The winners of the 2014 Watt d'Or awards have been chosen! This year's trophies were presented to the winners on the occasion of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy's New Year's event that was held on 9 January 2014 in Bern. The following projects were chosen to receive the various awards (all of which are of equal value):
Efficient use of resources in dry cleaners and laundries
Swiss Association for Textile Care (VTS)
For dry cleaners and laundries, energy consumption is a significant cost factor. It is therefore hardly surprising that, under the guidance of the Swiss Energy Agency for Industry (EnAW), above all major laundries have been at the forefront for more than ten years when it comes to saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions. And now the Swiss Association for Textile Care (VTS) is helping smaller businesses save energy: since the end of April 2013 it has been providing them with a manual called "Efficient use of resources in dry cleaners and laundries" - a handbook that is easy to understand and contains numerous practical tips. Upon request, the VTS also provides practical assistance. Companies can visit the "proofit.ch" website where they can check their energy performance and compare their progress with that of other businesses with the aid of online benchmarking. The 2014 Watt d'Or in the "Society" category was awarded to the Swiss Association for Textile Care (VTS) for its services as a valuable partner in the field of clean and efficient textile care.
"Energy technologies" category
VARSPEED - variable speed storage pump
Kraftwerke Oberhasli AG
Switzerland's electricity supply is undergoing transition. A constantly increasing quantity of electricity produced from wind and solar energy is being fed into the network, often during periods when demand is low. Operating the electricity network safely and maintaining its stability also places high demands on control processes and technology during such periods, and pump storage power plants play a significant role here. Kraftwerke Oberhasli AG is currently adapting this tried-and-tested technology so that it can meet the challenges of the future. And in the process it has set a new world record: in March 2013, in its Grimsel 2 "Varspeed" power plant it put the most powerful frequency converter into operation that has ever been installed in a hydropower plant. With an output of 100 megawatts, it is as powerful as 1,000 cars and permits the much more efficient and flexible operation of Grimsel 2 pump storage power plant. The 2014 Watt d'Or in the "Energy technologies" category was awarded to Kraftwerke Oberhasli AG for its vision enabling conventional power plants equipped with Swiss state-of-the-art electronics from ABB to meet the challenges of the country's future electricity supply.
"Renewable energies" category
Plants convert sunlight into energy through photosynthesis, but the efficiency rate of this process of between 1 and 4 percent is surprisingly low. However, plants compensate for the relatively low energy yield in that photosynthesis takes place even during periods of very low light intensity, and thus functions from dawn to dusk. And this is precisely how the third generation of photovoltaics functions, namely dye-sensitised solar cell technology, also known as the Grätzel cell. In a technical photosynthesis process using light-sensitive dyes, these transparent cells produce electricity even in poorly lit surroundings. glass2energy SA (g2e), which is based in Villaz-St-Pierre in the canton of Fribourg, is the first company in the world to develop this technology to industrial maturity. Before long we can expect to see these attractive panels installed on the surfaces of furniture, and on walls, windows and facades. The 2014 Watt d'Or in the "Renewable energies" category was awarded to glass2energy SA, which is paving the way for inexpensive and aesthetic electricity production in the sophisticated world of the future.
"Energy-efficient mobility" category
Gas-diesel hybrid motor
Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich: Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control Engineering
Taking efficiency to peak levels: this is how the gas-diesel hybrid motor developed by the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control Engineering at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich can be characterised. This new car engine is so efficient that it only emits half the level of CO2 produced by conventional motors, namely around 56 grams per kilometre, which is equivalent to petrol consumption of 2.4 litres per 100 kilometres. The same team which had previously caused a sensation with its record-breaking hydrogen-powered Pac Car II and a pneumatic hybrid motor, has now come up with another groundbreaking invention. The gas-diesel hybrid motor has the potential to conquer the market within just five years if car manufacturers decide to adopt it. And with initial talks already being held with various industry partners, the prospects are good. The 2014 Watt d'Or in the "Energy-efficient mobility" category was awarded to the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control Engineering - an institution that constantly keeps one step ahead of the competition when it comes to efficiency.
"Buildings and space" category
Kirchrainweg 4a apartment building
Kirchrainweg AG - aardeplan AG - e4plus AG
Switzerland can certainly be described as a "high-powered" society: each of us consumes around 6,000 watts, which adds up to more than 52,000 kilowatt hours a year. Roughly half this figure is attributable to the energy that is required for the construction and operation of buildings. But at Kirchrainweg, which is located in the centre of Kriens (canton of Lucerne), in collaboration with the architects of aardeplan AG and a team of expert planners, building owners Marie-Theres and Markus Portmann have demonstrated that high levels of electricity consumption can be a thing of the past. The architecturally impressive new five-storey building is not only the first apartment building in central Switzerland to comply with the "Minergie-A ECO" standard, it also meets the targets of the "2040 Efficiency Path" of the Swiss Association of Engineers and Architects (SIA), and thus fulfils the requirements for constructing buildings in line with the vision of a "2,000-watt society". Thanks to the comprehensive approach to sustainability, aesthetics, economic operation and comfort, in combination with the use of smart technologies, this building produces more energy throughout the year than it actually consumes. The 2014 Watt d'Or in the "Buildings and space" category was awarded to Marie-Theres and Markus Portmann and aardeplan AG for a building designed and constructed for an energy-efficient future.