On 26 February 2020, the Swiss Federal Council passed the dispatch for the new energy research program “Swiss Energy Research for the Energy Transition” (SWEET) to the Swiss Parliament for approval. The program is intended to run for 12 years from 2021 to 2032. Only consortia projects will be funded through competitive calls for proposals, which deal with research themes promoting the Swiss Energy Strategy 2050. With this, the Swiss Federal Council wants to provide a seamless follow-up for the Swiss Competence Centers for Energy Research (SCCER), supported from 2013 until the end of 2020 through the BFI dispatch (Dispatch for the promotion of education, research and innovation). The long-term and topic-oriented SWEET funding program should use the competences and capacities, which were built up in the SCCERs, for investigating central research topics of the Swiss energy and climate strategies at academic institutions.
The SWEET program focusses on applied research and demonstration of the achieved results. The calls are aligned according to the following six themes:
- Energy efficiency and the associated reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
- Renewable energy sources
- Energy storage
- Power grids
- Non-technical research like socioeconomics and social psychology
- Security of critical energy infrastructure
The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) will manage the program and consortia projects will be funded through regular competitive calls with prioritized research topics. Together with the Federal Energy Research Commission (CORE), the SFOE will select these topics with the overall goal of implementing the Swiss energy and climate strategies. Consortia can submit proposals (consortia projects) for the calls and depending on the research question; these consortia can be composed of groups from different academic institutions, NGOs as well as from the private and public sectors. Panels with experts in the field and associated governmental agencies will evaluate the proposals. The SFOE will be responsible for ensuring an annual monitoring and reporting of the funded projects.
The SWEET program compliments the existing federal research funding instruments like the SFOE pilot and demonstration projects, EnergieSchweiz or project funding through Innosuisse. Owning to the SWEET platform these can be coordinated optimally. As the SFOE is part of the steering committees of the International Energy Agency (IEA) and of the Strategic Energy Technology Plans of the EU (SET-Plan), international integration of the SWEET program is also guaranteed.
In the coming 12 years from 2012 to 2032, SWEET will continuously publish calls for consortia projects with an average run time of about 7 years. The Federal Council is requesting a guarantee credit of 136.4 million for this along with 11.9 million in expenses for staff and implementation, thus totaling 148.3 million Swiss Francs.
The Federal Council has already released the first 94.9 million by federal resolution. This will fund consortia projects in the period between 2021 and 2024. By the end of the June 2024, the Federal Council will apply for the release of the remaining 41.5 million in order to finance projects from 2025 to 2028.
The costs will be compensated with the BFI dispatches. The BFI dispatch 2021-2024, which was also approved by the council today, puts forth that the SCCERs will be finalized by the end of 2020 and no further funding will follow. Instead, the BFI dispatch refers to SWEET, which will be carried out within the departmental research of the Federation and in coordination with the other federal research funding instruments.
This endeavor was undertaken without a hearing and instead with a direct stakeholder consultation. Stakeholders have given their approval for the SWEET program in writing.
Text: press release Swiss Federal Council (translated from German, original article)
Read more about the SWEET program on the SFOE website