Projects in Cluster Energy System Design

EU Heatwise

The HEATWISE project aims to tackle various thermal management challenges in tertiary buildings with a significant IT load. The project has specific objectives to develop and validate (to TRL 4 and 5) its technological innovation in two interrelated aspects: for IT system equipment in facility rooms and for a complete building management level. The innovation toward achieving energy efficiency and thermal management optimization follows up on a detailed thermal need analysis framework and theoretical validation, and is fulfilled through four novel solutions: i) Hybrid future-proof cooling hardware solution for high-density data processing based on two-phase dielectric liquid cooling and air immersion ii) Digital twin-supported holistic high-density data processing management system with a smart workload orchestration system, iii) Integrated multi-objective building energy management system covering both IT equipment needs and human presence, and iv) Self-assessment tool for energy management needs in tertiary buildings with power-intensive IT systems. On top of that, the project will develop a knowledge-sharing platform to showcase potential improvement pathways in energy optimization of tertiary buildings and maximize the project's impact.
Our Lab's involvement in the Project: Lead WP7 "Developing integrated, multi-objective energy management systems" WP7 Objectives: The main goal of WP7 is to design a novel, integrated, multi-objective energy management system for waste heat utilisation of power intensive IT systems and their host buildings. The multi-objective includes optimization of costs, emissions, comfort, etc. The objectives of WP7 are as follows: (i) to define key performance objectives and indicators for efficient energy management system (ii) to analyse and design the energy management system considering server rooms and multi-vector interactions, (iii) to develop and validate optimal control strategies considering heat gain from various sources (appliances, humans, data centres) (iv) to provide guidelines and recommendation for the design, implementation and control of novel multi-objective energy management systems with server rooms and micro data centres.
Funding body: SBFI, EU
Contact: Philipp Heer


The goal of this project is to design an integrated energy planning process for a net-zero 2050, applying the latest insights from the digital twin concept and using the smart meter data from Frauenfeld. The focus is on finding a cost-minimum solution for net zero CO2 emissions, taking into account the synergy potential between different sectors, industries and households and their development and renovation scenarios. This work will benefit from the scenario analysis of the VSE Energy Future 2050 and these scenarios will be adapted in the context of Frauenfeld.
Funding body: Thurplus 
Contact: Chen Yi-Chung Barton


SWEET Co-Evolution and Coordinated Simulation of the Swiss Energy System and Swiss Society (Cosi)
With the progress of SWEET, the need to coordinate and extend the oftentimes technology centered model-based research to an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research collaboration has arisen. Providing scenario structures and identifying insights from simulation results requires approaches that go beyond technical perspectives. Including political, regulatory, and societal frameworks, as well as actors’ decision making and behavior into models, and considering new market designs and business models call for a transdisciplinary approach, bringing together the expertise of natural sciences/engineering, business/economics, and social science/humanities (SSH). The ambition of CoSi (Co-Evolution and Coordinated Simulation of the Swiss Energy System and Swiss Society) is to extend the model and simulation-based assessments to account for SSH research and the co-evolution of the energy systems and society to answer how Switzerland can conduct a successful energy transition. Empa-UESL is involved in WP1.1 Crossdat and WP2.3.2 Validation of new models with increased SSH component.
Funding body: BFE, Industry
Partner: UBas, UBe, UGe, ULu, UniNE, UniSG, EPFL, ETHZ, HES-SO, HSLU, OST, PSI, ZHAW, Industry
Contact: Binod Koirala
Involved Group: MES


Erbringung einer energetischen Analyse des BBL Gebäudeparks (BBL)
The overall objective of this project is to obtain an energy overview of the BBL building stock and to derive measures for the portfolio management to achieve the decarbonization goals. First, the thermal heating and cooling demand, the electricity and hot water demand will be determined before an analysis of the possible technologies provides information on the optimal system selection. For the creation of a complete building database, a methodological approach will be developed to estimate missing building and energy data. With the help of clustering methods, the building portfolio is analyzed and divided into different building groups (archetypes). For the most important archetypes, further energy optimizations are carried out with the E-Hub software in order to calculate the optimal renovation measures and the optimal operation of the buildings. Proposals for the implementation and planning of goal-oriented strategic scenarios to achieve the emission target according to the Energy Strategy 2050+ will be documented in a final report and the models will be made available on the Sympheny Platform.
Funding body: Bundesamt für Bauten und Logistik (BBL)
Partner: Urban Sympheny AG
Contact: Natasa Vulic 
Involved Group: MES


Integrated Energy system planning for ESP Sisslerfeld
Decarbonization of the built-environment is a critical element of the Swiss energy strategy 2050. Decarbonization requires solutions such as increased integration of renewables, enhanced efficiency through electrification and utilized synergies by sector coupling, which spans multiple sectors and infrastructures. In this context, the project's overall objective is to design a continuous integrated energy planning process for net zero ESP Sisslerfeld in 2040, applying the latest digital twin concepts. The focus is on finding a cost-minimized solution for net zero CO2 emissions, taking into account the synergy potential between various sectors, industries and households and their development. It spans over Eiken, Münchwilen, Sisseln and Stein villages and borders with Rhein River. Canton of Aargau has identified it as a focus development area (ESP) with high economic potential. Together with the stakeholders, visions are being developed for the ESP Sisslerfeld 2040+. The availability of large undeveloped surfaces (approx. 85 ha.), as well as a high-tech industry, provides strong opportunities for integrated planning of energy and mobility as well as sustainability measures. Furthermore, CO2 negative technologies shall be considered, such as carbon capture and storage/utilization (sequestration in building materials and plant carbon, etc.) to achieve the net zero goal. A special focus is on the supply with CO2-free energy for heating and cooling and increasing the share of electricity from local renewable sources. The multi-energy network infrastructure and use of the synergy potential among various technologies are central to this.
Funding body: NCCR Automation
Partner: Living Lab Association of Sisslerfeld
Contact: Binod Koirala and Michel Obrist
Involved Group: MES


Swiss Center of Excellence on Net-Zero Emissions (SCENE): High-resolution quantification of flexibility at archetype building and district scale (WP6-T5):
The future decarbonized energy system is expected to increasingly rely on electricity. This will require advanced flexibility mechanisms along the entire electricity supply chain as well as new technical solutions outside the electricity sector. In this project, the goal is to analyze the coordinated deployment of flexibility options in view of the net zero emissions target in 2050 on Swiss national scale and local/regional level. Beyond techno-economic modelling, socio-economic research will investigate the preferences of consumers for new energy supply systems and the feasibility of demand-side flexibility and seasonal storage options. We contribute in advancing modelling of flexibility options at the archetype building and district scale for an optimized analysis of district-scale storage solutions (including hydrogen) with respect to an increased electrification of heat and mobility as well as district heating and cooling options.
Funding body: ETH Domain (ETH-Rat)
Partners: PSI, WSL, Eawag, ETH Zürich (ETHZ), EPFL; Agroscope, Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects (SIA)
Contact: Martin Rüdisüli
Involved group: MES


Geothermal-based Optimized Energy Systems (GOES)
The current design of energy systems lacks standardization and transferability. Similar challenges were successfully addressed in other industries via a platform-based design (PBD) approach. Applying the PBD approach to energy systems has a significant impact potential. It will enable rapid and transferable innovations and implementations at different scales for energy system transformations from the subsurface to the city scale. The holistic approach will lead to the cost-optimal integration of geothermal energy in existing and new urban areas. And most importantly, it leads to a significant CO2 emission reduction of heating and cooling supply. The PBD defines the interfaces between the scales and standardizes the information exchange between different levels of abstraction and thus enables the effective implementation of Geothermal-based Optimized Energy Systems (GOES). The PBD framework will be developed, validated, and applied by the highly interdisciplinary and transnational consortium using four pilot -and five case study sites
Funding body: BFE (ERA-Net)
Contact: Robin Mutschler
Involved groups: MES


SWEET: Decarbonisation of Cooling and Heating in Switzerland (DecarbCH)
The DeCarbCH project addresses the colossal challenge of decarbonization of heating and cooling in Switzerland within three decades and it prepares the grounds for negative CO2 emissions. The overall objective of the project (with the ultimate target of net zero emissions) is to facilitate, speed up and de-risk the implementation of renewables for heating and cooling in the residential sector (for various scales and degrees of urbanization) as well as for the service and the industry sector - by providing guidance on which combinations of technologies to implement where, to which extent and when - by developing, piloting and demonstrating combinations of commercially viable technologies thereof, consequently helping to drive down the cost of renewable heating and cooling in all sectors - by conducting model-based analyses that support planning, inter alia by the development of scenarios representing the supply, distribution and demand of renewable heating and cooling services - by quantifying the value of both renewable heating and cooling as well as of negative CO2 emissions - by providing evidence-based guidance on how to enable the implementation of renewable heating and cooling by policies and by legal measures as well as by engaging with the relevant actors and ensuring the necessary level of acceptance. The DeCarbCH project focusses on three main components, i.e. i) advanced renewable energy and transformation technologies, ii) thermal grids (for heating and cooling) and iii) energy storage. For these, we establish optimal combinations (in technical, economic and environmental terms) as well as necessary and desirable conditions for their implementation. A solution-oriented, interdisciplinary approach is applied for the project as a whole and within each work package. The work packages deal with subsystems (e.g. WP3 on grids in combination with renewables and energy storage, WP4/WP10 on industry and WP5/WP11 on primarily standalone renewable energy-driven system solutions), they represent case studies (WP6 for Zurich and WP7 for Romandie) or they apply specific approaches (legal and socio-economic integration in WP2/WP9 and energy system modelling in WP1/WP8), leading to recommendations for policy makers and other stakeholders.
Funding body: BFE, Industry
Partners: UniGE, ETH, HSLU, UniGE, CREM, ZHAW, HEIG-VD, SUPSI, INDP, Industry
Contact: Matthias Sulzer


SWEET: Improve renewable energy system efficiency through flexibility and sector coupling (PATHFNDR) 
In the PATHFNDR project, we will investigate how to incorporate a much higher share of renewable energy sources into the energy system while striving to achieve a more efficient Swiss energy system with the goal to reach a net-zero greenhouse gas emission-society by 2050, as set out by the Federal Council. To fulfill this goal, feasible pathways will be studied in particular through enabling flexibility providers across various sectors, along different temporal and spatial scales ranging from the European perspective over the country level to municipalities and individual companies, buildings and technologies.
In order to exploit the energetic flexibility potential under the national and international scenarios, single technologies cannot be analyzed individually. Rather, multiple technologies need to be put into the context of existing or novel use cases such that they can be evaluated following a holistic approach. Based on the systemic interaction of individual technologies, a real and usable flexibility potential can be quantified and exploited based on measurement data of bottom-up technologies installed in demonstrators like NEST, move and ehub, as well as participating districts and cities in Switzerland.
Funding body: BFE, Industry
Partners: ETH, PSI, HSLU, UniGE, Industry
Contact: Philipp Heer