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The Swiss Physical Society (SPS) is the national professional association of Physicists coming from teaching, research, development and industry. The diversity of modern research in physics is reflected in ten specific sections.

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Energy and Sustainability: Inaugural session

This inaugural session of the newly founded SPS section on Energy and Sustainability will take place on Friday 13 September and aims to start a dialogue, knowledge and know-how exchange, and possibly collaboration among physicists in academic and industrial research institutes on how to solve the huge challenges of a successful energy transition. Both facets will be touched in this first symposium (which is planned to be followed in future by similar continuation symposia, due to the large extent of the topic): research in physics on sustainable energy and power technologies, and responsibly sustainable research in physics. For this purpose, high-level speakers are invited which represent Swiss top world-class research institutions.

The first three presentations will shed light on ongoing cutting-edge science and possible future research strategies in the field. Professor Gabriela Hug from the Power Systems Laboratory at the ETH will start with a contribution on “The Future of the Electrical Energy System: from Rotating Masses to Power Electronics”, providing an overview on possible changes of the electric power system and highlighting the associated consequences and challenges, with some focus on control strategies. Dr. Lorenz Herrmann, head of the advanced materials and surface department and directory board member from the EMPA, will emphasize “The importance of physics in material science & technology for sustainable energy applications”, with several examples illustrating the historical fact that material science is always playing a leading role in technology revolutions like the energy transition. Furthermore, Thomas Justus Schmidt, head of the energy & environment research division, directory board member of the PSI, and Professor at the Institute of Molecular Physical Sciences of the ETH, will guide us through a short journey of energy efficiency, energy storage necessities, and discuss possible pathways to reach the NetZero goal in the Swiss energy transition.

The following two speakers will, on the other hand, discuss the sustainability challenges to conduct research in large-footprint physics, like high energy and particle physics. Sonja Kleiner, as the Head of the CERN HSE Environment Group, will introduce CERN’s strategy on environmentally responsible research. Dr. Patrick Koppenburg, from the Netherland National Institute for Subatomic Physics (Nikhef) and CERN will talk about a sustainable future in high-energy physics on behalf of the HECAP+ (High Energy, Cosmology, Astroparticle, Hadron and Nuclear Physics) sustainability community. Both bottom-up and top-down initiatives for energy-efficient laboratory practices will be presented to show how integrating sustainability considerations into research can accelerate the transition to a more sustainable energy future.

After the presentations a panel discussion will take place, where the presenters will answer questions from the audience, and which will be moderated by Prof. Hugo Zbinden from the University of Geneva.

Join us and be part of the research community at the forefront of energy transition!