The SUNERGIE® concept is a revolutionary solar system for heating, cooling and hot water production. SUNERGIE® is ideally suited for the renovation of existing heating and hot water systems by using the existing construction and distribution in a very intelligent way. ERTE is the only company that can transform oil installations into a powerful geothermal heat pump system without the need for expensive geothermal probes.

Oil, gas and pellets: it's over

Several cities in Switzerland and in Europe will ban thermal cars and thermal heating systems, some as early as 2030. Electric cars will revolutionize individual mobility for four and two-wheelers, but not only. Zurich, for example, has just decided that in future the use of oil and gas heating in new buildings must be banned. It is just a matter of time before this decision is implemented.

In our field of activity which is the HVCS, we see the same trend. Solar thermal, which has been in free fall since 2010, will hardly sell at all by 2025. A young product of only 35 years that will disappear in a few years already, like for example the audio and VHS cassettes. Indeed, the solar thermal will logically and definitively be replaced by the photovoltaic solar whose output increases year after year, which is less and less expensive and which is significantly more reliable and durable.

The future will not be oil or gas, not even pellets, which are outdated systems from another age, that of the Neanderthals: fire… which is toxic and polluting.

These billions of “modern” fireplaces – but still fires – spread all over our planet heat our earth three times:

  • A first time to heat of course the billions of buildings, produce hot water and to produce electricity in thermal power plants,
  • A second time by emitting in our atmosphere billions of tons of CO and CO₂ which makes greenhouse effect not letting escape this heat produced in space,
  • A third time in a way having triggered a vicious circle, this runaway global warming where this greenhouse effect is multiplied to such an extent letting less and less CO₂ escape, increasing the galoping global warming of our environment.

A bit like if we parked our cars and motorcycles in our homes and offices, leaving their engines running.

The deadly consequences are well known, nobody would have the crazy idea to do so, nor for example to put our heads in transparent plastic bags instead of masks to protect us more quickly from… Covid-19.

But from a planetary point of view, this is exactly what is happening: united by the strength of 8 billion inhabitants, we have put a gigantic thick transparent plastic bag around our planet and tightly tied the ends so as not to let anything escape: we are going straight away, towards collective suicide.

This mattress of CO₂ above our heads has become so dense and thick that it would take more a century than a few decades to make it reabsorb and this even if we all stopped emitting it right now in 2021 where these lines are written.

Another frightening detail is the fact that just 1 small % of the world’s population, the rich, is responsible for the 50% of CO₂ emissions.

Since the onset of the Coronavirus in 2020, the other 99%, the poor have significantly decreased their CO₂ emissions by increasing their poverty, while the rich have increased it again.

It can be seen that we the rich, must urgently take responsibility and immediately stop, or at least drastically reduce, our CO₂ emissions to set an example.

All these systems that burn, regardless of their modernity and the fuels used, coal, oil, gas, wood, emit billions of tons of CO and CO₂ into our atmosphere while decreasing the production of Oxygen through deforestation and pollution and destruction of the oceans, this Oxygen so vital for combustion, but also and above all for… breathing, Men and animals. They must therefore definitely disappear from our technical premises and boiler rooms.

Even if the pellet is not a fossil energy, to have to import it and to transport it on hundreds and thousands of kilometers with boats and tankers running on diesel to supply boilers, until in the cities, is an ineptitude.

Even geothermal probes, which are and will always remain highly technical and costly systems, will disappear tomorrow, just as solar thermal collectors are disappearing today, their death having already begun in 2010. Both technologies are outdated by the arrival of new processes and by the galloping global warming that generates new needs such as air conditioning to cope today with Sicilian summer temperatures even in Switzerland in July and in a few years on the months of June to August.

Another major disadvantage of the systems described above: none of them is capable of… producing cold to air-condition our premises. As the climate change is getting worse every year, this has already become a necessity, not only in the cars that all politicians on the planet have accepted, but also in offices and homes.

The classical and solar thermal technical principles are also obsolete

Every place of living or working needs the right climatic conditions to be able to live and work there. A comfortable room temperature is ideally between 20°C and 22°C in winter and between 26°C and 28°C in summer. We also need hot water between 45°C and 55°C to wash our hands, shower, wash dishes and clothes.

So we all have almost identical climatic needs, but live and work in totally different geographical locations with equally different and sometimes even extreme climates. The ways of achieving these comfort claims are therefore equally dissimilar. The difficulty is increased when it comes to multi-use premises with different comfort requirements, such as a gym that is regularly transformed into a multi-purpose room. We are therefore faced with almost as many heating and cooling systems as there are buildings.

What is astonishing is that it is practically only in the mobility industry that we find efficient, automatic, standardized and almost identical climate control systems from one brand to another, which work perfectly well in any season, anywhere on this planet, whether in Siberia with its -50°C or in the deserts with its +50°C. So the majority of the 2 billion motor vehicles like cars, trucks, buses and coaches, but also trains, etc. in the world are equipped with very standardized climate control systems.

But it is also astonishing that it is almost the opposite in the building industry, where we have almost as many prototypes of hydraulic schemes, more or less complicated, as buildings to ensure climatic comfort in their interiors. Here again, we are talking about 1.5 billion buildings in the world. Even here in Switzerland and Europe, it seems as if the wheel is reinvented with every project. If we want to add solar energy to these extraordinarily disparate and old-fashioned systems, it’s definitely not possible.

Until today, high autonomy solar heating was synonymous with seasonal storage. The idea was to capture and store the sun’s energy when it was abundant in summer, to use it in winter when needed. However, this solution has many rather discouraging disadvantages (complexity, complications, costs, space requirements, high thermal losses, …). Eventually, this solar design tested between the years 1990 and 2010, has already disappeared, as well as the majority of manufacturers of solar thermal collectors that have begun to disappear since 2010. By observing the regression curves of sales in Europe of solar collectors, the end of solar thermal is announced for 2025.

 The current observation is that the hydraulic and schematic principle of today’s heating installations have hardly evolved since the end of World War II and is therefore 75 years old. The solar thermal which was new not to say revolutionary 35 years ago, was grafted on these “old” hydraulic systems which inevitably implied a technological gap. The classic heating/solar thermal couple has therefore never undergone a real “facelift” in 35 years and has never really worked very well to really break through. As for the great seasonal solar heating, it too has remained anecdotal and is now definitively dead.

 New hydraulic and control strategies, which did not exist before, are therefore necessary in order to make the solar heating/cooling/hot water system work satisfactorily, economically and sustainably.

Passive measures are insufficient to protect against heat waves

In spite of the great efforts made by the normative associations and the states, which have been imposing thermal insulation and summer thermal protection measures for years, the new buildings, which benefit from these new laws, do not reach the expected summer comfort. The climate warming is so important and so fast that it has already exceeded the “standards” accepted and defined a few years ago.

Established between 2010 and 2015, the SIA, MINERGIE, MOPEC and other standards, intended to prevent the summer overheating of buildings, will no longer be sufficient to make them comfortable, today already but even less tomorrow.

However, everyone will want to have an atmosphere of 22°C in winter, 26°C in summer and 55°C for hot water in their new buildings from the start.

In 2010, when the 2015 standards were published – valid and binding for one to two decades – the authors could not imagine such a weather scenario in Switzerland. They could not imagine such a galloping rise in temperatures for the years 2018, 2019 and beyond.

MeteoSwiss currently expects a temperature increase of 4°C by 2100 for the whole of Switzerland. It will therefore be necessary to deal with 40°C in 2050 and 42°C in Geneva in 2100. The projections of the glaciologist Matthias Huss of the ETHZ are more than alarming. If temperatures rise by 2°C by the end of the century, only 48 glaciers will remain in Switzerland. With a more extreme and even faster warming of 4 °C, only 11 of the current 1’400 glaciers could remain in 2100 (8.4.2019).

As we were badly mistaken yesterday and today again, it is likely that global warming will literally explode. All the ice on the whole planet is melting at high speed – billions of m3 of ice. The more this ice melts, the faster the earth warms up and it is not impossible that in 2050 there will be no more snow or ice on our mountains. It is therefore no longer important whether the ice melts or not, but how long it takes.

Imagine Mount Everest, Mount Blanc or the Matterhorn, the Rhone and Aletsch glaciers, etc. all without snow or ice, perfectly… naked! Isn’t that terrible? We old people will not see them in these conditions, but our children will, probably as early as 2050.

Meteo Suisse is certainly trustworthy. So are the scientists in Bern, the WMO and elsewhere, the glaciologists, etc., who have all sounded the alarm before the standards were updated. Their readings, measurements and articles are worrying: climate warming is much faster than they had originally simulated.

There is already a big gap between laws, rules, standards and the actual climate situation. A gap that needs to be closed.

New hydraulic and solar schema: enerBus® + Sunergie®

In Geneva, on average over the year, direct sunshine represents no more than about 53%. The remaining 47% is diffuse radiation, i.e. it comes from all directions.

During the winter heating period, the share of diffuse solar radiation increases and reaches an average of 63%. This fact inevitably leads to new considerations if one wishes to capture solar energy directly in winter.

The “perfect and good” orientation of the roof is no longer a decisive and/or exclusive parameter, since most of the diffuse solar radiation comes from all directions.

At a time of global warming, local energies such as surface geothermal energy and solar energy associated with heat pumps remain largely unknown and underestimated. However, they can play a key role in our economy and for our environment.

These few lines demonstrate the viability of this new approach as well as its technical-economic valorization. Its purpose is to present our SUNERGIE® system to architects and investors in the context of their future projects.

The principle of surface geothermal energy consists in recovering heat in winter and coolness in summer. These temperature variations are drawn from the surface layer of the ground by using its thermal inertia. The concrete of the parking lot and the basement premises can play this role.

Indeed, the temperature of the ground and the concrete undergoes few variations, even at a very low depth. This is particularly true under the floor slabs, the foundations of buildings and underground parking lots, as well as under the technical rooms. In addition, this ground and concrete temperature represents a considerable thermal and energy reserve thanks to the permanent contributions of the sun (indirect) and geothermal energy (direct).

This inexhaustible local energy source, which is periodically recharged by the summer/winter temperature cycles, can also be combined with photovoltaic solar energy. This provides an ideal and highly efficient basis for using these two local energies via heat pumps (HP).

The objectives are as follows:

  • To better understand this local and natural energy source and its great potential.
  • To seize the opportunities related to the valorization of the geothermal + solar energy.
  • To discover the key technical and economic points of the enerBus® network.
  • To highlight the key technical and economic points of the integration of SUNERGIE® heat pumps in the enerBus® network.
  • To illustrate the experiences through previous ERTE achievements.
  • Faire des prédictions pour 2050 est un exercice risqué et aléatoire.

In the early 1990s, solar proponents imagined for 2015 that solar photovoltaics (PV) would grow mostly modestly with a cumulative capacity of about 2 to 3 GW worldwide. Yet, in 2016, cumulative PV power just exceeded 300 GW (with 75 GW/year growth), 100 times more than the most optimistic predictions of 25 years ago.

This example shows that it is not the accuracy of the forecast that matters, but the overall direction in which we want to go that is important.

For ERTE, and this since its creation in July 1984, the direction has always been the following

Techno-Economic Studies and Achievements (ERTE)

From the beginning, 37 years ago, ERTE has been involved in solar energy, double-flow ventilation (DFV), Canadian wells and in multifunctionality. We were the first to venture into these four new disciplines simultaneously.

ERTE financially supported the first DFV realization in 1990 (Rouelbeau project in Meinier), then realized the first Canadian well in the same year in Carouge, and a little later in 1993 the pillar-duct and the huge stale air flows of 230’000 m3/h of the DFV at the WMO evacuated in the parking lot of 450 places to ventilate them, offices without any light switches to mention only the most important.

In the meantime, we have realized many HVAC installations, one more innovative than the other, and acquired a great expertise in the vast field of building technology and solar.

Creative and innovative, we have developed many concepts and systems and all our solutions go in the direction of energy saving and high solar autonomy. We are convinced that this is the right direction and the SUNERGIE® system in combination with the enerBus® hydraulic network proves us right.

With this scalable and flexible system, we have taken a big step forward to make technical installations simpler, more efficient and economical, effective and sustainable, perfectly adapted to all climatic and comfort needs for a large number of buildings, whether residential, commercial or artisanal.

SUNERGIE® is certainly innovative, but uses known, durable and reliable materials.

Zero risk – Innovative – Smart – Sustainable – 100% solar

The SUNERGIE® concept is an innovative and standardized solar system for heating, hot water production and cooling. It is suitable for new buildings as well as for the renovation of existing systems.

It is also suitable for the villa, as well as for rental and commercial buildings, and even for large mixed-use districts, as we were able to demonstrate during a competition for a large eco-district project in Troinex in 2020.

It is also the only system that can transform existing oil installations into a solar and geothermal PACAir-Water installation, without the need for costly geothermal probes.

It is remarkably flexible and can be adapted to any situation where it is to be installed.