News

In this news archive, you find a wide variety of important developments and information with regard to the SCCER-SoE.

Use the following links to jump to news from past years: 2016 | 2015 | 2014

2017

Annual Conference & Science Report 2017

Annual Conference & Science Report 2017

The SCCER-SoE Annual Conference 2017 at the WSL in Birmensdorf was a great success. All talks are now ready for download and you can take a look at some pictures taken during the two days. The nearly 140 project posters presented and discussed are compiled in the Science Report 2017September 2017

Your preferred Swiss electricity portfolio 2035

Support the Swiss National Science Foundation project RIGOROuS and participate in the survey on your preferred Swiss electricity portfolio for the year 2035 (5-10 min, available in English, German and French). The survey is based on the interactive web-tool Riskmeter, where you can explore a variety of Swiss electricity portfolios as well as read about pros and cons of the different technologies. After you submit your preferred portfolio in Riskmeter, you will be asked several questions on your familiarity with the energy topic as well as your experience with Riskmeter. September 2017

German TV documentary on dam safety

The crew of the ZDF broadcast "planet e." visited, amongst other places, the Grande Dixence dam in the Valais with Georges Darbre from the SFOE and the Laboratory of Hydraulic Constructions at the EPFL with José Pedro Matos and Anton Schleiss. The documentary focuses on the safety of dams, especially under future conditions of glacier and permafrost melting possibly causing rock fall and dam break. Click here to watch the documentary in full length or to pick out the above mentioned excerpts starting at minutes 01:30, 13:40, 31:20 and 41:56. August 2017

Newsletter "Swiss electricity production in a period of change"

The sixth issue of our newsletter (in German and French) examines the changing conditions of electricity production in Switzerland with an article on the revised Energy Act, a blog post on weather-sensitive hydropower, and an interview about the new Joint Activity "Scenarios & Modelling". July 2017

Weather-sensitive hydropower

Did you know that the reservoirs in Switzerland produced 13.7 percent less electricity in 2016 than in the previous year? Read our new blog post by Manfred Stähli from the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL to learn more about these weather-dependent fluctuations in hydropower production. The post is available in English, German, and French. Feel free to share it on Facebook, Twitter & Co. and to recommend our blog to interested people. June 2017

Joint Activity kicked off

On 29 and 30 May 2017, modelling teams from all eight SCCERs convened at Kloster Kappel to officially start the Joint Activity Scenarios & Modelling (JA-S&M). The objective of JA-S&M is to generate robust scenarios for the realization of the Energy Strategy 2050. It will give answers to a number of relevant questions: Which will be the key technical elements of the energy system in 2050? How can the development be guided by policy measures? What is the impact on the Swiss economy as a whole, and on the Swiss citizens? Two work streams have been started, namely (1) a harmonization and efficient exchange of scenario input data (e.g. costs, time series of production and consumption), and (2) the definition of a first set of scenarios to be used by the various modelling teams. The mid-term target is to have first results by spring 2018, and to share and discuss these at a national scenario benchmarking workshop. May 2017

Curtain up for our phase 1 highlights

Do you wonder what the SCCER-SoE achieved in its first phase lasting from 2013 to 2016? Then have a look at our collection of research highlights. It offers insights into burning questions, promising opportunities, key challenges, and potential solutions in the domains of geo-energy and hydropower. April 2017

Swiss wish for a renewable energy future

Within the NRP 71 „Managing Energy Consumption“, a survey with nearly 8’300 participants conducted by the Institute of Political Science (University of Bern) shows that the Swiss population strongly supports the installation of additional renewable electricity plants in the future. In detail, nearly 80% advocate the construction of new large-scale hydropower plants, and almost 60% are in favor for using geothermal energy and small-scale hydropower. In Western Switzerland, the acceptance for geothermal power plants is higher compared to other parts of the country. Least desired are electricity imports and the construction of new nuclear and gas power plants. Find out more about the project and its results. April 2017

Newsletter "Putting knowledge into practice"

The fifth issue of our newsletter (in German and French) starts off by introducing the second phase of the SCCER-SoE, which started in January 2017. It continues by providing various insights into our pilot and demonstration projects about sediments in reservoirs, geothermal energy in Geneva, small hydropower, and the ISC experiment in the Grimsel rock lab. April 2017

2016

#6 SCCER-SoE Blog

In our new blog post, the SCCER-SoE's program manager Ueli Wieland explains how geothermal probes used for heating can not only extract but also store energy for future use. Additionally, he provides examples of implemented and planned systems in Switzerland and Europe. The post is available in English, German, and French. Feel free to share it on Facebook, Twitter & Co. and recommend our blog to interested people. December 2016

New issue of the SCCER-SoE newsletter

The leading motto of the fourth SCCER-SoE newsletter is "towards the future". It's available in German and French and tells you more about several hydropower and geo-energy projects of great importance for the future. In addition, it's worth reading until the end, where the SCCER-SoE reveals the focus areas of its second phase during the next four years. November 2016

Paper on risk governance for induced seismicity of geothermal projects

Evelina Trutnevyte and Stefan Wiemer of the SCCER-SoE task 4.1 just released a new paper in which they propose the screening tool GRID for geothermal project operators and regulators to get a sense of the extent to which induced seismicity is a concern for a specific project. Furthermore, they recommend tailor-made risk governance measures, including for example hazard and risk assessment, seismic monitoring, insurance, traffic light systems, and public and stakeholder engagement. November 2016

#5 SCCER-SoE Blog

Our new blog post addresses the problems that hydropower has to face due to sediments and identifies promising countermeasures. The author, Professor Robert Boes, is Director of the Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW) at ETH Zurich and Principal Investigator at the SCCER-SoE. The post is available in English, German, and French. Feel free to share it on Facebook, Twitter & Co. and recommend our blog to interested people. November 2016

#4 SCCER-SoE Blog

In our fourth blog post you get to know DESTRESS – a recently started EU project that aims to pave the way for economically successful, sustainable, and environmentally responsible geothermal energy plants. Professor Stefan Wiemer and Michèle Marti, the authors and both involved in the SCCER-SoE and DESTRESS, discuss frequent pitfalls of geothermal projects and how demonstration sites and collaborative research can help to overcome them. The post is available in English, German, and French. Feel free to share it on Facebook, Twitter & Co. and recommend our blog to interested people. October 2016

Project posters and presentations ready for download

Did you miss our Annual Conference 2016 or want to catch up on a specific project? Click here to download a presentation held during the two days or here to download the latest project posters ordered by tasks. October 2016

First results of damage tests on brick walls

First results of damage tests on brick walls

The team of the SCCER-SoE task 4.1 entered a new field of research. In collaboration with the Chair of Structural Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering at ETH Zurich it completed the first phase of a test to investigate the probability of non-structural / cosmetic damage (i.e. cracks) on brick walls in case of induced earthquakes. Whereas similar studies mostly focus on the impacts of strong natural earthquakes and on preventing buildings from collapsing, induced earthquakes are usually smaller but of interest for operators, insurances, and homeowners. Preliminary observations of the test indicate that magnitudes above 3.8 cause non-structural damage to the wall specimens. The second phase of the project will consist in testing ten additional wall samples and in extracting empirical vulnerability functions. To get a better impression of the test, look at some pictures and watch a video, or read the project description in the last SCCER-SoE newsletter in German or French. August 2016

#3 SCCER-SoE Blog

Our third blog post is online now! Prof. Dr. Anton J. Schleiss from EPF Lausanne answers the question „Does Switzerland need more dams and reservoirs?“ and explains how this need could be fulfilled. The post is available in English, German, and French. Feel free to share it on Facebook, Twitter & Co. and to recommend our blog to interested people. August 2016

New grants and assistant professors

The SCCER-SoE proudly announces that Matteo Lupi received an Assistant Professor Energy Grant of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), Ueli Angst was awarded with a SNSF professorship, and Daniel Farinotti was appointed as Tenure Track Assistant Professor at ETH Zurich. Matteo Lupi’s new project is called GENERATE (GEophysical and Numerical Experiments for Reservoir Analysis and fluid-Transported Energy). Starting in January 2017, Ueli Angst will lead the group Durability of Engineering Materials at the Institute of Building Materials at ETH Zurich. Daniel Farinotti will be the head of a glaciology group at the WSL and the Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW) at ETH Zurich. August 2016

#2 SCCER-SoE Blog

The SCCER-SoE launched its new blog in order to regularly provide exclusive insights and opinions on current developments in the field of geo-energy and hydropower in Switzerland. Now, François Avellan, deputy head of the SCCER-SoE and professor at EPF Lausanne, wrote the second post entitled "Hyropower in Switzerland - meeting the challenges of the future?". Feel free to recommend our blog to interested people and share the current post on Facebook, Twitter & Co. July 2016

Third SCCER-SoE Newsletter

The third issue of the new SCCER-SoE newsletter is available now (in German and French). It includes a short report about the long-term future of the eight SCCERs, details of the project "Vulnerability of the Swiss built environment", and the most important information about the SCCER-SoE Annual Conference 2016. Click here for more information and to read the third issue of the newsletter. July 2016

New Software Publicly Available

Within task 2.4 of the SCCER-SoE, the group AHEAD (Applied Hydroeconomics and Alpine Environmental Dynamics) at EPF Lausanne developed a software to find the optimal water allocation policies at the water intake that maximize the energy production and preserve the riverine ecosystem in the case of a Small Hydropower Plant. It can be used either to evaluate the performances of an existing hydropower scheme or as a planning tool for future projects. The software is publicly available at this link. July 2016

Job vacancy

The SCCER-SoE is looking for a project member for the integration and management of geodata. July 2016

Recommendable newsletter by GEOTHERMIE-SCHWEIZ

The Swiss association for geothermal energy has recently sent a newsletter with many interesting articles about different aspects of geothermal energy in Switzerland (written in German, French, and Italian). Learn more about the traffic light system by the Swiss Seismological Service, read the interview with the CEO of our industrial partner SIG, and get an overview of the current situation of the Federal Assembly’s negotiations about geothermal energy. June 2016

#1 SCCER-SoE Blog

The SCCER-SoE launched its new blog in order to regularly provide exclusive insights and opinions on current developments in the field of geo-energy and hydropower in Switzerland. Domenico Giardini, head of the SCCER-SoE and professor at ETH Zurich, introduces the blog with his post “It’s time to go geothermal!”. He claims that we should waste no more time in further exploring the potential of geothermal energy in Switzerland. Feel free to recommend our blog to interested people and share the current post on Facebook, Twitter & Co. June 2016

Imagining the worst for Europe’s riskiest assets

The STREST project (within task 4.1 of the SCCER-SoE) has been featured by the TV channel Euronews. Watch the video with Anton Schleiss, Arnaud Mignan and José Pedro Gamito. May 2016

TV report about carbon capture and storage in Switzerland

Carbon capture and storage is one of the main research areas of the SCCER-SoE. Watch this short TV report of RTSinfo to get a good overview of this technique, some risks, and ongoing research activities in Switzerland. April 2016

Using turbulent water jets to keep dams clean

Sediments continuously build up in reservoirs and therefore reduce the storage volume of dams worldwide. EPFL researchers came up with a method of keeping sediments in suspension and allowing them to be flushed out. A prototype is in the works and will be tested on several dams in Switzerland as part of the SCCER-SoE. Click here to read the news article by the EPFL that was recently cited in several newspapers (including a video and links to the original reports). April 2016

10th Swiss Energy Research Conference

On April 14 and 15, 2016 the 10th Swiss Energy Research Conference took place in Lucerne. About 240 participants came to discuss strategies, priorities, and results of Switzerland’s energy research. Take a look at the presentation of Domenico Giardini (SCCER-SoE head), Larryn W. Diamond (SCCER-SoE task 1.1 coordinator, University of Bern), and Peter Meier (CEO Geo-Energie Suisse AG) with an overview of the eight SCCER’s coordinated research content. If you want to know more about the event, read this detailed article (only in German). April 2016

Media analysis shows potential for conflict

Dr. Olivier Ejderyan of the USYS TdLab and the SCCER-SoE’s task 4.1 conducted a qualitative media analysis with 115 articles of Le Temps, Tribune du Genève, and Le Quotidien Jurassien. The goal was to provide an overview of social perceptions on Deep Geothermal Energy (DGE) in parts of Switzerland where most advances on concrete projects are currently under way. Results indicate that DGE is perceived as a technical matter managed by the public hand. The main risk to which DGE is associated is induced earthquakes. Seismic risk is mostly perceived as a phenomenon, whose negative consequences are not dramatic and can be managed. However, articles addressing questions of governance of DGE projects tend to report disagreements between authorities and the population on whether information were communicated properly and public involvement was sufficient. Therefore, the analysis suggests that this is a contested issue that must be addressed by DGE project planners and developers. April 2016

Second SCCER-SoE newsletter

The second issue of the new SCCER-SoE newsletter is available now (in German and French). It includes an interview with Peter Burgherr about the „Global Observatory“, details of the new project FLEXSTOR and task‘s 4.1 report about a fully renewable Switzerland. Click here for more information and to read the second issue of the newsletter. March 2016

White Paper about the competitiveness of hydropower

The Competence Center for Research in Energy, Society and Transition (SCCER CREST) published its first White Paper entitled “Wasserkraft: Wiederherstellung der Wettbewerbsfähigkeit”. Hydropower plant operators and politics are called upon to make their contributions in order for hydropower to regain competitiveness and play an important role in the future energy supply. Topics like new trade strategies, cost savings, water rates, and coordination with the EU are addressed. Click here to read the full White Paper. March 2016

New project to raise the flexibility of hydropower plants

New project to raise the flexibility of hydropower plants

The SCCER-SoE got the grant funding approval by the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) for the project FLEXSTOR. Starting in May, 2016, the project will last for two years. It’s a cooperation with the Kraftwerke Oberhasli AG (KWO) and aims at improving climate and market resilience, as well as eco-compliance of the Swiss hydropower production. New tools and methodologies are proposed for design and operation of flexible hydropower schemes. Flexibility of storage plants is addressed in terms of production scheduling and sediment management. One of the first projects that will benefit from FLEXSTOR is the new Trift hydropower scheme developed by KWO, precursor of a new series of projects in the periglacial environment. If you want to know more about FLEXSTOR, read the article in the latest SCCER-SoE newsletter. March 2016

A Fully Renewable Switzerland

A Fully Renewable Switzerland

The team of the SCCER-SoE task 4.1 carried out a first order assessment of a future Swiss energy system powered exclusively by renewable energy. The results show that the optimal configuration of the infrastructure would involve a careful trade-off between the spatial averaging effects of a highly meshed transmission network and the time averaging effects provided by large quantities of grid level storage. A strong transmission capacity would be needed because the sparsely populated alpine regions produce a disproportionately large fraction of the country’s energy, whereas the demand centres are situated mainly in the northern plateau. On the other hand, transport of electricity would not be able to alleviate the considerable seasonal variation in energy production and demand (higher production during summer, when demand is low, than in winter, when demand is high). To solve this problem, extra storage capacity would be required. A significant amount of energy trade with neighbouring countries would also be an inevitable component. Please follow this link to read the full paper or click here to get to the project website. February 2016

Communication analysis of the deep geothermal project of St. Gallen

Within the framework of a teaching course called “Transdisciplinary Case Study”, which was organized by the USYS TdLab at ETH Zurich and among others supported by the SCCER-SoE, Master students retrospectively analysed the deep geothermal project of St. Gallen (stopped in 2014). The focus of the case study was on the communication of risks and benefits, based on a “sender and receiver” model (in this case the project management and the citizens of St. Gallen). Click here to read the 40-pages brochure (in German) or here to get a short summary of the case study (in English). January 2016

2015

Micro-turbine prototype successfully tested

Micro-turbine prototype successfully tested

The team of the project DuoTurbo, conducted within the SCCER-SoE, proudly announces the delivery of its micro-turbine prototype, which was successfully tested on the HES-SO test rig. The new axial hydraulic machine ensures a lean manufacturing and installation on water utility networks and is the core technology for a range of standard energy recovery stations, which will be developed in this project. The potential for energy recovery in Swiss water utilities amounts to 50 GWh per year within the targeted power range of 5 to 25 kW. This represents 15% of the additional electricity production of small hydropower turbines according to the energy strategy 2050. The next year’s target of DuoTurbo is to manufacture and test its first product, which will be installed on the pilot site of Savièse (VS) in 2017. December 2015

New SCCER-SoE newsletter

Sign up for the new SCCER-SoE newsletter which is available in German and French and offers you an exclusive insight into current projects two to three times per year. You can also look back on past highlights and find out about important upcoming events. Click here for more information and to read the first issue of the newsletter. November 2015

Development of a new iso-kinetic turbine

The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) and the Fondation The Ark will fund the new project “Iso-kinetic turbine for artificial waterways”. Within a 18-months-period, the project’s goal is to develop a prototype of a 1kW iso-kinetic turbine and install it in the tailrace channel of the hydropower plant in Lavey. The project will be led by HES-SO Valais-Wallis (Prof. Cécile Münch-Alligné) in collaboration with Stahleinbau GmbH and “Services industriels de Lausanne” (SiL). October 2015

Project posters and presentations ready for download

Did you miss our Annual Conference 2015 or want to catch up on a specific project? Click here to download a presentation held on the SCCER-SoE Annual Conference 2015 or here to download the latest project posters ordered by tasks. October 2015

First boreholes for the ISC Project at the Grimsel rock laboratory are drilled

First boreholes for the ISC Project at the Grimsel rock laboratory are drilled

For a few weeks, the Grimsel rock laboratory has been bustling due to the „In-situ Stimulation and Circulation“ project of the SCCER-SoE. Up to now, three boreholes have been drilled which together make up approximately 60 meters. Different kinds of tests (televiewer logging, overcoring, hydro fracturing etc.) are exercised in order to characterize in great detail the structure of the rock, including the location of fault zones, stress orientations, and much more. The next planned steps are the installation of the measurement system (in the beginning of 2016) and the carrying out of stimulations (in the middle of 2016). October 2015

First numerical simulations of supercritical geothermal reservoirs

First numerical simulations of supercritical geothermal reservoirs

Recently, scientists of the "Iceland Deep Drilling Project" discovered a reservoir with supercritical water at 450°C immediately above a 2 km deep magma body. This theoretically allows multiplying power production from geothermal wells from about 5 up to 35 MW. Samuel Scott, Thomas Driesner, and Phlipp Weis of the SCCER-SoE, ETH, and GFZ now elaborated numerical models and simulations to find out how, under what circumstances, and where such reservoirs possibly emerge. Click here to read their article which was just published in „Nature Communications“. August 2015

Register for the SCCER-SoE Annual Conference 2015

The second SCCER-SoE Annual Conference will be held at the University of Neuchâtel on September 10 and 11, 2015. Highlights of ongoing projects and prospects of future research will be presented. In addition, key representatives from politics, industry, and federal offices will illustrate their views on the future of HydroPower and GeoEnergy in Switzerland. Click here to read more about this event and to register yourself. July 2015

Research project agreement with NAGRA

The SCCER-SoE and NAGRA signed a research project agreement in order to improve the understanding of physical processes associated with geothermal reservoir creation. Until the end of 2017, the SCCER-SoE will devise extensive experiments in the rock laboratory of NAGRA’s Grimsel Test Site. The first is called “Insitu Stimulation and Circulation (ISC)”. June 2015

Dynamic water intake protects the environment

Up to now, water intakes feeding small hydropower plants are designed in a way that the residual flow is either constant or proportional to the incoming natural streamflow (both at a minimum level). Within the SCCER-SoE task 2.4, simulations of the AHEAD group at EPFL show that these policies are harmful for rivers at low discharge. In contrast, a dynamic, non-proportional water intake that may be adjusted to specific needs (for instance to favour higher rates of residual flow at low river discharge) would improve environmental conditions while preserving energy production (see figure). By including more comprehensive environmental indicators and enlarging the sample of real case studies, this issue will be further investigated. June 2015

Deep geothermal energy project in Haute-Sorne approved

Geo-Energie Suisse AG received the approval for its deep geothermal energy project in Haute-Sorne (Canton of Jura). Drilling will start in late 2017 and the stimulation phase to create a deep reservoir is expected in 2018. Following its roadmap, the SCCER-SoE will be closely associated to the Haute-Sorne project and will support it with simulations, modeling expertise, stress analyses, and methodologies validated in the deep underground lab at the Grimsel Test Site. June 2015

New Ambizione Energy project on risk governance

Congratulations to Evelina Trutneyvte, Senior Researcher at the SCCER-SoE Risk Governance team at ETH Zurich for receiving a SNF Ambizione Energy grant for the next three years! The project is called “Risk Governance of Electricity Portfolios (RIGOROuS): Cross-technology and spatial tradeoffs of multiple risks” (read the summary here). It aims to find socially viable ways to implement the Swiss Energy Strategy 2050 by developing, testing and applying two interactive tools to measure public, stakeholder, and expert preferences concerning cross-technology and spatial risk tradeoffs within Swiss electricity portfolios. May 2015

The Alps without glaciers

The Alps without glaciers

A major step towards an accurate Swiss wide map of glacier thicknesses has been achieved: In April 2015, a crystal clear image of the bed of the Otemma glacier in Valais has been taken during an airborne radar survey (click here to see the difference between the new and old system). After one year of joint research by the Hydraulics-Hydrology-Glaciology division (VAW) and the Exploration and Environmental Geophysics group (EEG) at ETH Zurich, the new and improved helicopter ice penetrating radar system was successfully tested. The overall goal of the glacier inventory project is to create a Swiss wide map of the relief of the Alps without glaciers respectively of glacier thicknesses. It is funded by the SCCER-SoE and the Swiss Geophysical Commission (SGPK). April 2015

New sediment transport measurement system

New sediment transport measurement system

Sediment transport related to hydropower plants has always been a big issue and good data about it was rare. Now, the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL is constructing a new measurement system in the Albula river at Tiefencastel above the hydropower dam Solis. It is expected to be put into operation in spring 2015.
Read more about the new system in the Albula river in this news article of „Die Südostschweiz“ (only in German). March 2015

Man-made earthquakes "moved" the Schatzalp

More than 160 seismologists, geophysicists, engineers, geologists, and social scientists gathered in Davos for the first Schatzalp workshop on “Induced Seismicity”. The workshop was organized by the Swiss Seismological Service in collaboration with the Swiss Competence Centre for Energy Supply (SCCER-SoE), the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), and the Research Forum Physics of the Earth (FKPE). March 2015

Two new Tenure Track Assistant Professors

The ETH Board appointed two new Tenure Track Assistant Professors in the field of Geoenergies. Both, Brice Lecampion and Marie Violay, will be working at the School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC) at EPFL, Switzerland. Read more about the appointments and the new Professors. March 2015

„Knowledge and Technology Transfer“ group

„Knowledge and Technology Transfer“ group

The different SCCERs and associated competence centers have formed the "Knowledge and Technology Transfer" group. The goal is to improve the communication and exchange of experiences among the different parties. January 2015

2014

6.11.2014

The site visit by the Evaluation Panel from CTI successfully took place. They thanked for the professional presentations.

24.10.2014

24.10.2014

14 people from SCCER-SoE visit Grimsel Test Site to discuss possible locations for the geothermal stimulation experiment with the owner NAGRA .

16.9.2014

16.9.2014

CTI approves the project ‘DUO TURBO: Providing Industrial and Competitive Family of Low-CAPEX Integrated Plug-and-Play Energy Recovery Stations’.
Academic Partners : HES-SO Valais and EPFL
Industrial Partners : Telsa SA, Jacquier-Luisier SA, Valelectric Farner SA
CTI supports the development of a new counter rotating micro turbine able to harvest energy on drinking water networks. The plug-and-play concept to be developed will require a low investment for the final customers, reaching economic feasibility with an available hydraulic power below 25 kW. A new part of the Swiss and international renewable energy potential will then be targeted and profitably exploited.

15.9.2014

SNF approved 20 PhDs within the program NFP70 "Energy Turnaround"

25.04.2014

2nd stage submission for NFP70

20.02.2014

CTI contract signed

01.11.2013

Official start of the SCCER-SoE