Future Energy Supply and Security in Switzerland

Thursday, July 10, 2014
Location: 6-120




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Energy demand is particularly high in emerging and transition economies. It is unfortunately a fact that efforts are repeatedly being made to use access to energy as an instrument of political power. This means that the pace of global development will be determined by energy to an even greater extent in the future. In view of this, diversification in terms of supply sources and production methods will be essential in order to maintain supply security. The fact that resources are limited means that efficiency and sufficiency will be of central importance. This calls for an appropriate degree of awareness for the efficient use of energy and the need for changes in consumption behaviour. In the future, the key factor will therefore be investment in research and development in the area of new resource-conserving technologies and services.

In view of the above situation and the problem of climate change, Switzerland’s energy policy is simultaneously focusing on increased use of renewable energy and less use of fossil fuels, as well as on reducing the overall level of energy consumption. But in addition, there is an urgent need to develop internationally networked markets for the distribution of energy, together with a firmly interconnected IT-controlled electricity supply infrastructure that identifies and realises efficiency potentials at all levels, i.e. from producers through to consumers. Within the scope of this transformation process, the involved players in the areas of research, politics, the economy and society will be required to work very closely together.

About the speakers

Introduction by Susan Hockfield, MIT President Emerita

Doris Leuthard

As head of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC), Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard is one of the seven members of the Federal Council, Switzerland's cabinet.

DETEC's strategy focuses on the principles of sustainable development, which are implemented in terms of policy in the fields of the environment, transport, energy, communications and spatial development. As head of DETEC, Federal Councillor Leuthard is in charge of the seven federal offices (ministries) that make up the Department and that work together to achieve the Department's aims, which include environmental and economic interests and public service requirements.

Before taking the helm of DETEC on 1 November 2010, Federal Councillor Leuthard was head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs (FDEA) from August 2006 to October 2010. During this time, she was responsible for the labour market, vocational education and training, technology, innovation, agriculture, housing, national economic supply and trade policy. She represented Switzerland at international organisations including the WTO, OECD, FAO and the World Bank and chaired the EFTA Council.

In 2010, Doris Leuthard was President of the Swiss Confederation. From 1999 to 2006, Federal Councillor Leuthard was a member of the National Council representing canton Aargau. From 2004 to 2006, she was president of the Christian Democratic People's Party. During her time in the National Council, she was a member of the following committees: legal affairs, political institutions, judicial, economic affairs and taxation.

Lino Guzzella

Lino Guzzella, a citizen of Switzerland and Italy, studied in the Department of Mechanical Engineering (now called the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering) at ETH Zurich. After obtaining his doctorate in 1986, he worked in leading research roles at two industrial companies. In 1993, he was appointed as assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering at ETH Zurich, and in 1999 he was promoted to full professor. In his research work, Prof. Guzzella has focused on new approaches in system dynamics and in the control of energy conversion systems. His main areas of research are system modelling, dynamic optimisation and the reduction of drive systems' consumption and pollutant emissions. From mid-2003 to mid-2004, he held the post of "Honda Visiting Professor" at Ohio State University in Columbus (USA). Within ETH Zurich, he has taken on various managerial roles in academic self-government, for instance as head of institute and head of department. Guzzella has been rector of this university since 1 August 2012. He takes office as president, thus succeeding Professor Ralph Eichler, on 1 January 2015.


Alexander Wokaun has been Full Professor of Chemistry at the Laboratory for Chemical Engineering at the ETH Zurich since 1994, from which time he is also heading the General Energy Research Department at the Paul Scherrer Institute. Prof. Wokaun's research interests lie in particular in the field of catalytic processes for energy storage and the characterization of functional materials by spectroscopic methods. He studied in the Department of Chemistry at ETH Zurich and received his doctorate under Richard R. Ernst on the subject of nuclear magnetic resonance. During his subsequent research fellowship at IBM Research Laboratories in San Jose CA and at the Bell Laboratories in Holmdel NJ, he worked with laser spectroscopic methods for three years. In 1982 he returned to the ETH Zurich and completed his habilitation thesis on energy conversion processes at interfaces. In 1986 he was appointed to the Chair of Physical Chemistry at the University of Bayreuth.

For more information, contact:

Jameson Twomey
T: 617-324-2408