Morton Albaek

Morten Albæk, Senior Vice President at Vestas, talks to The Global Journal about his vision –not just for the future of wind energy but also for an innovative business model where the bottom line includes human welfare.

How would you describe the world’s attitude to the concept of energy mix today? 

I would say it is progressing, that it’s more accepted now than five years ago. I actually think that something good has come out of the financial crisis in that people have accepted the fact that if they do not change their behaviour, the way they do business and govern societies, their business will not survive or they will be overthrown. 

We are most optimistic about the creation of a whole new innovation prism. Even though thousands  of people are in the streets in New York, Berlin and London, wanting to occupy Wall Street, the vast majority of youth is not there. Not because they don’t think that something must change, but because they accept the fact that the only way to create sustainable change is to merge the two “isms’’ that have dominated Western culture for the last 250, if not 500, years: capitalism and humanism. 

A new innovation platform –a “capitalistic humanistic innovation platform”– has been created. This means that innovation needs to do two things at the same time: generate the highest possible revenue and the highest possible EBIT, and, at the same time, have a positive societal impact. This is fully doable. This new platform is not “humanistic capitalism”, because that would start with a utopia like creating world peace, and eternal universal peace will never exist. But we can certainly create much more peace than we do today. 

By putting ‘capitalism’ before ‘humanism’, you add realism to ideals. And it is a fundamentally realistic ideal to change the energy mix by 2050. This new "capitalistic humanistic innovative platform” creates designs that were indefinable in the old world. I must say that WindMade is an example of that, although it’s very un-Danish to compliment myself, even indirectly. WindMade is the first global consumer label for a single energy source. The six other global consumer labels that have been launched, such as Fairtrade, have all been initiated by civil society, that is, human beings or communities of citizens or consumers getting together and creating an NGO and then going to the corporate world and saying, “You have to support this, or we are going to expose you negatively”. No corporation has ever jumped to the very beginning of the innovation chain and said, “Why wait for consumers to demand a global consumer label for renewable energy?” But why can’t a corporation drive that innovation? Why can’t a corporation create an NGO and hand it back to civil society? Doesn’t social responsibility now mean stepping in and truly acting like a citizen? That gives me hope that if my 5-year old child is invited to a panel in 2050, when he’s 44, he won’t sit there and feel like his dad wasted his time.

To read the full interview, order a copy of the magazine.

By Jean-Christophe Nothias