ToMorrow – the non-profit organization
ToMorrow is a non-profit organization with a “glocal” orientation: global and local. It is located in Torsby, Sweden, and is supported by scientists from different countries and institutions, organized as a Scientific Advisory Board.
ToMorrow’s starting phase was marked by these realizations:
- The public discussion on the Greenhouse Effect and the sluggishness of action. Here, instead of the consensus needed about the global necessities of politics and societies three major tendencies are visible: Exaggeration and overestimation, negation of the phenomena and using them for business.
- The belief that synergy between technological progress, fostering quality of life of the individual and society and preservation of nature in the present situation are not only a global requirement, but a source of added economic value.
In the first phase of activities ToMorrow is focusing on the two most urgent areas of action: energy and synergy. The orientation towards efficiency and effectiveness makes it necessary to include research on which obstacles and supporting influences with regard to the presently still very slow processes of innovation can be found and which (regional) solutions can be derived from these realizations.
If we look at the energy problem one of the important dependencies is concerning global population growth. The latter is demonstrated by the following graphics limited to energy by oil.
Apparently we have not much time for action. Thus, in the field of energy, ToMorrow will concentrate on two aggregates: houses and cars.
In economy nowadays we still find an important influence of one of the basic paradigms of science: solving problems by cutting them up and letting the specialists do the work. Synergy usually is only a borrowed word, never an economic argument. Concerning the global future needs it is a conditio sine qua non.
The question arises, which kind of cooperation will lead to synergetic advantages. It might be the relationship between enterprises or with regional or scientific institutions. Cooperation might be a question of central targets of economy, but our main concern is cooperation with regard to the processes of holistic adaptation to the global changes of the future.
Bringing together these two areas of action – energy and synergy – both economic profitability and quality of life will have better chances to develop.
Thus, ToMorrow principally will concentrate on encouragement to set up businesses the subjects of which are: meeting the future needs of people and nature likewise. In preparation of this, ToMorrow’s activities will include research on the fields of developing technology not yet available and behavioural research on the utilization of it by the rural population here in Värmland. It’s activities will include consultancy and concrete help for refitting and re-equipping of cars and houses. Presently it still is a small group of engaged people. This means that it is mainly a place for ideas and people who want changes into the right direction and are willing to invest in the future.
Living in the future: saving energy by intelligent architecture
If at all, this area of Northern Värmland offers the best chances for development. A centuries-old tradition in timber industry is linked to the area of house-building business. On the other hand many high-tech electronic producers are based here. a it is a cold region where it is worthwhile to save energy.
Considering that there are two extreme approaches of consumption:
1. looking always for the cheapest products and
2. looking for quality
The average citizen is somewhere in the middle between these two.
Investigations of the Energieinstitut Vorarlberg (Dornbirn, Austria), show that the average energy consumption of a ”type 1 person” is about 115.000 kWh/person/year, transport (41.000 kWh) and home (29.000 kWh) being the most prominent ones, whereas ”type 2” consumes only 20.000 kWh/a: 2.000 kWh for transport and 4.000 kWh for his home. By these data we see that transport is the crucial focus followed by houses. In order to guarantee a comfortable future we will have to reduce our present consumption quickly to 1/5 or less! During the last years it could be shown that in houses this is easily possible by the strategy of the “passive house”.
Another important parameter is the space usually needed in the different areas: Sweden is one of the leading countries in the statistics of living space per person: 47 m², compared to 40 m² in Germany, 32 m² in France, 24 m² in Spain, 17 m² in the Czech Republic and 8 m² in China.
Definition of the term ‘passive house’:
“The heating energy requirements are so low that a separate heating system is superfluous. The heat can be supplied via the already-available ventilation system. A controlled ventilation arrangement is necessary for hygienic reasons plus energy efficient heat recovering. The comfort and hygiene specifications result in a maximum permissible heat output of 10 Watt/m²/a, which will lead to an annual heating energy requirement of 15 kWh/m²/a related to the heated living area, taking into account the power-efficient building services and household appliances (1/3 of the “free” heat). Valid for the main residential areas of Central Europe.”
Here in Sweden we have asked quite a few owners of houses recently built about their decisions to build a house in a traditional way, but only one of them had heard the term ‘passive house’ before, not knowing exactly the meaning, the only element from this building strategy they were acquainted with being the heat pump. There is a need for broad and quick information, especially since Sweden has the plan to be independent of oil by the year 2020.
The primary task of ToMorrow in this field is to examine the reasons for this lack of knowledge and to find practical ways out.
Future mobility, intelligent powering of cars
In tight populated areas like within and around big cities, building an infrastructure around the concept of an electrically driven car is not much of a challenge. Short distances between home and work, kindergartens or supermarkets will make it easy and relatively inexpensive to create the basic conditions needed to make people consider an electric car as an alternative.
In sparsely populated areas though, the situation is quite different. To fully understand the obstacles that we are heading, genuine research within this subject has to be done. The geographical location of ToMorrow gives us the possibility to do real-life simulations regarding the use of electric cars or cars driven by other intelligent energy.
The citizens of Northern Värmland with it’s “capital” Torsby (13.500 inhabitants, length diameter of the community 180 km) are extremely dependant on cars in order to fulfil their daily duties. Outside the centre of the town with it’s 4.500 inhabitants the population density is 1.9 individuals per km², including all villages!
Changes in powering of individual transport therefore must not influence the present mobility habits. The sometimes extremely cold winter temperatures are another factor. And the only “bio-drives” arising now are combustion engines, running on ethanol, bio-gas and bio-Diesel. Regarding electric power, the storage of bigger amounts of electricity still needs research even if some technologies have improved recently: Lithium-ion batteries, Hydrogen fuel cells, etc..
ToMorrow’s plans to evaluate the possibilities for electric car drives – motors and transmissions being minor problems – have their starting points in elementary questions:
- How can in a region like this a desired distance be managed without the risk of an empty battery?
- How and where will loading be arranged at the driving destinations?
- How can we produce the energy needed for charging batteries in a way that is considered environmentally friendly, and where according to the physical location of the chargers should the energy be produced and stored?
- How can we raise the life span of batteries and reduce their costs?
- Where should they be replaced and where recycled (if ever)?
We see hybrid drives (‘Hy-car’) as an important linking step from the entire combustion engine to the exclusively electrically powered car (‘E-car’). Next generation of hybrids, available in a few years, will lower the need of gasoline further by more efficient combinations of combustion and electric powered engines. This is also one of the main focuses that the vehicle industry has right now. We shall keep in mind though, that all kinds of combustion engines leave some level of emission, and it is also the common opinion that electricity – if produced right – is the future energy source in vehicles of all kind.
The main problems we meet today are power and lifespan of the battery cells combined with the lack of an infrastructure with all standards that follow. The problems involved in building necessary infrastructures are therefore highly important and play a central role in the work of ToMorrow’s research.
After a comprehensive evaluation of the availabilities ToMorrow’s research will consist of two areas:
- 1.Locating the obstacles and supporting forces for the promotion of new powering strategies and
- 2.Technical research on the different developmental aspects for applications in sparsely populated areas.
The results of research around the difficulties of using electrical cars in sparsely populated areas are rare but still crucial when developing next generation cars and accessories, ToMorrow will create today’s knowledge in this matter.
Regional economy: synergy by cooperation and humane environmentally friendly production, products and services
This section of ToMorrow’s program is dealing with unexploited chances in economy - especially small scale industry and in the field of the environmental and social developments essential for a sustainable future.
A look at today’s business life in Northern Värmland reveals a situation which can be interpreted as a result of steady, consequent and fruitful development. What is missing is any attempt to break these more or less historical barriers of determinism by rearranging the structures of production, services and markets in a promising way in order to develop really new chances both externally – in a global and environmental sense – and internally - creating new labour, e.g.. We find traditional areas of production (forestry, saw mills etc.) – but, compared to the past, with an extremely reduced workforce – together with the production of high end technology. Nevertheless the predominant small and medium sized enterprises suffer from the same diseases as their colleagues in other countries with only a minimum of global chances, compared to larger enterprises.
Since a couple of years the term “knowledge based enterprise” is on everyone’s lips. Small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) are only existing, because they are knowledge based. Nevertheless they nowadays need support for the realization of the processes of change which are on the agenda, especially with regard to the development and cultivation of what generally is called innovation.
Sociologists like Richard Sennett nowadays propose a renunciation of the so-called meritocraty, which could lead to new definitions of ‘flexibility’ and ‘freedom of action’, both for individuals and economic organizations.
Another crucial point is the questioning of the terms ‘innovation’ and ‘advance’. Many of today’s hindrances on the way to economic and social sustainability can only be understood by looking at the agreement on values over the last 250 years, which in many cases led to rather unpredictable consequences instead of the desired ones.
Here, ToMorrow’s role will be helping to accomplish long-term concepts. The synergy needed for these processes must on the one hand refer to a holism as regards the rearrangement of the productive systems as well as the contents (products, services and markets focusing quality of life and environment) and on the other hand to the conjunction of regional with global action.
Striving for sustainability, two strategies – or rather their combination – are to the fore:
- broad and collective utilization of the regionally existing skills, forces, possibilities and needs (with a differential view) and
- linking up of relevant process elements in order to build up ‘relapse paths’.
Even if Swedish enterprises are still ahead of many others as far as ‘internal social marketing’ is concerned, the challenges of the future need a kind of social organizational development, which utilizes the creative forces of each individual.
If we sum up the apparent skills and potencies existing in this region we come to the conclusion that the focus of industry and commerce could be quality of life and environment.
So, one of the first steps will be a systematic analysis of the valences, needs and capabilities of the markets on the one hand, and abilities and power of the economy existing in Northern Värmland on the other hand.
The synergy needed for realization must be effective on the level of the economic development itself and on the level of adaptation of regional and global valences and potencies likewise, including new ways of cooperation.
If this cooperation will happen to be realized, win-win situations can be expected with the following advantages:
For the enterprises:
• Economic growth by building up real knowledge based and cooperating enterprises and rapidly reacting flexible knowledge based networks,
• building partnerships to attain economic, social and environmental objectives (e.g.: social capital management; social and environmental marketing),
• improved and fast communication on global and regional chances and basic conditions for production and services,
• better integration of human resources issues into all activities at all levels of the enterprise (skills!),
• better staff satisfaction, less staff turnover, less sickness absenteeism and less early retirement (ageing work-force),
• economic development by cooperative and highly adaptive market strategies (internet supported in a “canonical” way),
• increased market value of participating companies.
For the municipalities:
• Adequate adaptive economic development,
• attractive labour market (e.g. work-life-balance) by a culture of mutual responsibilities of economy and society, including environmental tasks,
• less competition of superseding,
• less unemployment by real creation of new and attractive jobs,
• better locational factors.
For the country:
•Getting closer to the knowledge based society,
• better governmental intersectional and interagency collaboration by decentralization of autonomy,
• relief of health and social insurance organizations,
• better adaptation to the ageing society,
• concrete shaping of life-long learning.
For the individual:
• Higher quality of life,
• better work-life-balance,
• fostering of useful skills,
• life-long learning,
• higher ‘disability free life expectancy
ToMorrow’s program for this section of activities rests upon five columns:
(1)Concepts for the economic development by global and multicentric cooperation in medium-sized business; “synergetic competition”,
(2)new social forms of creativity,
(3)development of markets for environment and quality of life;
(4)developing innovative forms of labour, based upon a new “economic humanism”;
(5)developing concepts for restructuring of municipal and regional functions, structures and services
Predominantly cooperation will concern the following institutions:
• Experienced enterprises and applied research institutions from the areas of work mentioned above.
• Other European institutions which have similar agendas.
• Universities and institutions of pure or basic research.
• NGOs and GOs (including the European Commission and other European organisations).