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26.02.2008 | General newsETH shifts its priorities from an energy limitation strategy to a fossil fuel limitation strategy
ETH Zurich competence center ESC introduces energy strategy
The ETH Zurich recognizes in the ESC energy strategy that climate change poses the most important challenge for energy production and usage. To combat climate change, CO2 emissions have to fall sharply to 1 ton per capita per year before the end of this century. According to researchers from the ETH Zurich the way to reach the goal is through an energy strategy based on increased efficiency, renewable energy and electrification. This marks a remarkable shift in the priorities away from an energy limitation strategy (2000 Watt per person) to a fossil fuel limitation strategy (1 ton CO2 per person per year). The shift is plausible: The energy from the sun reaching the earth is about 26 Million Watts per person. The amount of energy that is added by humanity is a small fraction of this. It is not the energy, that harms us, but the side effects of its production - the greenhouse gases, the water-, soil- and air-pollution, or the depletion of key resources.
The paradigm shift at the ETH towards a greenhouse gas focus is consistent with the findings of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The strategy is also in agreement with the conclusions of the ĞDenk-Schrift Energieğ published recently by the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences.
For the next few years the 1 ton CO2 and the 2000 Watt approaches follow similar paths. This is especially true in a world-wide perspective, as more than 80% of the energy is based on fossil fuel. In Switzerland with about 60% this dependence is less pronounced mainly due to the CO2-free electricity production.
A reorientation of the energy system, however, will not happen overnight. It is likely to take several decades. All the more reason that it is crucial that steps be taken today: infrastructure in industrialized countries (transmission network, power plants) needs to be renewed and in threshold countries, erected applying emissions criteria of tomorrow.
Role of the ESC
The Energy Science Center (ESC) comprises over 40 research groups from 12 of the university's 16 departments, guaranteeing interdisciplinary research within the center. The professors involved at the ESC supervise over 200 post-graduates and roughly 100 students complete their degree specializing in energy at ETH Zurich every year. In response to the increasing importance of gaining electricity from renewable energy sources, ETH Zurich is also looking to intensify its research and theory in this field. Director of the center is Prof. Konstantinos Boulouchos from the Institute for Power Engineering.
The report can be downloaded as pdf in German
This news is based on the Press Release of the ESC ETH-Life