03.06.2020 | New Smart Energy Lab at Umwelt Arena Spreitenbach

"Not all electricity is the same"

As of today, visitors at the Umwelt Arena in Spreitenbach can interactively get to know the electricity supply system in the new "Smart Energy Lab". Jeanette Schranz, Deputy Head Stakeholder Communications and PR Manager at Axpo explains what's behind the new, permanent exhibition in an interview.

Electricity can be experienced in a new way on a surface of about 200 square metres. In the Smart Energy Lab, Umwelt Arena visitors can now find out what it takes to have sufficient power available at all times for very different needs. And this whether the sun shines, whether wind blows, or whether demand changes.

Jeanette Schranz, Deputy Head Stakeholder Communications and PR Manager at Axpo designed the content and produced the exhibition together with her colleagues. She gives us a first look at the new permanent exhibition:

Jeanette, what's the idea behind the Smart Energy Lab motto "Electricity is only as intelligent as you make it”?

Electricity is a lot more complex than it seems at first glance. A lot of factors come into play so that we can have power round the clock in our apartments, during our free time and at work.

For example, someone who only wants to use power from renewable sources such as wind and sun is too dependent on the weather. Electricity can only be generated when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. The power system is different depending on the selected power mix.

What can visitors expect when they come to the Smart Energy Lab?

Visitors get what a lab promises: In the Smart Energy Lab, they can get hands on experience and learn about electricity in different ways. They get an understanding of why power generation and consumption always have to be in balance in five different exhibits. We also venture a look into the future and let visitors put together their own power mix for the year 2050. They have to be able to move fast because the city can only be supplied with power if they react quickly to weather or seasonal factors. The slide gives them first-hand experience of how much energy is needed to charge a mobile phone. Anyone who wants to learn more about the individual electricity generation technologies or consumers can compare them in a fun way and will realise: Not all electricity is the same.

Axpo has been present at Umwelt Arena for a long time. What's the objective of the new exhibition in Spreitenbach?

Yes, Axpo has been present with an exhibition at Umwelt Arena for several years. In the new exhibition, we moved the focus on pure power production to the whole power system. It's important to us to provide visitors with an overall picture of the world of electricity. This world is extremely diverse and affects us all – we all get our power from the electric socket. In a fun way, we show what factors come into play to keep the system stable and to supply Switzerland with enough electricity. 

Jeanette Schranz, Project Lead Smart Energy Lab

In the exhibition, you also touch upon a new type of job profile in the energy sector, the originator. What does an originator do?

Originators have been around in the energy sector for several years. However, this job profile is so specific that few people outside of the electricity world know about it. An originator has an important advisory and mediating role. As an energy professional he advises power producers and consumers, and develops products and tailored solutions for them. He also manages the risks involved and acts as the link to the power market. Visitors can learn the various facets of this profession in the exhibit.

The energy industry is in constant transformation. How do you deal with this fact in the exhibition?

Our exhibition points out how different factors influence the system. The Smart Energy Lab addresses the pulse of the times and gives visitors an understanding of what's involved in this transformation. In another part of the exhibition we look at three big trends in the energy world. The lab allows us to explain the power landscape in all its complexity in a simple, understandable way. We're looking forward to the first reactions from visitors.

What exactly does an originator do?

The power future without nuclear energy. Can you put the high-rise building in the green zone?

The lamp only lights up when power generation and consumption are in balance. Can you do it?

Sliding until your mobile phone is charged.

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