Major trends in the research on energy

In the past two decades, energy research has gained growing importance as a key pillar of sustainable development. At the University of Geneva, energy research deals with whole systems rather than individual devices and it includes subsystems (e.g., single family houses), full process chains, and large geographical systems (e.g., a city or a country). Energy research at the University of Geneva is interdisciplinary in nature. It is rooted in state-of-the-art understanding of technology and engineering as well as knowledge from environmental and earth sciences, economics, policy, and other social sciences. 

Energy efficiency and renewable energy

Essentially all human activities are driven by energy, of which the vast majority nowadays originates from non-renewable sources. Global energy use has increased rapidly and continually for the past 150 years as a consequence of industrialization, the rising world population and growing wealth. For the same reasons, global energy use is projected to continue to increase in the coming decades, even in the most ambitious policy scenarios. 

Energy research at the University of Geneva therefore focuses on energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as their optimized roles in the energy systems of the future. Examples of key research questions tackled are:

  • What is an adequate mix of energy efficiency measures and different types of renewable energy sources?
  • How to balance centralized and decentralized energy technologies?
  • How to integrate demand side management and energy storage at different scales, possibly making use of new technical synergies and organizational solutions?
  • What is an adequate mix of coercive regulatory measures versus market-based and voluntary approaches and the respective design of each of them?
  • And, in more general terms, how to maximize the driving forces favoring the pursued energy transition and how to minimize the respective barriers?

The research methods applied include:

  • Techno-economic modelling (simulation and optimization)
  • Economic assessment (micro & macro)
  • Risk analysis
  • LCA (Life Cycle Assessment)
  • Spatial analysis
  • Evaluation of existing energy systems
  • Policy analysis and policy design


The energy domain

Energy research at the University of Geneva is conducted by the following groups/clusters:

Across these groups, more than 30 researchers are working in the energy domain at University of Geneva. They are affiliated to the Faculty of Science, Geneva School of Economics and Management and the Institute of Environmental Sciences. The researchers in the energy domain keep close ties to other university colleagues that bring additional perspectives on energy:


The researchers belonging to the energy domain of University of Geneva are contributing to large national energy research networks, such as:

·         SWEET-EDGE: Enabling Decentralized renewable GEneration in the Swiss cities, midlands, and the Alps, co-led by Prof Eveline Trutnevyte

·         SWEET-DeCarbCH: Decarbonisation of Cooling and Heating in Switzerland, led by Prof. Martin Patel

·         RENOWAVE: Decarbonisation of the building stock, co-led by Dr. Pierre Hollmuller

Furthermore, UNIGE groups are participating in SWEET-PATHFNDR, SWEET-Lantern, SWEET-COSI and SwissSTES.

The projects conducted by the energy groups are funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, Innosuisse, cantonal authorities (e.g., cantonal energy office), the programme SWEET (SWiss Energy research for the Energy Transition), the European Commission, energy utilities as well as other companies and organizations.