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22 September 2011

Interview with Patrick Aebischer, President, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL)

 What are the big issues for the Future of Energy at the moment?

The three major challenges for the 21st Century are Climate Change (due to CO2 emissions), Megacities (by 2035, more than 8 billion people will live in cities) and Health (aging population, population growth and epidemic prevention). All of these challenges have an energy element to them, especially when you consider the relationship between water, food production and energy. As the world population grows, the energy demand to maintain the world in water, food and electricity will expand exponentially. How we will manage this demand without further damaging the environment? Along the same lines, how can communicate the urgency of these developments to the general public based on scientific evidence without getting entangled in ideological battles?


How do you think we can make a difference?

Science and technology have allowed for important progress that has accelerated the consumption of earth’s natural resources. Now it is up to science to be the “honest broker;” telling the truth even if it is problematic, and to present the totality of possibilities for energy management based on solid knowledge. As a technical university, EPFL must also play the role of developing new technologies that are in themselves energy efficient or technologies that improve energy management. Both of our vetted EU flagship programs, Guardian Angels and Human Brain project, promise to have a lasting impact on energy policy by developing zero-energy personal devices or making strides in low-energy neuromorphic computing for supercomputers. An academic structure is also ideal for developing tailor-made solutions for governments looking to implement new energy strategies. EPFL Middle East, our collaboration with the UAE government in Ras-al-Khaimah, is a research and educational facility aimed at developing green energy technologies for the region such as climate driven architecture or smart grid technology.


Why are you attending EFEF?
A blanket solution for the future of the world’s energy will not be possible, and the role of research institutions is to do the hard, groundbreaking work. But in order to be effective in this field, collaborations across industry and across borders is essential—researchers need to enter into dialogue with their academic counterparts in other countries as well as be in tune with industry needs. The EFEF is an ideal platform for these types of exchanges. Finally, it is a platform of communication, and communicating about the future of energy is an essential link in the process of finding solutions. 

Register now for the conference to see Patrick Aebischer speak on the Future of Energy - see full conference details at www.EuropeanFutureEnergyForum.com/conference and register now online at www.EuropeanFutureEnergyForum.com/register