The river power station Mühleberg under construction, 1918/20. Image from the private papers of the hydraulic engineer Hans Blattner (1886–1966) dipl. Ing ETH. Hs_0485-0004-022
The ETH-Bibliothek is a source of specialist information on all aspects of sustainable energy technology. To mark the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All 2012, please find below an overview of our main works and holdings..
Selected reference works
Selected journals and series
To find answers to specific questions about sustainable energy sources, you are advised to use the Knowledge Portal.
In addition, our extensive historical holdings document technological developments in the use of hydroelectric power as well as the significant role played by ETH Zurich in the utilisation of this sustainable energy source, which in Switzerland is both traditional and, in proportional terms, the most important.
The development of hydroelectric power traced in Rare Books
- On the development of hydroelectric power in the Renaissance: e.g. Agostino Ramelli, Le diverse et artificiose machine (Paris, 1588), Salomon de Caus, Les Raisons des forces mouvantes (Paris, 1624) and Zonca di Vittorio, Novo teatro di machine et edificii (Padua, 1656)
- On water mill construction in the 18th century: e.g. Jakob Leupold, Theatrum machinarum, (Leipzig, 1724–35), Bernard Forest de Bélidor, Architectura hydraulica (Augsburg, 1740–1771)
- On fundamental research into hydraulics: Daniel Bernoulli, Hydrodynamica (Basel, 1738). W. R. Kutter, Die neuen Formeln für die Bewegung des Wassers in Kanälen und regelmässigen Flussstrecken (Vienna, 1877)
ETH Zurich in the history of the use of hydroelectric power
The history of the use of hydroelectric power in Switzerland is closely connected with practical education and research at ETH Zurich in fields such as hydraulic engineering, hydrology and mechanical engineering. Round about the start of the 20th century, obtaining energy from water power became a boom industry. Swiss hydraulic engineering companies and manufacturers of turbines and generators were to find among ETH graduates the specialists that they needed in order to construct river and storage power stations in Switzerland and abroad.
In 1930, ETH opened its Laboratory for Hydraulics (Versuchsanstalt für Wasserbau VAW). By doing so, it created the conditions in which large-scale trials and advanced work could be carried out by experts. This resource was used, among other things, in the construction of the massive dams in the Alps which have become the symbols of the country's highly developed use of hydroelectric power.
The ETH-Bibliothek provides not only literature on the history of hydroelectric power in Switzerland but also source material for use in research on developments in this field:
- Schulratsprotokolle Online (Minutes of meetings of ETH’s School Board between 1855 and 1968)
- Personal papers of leading personalities in the field of education and research on hydraulic engineering (e.g. Prof. Gabriel Narutowicz, Conradin Zschokke, Eugen Meyer-Peter, Gerold Schnitter) and other materials relating to specific institutes or individuals
- Image material from the Laboratory of Hydraulics
- Images of Swiss reservoirs
- Images relating to hydroelectric power in general
- Maps on the use of hydroelectric power in Switzerland