Research - 18.08.2015 - 00:00 

Energy solutions for the future

In five new projects amounting to a volume of CHF 1.5m, HSG research teams are working on solutions for central aspects of future energy – from local power trading platforms in Europe to wind farms in Eastern Switzerland. Initial research results from the projects can be expected in late 2015.
Source: HSG Newsroom


18 August 2015. The Center for Energy Innovation, Governance and Investment (EGI-HSG) pools the competencies of the University of St.Gallen in the field of energy research. Making a contribution towards the solution of current problems in academia and society – this is part of the University of St.Gallen’s vision. This goal is also pursued by the Center for Energy Innovation, Governance and Investment (EGI-HSG), which was set up in 2014 and is part of the Confederation’s Competence Center for Research in Energy, Society and Transition (SCCER CREST).

In five new energy research projects, the Center is working on solutions to changes in the energy market. The projects consider issues which are crucial to a successful implementation of the energy strategies of Switzerland and other countries. The impact of decentralised energies on the electricity market, changes in power trading, the funding of power stations by institutional investors and the population’s attitude towards wind energy are being examined, as is the reduction of risks through energy imports.

Establishing local links between power generators and consumers

The first project, “EMPOWER − local electricity retail markets for prosumer smart grid power services”, is funded by the EU in the context of its multi-annual research programme, Horizon 2020. The team of the University of St.Gallen under the leadership of Assistant Professor Dr. Moritz Loock cooperates with a consortium of research and industrial partners from five European countries. The project develops and implements three local power markets in order to link up decentralised power generators and consumers. Using cloud-based information and communication technologies, the researchers develop new types of business models, which might also be applied above and beyond the remit of the project.

Energy price development in Germany and Switzerland

Two research projects are funded by the Federal Office of Energy in the context of the Energy – Economy – Society (EES) programme. In the project entitled “Econometric analysis of the determinants of electricity wholesale prices”, Assistant Professor Dr. Florentina Paraschiv and her Norwegian research partners are examining the changes in wholesale power prices in Germany and Switzerland. In both countries, the growth of renewable energies has led to changes in previous trading patterns. An in-depth understanding of pricing at the electricity exchanges is an important prerequisite for power traders’ risk management.

Funding renewable energy projects

The second EES project bears the title “Lowering the financing cost of Swiss renewable energy infrastructure: Reducing the policy risk premium and attracting new investor types” and is an interdisciplinary cooperation venture between lawyers and economists. A team headed by Prof. Dr. Rolf Wüstenhagen and Prof. Dr. Peter Hettich is homing in on the question as to the impact political risks have on the capital costs of energy investments. Besides, they are investigating the contribution which new investors such as pension schemes and insurance companies are able to make towards the funding of renewable energy projects.

Energy security and geopolitics in Europe

A distinctly international dimension is displayed by the project labelled “Improving Energy Security through Swiss-Ukrainian-Estonian Institutional Partnership”, which is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Under the aegis of Dr. Anna Ebers and in cooperation with universities from Estonia and Ukraine, the project focuses on know-how transfer in the field of energy. The high degree of dependency of Central and East European partner countries on the import of fossil sources of energy has an important geopolitical dimension. The objective of the project is to provide new stimuli for entrepreneurship in the field of renewable energies and thus to make a contribution towards energy security.

Wind farms in Eastern Switzerland
Finally, the fact that the University of St.Gallen does not only conduct international research but also cultivates regional roots is demonstrated by the project “Survey of people resident near possible wind farms in Eastern Switzerland” of the Institute for Economy and the Environment (IWÖ-HSG), which is funded by the Cantons of St.Gallen, Thurgau and the Grisons jointly with the Federal Office Energy and Energieagentur St.Gallen.

Owing to technological progress, wind energy is now one of the most favourably priced forms of renewable energy and, by way of a complement to solar energy, could make a contribution towards the seasonal diversification of Switzerland’s energy supply. The objective of this research project is to examine the Eastern Swiss population’s attitude towards wind energy and thus to provide the authorities involved with the necessary planning basis. 

Bild: Photocase / Dirk Hinz