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Integrated development processes for hydropower and deep geothermal projects: Regulatory, political and participatory perspectives - Part ZHAW-INE

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  • Projektteam : Yann Blumer, Lukas Braunreiter, Corinne Moser
  • Projektstatus : abgeschlossen
  • Drittmittelgeber : Innosuisse (Förderprogramm Energie / SCCER CREST)


The Swiss energy strategy is based on a substantial expansion of renewable energy supply. Of particularly high value are renewables with controllable production levels, such as hydropower (HP) or deep geothermal energy (DGE), as these can be used to complement fluctuating sources. However, HP or DGE projects often encounter difficulties during the planning and authorization phases, due to complex authorization procedures and objections from local communities, NGOs, or the general public. In addition, incentives for investing in hydropower are strongly influenced by the “Heimfall” regulations that stipulate an eventual partial transfer of ownership.

The objective of the joint activity (JA) is to provide recommendations how project development processes (in particular, public engagement), the legislative framework and the governance structure could be enhanced to facilitate the resolution of conflicts among stakeholders and thus increase investments in HP and DGE via a reduction of project risks. To this end, the JA will analyze the set of stakeholders and their interests as well as the governance structure and planning procedures of HP and DGE projects at the example of several P+D projects of SCCER SoE. Furthermore, the impacts of the “Heimfall” regulations on HP projects will be studied. The research will involve the relevant cantons as well as different stakeholders of these projects and will develop guidelines for planning procedures for HP and DGE projects. It will pay close attention to transferability within the Swiss context, that is, results will be based on existing projects but will be generalizable to other HP and DGE projects.

This work is based on a collaboration of legal and political scientists, sociologists and social psychologists from SCCER SoE and CREST as well as on a close interaction with existing P+D projects and would thus not be feasible within a single SCCER. It will contribute to the energy transition by recommending procedures that reduce frictions and risks in developing HP and DGE projects. Given the importance of both technologies in the Swiss context and the current difficulties in developing new DGE projects and in expanding HP, the development guidelines provided by this joint activity are likely to be of considerable value.