The installation of rooftop solar systems and the use of state-of-the-art, energy-saving LED lighting systems have already set the course for efficient and future-oriented action. With the switch to hydro energy, VAT is now consistently taking the next step – and once again, the Haag site in Switzerland is leading the way here, as it is now "Full speed ahead with hydropower!"
What we know today as hydropower, hydro energy, or quite simply water power, was probably used in ancient China about 5,000 years ago. We can still remember watermills today, which were the main use of hydro energy until the beginning of the 20th century. At first glance, today's hydroelectric powerplants, which are true high-tech wonders, do not have much in common with the mill on the rushing brook. However, the principle of energy generation is still the same.
Hydro energy refers to the conversion of the potential and kinetic energy of water into mechanical work. Water that is above sea level has potential energy. Gravity causes this potential energy to be converted into kinetic energy through acceleration. Hydroelectric powerplants use turbines to convert this fluid potential energy into mechanical energy (rotational energy). Generators then finally provide the conversion into electric current.
As a regenerative energy source, hydroelectric power is baseload capable. Unlike wind and solar energy, hydroelectric power is practically independent of external factors. For example, the sun must first shine for solar energy to become available; the wind has to blow so that it can be used in the form of wind energy. Hydropower has baseload capability in common with biomass and geothermal energy (geothermal heat). In addition, hydropower complements fluctuating renewables such as solar or wind energy perfectly.
Today, hydropower is the world's most important source of electricity from renewable energies. In this respect, Switzerland occupies a top position among European countries. Renewable energies already account for 62 percent of domestic electricity production. For 58 percent, hydropower is the most important electricity supplier among renewable energies.
VAT started in the 1960s as a company with a strong focus on research. Thus, its permanent orientation towards the latest findings and state-of-the-art technology is practically part of the company's DNA. The conversion to hydropower at the Haag site now makes this clear once again.
VAT started relying on renewable energies in 2013 with the commissioning of a photovoltaic system at the Haag site. With the increased use of heat exchange systems with groundwater to cool the production facilities, the company is also exploiting the potential of geothermal energy. The use of state-of-the-art energy-saving LED lighting systems and the continuous improvement of thermal insulation in ceilings and walls to increase energy efficiency are further measures already implemented as part of the company's sustainability offensive.
VAT Environmental Program Manager Heinz Märkli leaves no doubt about the goal: "We want to successively reduce our total CO2 emissions towards zero. To achieve this goal, clean renewable energy goes hand in hand with highly efficient high-tech solutions at VAT."
The total energy savings in 2020 amounted to 15,686,032 kWh. This energy would theoretically be enough to toast 2 billion slices of toast for breakfast in the morning, work on a laptop for almost 800 million hours, watch 100 million hours of television in the evening or iron 230 million shirts for the next working day. (By the way, if those shirts should get dirty at some point, this energy provides enough power for 15 million wash cycles.) And all that wouldn't even have to be done in the dark, because this amount of electricity allows an energy-saving lamp to burn for about 1.5 billion hours.
By switching to hydro energy, VAT is not compromising on the issue of renewable energy. The company is not focusing on only one regenerative energy source. With the use of solar energy, geothermal energy (heat from the earth) and now also hydro energy, VAT is tapping the entire regenerative potential and setting an example for more sustainability and future-oriented action.
Thus, the decision in favor of hydro energy is also representative of the company's philosophy. This is where VAT's enthusiasm for progress comes together with the reliable baseload capability and purity of renewable hydropower… Passion. Precision. Purity.