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SWEET EDGE – Enabling Decentralized renewable GEneration in the Swiss cities, midlands, and the Alps


Swiss Federal Office of Energy has launched a call for new SWEET programs on the integration of renewables into a sustainable and resilient Swiss energy system. The EDGE consortium is preparing a bid for the SWEET research challenge #2 on the integration of decentralized renewable energy. The consortium brings together a wide range of interdisciplinary expertise from technology development and analysis, energy systems modelling, political science, economics and sustainability science.  

In 2021-2027, EDGE will develop regionalized scenarios and enabling strategies to achieve a large share or fully renewable energy sector in Switzerland by 2050 and focus on the role of locally-sourced decentralized renewable sources, such as solar PV, wind, and biomass in connection with existing hydropower and new storage options. In particular, EDGE will take into account the socio-technical framework conditions that are vastly different in the Swiss cities, midlands (Mittelland), and the Alps. For example, the cities are characterized by higher density of energy consumers, higher share of anthropogenic biomass and potential for building-integrated PV systems, as well as more frequent public and individual transport. The midlands are rich in agricultural biomass and PV resources, but less densely populated and they have a share of agricultural vehicles to decarbonize. The Alps offer high-efficiency PV, less understood wind power potential, and sufficient but difficult to harvest woody biomass. Due to low own demand, the Alps could increase current hydropower-based export by “new renewable” energy to the cities and midlands.

The consortium will analyze how decentralized renewables can be optimally installed, operated, and then integrated in the whole system together with storage, hydropower, and European interconnection. The primary focus will be on electricity, but taking into account the interactions with electric mobility, heating, and synthetic fuels. The technological advances will be investigated side-by-side with effective ways to mobilize finance, develop new business models, design markets (including decentralized markets), new policies and regulations, as well as to account for social acceptance of these new policies and regulations. The EDGE research activities will be complemented with three Pilot & Demonstration projects in the city, midlands, and the Alps (the site selection and planning are in progress).

Project partner (in addition to the research group renewable energy at ZHAW):

Université de Genève, Renewable Energy Systems
École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences ;
WSL Institue for Snow and Avelanche Research (SLF)
École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Human-Environment Relations in Urban Systems
Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, Power System Laboratory
Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, Risk and Reliability Engineering
Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, Energy Politics
University of Bern, Chair of Comparative Politics
University of St. Gallen, Chair for Management of Renewable Energies
Hochschule Luzern, Institute of Mechanical Engineering and Energy Technology
Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften, Renewable Energy
Berner Fachhochschule, Laboratory for Photovoltaic Systems
Paul Scherrer Institute, Bioenergy and Catalysis Laboratory
Eidgenössische Forschungsanstalt für Wald, Schnee und Landschaft, Sustainable Forestry
Spin-off SUNWELL
Basler & Hofmann AG