PSI Energy Mission Statement
The Paul Scherrer Institute PSI is the largest research centre for natural and engineering sciences in Switzerland. Its research focuses on four main areas: Future Technologies, Energy and Climate, Health Innovation and Fundamentals of Nature. By performing basic and applied research, PSI works on sustainable solutions for major challenges facing society, science and economy.
With the neutron source SINQ, the Swiss Light Source SLS, the SμS muon source, the Swiss X-ray Free-Electron Laser SwissFEL and the Swiss research infrastructure for particle physics CHRISP, PSI runs large research facilities that provide extraordinary insights into the processes that occur inside various substances and materials. These facilities are unique in Switzerland, some even worldwide. Besides the actual large research facilities, PSI also runs a series of other unique research facilities – especially for environmental and energy research – such as the Energy System Integration platform (ESI platform), a hotlab and a smog chamber.
For its infrastructure to function properly, PSI requires an extremely reliable power supply. It satisfies its energy needs with various energy sources, including electricity, district heating and fuels.
PSI responds to the changing infrastructural requirements through long-term planning and, if necessary, flexible adjustments. Growth and increasing demands on the energy services also continue to require major investments in the energy supply at PSI. These investments must be energy-efficient, ecologically sustainable and economical.
Besides the direct use of energy to operate its own infrastructure, PSI and its staff use materials and services that have or cause a high energy requirement. This indirect energy consumption is also important to gain a holistic view of PSI’s energy use. Examples include the energy expenditure for mobility or grey energy for construction materials.
PSI played a key role in developing the “Action Plan for a Coordinated Energy Research” to support the Federal Council’s Energy Strategy 2050 and specifically expanded its research competence in the fields of energy systems analysis, energy conversion and storage, biomass processes and catalysis. With its ESI platform, PSI provides the research and industry communities with a platform to develop and demonstrate technology, which PSI combines with the building and mobility demonstrator at Empa as part of the ReMaP Project. PSI is the leading house of the SFOE flagship project DeCIRRA (decarbonisation of cities and regions with renewable gases), the SFOE SWEET project SURE (sustainable and resilient energy for Switzerland); together with Empa, PSI is leading partner in the ETH Domain project "SynFuels" for the development of sustainable aviation fuels. With its studies and experimental investigations, PSI has contributed significantly to the scientific and technical basis for Nagra's siting proposal for the deep geological repository for radioactive waste in Switzerland.
In light of the current challenges, the Directorate establishes an Energy Mission Statement for PSI with fields of action and concrete measures.
Research findings and political and social framework conditions all serve as guidelines for this Energy Mission Statement. Moreover, the institute’s role model function should also be evident.
- PSI runs internationally competitive, large research facilities for a broad national and international user community.
- PSI conducts and promotes internationally recognised cutting-edge research for a sustainable energy supply.
- PSI acts as a role model for efficient energy use.
- PSI conveys up-to-date knowledge on energy-related issues to its apprentices, post-graduates, post-docs and staff.
- The Energy Mission Statement is in keeping with the strategic development of PSI. Its currentness and implementation is reviewed periodically and, if need be, amended by the PSI Directorate.
- Conflicts of interest are taken into consideration, scrutinised and communicated transparently. Decisions should be broadly supported by consulting an expert committee appointed by the Directorate. Examples of conflicting interests at PSI include:
- Operating large research facilities vs energy use
- Global orientation of research and education vs CO2 emissions related to mobility
- Technical feasibility vs financial parameters
- Research and educational needs vs measures to increase energy efficiency
- Using funds to subsidise the acquisition of new technologies vs funds for PSI’s own research
- With due regard to the aforementioned conflicts of interest, energy is used as efficiently as possible at PSI.
- The energy services to be rendered permitting, low-order energy forms (e.g. waste heat) are preferred over higher-order energy forms (e.g. electricity).
- PSI defines reduction scales for its own end energy needs in defined sectors, the use of non-renewable energies and its CO2 emissions. These reduction scales include targets for 2030 and 2040.
- For long-term and bigger decisions, the specific knowledge of PSI’s own staff is systematically requested and integrated.
- PSI actively seeks an exchange of ideas on energy with universities and industry in order to improve steadily by implementing best-practice examples.
- The Energy Mission Statement prompts concrete measures in the following fields of activity:
- Construction, operation and renovation of large research facilities
- Education of and awareness-raising among PSI staff
- New buildings and redevelopments
- Operation of the basic infrastructure
- Reporting and communication
- The measures are systematically collected, evaluated, reported and their successes publicised accordingly.
Concrete Fields of Activity for the PSI Energy Mission Statement
Large Research Facilities
PSI runs internationally competitive, large research facilities on behalf of the Swiss Confederation for a broad national and international user community. Due to physical circumstances, these facilities are extremely energy-intensive. Although the benefits gained from the research conducted at these facilities justifies this energy use, the energy aspect is also factored into their planning, construction, operation and renovation.
- Renovation programmes at the accelerator facilities enable older components to be replaced with new, efficient and energy-optimised parts. Aspects of energy efficiency should serve as a general guideline for refurbishments, modernisations and replacement equipment.
- For new components, facilities and upgrade projects (e.g. SLS 2.0), particular attention is paid to energy efficiency (e.g. heat recovery, power electronics, magnets, high-frequency components).
- When planning new research facilities, a targeted energy minimisation and optimisation process should be carried out, preferably with the involvement of specialists.
- When procuring equipment, the most efficient options are generally preferred in terms of a life-cycle evaluation.
There is a long tradition of energy research at PSI. Over 380 members of staff with more than eighty doctoral students and forty-five postdocs shape energy research in the following subject areas: the exploitation of renewable energies, the efficient conversion, storage and use of energy, the supply of electricity, the safe operation of nuclear facilities and the permanent disposal of radioactive waste.
- PSI conducts internationally recognised cutting-edge research in the energy sector. Switzerland needs a long-term, sustainable energy outlook, which requires concrete solution strategies and long-term technological and social innovations in equal measure. PSI makes important contributions towards this goal.
- PSI has specifically expanded its research competence in the fields of energy systems analysis, energy conversion and storage, biomass processes and catalysis. The ESI platform was realised to develop and present the related technologies. The topics of operating nuclear power stations safely and the permanent storage of radioactive waste are an additional focus.
Education and Awareness-Raising
PSI makes valuable contributions to teaching at Switzerland’s academic institutions and educates post-graduate students and postdocs. These are joined by almost 100 apprentices in the non-academic sector.
- PSI boosts its staff’s understanding of energy-relevant topics.
- PSI provides a substantial amount of its own funding to finance doctoral projects and postdoc stints in energy research.
- PSI is increasingly addressing the interdisciplinary approach to answering questions on a sustainable energy supply.
- The critical discussion on energy-related topics such as a sustainable energy, economic viability or efficiency at all educational levels is also to be encouraged at PSI.
- The staff at PSI are motivated for resource-conserving conduct through incentives and awareness-raising.
- PSI’s organisational units and offices are involved in the efforts to increase energy efficiency at PSI while striving for a balance between individual responsibility and guidelines.
New Buildings and Redevelopments
Energy efficiency has been taken into consideration for new buildings and redevelopments at PSI for quite some time. In doing so, energy efficiency targets that achieve or even exceed well-established energy labels are striven for. The efforts are rounded off with the construction and expansion of a comprehensive heat recovery system from the large research and infrastructural facilities.
- PSI aims for a holistic energy development, taking optimised solutions with regard to overall energy and energy expenditure into account.
- PSI aims to reduce CO2 emissions rapidly and increase the proportion of renewable energy in its infrastructural energy use. PSI guarantees the reduction of CO2 emissions through concrete energy-related demands on redevelopment concepts and new building standards.
- In tenders, PSI focuses on sustainability criteria in general and energy efficiency in particular. Considering the entire lifecycle is an integral part of this.
- In the case of larger investment projects, PSI assesses costs, energy consumption and emissions throughout the investment’s entire lifecycle. For new buildings, state-of-the-art technology and energy-efficient building methods that are tailored to the particular mode of usage are used.
Operation of the Basic Infrastructure
The infrastructural energy efficiency has been optimised at PSI for years and is becoming increasingly important. It is harmonised with the operational planning of the large research facilities.
- Securing the energy supply is central and a top priority for PSI.
- Where appropriate, PSI supports the production of renewable electricity and, on a case-by-case basis, its implementation.
- Since 2020, PSI has been obtaining all its electricity with hydropower certificates and implements the targets for increased electricity generation with photovoltaics.
- PSI specifically advocates the operation of the new comprehensive heat recovery system and its expansion.
- Internal PSI guidelines and standards regarding energy efficiency are considered seriously when purchasing the building and climate technology used.
- The main energy consumers’ operations are optimised systematically and continuously (building technology, IT infrastructure and other large-scale equipment).
- PSI has guidelines on energy efficiency for the procurement of standard equipment (e.g. refrigerators, computers, printers etc.).
PSI is in constant talks with the Canton of Aargau and the neighbouring municipalities. The aim is to maximise the use of public transport and non-motorised transport by its staff through mobility management.
- For national and international cooperation, PSI provides IT applications (e.g. video conferencing systems) and actively encourages their use.
- Air travel is used sparingly at PSI in order to reduce flight emissions.
- If possible, rail travel is preferred over air or road travel.
- PSI motivates its commuters to opt for environmentally friendly mobility by promoting public transport (direct and evening buses, payment of Half-Fare travelcard) and non-motorised transport (cycling, walking).
- Through the promotion of the public transport services and car park management, PSI is looking to minimise the amount of motorised individual transport while taking the geographic circumstances into account.
- PSI supports the use of alternative means of transport for commuting by providing its staff with an adequate infrastructure.
Reporting and Communication
For the last twenty years, PSI has been recording its energy statistics systematically and reporting them transparently both internally and externally. As part of the exemplary function of the Swiss Federal Government, PSI is a member of the "Exemplary Energy and Climate" initiative and complies with the requirements of the "Climate Package of the Federal Administration".
Appropriate and cost-effective energy controlling is conducted in all energy-related areas.
- Energy-related data on awareness-raising is made available to the individual organisational units annually.
Publisher: PSI Directorate
Editorial team: Environmental and Energy Steering Committee