On August 8, the House of Switzerland Brazil 2016 (HoS) was opened differently. Sebastian Zumbühl, our Junior Project Manager, had the mission to inform all the HoS visitors (who already were queuing to get in!) about the additional interactive activities organized jointly by swissnex Brazil and the Swiss Business Hub Brazil for the Energy Day.
Besides all the activities offered regularly by the House of Switzerland Brazil 2016 for the great audience – some of them also highly innovative and with zero water and energy footprint, such as innovative Swiss the ice-rink – during the Energy Day one could never imagine what the funniest activity about that day would be: to generate your own electricity by cycling on a stationary e-bike and to use this electrical energy to power a raclette machine!
All volunteers that queued (again!) to cycle were awarded a degustation of raclette cheese melted with their own muscle power. But in order to power a 2.000 Watt raclette machine a whole team of 12 cyclists was needed, bringing the Olympic team spirit into the game. Moreover, by using a 2.000 Watt raclette machine, swissnex Brazil was giving a clear example and showing in practice the concept developed in the city of Zurich: 2.000 Watt society. All the 12 cyclists giving their full muscle power to generate electricity for one entire year in a non-stop manner would equal the amount of electricity consumed per capita annually given the 2.000 Watt society concept. Many of the cyclists couldn’t believe that and with a lot of sweat coming from their bodies they committed on reducing their own energy footprint from that point on. After tasting a delicious “muscle-made” raclette cheese, the volunteer cyclists headed to the 2.000 Watt society temporary exhibition at the HoS and learned more about this initiative. Another temporary exhibition available at the HoS was the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) exhibition co-organized by swissnex Brazil and ecoinvent. The amount of electricity needed to melt raclette cheese was already known and now it was time to learn how much electrical energy was needed to produce chocolate, coffee or a regular t-shirt. Definitely, a seed was planted on every HoS visitor, helping them define what electricity consumption cap would enable Cariocas to live comfortably, without impacting negatively the environment.
A closed workshop session started in the afternoon bringing for the very first time Swiss and Brazilian energy experts to present and debate the challenges of each country on integrating a high share of renewable intermittent sources (such as solar and wind) into their grids. The workshop started with presentations from government representatives on current scenarios, both in Brazil and Switzerland, and its challenges to speed up the deployment of renewable energies. Following, many interesting ongoing initiatives were highlighted, such as the blueFACTORY, the Swiss innovation quarter, which aims to be a zero-carbon facility, demanding quite challenging energy-related solutions. To close the session, companies active in the fields of smart metering, optimization of electrical grids and simulation of renewable energy power plants showed the expert workshop audience, that ranked from researchers, companies, government representatives to young entrepreneurs, the tools needed to reach a future with cleaner energy sources being used in a rational way. The common ground both in Switzerland and in Brazil on already having an expertise of operating electricity grids with a high share of hydropower, led the discussions between the invited energy expert guests and panelists to high-level conclusions and suggestions.
After the workshop, it was time for several Swiss and Brazilian startups to pitch their business ideas in a more TED-style presentation, showing on one side their unique selling proposition, but bringing their innovative solutions under the 2.000 Watt umbrella concept chosen for the Energy Day. The entire audience at the HoS was invited to join energy expert guests for the Pitching Session. It was a great opportunity for everyone to learn more about some of the energy-related features of the House of Switzerland Brazil 2016, such as the Urban Flow Wind Turbine. The Honeycomb is an urban wind harvesting project and was brought by swissnex Brazil and by the Presence Switzerland to be exhibited and to generate electricity at the HoS in order to charge mobile phones from Cariocas passing by the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas lake. During the TED-style Pitching Session, it was even possible to learn that the HoS was being monitored in terms of its electricity consumption. The Brazilian startup Green Ant placed smart meters to assess how much electricity was being consumed by the entire HoS and in its kitchen to feed all its visitors.
Ecoinvent presented the premises of the temporary exhibition at the HoS and set the stage for the Swiss startup Quantis to share the main outcomes of their Olympic Games Energy LCA Footprint study.
As the Olympic competition spirit could be felt in the city of Rio de Janeiro during that period, the Swiss and Brazilian startups competed for a solar mobile charger as an award. But this time, the judges to select the best startups of each session were the HoS visitors and energy expert guests, who voted online and in real time to select the startup solution that will contribute the most to a 2.000 Watt society worldwide. The Brazilian startup Green Ant, which impressed the audience showing the real time electricity consumption of the HoS in their pitch presentation, won the public voting award for the first batch of pitches. The audience chose the Brazilian magnetic levitation train, Mag-Lev, developed at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, as the best solution presented in the second batch of pitches. Clearly, having two Brazilian startups/projects winning the public voting award indicated the ongoing nationalist feeling enhanced during the beginning of the Olympic Games (or simply the Cariocas dissatisfaction with the increased traffic jam in the city of Rio de Janeiro during that time frame). What a nice way to have the House of Switzerland Brazil 2016 as a platform to apply some of the disruptive Swiss and Brazilian energy-related innovative solutions and to showcase them to a wide audience!