ESC News


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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). Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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? Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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.  Read more 


Aero-Structural Optimization of High-Load Carrying Wings for Airborne Wind Energy Application

Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) describes the technology of harvesting wind energy at high altitudes, which cannot be reached by conventional wind turbines. The goal of the AWE project at the CMASLab is to develop high load carrying, light-weight, and shape adaptive wings for AWE applications. Read more 


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 Read more 


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. Read more 


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? Read more 


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. Read more 


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.   Read more 


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. Read more 


The Hybrid Transformer - Towards a Smarter Grid

With the target to reduce CO2 emissions, conventional large scale power plants will be gradually replaced by distributed renewables. The increasing integration of these renewables entails power quality problems such as voltage fluctuations especially in the 400V low voltage distribution grid. New concepts as the hybrid transformer enable to maintain the desired power quality even with a high share of renewable generation.  Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 



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. Read more 


Energy Storage in Chemicals

Electrical power produced by renewable energies can be chemically stored as hydrogen and other fuels via electrolysis. CO2 and H2 O 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. Read more 


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? Read more 


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. Read more 


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.   Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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).   Read more 


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.   Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


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. Read more 


Hybrid HVAC/ HVDC Overhead Lines

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


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. Read more 


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. Read more 

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