.
  • Finally get to drive an EV.
  • Replace natural-gas powered heat production with climate-neutral hydrogen.
  • Consider adding insect based protein to the diet.
  • Find a substitute for diary based cheese, this will be a tough one.
Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now