A series of information clips provide an insight into selected energy-related research, pilot, demonstration and flagship projects that have been realised with the support of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE). The focus is on researchers and innovative entrepreneurs.
Road traffic is responsible for around one third of Switzerland’s final energy consumption and for the same proportion of the country’s annual CO2 emissions. Use of alternative types of propulsion, such as fuel cells which generate electricity with hydrogen and oxygen, could contribute to lowering these values. To achieve a breakthrough on the market with this technology, it is important for the entire distribution chain to be established from the very start: from manufacturing hydrogen to distribution to filling stations to consumption by vehicles. This will circumvent the chicken or the egg dilemma which in this case says that without vehicles there will be no filling stations and vice versa. Three pilot projects are tackling this aspect of the topic and valuable experience is thus being gained in the use of hydrogen for mobility.
Thanks to the active glass façade with invisibly integrated photovoltaic cells, an apartment block at Schaffhauserplatz in Zurich has become an energy-plus building. The type of module employed is actually less efficient than today’s regular photovoltaic modules, however it has great potential because of the variety of situations in which it can be used. Addition of more energy-plus buildings to the grid also facilitates the use of new approaches to maintaining grid stability. An intelligent energy management system was used in the Schaffhauserplatz project to optimise consumption within the building.
In an electricity grid the balance between electricity generation and electricity consumption has to be maintained and this is done continuously by calling on the operating reserve. Swissgrid, the national grid operator, provides a secondary and tertiary operating reserve in blocks of 5MW. To ensure smaller capacity units can participate in this market, a number of such units are grouped together using a control pooling system.
In the REALYSE project a measuring system has been developed that can detect from the household’s overall load curve which electrical devices are being used at any time. This is made possible by the consumption characteristics of electrical devices, which could be likened to the human fingerprint. In the future this measuring system should make it possible to identify devices which consume large amounts of energy and to deliver recommendations for replacement of the devices with more efficient alternatives.
GreenTEG in Zurich manufactures mini-generators, which can generate electricity from temperature fluctuations. These thermoelectric generators (TEG) can be used for various technical applications. At present, GreenTEG is in the process of developing a TEG for use in an autonomous heating valve capable of controlling room temperature intelligently.
The renovation of two apartment blocks belonging to the 'Cigale' housing cooperative in Geneva is the largest building renovation project to be carried out in Switzerland compliant with the Minergy-P energy efficiency standard. Today the development can largely be supplied with heating and hot water generated using solar power – thanks to insulation throughout and an innovative heating system with integrated ice storage.
Glass façades, which feature widely in modern architecture, are a major challenge for construction specialists from the standpoint of energy efficiency. Researchers in Geneva and Ticino have now developed a mobile calorimeter to measure solar radiation. The G-Box, as it is called, measures the g-value of an area of glass – that is the proportion of solar energy which penetrates the transparent parts of the façade – on site inside the building.
Hansjörg Grob has realised a remarkable geothermal energy project in his market garden in the village of Schlattingen (TG). While drilling in 2013, he discovered a warm water aquifer at a depth of 1,200 meters that was suitable for his purpose. Beginning in 2014, market gardener Grob will be heating his greenhouses with terrestrial heat, thus largely substituting fossil energy carriers.
Today, fish ladders are used widely to allow fish to by-pass power plants and get to the higher reaches of rivers. It's not so easy for the fish to go downstream, as there is mostly no reliable means of passing the plant: when swimming downstream fish can easily get caught in turbines and die. In a research project at the ETH Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology in Zurich experiments are under way to study how fish could be guided past power plants using suitably constructed fish diversion rakes.
For the first time in Switzerland Geneva Public Transport (TPG) is using a battery-powered articulated bus on city passenger transport routes. Propulsion is provided by a small, and therefore lightweight battery, which is charged frequently over short periods throughout the journey, whenever the bus halts to pick up or set down passengers. This system provides a good alternative to trolleybuses, which need cumbersome overhead trolley wires, and to diesel buses.
Countless refrigerated shelves and freezers are in operation at large supermarkets and these run for 24 hours per day. The energy consumption of refrigerated installations can be reduced by up to 15% by installing a very simple module. This is demonstrated in a unique pilot project in Switzerland at the Migros branch in Bulle (FR). The technology used could well become very popular in commercial and industrial CO2 refrigeration.
The objective of the 'Swiss Inno HJT' project is to construct manufacturing facilities for innovative heterojunction technology (HJT) solar panels. The four partners in the project – Meyer-Burger, Roth & Rau Research, CSEM and Pasan – want to demonstrate how a module production chain would function. The project partners' intend to create the conditions necessary to manufacture the production machines required for the fabrication of HJT panels.