Photo: Empa

The institutions of the ETH Domain will also continue their activities in Energy Research as one of their strategic focus areas; the funding specified in the 2017–2020 Dispatch (on the promotion of education, research and innovation) will be integrated in future into the contribution paid by the Federal Government (state finance).

Within the scope of the action plan on “Coordinated Energy Research Switzerland”, the Swiss authorities pledged additional funding to the CTI, the SNSF and the ETH Domain for the performance period from 2013–2016. The institutions of the ETH Domain have profited from that both directly and indirectly. Thus, a total of CHF 60m of the payment schedule for 2013–2016 was ring-fenced to consolidate energy research in the ETH Domain. One-third of the funds went into developing competencies (new chairs, as well as developing and expanding research groups). Two-thirds went into research infrastructure in the field of energy. Furthermore, experts from the ETH Domain played leading parts in operating seven of the eight Swiss Competence Centers for Energy Research (SCCER), which are financed by the CTI.

The special funding pledged within the scope of the action plan was used to create key themes which will be continued in the ERI period wherever it is sensible to do so. Appropriate areas of work comprise the likes of energy efficiency, smart networks and harvesting renewable energy (ETH Zurich), chemicals and hydropower (EPFL), as well as catalysis and catalytic biomass conversion (PSI). Furthermore, the “Energy System Integration Platform” (ESI) was set up on the PSI site in close collaboration with the Empa research platforms NEST and move. Among other things, Empa funded a joint project involving three Empa laboratories in the field of electrodes for thin-layer solar cells; some of the funds were used for the joint venture between EPFL and Empa on the “Laboratoire des matériaux pour les energies renouvelables” (LMER) in Sion. WSL and Eawag ultimately launched a joint research programme on the subject of “Energy Change Impact”.