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Posted: Apr 13, 2015

An energy calculator to choose our future

(Nanowerk News) EPFL’s Energy Center has developed an information platform on energy transition. In particular, it proposes a national energy calculator to develop scenarios for Switzerland’s energy future.
Our energy system is going through a revolution. What type of energies will replace nuclear power? Will there be a rise in electricity prices? Will the hydrogen car become a part of everyday life in 2050? The Energy Center at EPFL, in collaboration with public partners, has developed an information portal, transparent and accessible to all, to understand the issues related to energy transition.
Swiss-Energyscope, online since 13 April, puts forward a national energy calculator, based on scientific data, to visualize future scenarios. The internet platform also offers online courses for everyone as well as a list of 100 questions/answers on energy transition.
So far, the system was relatively simple: the energy required for transportation and heating came from burning fossil fuels while electricity was used to power lights and electronic devices. But this paradigm is being shattered. Following the decision to abandon nuclear power and the desire to reduce our greenhouse gases emissions we need to revise radically our energy system. After this transition, by 2035 or eventually by 2050, most energy sources, including renewable energy, will be used in all applications.
Visualizing our energy consumption by 2050
The challenges of this transformation go well beyond a simple substitution of a type of energy by one or a few others. Will we need to import more energy at the risk of increasing our dependence? Will we need to review our quality of life? Is our economic growth threatened? Energy independence, the security of its supply, the preservation of our quality of life, economic growth, environmental impact and technological progress are all parameters to be taken into account.
The national energy calculator is a tool that proved complex to implement; it nevertheless turns out to be a unique and fun means to understand the national energy challenges. It starts by presenting the current energy situation of Switzerland on an annual or seasonal basis, and the scenarios developed by the Confederation for 2035 and 2050. But its main strength lies in developing and visualizing personal scenarios and comparing their consequences for Switzerland. How do we balance our needs and energy sources? Which energy sources will best satisfy our requirements? What measures to take in the field of transport, for example, to reduce our CO2 emissions at the lowest cost? The calculator is available in four languages (FR, GER, IT, EN).
Courses for all
In addition, Swiss-Energyscope offers a series of courses for all so that everyone can discover or refresh their knowledge on energy issues at their own pace. These online courses are free and without prerequisites and explain energy’s basic concepts. They also provide answers for understanding civic and political discussions. Ten minutes modules address different kinds of challenges such as geopolitical (risk of shortages), operational (disasters) technical (opportunities and limits) or economic (competitiveness).
Finally, the site provides a list of 100 questions/answers on the energy transition. They address aspects of energy production and consumption as well as energy policy, storage and efficiency. In addition to the three Energy Center’s co-authors, more than thirty experts bring their scientific backing to this work. The 100 questions/answers are published as an electronic book (FR, GER). A shortened version will come out in bookstores in every language in June 2015.
Swiss-Energyscope is a nationwide platform that results from collaboration with SuisseEnergie, the Canton of Vaud and the city of Lausanne.
Source: École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne
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