Innovation

The meeting point of the Swiss electricity and energy industry concludes with great results

This year’s Powertage, one of over 30 events hosted by the MCH Group, which was last held as a live event in 2018, focused on sustainable energy supply.

150 exhibitors presented their solutions, technologies and services, and more than 2,000 visitors seized the opportunity to explore current trends and innovations, and foster and expand their network.

The restructuring of the energy landscape for a reliable and sustainable energy supply poses major challenges for both producers and consumers. From May 17-19, relevant stakeholders from the Swiss electricity and energy industry met at the Zurich Exhibition Centre to discuss urgent measures along the entire value chain and present new solutions, technologies and innovative products. This year’s edition of the most important industry platform for the Swiss electricity sector focused on security of supply, renewable electricity supply, digitalisation, cyber security and energy efficiency. Innovations for mobility, sector coupling and electrical storage were also presented during the three-day event. The trade fair saw over 2,000 professionals come together in Zurich over 3 days. Direct dialogue – in person and on site – is all the more important especially in the current times of uncertainty in the Swiss energy market. One could really feel that, after four years, the Swiss electricity industry’s need for personal discussions and encounters at the Powertage was clearly noticeable. 

VSE trade forum focused on efficiency and specialists 

The VSE trade forum, held on May 17, highlighted the key issues relating to securing future power supply: Nadine Brauchli (VSE), Benoît Revaz (BFE), Gian von Planta (SWL) and Jörg Wild (Energie 360°) discussed paramount measures that must be taken to ensure future security of supply. Valérie Bourdin (VSE) and Konrad Rieder (SIG) presented a collaborative energy efficiency platform, giving an insight into a cross-industry project. Without grid electricians, the electricity grid cannot be optimised for the future of energy. But why is it so difficult for this highly relevant industry to mobilise sufficient professionals? Christoph Hauser from the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts analysed the shortage of specialists from an economic perspective, and, in the subsequent panel discussion with Andreas Degen (VSE), Reto Schrepfer (ewz) and Yves Nützi (apprentice grid electrician at ewz), the current challenges and changes in the job profile were discussed. 

Electrosuisse trade forum quantified solutions with interconnected energy systems

The Electrosuisse trade forum utilised the second day of the trade fair to highlight important solutions to strengthen the security of energy supply that has almost been taken for granted up to this point. Kristina Orehounig (EMPA/ETH) and Pierre-Jean Alet (CSEM) explained and quantified the importance of a digital interconnection between producers, storage plants and consumers. These work locally and also link adjacent technical areas such as the heating/cooling management of buildings, charging management for electromobility, and daily or seasonal bridging using various storage technologies. Suad Emrulai (Siemens Schweiz AG) consequently explained the importance of a structured set-up of cyber protection around the digital network functions, which have long since become a functional basis for the increasingly dynamic system. Felix Tresch (EW Ursern) also gave valuable insights into the operating experience of the existing wind turbine and showed how it can make a considerable contribution to the energy supply in the tough winter with a well-balanced expansion project.

Open Innovation Forum presented fails and success stories

The new Open Innovation Forum showcased failures that weren’t really failures at the end, and success stories that aren’t quite completed yet. The protagonists presented their stories with a lot of passion. Fredy Brunner (former St. Gallen CC) gave the audience an insight into St. Gallen’s geothermal project, which he has worked on diligently throughout his eight-year tenure. The project failed because less water was found at a depth of 4,500 metres, but instead a lot of natural gas, which was not usable in that form. Thomy Jourdan (Muttenz municipal council) took the guests on his journey, during which the first wind turbine was meant to have been built in Muttenz in an industrial environment. The municipal council meeting didn’t go his way, since the opponents, with their arguments that the turbine would be too loud and spoil the environment, received more agreement than the initiators of this project. The lesson Jourdan learned: One can never communicate enough. Fabian Baerlocher (Rapp AG and co-founder of Ormera) presented the story of Ormera, which is a system intended to debit invoices directly from an account via Smartmeter. The prototype system had the ability to send the energy price of a coffee directly from the coffee machine to a mobile phone. Unfortunately, when the company wanted to break away from its parent companies, the next round of financing did not come in time. That was the end. Right at the moment when everything would have worked. Successful startups and pilot projects were also presented. With the Equigy platform, Evangelos Vrettos (Swissgrid AG) and Vanessa Schröder (ewz) are in the process of developing an automatic market for system services and control energy to balance the power grid. A virtual construct in which vehicle manufacturers and heat pump manufacturers harvest the capacity from their batteries and electricity consumption and sell it to the network operators via a virtual market. Arthur Janssen (IWB and President of H2 Produzenten) and David Heinzer (ebs Energie AG) want to expand the production of hydrogen. In this endeavour, the Schwyz power plants should primarily produce hydrogen when the ongoing demand is covered by photovoltaics and the water current is not being consumed, but the turbines still have to run. “The first edition of the Open Innovation Forum with five different projects from the energy industry was an absolute success. The people presenting their fail and success stories managed to take the audience along with them on their personal journey. They then shared what they learned along the way with the audience in the subsequent podium together with Fabian Etter, Co-president of swisscleantech,” says Theresia Saner, Powertage Brand Director. 

Two platforms for startups from the Swiss energy industry 

It was the very first time that the Energy Startup Day took place as part of the Powertage, which is organised by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). Together with the xplor Startup Village, startups were given the ideal platform to network with the large energy suppliers and mobility and construction companies. 

Innovations for the future of energy at the Speakers’ Corner

It was the premiere of the Speakers’ Corner at this year’s Powertage 2022: innovative products and solutions were presented and discussed with the audience in short presentations. From topics like security to mobility and sustainability, everything was covered during the three-day event. The conclusion: It takes courage for innovation and change in the electricity industry!

The next Powertage are scheduled for spring 2024. The exact event dates will be published next autumn.

Organiser
MCH Messe Schweiz (Basel) AG, Powertage, 4005 Basel, Switzerland, www.powertage.ch, info@powertage.ch

The MCH Group has its headquarter in Basel, Switzerland, and is an internationally operating experience marketing company with a comprehensive service network. It organises around 30 community platforms in Switzerland and abroad, including Art Basel, Swissbau and Giardina. The Live Marketing Services division with the brands MCH Global, MC2 and Expomobilia offers comprehensive experience marketing solutions from strategy through to creation all the way to implementation. The MCH Group also operates the Basel Exhibition and Congress Centre and the Zurich Exhibition Centre. The company employs over 700 people, around half of them in Switzerland and the USA. The Group achieved consolidated revenues of CHF 243 million in the 2021 financial year, although business operations largely came to a standstill in many areas due to Covid-19. www.mch-group.com

Partners
The Powertage are supported by the Federal Office of Energy (BFE) and renowned industry associations. These include the Swiss Association of Electricity Companies (VSE), Electrosuisse (Association for Electrical, Energy and Information Technology), swissmig, and the Swiss Smart Grid Industry Association.