In future, Switzerland’s energy supply will become increasingly decentralised: in addition to several large power plants, more and more small, decentralised power plants will produce energy. These will include, for example, wind and solar parks as well as photovoltaic and solar thermal systems belonging to individual residential buildings. There are also systems that balance out the fluctuations in energy production from renewable sources by storing or converting excess energy – batteries, heat storage devices, heat pumps and so-called power-to-gas systems, for example. The latter convert electricity into gases such as hydrogen or methane that can later be used at any time for heating or powering vehicles.
However, to keep the electricity grid stable in a decentralised supply set-up such as this and at the same time get the maximum from the individual plants, it becomes necessary to link the systems with one another. “We need to directly link energy generation with consumption”, explains Marco Mazzotti, a professor for process engineering at ETH Zurich. This is made possible by so-called multi-energy hubs. They control the different energy systems and link them together.