Energypolis, an ambitious campus combining research and commercial applications
In view of its climate and distinctive mountainous terrain, the Valais canton was always destined to play a leading role in the energy transition. And with its status as a green energy powerhouse, the region and Energypolis Campus (Sion, Canton of Valais) form the cornerstone of an innovation ecosystem that addresses the challenges posed by climate change.
This ambitious project involving an investment of more than 400 million Swiss francs is promoting a concept at the cutting edge of innovation, bringing together players in fundamental research, applied research and the development of commercial applications. This innovation chain for the energy, environment and healthcare sectors combines the forces of EPFL Valais-Wallis, HES-SO Valais-Wallis and The Ark Foundation. As a result, Energypolis is a unique partnership unrivalled in Switzerland, bringing together on the same site a federal institute of technology and a university of applied sciences to create a powerful synergy.
With the energy and environmental challenges that we face, Energypolis is working to create a vision of tomorrow’s Switzerland. This campus is a driving force in efforts to devise concrete solutions for storage, energy conversion, mobility, new materials (for insulation, environmental decontamination, photovoltaic cells, etc.) and developing advanced energy generation and chemical processes. It is also active in the sector of hydrogen.
Concrete solutions to climate change
In the search for solutions, start-ups like GRZ Technologies (developing a hydrogen storage solution that uses metal hydrides), ExerGo (CO2-based heating and air-conditioning systems), DynaBlue (using thermal flow sensors to improve the efficiency of industrial processes), DePoly (depolymerisation of PET), UHCS (a modular construction system that uses recycled PET), and Urbio (the urban planning software of the future, incorporating energy transition requirements), show that the approach adopted by Energypolis is the right one. The campus and its incubator foster the development of concrete solutions which are the result of a concerted dialogue between academic and economic players that takes full account of the industrial fabric.
This model is both relevant and attractive, as demonstrated by the recent arrival at Energypolis of the Swiss Polar Institute (SPI), a body of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), and the Alpine and Polar Environment Research Center (ALPOLE), which is working on strategies to mitigate or adapt to the impacts of climate change on the environment. The work currently being carried out in these institutes has for example revealed the part that mountain watercourses play in transporting the CO2 released by melting glaciers.