A secure energy supply for Switzerland, with zero greenhouse gas emissions, is achievable by 2050. The Swiss Academies of Sciences confirm this in a report presented on Thursday, but underline in particular the importance of putting the focus on photovoltaics.
In this new report presented to the press in Bern, the Swiss Academies of Sciences emphasize the importance of implementing a coherent energy policy in Switzerland. This must connect and optimize the various market segments, energy sources as well as short and long-term storage.
Heat, electricity and fuel networks must also be considered together and synergies must be exploited. The report assumes that air traffic must also achieve net zero emissions.
Two worst-case scenarios and their consequences
By proposing two worst-case scenarios, in the event that no agreement can be reached for guaranteed electricity imports in winter, the report shows that a net zero-emission energy supply is also possible without electricity imports.
However, the first scenario, which assumes a full national energy supply with the exception of aviation fuel, leads to unrealistic electricity demand and very high costs and environmental consequences.
In the second scenario, the lack of electricity during the winter semester, high-temperature industrial heat and fuel for heavy traffic are covered by the import of fuels and renewable fuels (produced with electricity at abroad).
This requires less development of photovoltaics and implies a widely diversified portfolio of energy sources. Dependence on foreign countries will be significantly reduced compared to today and spread over more countries.
>> The interview in Forum with Jean-Louis Scartezzini, director of the Solar Energy and Building Physics Laboratory at EPFL and co-author of the report presented to the Federal Council:
Photovoltaics to complement hydraulics
The energy supply of the future thus sketched out is mainly based on indigenous hydraulic and photovoltaic energy. The production of photovoltaic electricity must be greatly increased and grow by at least one gigawatt per year.
Renewable fuels will become the third pillar of electricity generation in winter, with more modest contributions from wind power and, possibly, deep geothermal energy.
In suitable regions, renewable combustibles and fuels can be produced abroad significantly more efficiently and more economically than in Switzerland. Most of them can also be transported and stored easily.
The development of new nuclear technologies should be watched closely, but it is unlikely to be able to make a significant contribution by 2050, the authors further note.
Efforts needed in all areas
A net zero-emission energy supply without imports in winter involves high financial and environmental costs. This is why Switzerland should not only aim for an electricity agreement with the EU, but start today to negotiate agreements with foreign states for the supply of hydrogen and combustibles.
Achieving the goals of the Paris climate agreement requires efforts across the board, with steps to be coordinated over time, according to the report. Thus, the renovation of buildings must be carried out before the use of heat pumps, so that the electricity needs do not burst the ceiling in winter.
The overall strategy is as follows for each energy sector: less demand on energy services by reducing demand from end consumers, increasing the efficiency of appliances, machines, industrial processes and cars, replacing fossil energy sources with mainly renewable energy sources.
Recycling in all areas, reusing captured CO2, extracting CO2 from the atmosphere and using technologies that remove CO2 through chemical or biological processes and store it permanently are other measures mentioned. .