(Video in French only)
EPFL is home to a solar park, which has a surface area of around 16,000 m2 and covers the roofs and facades of buildings on our Lausanne campus. We have the capacity to install a further 9,000 m2 of solar panels.
We announced the joint initiative with Romande Energie to build a solar park in 2009, and the solar panels were installed in phases between 2010 and 2015. When it was installed, the park was the largest of its kind in Switzerland. The park generates 2.1 MW of power per year, which is equivalent to the annual power use of around 600 households. All this power is currently employed for our own needs, and it accounts for around 3% of our total annual power use – a percentage that’s set to increase in the coming years.
Our research activities are very energy intensive: many data servers, air conditioners, freezers, lasers and research instruments have to run for 24 hours a day. By making this equipment more energy efficient and renovating our campus, we hope to significantly reduce our energy-related carbon emissions.
In addition to the solar park, we have also installed solar panels on the Polychinelle daycare building and on the four facades and roof of our thermal power plant. In total, solar panels generate around 2.5 GWh per year on our Lausanne campus.
Our joint initiative with Romande Energie has led to several other R&D projects in the field of solar energy. Of the approximately CHF 12 million that were invested in our Lausanne campus, CHF 2 million were allocated to the development of prototypes. These include prototypes for Graetzel cells and the Kromatix™ process – which are being tested on the facade of the SwissTech Convention Center and on the ELL building – as well as Smart Grid batteries for storing solar power.
In addition, the trend towards vertical solar panels is set to grow. After we covered the entire facade of our thermal power plant in 2021, and then renovated the ELL building’s facade in 2023, we set the goal of using as much of the Lausanne campus’ wall space as possible to expand our solar energy production.
We estimate that we have the capacity to install a further 9,000 m2 of solar panels on buildings at our Lausanne campus. This does not include buildings that are currently in the planning stage, such as the Advanced Science Building, or the renovation and extension of the Coupole-Esplanade buildings, which will take place from 2026 onwards. These buildings will be able to house a large number of panels on both their roofs and facades.