Ecoparc Forum 2017

Forum Ecoparc 2017 © Olivier Wavre

Forum Ecoparc 2017 © Olivier Wavre

The 9th edition of the Ecoparc Forum has brought together about a hundred participants on September 8 in the Auditorium of Microcity, the EPFL antenna in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Entitled "Solar potential of urban areas : towards new paradigms ?", this forum was organized in partnership with the ACTIVE INTERFACES research project, within the framework of the national research program PNR 70 "Energy Turnaround" of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). Speakers included Prof. Emmanuel Rey, head of the LAST at EPFL and president of the organization committee, Prof. Christophe Baillif, head of the PV-Lab at the EPFL, Dr. Laure-Emmanuelle Perret-Aebi, sector leader at the PV Center of the CSEM, Dr. Hans Curtius from the Institute for Economy and the Environment of the University of St-Gall, Karl Viriden, founder of the architectural firm Viriden & Partner in Zurich, and Raphaëlle-Laure Perraudin, director of the office Jourda Architectes Paris.

According to projections for the energy transition, a significant part of electricity production will be of solar origin by 2050. In this context, the integration of photovoltaic energy production into the heart of urban territories is a major challenge for the upcoming decades, both for energy systems that have to integrate increased decentralization and for the built environment in a densification phase.

Despite technological and economic progress, only a small percentage of this potential is currently valued in the Swiss urban areas. Various obstacles tend to limit their implementation in urban renewal processes and to slow the emergence of a real value chain in this strategic domain.

Recent technological developments offer new perspectives, not only in terms of energy performance, but also in terms of industrial innovation and architectural integration. Thanks to an expanded range of technologies, textures and colors, photovoltaic systems can now be more easily integrated into the building envelope, both in the roof and façade. The result is new paradigms for urban and architectural projects, whether for new buildings or for renovations. Exceeding their current status as consumers, buildings are also likely to become electricity generators. This development is a major challenge for current practices, both at environmental and socio-economic levels.

All through the day, researchers, practitioners and persons in charge of the public communities in Switzerland, France and Belgium, shared their research enabling attendees to identify challenges inherent to the energy transition and steps to promote the integration of solar active systems in to urban renewal processes.

The morning was dedicated to the issues related to the solar potential in the Swiss urban areas. The thematic approaches have shown the importance of the recent development in the field of photovoltaic systems and the huge increase of the architectural integration possibilities. The afternoon was an opportunity for participants to share experiences in the framework of projects in Switzerland, France and Belgium. Rich in teachings and visions for the future, this day was an opportunity to bring together researchers, practitioners and public authorities to examine the evolutions taking place in urban territories.