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Swiss Railways among winners of energy prize

Swiss train pulls into station
Rather than producing more energy, Swiss Railways is developing new ways to manage existing supplies. Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

Switzerland’s national rail system has been recognised for its innovative approach to regulating electricity consumption that could serve as a blueprint for the country’s grid.

Swiss Federal Railways has developed an IT system that temporarily switches off heating in carriages when they are full during peak hours. In this way, the railway network says it will be able to flexibly manage the consumption of 70 megawatts of power by 2023.

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) has awarded its annual Watt d’Or prizeExternal link to the Railways along with two other Swiss energy-saving projects in the fields of agriculture and construction.

A group of farmers in canton Zug, who formed the company Verora, are fellow recipients of the prize for their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from livestock.

Verora designed and built a system for burning vegetation to create a type of charcoal known as biochar. This is added to livestock feed to reduce the amount of gases cattle produce when digesting their food.

It is also credited with producing more nutrient-rich fertilizer for crop production.

The RaumRaster prefabricated building design, created by the company schaerraum, has also been recognised by Seco this year. This comprises of a wooden structure, made of local materials, fixed onto a concrete base.

When combined with smart energy systems, the building skeletons are said to produce 50% more energy than they consume.

The construction allows houses to be built within eight months at a cheaper cost than traditional construction methods. The company says this could reduce rent prices by up to 20%.

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