Away from oil and gas by 2050. A huge challenge for Switzerland. Researchers at ETH Zurich spent three years working out how this could work and have now summarized it in a report by the Academies of Sciences.
Bruno Knellwolf / ch media
Switzerland must have an energy supply with a CO2-Reach net-zero balance sheet by 2050 to stop global warming at at least 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, the task has not become any easier in the last 10 years, said study leader Konstantinos Boulouchos from ETH Zurich at the presentation of the report in Bern.
To get to net zero CO2 to come, it needs a massive expansion of photovoltaics.Image: KEYSTONE
On the one hand, the electrification of mobility has picked up speed faster than expected, which means that electricity consumption will increase quickly. At the same time, the expansion of electricity generation during this period was insufficient and the CO2law has been rejected by the Swiss people. In addition, one struggles with the construction of new nuclear power plants with high costs and construction time problems.
“And the energy requirement per capita has decreased, but not fast enough.”
According to the ETH researchers, five concepts are needed to achieve the net-zero target by 2050. First, reduce energy services. “Does it take that many kilometers in the air and on the road?” asks Boulouchos.
The second is the increase in efficiency. This is important, they don’t bring net zero, but they allow us to use the existing CO2-Use the budget over a longer period of time. The most important contribution, however, is the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energies and the use of CO2-free technologies. “That’s what we’re going to focus on,” Boulouchos said.
Recovery of materials is an important part
One of the difficulties is the extraction of raw materials for storage, batteries and electric motors. Therefore, the recovery of energy and materials is another point in the overall concept. In the end, intended more as a last resort, there is also the technical recovery of CO2 added from the atmosphere.
The most important thing on the net zero path is the CO2-neutral production of energy. Electricity WILL become the backbone of energy supply when fossil fuels and combustibles are eliminated. There are two paths for this. The first path is direct electrification. Electricity is generated from sun, water and some wind power as well as biomass. This electricity drives the heat pumps in Switzerland and fills the electric car batteries.
The second path is electrolysis. Fuel is produced using imported renewable energy. First hydrogen, which can be used directly or turned into methane.
Two worst case scenarios calculated
The question remains whether there will be enough of all of this by 2050 to do without oil and gas. The researchers have calculated two scenarios for the worst case that no agreement can be reached for secure electricity imports in winter. All possible types of power generation were calculated for their potential as well as their advantages and disadvantages.
It was shown that in 2050 it will actually be possible to get by without importing electricity. “Everything except aviation kerosene we can produce domestically,” said Boulouchos. The decisive factors here are hydropower, which can still be expanded by around 10 percent, and photovoltaics with their great potential but their winter problems. “But we need renewable fuels as a third leg,” said the ETH professor. Wind and geothermal energy are often added, but both are the subject of major conflicts.
Switzerland cannot sensibly secure its energy supply all by itself
A completely self-sufficient energy situation is not expedient for Switzerland. Artificial fuels are produced more efficiently and cheaply abroad. But despite everything, in 2050 around 70 percent less energy will be imported than today and the imports will be distributed among more countries.
All of this requires a master plan, and incentive taxes are better than subsidies. However, they could make sense in individual cases, such as with solar energy. This requires new professionals, solar engineers and heat pump technicians instead of chimney sweeps and much more.
At least one gigawatt more solar power per year
The conversion to net zero is a generational project over 30 years, said Boulouchos.
“But you have to start today and stop making wrong decisions.”
Whoever builds the wrong power plant now will not be able to get rid of it for 50 years. «The increase in energy efficiency per year must increase from today’s 1 to 2.2 percent. When it comes to photovoltaics, we need at least one gigawatt of additional capacity per year. With renewable fuels, we need to double every five years,” says Boulouchos.
This is very complex and requires large investments from the economy. An investment volume of 100 billion francs in 25 years. The state cannot do that, but it must ensure that international cooperation guarantees the security of the supply chains. (aargauerzeitung.ch)
The stream disappears from the air
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