Switzerland has committed to net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2050. To achieve this goal, a broad portfolio of measures and options will have to contribute to the reduction of GHG emissions towards zero – synthetic low-carbon fuels among them. Such fuels, including hydrogen as well as gaseous and liquid hydrocarbons – can be based on electricity and thus represent a way of indirect electrification of energy services; they can also be based on biomass or solar energy.
The potentials of both biomass and renewable electricity generation are, however, limited in Switzerland and the supply of massive amounts of sustainable fuels needed in a net-zero economy will partially have to rely on imported fuels.
This research project aims at answering the following questions:
- In which economic sectors in Switzerland (and the EU) and for which applications will sustainable chemical fuels be needed due to the lack of direct electrification options?
- Which of the large variety of chemical fuels can be considered as sustainable taking into account environmental, economic, and social criteria?
- What are the potential environmental, economic, and social co-benefits and trade-offs of GHG emission reduction using such fuels?
- What are the best-suited production technologies and locations as well as optimal supply chains for Switzerland considering these criteria?
- To which extent will such fuels be need in Switzerland to fulfill the net-zero GHG emissions goal by 2050?
To answer these questions, environmental, economic and social Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) will be performed on the one hand. On the other hand, energy system modeling based scenario analysis will be carried out, which will allow for evaluating different boundary conditions in terms of for example price developments of fuels and energy carriers, Swiss and international energy policy, or the applicability of CO2 removal for compensating residual GHG emissions.
The research will be performed in close collaboration between the Technology Assessment and the Energy Economics groups within LEA. Swiss key stakeholders from the Federal administration, industry and NGOs will be involved.