Net zero energy is feasible and affordable by 2050


Zurich – Complete decarbonization of the Swiss energy system by 2050 is technically feasible and affordable, according to a white paper published by the Energy Science Center. This requires the long-term integration of Switzerland into the European electricity market and the rapid expansion of renewables.

Under certain circumstances, a complete decarbonization of the Swiss energy system can be reconciled with a high level of energy security. This is how Gaby Hug, Professor of Electrical Energy Systems at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich(ETH), summarizes the result of a qualitative analysis by the Expert Group on Security of Supply of the Energy Science Center(ESC) at ETH. “The challenges are great, but manageable,” the head of the ESC and a member of this expert group is quoted as saying in an ETH statement.

The white paper, published on May 24 and titled “Security of Supply in a Net-Zero Energy Future for Switzerland,” draws on research conducted by ETH that examined four energy scenarios of a possible net-zero future. If electrification and the expansion of renewables occur simultaneously, the expert says, rapid decarbonization will be possible: “All scenarios conclude that a secure energy supply with net zero emissions by 2050 is both technically feasible and affordable.”

According to the white paper, the most important prerequisites for this are the long-term integration of Switzerland into the European electricity market and a diversified and decentralized renewable electricity infrastructure. This would also make Switzerland less dependent and less susceptible to damage. Energy security could be enhanced by expanding winter-productive sources such as wind, alpine photovoltaics, and thermal storage.

Finally, the ESC experts also point out that a fossil-free energy system does cost something. But even the status quo is not free. Aspects such as a more stable climate and improved air, water and soil quality are, according to ESC Managing Director Christian Schaffner, “not so easy to convert into monetary values, but they are undoubtedly of the highest value.” ce/mm