Swiss Competence Centers for Energy Research (SCCER) –
Research for the Energy Turnaround
The Swiss government is strongly supporting energy research with its "Energy Strategy 2050" and its corresponding action plan. One of the core elements is the development of eight national “Swiss Competence Centers for Energy Research“ (SCCER) in the fields of biomass, storage, networks, energy supply, legal and economic aspects, mobility, and energy efficiency in buildings, districts and industrial processes. Funded by the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) with over CHF 70 million, the SCCERs are expected to yield the innovations necessary for the sustainable implementation of Switzerland’s energy strategy and to guarantee the transfer of research results to the market. Empa runs one of the SCCERs and is involved in two more.
Energy-Efficient Buildings and Districts – the SCCER FEEB&D
The nuclear phase-out, a shift towards renewable energies and a reduction in CO2 emissions: before the Swiss government’s energy strategy can be implemented, the local building stock is in dire need of an energy-related upgrade. Headed by Empa, the researchers from the SCCER for Future Energy-Efficient Buildings & Districts (FEEB&D) are looking to significantly reduce the energy demand of existing and future buildings. By 2050, Switzerland’s building stock should be consuming around five times less energy than it does today. The idea is especially to have stopped using fossil energy sources such as gas or oil for heating and hot water.
Mobility of the Future – the SCCER Mobility
In Switzerland, around a third of the country’s overall energy demand goes on personal mobility and the transportation of goods by road, rail or air traffic. As fossil fuels are primarily used on the roads and in the air, the corresponding CO2 emissions are high. In Switzerland, road traffic harbors the hihgest innovation potential in terms of efficiency. Research focuses on more efficient vehicles, e.g. through lightweight designs; novel, considerably more powerful electrochemical batteries for e-vehicles; and new concepts to reduce commuter flows and other kinds of work-related mobility.
New Forms of Heat and Electricity Storage – the SCCER Heat & Electricity Storage
How efficiently we will one day be able to use solar and wind energy depends heavily on the possibility of storing energy, especially for longer periods. It will only be possible to phase out nuclear power if energy suppliers are able to provide the market with an uninterrupted, reliable and cost-effective supply of electricity, heat and fuels. A sizeable proportion of the energy supply therefore needs to be wind and solar power if we are to avoid importing electricity. With this in mind, the SCCER Heat & Electricity Storage is developing new technologies for electricity and heat storage.
Making Swiss Industry more Energy-efficient – the SCCER Efficiency of Industrial Processes
Energy demand in industry accounts for approximately one fifth of the total energy consumption in Switzerland – a staggering 43 TWh in 2014. The Swiss energy strategy aims at an energy reduction for industry of 20% until 2035 and of 33% until 2050. The goals of the SCCER EIP are to develop new methods to increase the implementation of energy efficiency measures in industry as well as novel technologies to increase the energy and the material efficiency of new processes. The activities Empa is involved in are addressing decentralized wastewater management in the building sector with the aim of retaining and reusing chemical and thermal energy associated with wastewater streams. Under the project lead of Eawag, Empa scientists are assessing possibilities for heat recovery from wastewater at NEST, Empa’s Research and Technology Transfer Platform for the building and energy sector.