Peter W. Heller

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Peter W. Heller

Peter W. Heller (born 5 September 1957) ) is a former Deputy Mayor of the City of Freiburg im Breisgau/Germany, environmental scientist, and venture philanthropist.

Early life[edit]

Peter W. Heller was born in Frankfurt am Main, the son of Wolfgang Heller, entrepreneur in the printing industry, and Ingeborg Heller. He studied economics and philosophy at the university of St. Gallen, university of Lausanne (Switzerland) and university of Freiburg (Germany) where he obtained his PhD (Dr. rer.pol.) in 1988 with a thesis on "The Problem of Environmental Degradation in Economic Theory". In 1988, he married Micaela Heller. They have two children, Julia (born 1989) and Jakob (born 1991).

Professional career[edit]

1984 Heller was elected to the City Council of Freiburg and served on the Council’s committees for the municipal budget, environment, and culture. He left the Council in 1990 after his election as Deputy Mayor.

1990 the Council of the City of Freiburg im Breisgau elected him as Deputy Mayor to head the local administration's environmental protection department,[1] the first of its kind in Southern Germany (until 1996). It comprised the offices of municipal environmental law and regulations, waste management, urban park and forestry services, local energy management and climate policy.

1993 the Executive Committee of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability elected him as Chairman (until 1997). ICLEI is a major global network and agency of local governments committed to environmental protection and local sustainability.[2]

1997 Heller founded an investment company, forseo GmbH which holds equity stakes in companies in the solar PV, windpower, and energy efficiency industry. He serves as Chairman of the Supervisory Boards of Streb AG (since 2012) and of SorTech AG (since 2016). He co-founded solar PV and windpower development companies in France and Chile, and provided seed capital for technology developers in the US and Germany.

Heller is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Canopus Foundation, a private non-profit organisation which became one of the pioneers of Venture Philanthropy in Germany. Since 2000 the foundation has been providing grants and business development assistance to social enterprises active in the field of rural energy access for low income communities in developing countries. In 2008 the Canopus Foundation and Ashoka International, Arlington Va. (US) jointly founded the Solar for All initiative,.[3][4] Since 2014 the foundation has been promoting initiatives which open space for thought towards more plurality in the academics of economic sciences, and encourage reflection on the preconditions for a sustainable economy and society.

2001 he co-founded the „Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy (BASE)“, a „Collaborating Center“ of UNEP, and is a member of the foundation board.[5] Since 2011 Heller serves on the Board of Trustees of the European Environment Foundation, Basel, which holds an annual international convention of Environmental Laureates. In 2015 the General Assembly of the HUMBOLDT-VIADRINA Governance Platform gGmbH elected him as Chairman.

Selected Publications[edit]

  • Sustainable Human Development in a Medium-Sized City: The Example of Freiburg, Germany, 2002, edited by S. Sassen, in Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), Developed under the Auspices of the UNESCO, Eolss Publishers, Oxford, UK, [2]
  • Climate Change – Wanted: First Movers, Alliance Magazine Vol. 14, Nr. 1, March 2009, p. 39 ff.
  • Innovative Funding Mechanisms for Social Change, (ed.), Baden-Baden 2009
  • "Developing mutual success factors and their application to swarm electrification: microgrids with 100 % renewable energies in the Global South and Germany" (with Kirchhoff/Kebir/Neumann/Strunz) in: Journal of Cleaner Production Vol. 128 (2016), p. 190-200


  1. ^ DIE ZEIT, 34 (1995)
  2. ^ Berliner Zeitung: [1], abgerufen am 12. März 2013
  3. ^ Schneider, A.: „Der Frühphasenstifter“. In: wir - Das Magazin für Unternehmerfamilien, 2 (2012), S. 46-48
  4. ^ Mersch, T. & Merx, S.: „Die Business-Wohltäter“. In: enorm - Wirtschaft für den Menschen, 3 (2010), S. 20-27
  5. ^ Rosenkranz, E.: Netzwerk für erneuerbare Energien, in: Basler Zeitung (2002), Nr. 163, Teil II