Switzerland, a nation distinguished by a legacy of renowned scientists, globally acclaimed brands, and a stable, respected political system. The Swiss ethos of precision, quality, and robust collaboration has often guided them to the forefront of innovation and problem-solving. Now, these virtues are being marshalled with renewed vigor as Switzerland grapples with the existential challenge of our time – the 2050 deadline for combating climate change.
A historic confluence of minds recently occurred at the Swiss Economic Forum (SEF) in Interlaken. The biggest brains in Swiss politics, science, and industry convened, the agenda at hand: to drive forward innovative solutions for the storage and transport of renewable energy carriers. The grand aim? To create a climate-neutral, flexible energy system for Switzerland, setting the standard for other nations worldwide.
This commitment to environmental sustainability resonates with an earlier chapter in Swiss history – the 1986 Chornobyl disaster. As shockwaves from the nuclear catastrophe rippled across Europe, Switzerland faced a public outcry over nuclear power’s safety. This crisis compelled politicians, scientists, and energy industry stakeholders to unite, resulting in a national referendum and a subsequent ten-year moratorium on constructing new nuclear power plants. This crucial pause allowed for the reassessment of safety measures and exploring alternative energy forms. The 1986 incident bears testimony to Switzerland’s ability to navigate crises through cross-sectoral collaboration and citizen engagement.
Some of the world’s most respected Swiss brands represent this ambitious coalition, promising to lend their considerable might to this pressing cause. Their efforts are augmented by the scientific acumen of the nation’s brightest minds, all under the umbrella of Switzerland’s steady, globally respected political system. History has taught us that anything Switzerland embarks upon is synonymous with quality and meticulous attention to detail.
The coalition aims twofold – to fast-track existing technologies for carbon capture to the marketplace and boost the production and storage of carbon-neutral gases and fuels. The objective is to establish a scalable, climate-neutral, flexible energy system within a feasible time frame.
An army of 150 research groups, nearly 460 scientists, and four successful spin-offs are already at work in carbon capture and energy storage. Together with the research teams at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology Empa, the ETH Domain boasts the necessary expertise and scale to partner with the industry and tackle the present challenges.
The coalition is poised to investigate innovative technical solutions that leverage energy storage facilities to capitalize on the seasonal differences in electricity production in Switzerland and Europe. This approach promises to bolster Switzerland’s security of supply, diversify energy trading with European and international partners, and unveil new business arenas and opportunities for technology start-ups and the Swiss industry. Every technical option will be systematically analyzed to identify and implement the most effective solutions in terms of security of supply and cost.
The formalities of establishing the coalition are anticipated to wrap up by 2023’s end, paving the way for the launch of the first projects in early 2024. Based on existing technology but scaled up to a megawatt scale, demonstration plants are expected to be operational by 2028. They will serve as research platforms and require a budget of roughly 100 million Swiss francs for the project’s initial phase.
Switzerland, renowned for its historic contributions to science, world-leading brands, and robust political system, is again positioned to lead the charge. As the world hurtles towards the 2050 climate change deadline, the Swiss spirit of collaboration and dedication to quality offers a beacon of hope and a model to emulate