Modelling and assessing energy and climate strategies for Switzerland

A special issue on modelling climate policy in Switzerland has been published in the Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics. Under the umbrella of the Swiss Energy Modelling Platform (SEMP), five modelling teams have contributed to assessing the economic and technological consequences of reaching Swiss emission targets up to 2050.

The minimal realization of electronic synchronous machines

With the recent changes in energy-production and with the extensive penetration of renewables into distribution networks, the power system models are again under close evaluation. In this project we study to what extent power electronics can replace rotating machines on a large scale and look into ways the energy transition could be performed seamlessly.

Scenarios for a low-CO2 Swiss energy system

The Joint Activity Scenarios & Modelling (JASM) bundles the knowledge of all eight Swiss Competence Centers for Energy Research (SCCER) to generate scenarios, evaluating how Switzerland can substantially reduce its CO2 emissions in the energy sector.

Bounded rationality in attitudes towards replacement of inefficient appliances: Evidence from Nepal

Bounded rationality is an important behavioral failure responsible for the energy-efficiency gap, whereby consumers underinvest in energy-efficient technologies. One means of addressing this is by improving the energy-related financial literacy of households, defined as the combination of energy knowledge and cognitive abilities needed in order for decision-makers to make sound choices with respect to investment in durables.

Systematic environmental assessment of global power generation

Reliable and affordable energy supply is the backbone of today's societies. It comes at a cost, though: Emissions into air, water and soil pollute the environment and cause diseases among humans. For balancing benefits and drawbacks of modern power generation globally, the Ecological Systems Design group at ETH Zürich develops new assessment approaches that combine the large amounts of available data and fill the gaps.

99% Efficient Isolated Three-Phase PFC Rectifier

Data centers, which are key elements of the worldwide information processing and communication infrastructure are estimated to consume 300 TWh annually, which equals a continuous dissipation of 34 GW. Accordingly, DC power distribution systems with a bus voltage of 400 V are introduced in next generation datacenters to provide significant improvements in terms of efficiency, reliability and cost. However, these systems require rectifiers to supply the dc load from the existing three-phase mains when local generation from renewable sources is not sufficient.

Impact of Human Behaviour on Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

Within the context of different energy transition pathways for the city of St. Gallen, Switzerland, the Laboratory for Energy Conversion is conducting holistic assessments that account for different technological, economic, societal, and political drivers.

Highly Efficient 10kV SiC-Based Solid-State Transformers

The increasing number of high-power DC applications such as data centers or electric vehicle charging facilities demand for highly efficient and highly compact Medium-Voltage (MV) connected DC power supplies. Novel 10kV SiC power semiconductors enable the realization of Solid-State Transformers (SSTs) featuring a supreme efficiency and power density compared to conventional MV-AC-to-400V-DC solutions.

Smart Monitoring, Inspection and Life-Cycle Assessment of Wind Turbines

Within an ERC starting grant award on the topic of “Smart Monitoring, Inspection and Life-Cycle Assessment of Wind Turbines”, the chair of structural mechanics is leading a comprehensive measurement campaign on a field wind turbine in Winterthur, Switzerland.

Design Optimization of Desanding Facilities for Hydropower Schemes

Hydro-abrasive turbine wear caused by sediments in the water has negative effects on hydroelectric power generation. Desanding facilities are adequate countermeasures, but often do not meet the design requirements. An improved design concept was developed using both numerical simulations and field experiments to limit scale effects with fine sediment modelling.

NEST HiLo: thermal activation of a lightweight structural floor element

A/S Research Group develops a thermally active building system for a vaulted floor element that allows to harness energy from low temperature sources while at the same time ensuring thermal comfort of the occupants.

Exploring the need for natural gas in the Swiss power system

Many future electricity scenarios, including those developed for the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), use natural gas to bridge the transition to renewables. But such scenarios are inconsistent with the need to completely decarbonize energy supply. In this study we examined whether natural gas is indeed necessary or useful.

Progress Towards Designed Membranes For All-Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries

Grid-scale storage of electricity is vital in energy scenarios with a high share of renewable electricity generation, such as wind and solar power. Redox flow batteries are particularly suited for intra-day time-shifting storage applications, yet investment costs need to be lowered for economic viability of the technology.

Capturing usage patterns of a comprehensive Mobility-as-a-Service offer with GPS-tracking – First results from the SBB Green Class project

In 2017, the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB CFF FFS) launched the SBB Green Class[1] project, a one-year pilot study in which 140 participants across Switzerland were offered a comprehensive Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) package, containing (among others) a general public transport pass valid in the entire country (GA) and an electric car (BMW i3). In order to assess the customers’ reactions to this unprecedented offer, the participants were tracked with a smartphone application for the entire project duration. The resulting data were processed and analyzed by the Mobility Information Engineering (MIE) Lab[2] at the Chair of Geoinformation Engineering[3], ETH Zurich, with a particular focus on assessing the potential of such mobility packages for inducing more sustainable transportation behavior.

Enhanced Fretting Fatigue Resistance of Conductors for High Voltage Overhead Lines (CONFAT)

While overhead-line electricity transmission grids are generally well established in Europe, and there is not a big incentive to install new or replace existing conductors, there is a high interest in improving reliability and maximising current flow with minimum impact on operating lifetime. This is the focus of the CONFAT project.

Hydro-abrasive erosion in Pelton turbines: monitoring, prediction and mitigation

Hydraulic turbines are eroded by sediment-laden high-speed flow. Turbine erosion has negative effects on the cost of electricity production and on the energy efficiency. To mitigate these negative effects, the sediment load, turbine erosion and efficiency were monitored in a case study and a prediction model was calibrated.

From Location Tracking to Personalized Eco-Feedback: 
Results from the GoEco! Study

Todays modern smartphones are not only widely used, but also often equipped with GPS receivers and other sensors to allow constant monitoring of their users’ locations and in some cases even recognition of their activities. For this reason, these mobile devices are of particular interest for transport and mobility, where detailed movement data are needed not only for urban planning and smart city-related activities, but can also be of use for providing individual users with feedback and suggestions for personal behavior change.

Measuring energy policy mixes’ content

Public policy plays an important role in incentivizing a transition of the energy sector towards technologies with low greenhouse gas emissions. However, measuring policy is not easy – especially as policy instruments interact in policy mixes. ETH Zurich’s Energy Politics Group (EPG) has developed a new method of measuring policy content and built a database to analyze the energy policy mixes of various OECD and non-OECD countries.

Narrowing the energy efficiency gap: The impact of educational programs, online support tools and energy-related investment literacy

A higher adoption rate of energy-efficient appliances is expected to contribute towards improvement in energy efficiency within the residential sector. In this study, we explore the possibility that an improvement of the consumers' energy-related investment literacy increases the probability that households identify the most cost-effective appliance.

Alternative synthetic perspectives for CO2 hydrogenation towards liquid chemical energy carriers

Synthetic liquid fuels are ideal vectors for the distribution and storage of sustainable energy, allowing the exploitation of the actual infrastructure for fossil hydrocarbons. Such chemical energy carriers can be synthesised from recycled CO2 and H2 produced from intermittent renewable electrical power provided robust catalysts are developed.

Experiments and modelling of rate-dependent transition delay in a stochastic subcritical bifurcation

A recent publication of the CAPS laboratory studies the complex dynamics of a lab-scale combustor subject to thermoacoustic instability. This phenomenon is a recurrent issue in constant pressure combustor -such as gas turbines, aeronautical engines or rockets- which can lead to catastrophic failures of the combustion system. This instability can arise suddenly, if the operating condition of the machine is varied. The study answers the question: how fast can I change the operating condition, to be able to go back to a safe point in case the system runs into a dangerous condition?

Surveying the ice volume of glaciers – a shrinking resource for hydropower exploitation – with helicopter-borne ground penetrating radar

Melt water from glaciers makes a significant contribution to the overall discharge of Swiss rivers, especially during hot and dry summers. Consequently, the reduction of the ice volume in the Alps due to the ongoing melting of glaciers will have a strong impact on many fields including the electricity production from hydropower. For predicting the future discharge of rivers, a good knowledge of today’s ice volumes and the topography of the underlying bedrock is crucial. For obtaining this information, we have developed a helicopter-borne ground penetrating radar (GPR) system and a data processing software suite.

Coordination and Optimization of Run-of-River Hydropower Plants

Run-of-river hydropower plants can supply much needed flexibility to the power system. As wind turbines and solar panels supplant nuclear, coal, and natural gas generation, the flexibility from run-of-river hydropower can help keep the electricity grid balanced, stable, and secure.

Electrical Insulation Challenges in Future Smart Grids: Power Electronics Meets High-Voltage Technology

Traditionally, most high-voltage insulation systems in electrical power transmission applications are stressed with DC or 50 Hz AC voltage. This article provides a short summary on the challenges associated with high-voltage insulation system design for applications with non-conventional waveforms occurring in medium-voltage converters or inverter-fed loads.

Nudging the Poor and the Rich – A Field Study on the Distributional Effects of Green Electricity Defaults

Choice defaults have become an increasingly popular and seemingly inexpensive public policy tool. Yet, there is scant knowledge on the distributional consequences of such nudges for different groups in society. A field study with a Swiss utility provides novel empirical findings highlighting the need for a careful evaluation of choice defaults.

Optimal control of HVDC links for enhancing power system stability

The property of an AC power network to return to a stable equilibrium point and synchronism after a disturbance is known as rotor-angle stability or transient stability. Maintaining transient stability becomes increasingly challenging due to the growing share of non-synchronous converterbased generation from renewables in the power network.

Ultra-compact and highly efficient battery interface for traction applications

Approximately one-third of the worldwide primary energy is consumed in the transport sector. In order to reduce the environmental impact of the transportation, alternative propulsion systems as for example hybrid electric vehicles are investigated. Such concepts enable amongst others to recuperate energy during braking, which reduces the total energy consumption. This project looks at an ultra-compact and highly efficient battery interface for traction applications.

Split battery energy storage: more than the just the sum of its parts

What if we told you, that splitting a 5 mega-watt-hour battery energy storage system into 24 smaller blocks, each large enough to supply over 30 households for a whole day, can improve its energy efficiency by 5%? It’s true, and it’s all in the power electronics!

Energy Efficiency of an Electrodynamically Levitated Hyperloop Pod

The team Swissloop, formed by 40 ETH students, achieved the remarkable 3rd place in 2017-finals of the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. In order to provide a scientific foundation and further improvements of a magnetically levitated “Hyperloop” vehicle (pod), a research project has been conducted at the Power Electronic Systems Laboratory.

Strategic Questions in the Oil Market

The Center for Security Studies (CSS) has just published a CSS Policy Analysis on the political and security effects of recent changes in the global oil market. Two trends seem to dominate the debate: The emergence of “peak demand” and an apparent investment gap in the oil sector.

Optimal Renewables Portfolio to Achieve 45% Renewable Electricity in Central Europe by 2030

Unlike the EU’s 2020 energy strategy, in its 2030 energy strategy, the EU seeks to achieve a target of 45% renewable-generated electricity with no binding national targets for each member state. This leaves opens the question of what is the optimal allocation of new renewable installations across Europe?

A New Player in Grid-Level Stationary Energy Storage – Efficient and Low Cost Aluminum Chloride-Natural Graphite Battery

A new rechargeable aluminum chloride-graphite battery was designed using processed natural graphite flakes in its cathode. The major performance metrics – energy density (up to 62 Wh kg-1 ), power density (500-1000 W kg-1 ), energy efficiency (90%) and long cycling life (>5000 cycles without capacity loss) – are ideal for grid-level stationary energy storage.

Modelling the System Adequacy of the Swiss Electricity Supply

The Research Centre for Energy Networks (ETH Zurich) in collaboration with the Research Center for Sustainable Energy and Water Supply (FoNEW, University of Basel) recently published the results of a study on the System Adequacy the Swiss electricity sector. The aim of the study was to develop a comprehensive concept for the evaluation of security of supply over all relevant time periods, which take into account the strategic decisions of federal policy.

Forecasting Local Consumption Patterns Based on Smart Meter Data and Neural Networks

The roll-out of Smart Meters in electric distribution grids allows grid operators to attain grid transparency, i.e. detailed visibility of the status of their grid infrastructure. Artificial neural networks are trained on Smart Meter data in order to provide highly localised yet accurate short-term predictions of both electricity consumption and photovoltaic production patterns.

Energy Harvesting for Next Generation Freight Trains

Remote sensors and actuators are gaining in importance for the Internet of Things (IoT) and energy harvesting could power these systems directly at the location of consumption. In distributed systems or in harsh environments, e.g. sensors/actuators on a freight train car, this allows improving reliability and efficiency, while decreasing costs.

Potential for future hydropower plants (HPPs) in Switzerland

Climate change leads to glacier retreat in the Swiss Alps. New potential locations for HPP reservoirs become ice-free, and additional meltwater from glaciers may be available for production. Seven potential future site would have enough technical potential to achieve the interim goal of Energy Strategy 2050 concerning electricity supply.

Autonomous Decision Trees for Real-Time Monitoring and Diagnostics of Wind Turbines

Owners, operators and manufacturers of wind turbines (WTs) spend significant resources on discovering root causes of faults in components on WTs. The Chair of Structural Mechanics is developing a software-hardware solution for the smart monitoring of WTs, which is based on data fusion and self-training capabilities.

Safe operations of interdependent gas and electric systems

Gas and electric networks are characterized by strong interdependencies, which occur at the level of gas-fired power plants and electric compressors. Due to the increasing exploitations of gas as energy resource to balance fluctuating renewables, the operations of these infrastructures are increasingly coupled. Therefore, combined gas and electric analysis becomes necessary.

The Internet of things – An example of optimized transportation for transporting beverage consumables

Applications of Internet of Things are wide, from home automation to industrial operations. An Industrial Internet of Things solution developed by an ETH spin-off (Smart Home Technology GmbH) is aiming to connect beverage tanks to the Internet and optimize the transportation of beverage consumables.

Bioethanol from wood – The solution for a sustainable fuel supply in Switzerland?

Second generation bioethanol made from lignocellulosic biomass, like e.g. wood, offers great opportunities for a sustainable supply of liquid fuels. In collaboration with the Berner Fachhochschule the group of Prof. Rudolf von Rohr is developing a novel biorefinery concept to make biofuel production in Switzerland possible.

Optimal Integration of Distributed Battery Storage in Low Voltage Grids

Distributed Battery Storage (DBS) in Low Voltage (LV) grids is an attractive solution for house owners to increase their self-consumption from photovoltaics (PV) and for Distribution System Operators (DSOs) to defer line upgrades. This project aims at finding and quantifying optimal operating and planning schemes for DBS and for different business cases.

What electricity future do informed Swiss citizens prefer?

On May 21, 2017, Swiss citizens voted for the implementation of the Energy Strategy 2050 and thus broadly approved the national focus on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and nuclear phaseout. Yet, the question remains: how exactly should the electricity generation portfolio of the future look like in the eyes of the Swiss citizens?

The City Energy Analyst (CEA): An Open Source Toolbox for the Analysis of Urban Energy Systems

At Singapore-ETH Centre’s Future Cities Laboratory the Chair of Architecture and Building Systems conducts research on efficient technologies and planning concepts for emission-free buildings and cities, taking the particular spatial and climatic challenges of Singapore into account. The City Energy Analyst (CEA) is an example of a novel computational approach that empowers planners to improve the energy efficiency of their urban projects.

Next Generation Catalysts for Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells

Electric vehicles powered by hydrogen polymer electrolyte fuel cells are one option to move towards a low emission transport sector. To decrease the cost of such devices, further research on the various fuel cell components is pursued in academia in industry.

Electricity storage through air compression in the Swiss Alps

Electricity is increasingly generated from renewable sources like solar and wind. Because these sources are not available around the clock, it is necessary to store electricity. Researchers from ETH and other institutions are exploring the storage of electricity by storing compressed air in caverns in the Swiss Alps.

Avoiding Fatigue Cracks in High Temperature Power Plants Components

The extension of pre-existing or in-service generated defects by fatigue can be avoided in high temperature power plant components by informed mechanical analysis which fully acknowledges the influences of oxidation and creep interactions. This is the focus of the HTFCGT (Fatigue Crack Growth Threshold Stress Intensity Factors in Power Plant Materials at High Temperatures) project.

Ninjas serve open data, enabling new insights for the energy transition

The world’s electricity systems are rapidly evolving with the deployment of weather-dependent solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind generation. Yet their variability at different scales is still poorly understood. The project is addressing this gap and making the resulting high-quality, validated PV and wind simulations freely available online.

Water quality changes by hydropower reservoirs

Today, half of the global runoff is passing through reservoirs and this fraction is increasing. A new project addresses the question how hydropower schemes are changing downstream water quality.

Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies through policy combinations

Fossil fuel subsidies have major economic and environmental downsides. ETH Zurich’s Energy Politics Group (EPG) aims at identifying strategies that can overcome the political, economic and technological lock-in that make subsidy reform so difficult.

3D GIS for planning electric power systems

Europe’s energy suppliers need to expand or renew their grid to provide decentralized energy supply and to fulfill future requirements concerning grid stability. But where should future power lines be located? The current project of ETH Zurich tackles this issue by developing a 3D Decision Support System (3D DSS).

Simulating Complex Turbulent Combustion in Novel Gas Turbine Combustors

A research project focusing on sequential combustion technologies for gas turbine applications is conducted at the CAPS laboratory. These new systems will respond to the more and more pressing demand for increased fuel and operational flexibility. One of the main scientific challenges is to reliably simulate these turbulent reacting flows.

Unlocking the Geothermal Energy Hidden Inside the Earth: Seismic Properties as a Function of Reservoir Conditions

In contrast to other renewable energy resources, geothermal reservoirs are hidden at several kilometers depth beneath our feet. During the past decades, seismic exploration methods have been established as a common non-invasive tool to observe the Earth’s interior. To enable the investigation of geothermal reservoirs with seismic techniques, we have established how seismic parameters are linked with the hydraulic permeability of the rocks and the energetic state of the saturating fluids.

Evaluating Reserves Performance for Aiding Renewable Electricity Integration

The goal of this work is to compare the costs and performance metrics of various reserve dimensioning methods and develop suggestions for optimal new methods that also account for integration of renewables.

Optimizing the Chilled Ammonia Process for CO2 Capture

The Chilled Ammonia Process (CAP) is a CO2 capture technology that enables drastic emission reductions from power plants and from CO2- intensive industries. The possible formation of solid NH4 HCO3 represents an operational challenge, but also an opportunity for lowering cost and energy penalty. Our project aims at enhancing the performance of the CAP through controlled solid formation.

Modelling Solutions for a More Energy Efficient Future of Buildings

To realize the goals of the Swiss Energy Strategy 2050, buildings have to become more energy efficient and the share of renewable energy sources have to increase. This requires solutions to optimally transform buildings through combined retrofitting and renewable energy solutions and to make them fit for the integration into multi-energy networks.

Higher Price, Lower Costs? Introducing Minimum Carbon Prices in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme

While emissions trading systems (ETS) have become centerpieces of market-based environmental regulation in many countries, they suffer from two major issues. First, they typically cover only a subset of emissions thereby undermining static cost-effectiveness of pollution control as marginal abatement costs are not equalized across all sources.

Humans in the Loop: A Joint Approach for Technical Optimization and Behavioral Participation for Building Energy Efficiency

Efficient building energy management has attracted a great interest due to significant potential energy savings. One obvious challenge is how to combine the efforts by engineers on improving the energy management system with approaches of social scientists to integrate the occupants actively in the energy management system.

Estimating the Savings Potential of Smart Household Thermostats

Heating is the main contributor to energy consumption in households. However, many heating systems still run on fixed schedules, ignoring the fact that heating is in principle only necessary when the home is occupied. Modern sensor-based smart thermostats try to optimize this situation. But when do the expected savings justify the installation of occupancy-aware systems?

IT-Enabled Behavior Change at the Water-Energy Nexus

Traditional approaches to foster resource conservation include efficiency (infrastructure) upgrades, price increases, and information campaigns. In the past few years, behavioral interventions have received attention as politically feasible and cost-effective alternative solution. A field study with 2120 participants in Singapore assesses the effectiveness of real-time feedback to mitigate water scarcity.

Protecting Consumer Privacy in the Age of the Smart Meter

The advent of the smart meter in electricity grids opens the door to new grid management opportunities. However, information derivable from the resultant high-resolution data raise concerns regarding consumer privacy. Using energy storage and local generation, this project aims to protect consumer privacy, while preserving the benefits of smart meters.

Sustainable Waste and Secondary Resource Management to Support the Energy Turnaround (wastEturn)

wastEturn aims to optimise the contribution of Swiss waste management to the “Energy Turnaround”, that is, the shift from non-renewable to renewable sources and reduction in overall energy consumption. The project looks beyond direct energy contribution by also analysing indirect savings, while considering environmental performance, financial viability, and political feasibility.

Radical innovation for low energy concrete structures

“Low Energy Concrete”, a project supported by SNF, has been set-up to look into the improvement potential of building materials by developing low-energy construction products. A new generation of Portland cement with clinker substitution up to 65% has been defined, able to decrease up to 60% the energy needed for manufacturing.

Temperature Dependent Capacity Utilization for Enhanced Reliability of Overhead-lines

The TeKaF project (German acronym for temperature dependent capacity utilization for overhead-lines) aims to increase reliability, safety, and capacity of the Swiss electric transmission grid. As the electrical power transfer is increasing, a dynamic evaluation of the maximum transmission capacity of the existing overhead-lines is desired. The maximum current and thus the resulting conductor temperature is influenced by local weather conditions.

How efficient are Swiss households?

Energy efficiency is one of the pillars of the ’Energy Strategy 2050’ and therefore an important issue next to new renewables. However, how efficient are we already now? At the Centre for Energy Policy and Economics (CEPE) we try to answer this question at least for households.

Integrated Energy Systems Modelling Platform (Nexus)

The objective of this project is to develop an integrated modelling platform for assessing energy systems that cuts across the boundaries of established fields of knowledge by combining existing and new models. The Nexus project aims to study complex and interdisciplinary questions about the impact of technical, socio-economic and political decisions on the performance of the future energy system

Integration of RES in the Swiss distribution grid

The ISCHESS project studies the optimal transformation of the Swiss energy supply towards a more sustainable system through the integration of Renewable Energy Sources (RES). The first project phase evaluates the impact of RES at the Swiss distribution grid level. The second project phase extends the study to the national scale of the Swiss transmission grid.

Electrical Energy Storage in Private Households – A Curse or a Blessing?

Storing electrical energy in private households becomes increasingly popular. If many households still demand electricity from the grid, there is a destabilizing effect due to variable quantities of privately produced electricity. On the other hand, private production unburdens the grid. Is private households’ energy storage hence a curse or a blessing?

Cost Benefit Analysis of Smart Grids

This project focuses on fundamental, cross-cutting issues that will provide a better understanding of Smart Grid ecosystems among stakeholders. It seeks to establish interfaces with existing networks/initiatives, establishing synergies and avoiding duplication of ongoing activities.

Die Zukunft der Energiespeicher: Trends und offene Fragen

Speicherung hat schon immer eine wichtige Rolle im Energieversorgungssystem gespielt. Während die Speicherung fossiler Energien (beispielsweise Öl, Kohle und bis zu einem gewissen Grad Erdgas) einigermassen einfach bewerkstelligt werden kann, so ist die direkte Speicherung von Elektrizität nicht möglich.

Energy in Global Security Policies

Low oil prices, changes in natural gas market structures and a whole set of new suppliers: Global energy markets have seen massive changes over the last five years. This also changes the geopolitical constellation of supplier and consumer countries – new security challenges are emerging.

The Hybrid Transformer – Towards a Smarter Grid

Approximately one-third of the worldwide primary energy is consumed in the transport sector. In order to reduce the environmental impact of the transportation, alternative propulsion systems as for example hybrid electric vehicles are investigated. Such concepts enable amongst others to recuperate energy during braking, which reduces the total energy consumption. This project looks at an ultra-compact and highly efficient battery interface for traction applications.

Smart All-SiC Solid-State Transformers

Future applications such as high-speed trains or medium-voltage DC collecting grids for wind parks require a galvanic isolation between a medium-voltage system and a low-voltage system, yet the available space is constrained. Compared to conventional solutions employing conventional passive low-frequency transformers, solid-state transformers (SSTs) based on novel silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors provide supreme performance in terms of efficiency and power density.

Plug and Play Load Control for a Sustainable Distribution Grid

Demand-side management will play a key role for improving reliability and efficiency in an increasingly complex grid, balancing large demands, e.g., caused by electric vehicles. We develop techniques that automatically compute optimal load profiles, taking into account network and user requirements, and most importantly varying load connectivity.

Wind-Farm-Scale Measurements Using Mobile-Based LiDAR

45% of electricity generated from renewables by 2030 is targeted in Europe. As wind-generated electricity will be a substantial portion of this new generation, reducing the cost of wind-generated electricity is imperative. We have developed a novel large-scale measurement system that provides for optimised micrositing of wind turbines in new wind farms.

Price of Power System Stability

Control reserves are power generation or consumption entities that ensure balance of supply and demand of electricity in real-time. The reserves are procured through a market mechanism in which entities provide bids on power capacities and corresponding prices. We have been developing game theory, control and optimization methods to address efficiency of these markets.

Large-Scale Simulation of Cloud Cavitation Collapse

Reduction in CO2 emission of internal combustion engines is of paramount importance. Efficient combustion requires precise liquid fuel injection control and enhanced fuel-air mixing. This implies high injection pressures which cause undesired cavitation phenomena. Simulations of cloud cavitation collapse are performed to gain detailed insights into this deleterious process.

Deep large-scale underground experiments for the development of Deep Geothermal Energy

Deep Geothermal Energy is a fundamental component of the Energy Strategy 2050 of Switzerland – expected to produce at least 7% of the present demand of electricity, or 4.4 TWh in 2050. To reach this target, we need to show that deep geothermal energy can be extracted safely and at competitive costs. To demonstrate this capacity, we initiated large-scale in-situ stimulation and circulation experiments in the Grimsel Test Site.

The risk of cascading failures in power systems

Economic activities strongly depend on critical energy infrastructures, e.g. the electric power system. Failures in the electric infrastructure not only cause power supply disruption, but also produce losses across the dependent economic sectors. This project models cascading failures in power systems and captures their impact to society and industrial sectors.

WINDMIL – Smart Monitoring, Inspection and Life-Cycle Assessment of Wind Turbines

ERC Starting Grant project WINDMIL aims to establish a smart framework for life-cycle assessment of Wind Turbines (WTs), guiding the management of these assets from cradle-to-grave. The project couples easily deployed and affordable sensor technology with state-of-the-art numerical modeling and data processing tools for diagnosing condition and predicting residual life.

Energy System Integration Platform goes into operation

Until the year 2050, the Swiss energy system is set to be restructured. The integration of electricity from photovoltaics and wind presents a major challenge to the power networks. With the Energy System Integration (ESI) Platform, an experimental platform is coming on line where promising approaches to the conversion and storage of renewable energy are brought together.

The hydraulics of low-level outlet structures of large dams

Bottom outlets are a key safety device of dams with the purpose of discharging water in a timely and quantitatively defined volume without causing damage. The high-velocity flow in bottom outlets requires sufficient aeration to avoid cavitation damage. This project aims at developing design guidelines to ensure the safe and reliable operation of bottom outlets.

Limiting climate change to 2°C requires zero CO2 emissions by the end of the century

In December 2015, the world’s governments have decided to limit global warming to well below 2°C relative to about 1850, and to pursue efforts towards an even lower target of 1.5°C. Climate scientists associated with the Energy Science Center are modeling both the climate impacts for such scenarios as well as the emission pathways that would be required to achieve those goals.

Defaults in Green Electricity Markets – Preference Match not Guaranteed

Defaults, nudging you into a specific behavior if no active choice is taken, are popular in various fields like for instance organ donation or healthy food displays. Several electric utilities have now started to sell green electricity via default contracts. Such defaults are intended to increase the demand for more environmentally friendly electricity.

Potential of biogenic combined heat and power generation in Switzerland: Project CHPswarm for power-on-demand

Project CHPswarm investigated the role, Combined Heat and Power (CHP) may play in the future Swiss energy system relying on biogenic fuels from sustainable biomass. CHP refers to an energy conversion process, producing both useful heat and electricity at the same time.

Hydroabrasion-resistant materials at sediment bypass tunnels and hydraulic structures

Sediment bypass tunnels (SBT) are subjected to severe invert abrasion due to high flow velocities and sediment transport causing considerable maintenance expenses. This project addresses this problem by testing various invert materials, their durability and life-cycle cost under field and lab conditions and hence contributes to sustainable operation of hydraulic structures.

Spallation drilling – a technology to boost the geothermal energy supply of Switzerland

In order to promote the development of geothermal energy production from deep resources, cost effective solutions to increase the drilling performance have to be developed. To this end, the research group of Prof. Rudolf von Rohr investigates a novel attempt to intensify conventional drilling processes, namely spallation drilling.

Redox flow power delivery and cooling (REPCOOL)

The research of the Laboratory of Thermodynamics in Emerging Technolgies (LTNT) into redox flow electrochemistry for power delivery and cooling proposes a paradigm shift in the way we power and cool computer components: Liquid redox electrolytes transported through microfluidic chips provide both power and cooling via the same fluidic pathways. Based on this concept, the integration density and energy efficiency of computers can be enhanced substantially.

Quantifying the emissions and environmental impacts from thermoelectric power plants globally

The impacts on ecosystem quality and human health caused by the thermoelectric power sector are numerous, bearing on local and global scales. The overarching aim of this project is to build a comprehensive georeferenced database of thermoelectric power plants and their emissions that will enable the comprehensive (bottom-up), spatially-explicit assessment of the environmental pressures due to power generation.

3for2 Beyond Efficiency – a new holistic design concept for tall office buildings in hot and humid climate zones

At Singapore-ETH Centre’s Future Cities Laboratory the Chair of Architecture and Building Systems conducts research on efficient technologies and planning concepts for emission-free buildings and cities, taking the particular spatial and climatic challenges of Singapore into account. 3for2 Beyond Efficiency is an example of a novel office building design concept.

Derisking Energy Access

Approximately 1.1 billion people lack access to electricity in developing countries. Innovation and related cost reductions in decentralized energy and storage technologies make off-grid electrification solutions an important approach to addressing the energy access gap. The DERISKING ELECTRICITY ACCESS project by ETH and UNDP analyses how public instruments can make such solutions attractive for private investors.

Enhanced Fretting Fatigue Resistance of Conductors for High Voltage Overhead Lines (CONFAT)

While overhead-line electricity transmission grids are generally well established in Europe, and there is not a big incentive to install new or replace existing conductors, there is an interest in improving reliability and maximising current flow with minimum impact on operating lifetime. This is the focus of the CONFAT project.

Advanced Power Semiconductor Laboratory (APS)

The Advanced Power Semiconductor (APS) Laboratory at the Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering of the ETH Zurich is building up a strong competence in novel power semiconductor devices based on wide band-gap (WBG) materials that represent the core of today’s energy efficient power electronics.


The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is home to the world’s largest petroleum reserves, and also its widest desert. There are sound technical and economic reasons for that desert becoming an important source of renewable energy. The DESERTECTION project in the Climate Policy group is aimed at understanding the social, political, and environmental challenges and opportunities of this happening.

Energy Storage in Chemicals

Electrical power produced by renewable energies can be chemically stored as hydrogen and other fuels via electrolysis. CO2 and H2O can be used in this context as feed in order to produce valuable chemical products, such as CO and hydrocarbon allowing storing excess energy by closing the CO2 cycle.

Swiss electricity transition and the changing risks to human health, safety, natural and built environment (RIGOROuS project)

Switzerland has decided to phase out nuclear power to reduce the residual risk of nuclear accidents. What are the risks to human health, safety, natural and built environment posed by the Swiss electricity portfolio after the nuclear phase-out? Where will these risks be located?

The Impact of Energy Labels on Purchases of Household Appliances

Energy-efficient appliances often seem to be overlooked by households although they offer net monetary savings. Increasing the energy efficiency of purchased household appliances would provide a double dividend: Financial profits for households as well as higher social welfare due to the reduction of negative externalities from the consumption of energy.

Tomorrow’s Sequential Combustion Technologies for Low Emissions and High Fuel Flexibility

A challenging research project conducted at the CAPS laboratory aims at addressing the problem of combustion instabilities in a new type of gas turbine combustion chamber. This technology step change is based on constant pressure sequential combustion architectures. It provides higher fuel flexibility (natural gas, but also bio- and syn(thetic)- gas), higher operational flexibility, and higher efficiency compared to conventional single stage combustion chambers.

Catalytic processes for carbon dioxide and natural gas valorization

The ultimate goal of this research is to upgrade abundant carbon dioxide and natural gas resources, connected with the largest greenhouse emissions from human activities, into valuable chemicals and fuels by means of sustainable catalytic routes.

GoEco! – Nudging People to Travel Sustainably

«How can I travel more sustainably?» - The GoEco! project of SUPSI and ETH Zurich tries to answer this, a question that many of us already ask ourselves. GoEco! uses a smartphone app to automatically track and assess travel choices, utilizing gamification elements to improve mobility behavior.

Polishing the lens for sharp images of the subsurface – Improving seismic exploration of natural resources

The adverse impact of the near-surface zone on seismic data is one of the long-standing problems in seismic exploration of hydrocarbon and geothermal reservoirs. The research conducted in the framework of the ETH-based industry-financed CARNEVAL consortium aims at providing new solutions to improve seismic reservoir imaging in challenging environments.

Post-Lithium-ion battery, a new generation of an energy storage system

The primary goal of this project is to explore promise and challenge of a new type of a high-energy-density post-Lithium-ion battery, with the potential to efficiently store and supply electricity in a renewable manner.

Assessing Future Energy Markets (AFEM)

The project objective is to identify and evaluate the performance of alternative designs for future electricity markets, including a continuation of the current market setting, in terms of their ability to meet the challenges created by the targets set in the Energy Strategy 2050.

Integration of sustainable Multi-Energy-hub Systems at neighbourhood scale (IMES)

This project will develop and provide a comprehensive simulation approach for decentralized power production, which tackles at the same time technical, economic and social issues.

Integration of stochastic renewables in the Swiss electricity supply system (ISCHESS)

This project studies the optimal transformation of the current Swiss energy supply towards a more sustainable system through the integration of renewable energy sources (RES).

CO2 Capture from Cement Plants (CEMCAP)

The primary objective of this project is to prepare the ground for large-scale implementation of CO2 capture in the European cement industry, which has committed itself to contributing to climate protection measures and therefore to curbing its CO2 emissions.

Promotion or steering-based energy policy (ProSTEP)

The ProSTEP project assesses and compares promotion- and steering-based regulatory instruments as envisaged in the context of the "Energy Strategy 2050" in terms of their socio-economic redistributive and efficiency effects.

Synergistic Energy and Comfort through Urban Resource Effectiveness (SECURE)

The design and renovation of new districts calls for new methods and tools that allow more effective use of the available resources (e.g. land area, solar gains, air flows) while optimizing energy consumption and comfort.

Optimal Energy Management of Buildings and Districts

Active building energy management is facing significant new challenges by the increased penetration of renewable sources to the grid, and the opportunity to cooperatively manage the energy demands of aggregated district buildings through an energy hub.

The Challenge Posed by Renewables –
 How Much Power Electronics Can the Grid Cope with?

Kick-off for MIGRATE: International project investigates requirements for Europe's future electricity grid.

Optimizing Environmental Flow Releases under Future Hydropower Operation (HydroEnv)

HydroEnv focuses on monitoring, modelling and optimizing environmental flow releases under future hydropower operation in Switzerland.

Hybrid HVAC/ HVDC Overhead Lines

This research project investigates the idea of converting existing multi-circuit AC transmission towers to hybrid AC/DC systems.

Dynamic Nuclear Polarization Surface Enhanced NMR Spectroscopy

Dynamic Nuclear Polarization Surface Enhanced NMR spectroscopy (DNP SENS) is developed as a powerful tool to characterize surface sites, used in energy research.

Deep Geothermal Energy: the St. Gallen project

A case study on the communication of risks and benefits, taking a “sender and receiver” model as framework.