PATHFNDR & the energy challenge

The PATHFNDR Consortium is concerned about the current energy crisis. The consortium aims to provide policymakers and the media with science-based insights that can help address the current challenges. The findings presented in this section are results that are conducted by a PATHFNDR member within or outside of PATHFNDR.

Ingmar Schlecht, a member of the PATHFNDR consortium, discusses with Karl-Martin Ehrhart, and Runxi Wang ways to counter rising gas prices. They compare import tariffs and a price cap on Russian gas as possible policies. They conclude that an external price cap with a single buyer is better than a tariff in gas trade between Russia and the EU. For more information, see the links below.

Marius Schwarz, a member of the PATHFNDR consortium, discusses how dependent the Swiss energy security is on developments abroad. Using the Nexus-e energy system model, technical, political, regulatory and social measures are evaluated. He concludes that Switzerland does not have the available resources and area to achieve the goal of energy self-sufficiency, and therefore cooperation with European countries is needed. The scenarios studied also show that an expansion of electricity trade leads to less domestic power generation capacity and more imports, but also to lower overall costs. For more information, see the links below.

Ingmar Schlecht, a member of the PATHFNDR consortium, discusses with Ali Darudi, Beat Hintermann, and Sebastian Schäfers how tradable gas certificates can distribute all the gas available in Europe on the certificate market and thus prevent European gas consumers from outbidding each other on the gas market. They conclude that this policy can transfer the scarcity premium away from gas exporters to the EU industry. In addition, households also benefit from lower gas prices. For more information, see the links below.

Turhan Demiray, Gabriela Hug, Anthony Patt, Kirsten Oswald, Giovanni Sansavini, Christian Schaffner, and Marius Schwarz, members of the PATHFNDR consortium, are also members of the ESC Expert Group Security of Supply. In a recently published policy brief, the group outlines steps that Switzerland can take to make its energy system independent of fossil fuels. They conclude that reducing energy demand and phasing out fossil fuels in all sectors as well as building up renewables will be key. At the same time, integrating the Swiss power grid within the European system will be more efficient and less costly than energy autarky. For more information, see the links below.

PATHFNDR collaborators, Gianfranco Guidati, Luca Baldini, Jörg Worlitschek, and Michel Haller discuss the benefits of seasonal heat storage in the event of impending electricity shortages. They conclude that seasonal heat storage is a key element for a resilient and cost-effective energy supply for Switzerland in winter. Storing heat generated in summer for several months also significantly reduces electricity demand in winter and thus the risk of an impending electricity shortage. For more information, see the links below.

Ingmar Schlecht, a member of the PATHFNDR consortium, discusses with Jonas Savelsberg an alternative instrument for procuring the energy storage reserve by the federal government. They debate how the federal government can manage reserve procurement differently to limit market power and keep costs down for consumers. The authors propose procurement via mandatory tradable obligations of the storage operators as one possibility. For more information, see the links below.

Elena Raycheva, Christian Schaffner, and Gabriela Hug, members of the PATHFNDR consortium, discuss the impact of possible climate-driven changes in hydro inflows on the Swiss power generation portfolio in 2050. The scenarios they examine show that investments in new power generation (e.g., gas with CCS, wind, and biomass) are economically more viable than relying solely on imports, regardless of simulated hydrological conditions. They conclude that projected wetter winters as a result of climate change favourably affect the total system costs because more water is available in months with higher system loads. For more information, see the links below.

Natalia Vulic, Matthias Sulzer, Martin Rüdisüli, and Kristina Orehounig, members of the PATHFNDR consortium, discuss how lower temperature set-points in building heating systems can be a fast, low-cost measure to respond to the reduction in energy exports. They conclude that residential space heating demand can be reduced by nearly 6% at the national level, about a third of which is met with natural gas. They present an approach that indicates the potential impact of the proposed measure on the national residential building stock, considering differences in climate, building types, and their spatial distribution. For more information, see the link below.

Energy Now! An Impact Accelerator by ETH Zurich

In light of the potential energy supply crisis this winter, the Energy Science Center together with the Institute of Science, Technology and Policy launched the Energy Now! initiative to enable innovative science-based solutions. The initiative is an Impact Accelerator by ETH Zurich providing a platform for students, researchers, staff, and professors to work in teams during the next eight weeks in order to come up with new ideas, prototypes or solutions to counteract the pending crisis.

For more information check out webpage of the initiative.

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