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Future Swiss Energy Economy: The Challenge of Storing Renewable Energy


Fossil fuels and materials on Earth are a finite resource and the disposal of waste into the air, on land, and into water has an impact on our environment on a global level. Using Switzerland as an example, the energy demand and the technical challenges, and the economic feasibility of a transition to an energy economy based entirely on renewable energy were analyzed. Three approaches for the complete substitution of fossil fuels with renewable energy from photovoltaics called energy systems (ES) were considered, i.e., a purely electric system with battery storage (ELC), hydrogen (HYS), and synthetic hydrocarbons (HCR). ELC is the most energy efficient solution; however, it requires seasonal electricity storage to meet year-round energy needs. Meeting this need through batteries has a significant capital cost and is not feasible at current rates of battery production, and expanding pumped hydropower to the extent necessary will have a big impact on the environment. The HYS allows underground hydrogen storage to balance seasonal demand, but requires building of a hydrogen infrastructure and applications working with hydrogen. Finally, the HCR requires the largest photovoltaic (PV) field, but the infrastructure and the applications already exist. The model for Switzerland can be applied to other countries, adapting the solar irradiation, the energy demand and the storage options.

Funding source: The financial support by SCCER Heat and Energy Storage (Innosuisse) is greatly acknowledged.
Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics
Countries: Japan ; Switzerland

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