University of Basel awarded funding from SWEET energy research program
The Swiss federal government established the funding program SWEET to help Switzerland achieve its climate goals and successfully implement its Energy Strategy 2050. The University of Basel will lead a research consortium to investigate interactions between society and the energy system.
24 January 2023 | Prof. Dr. Hannes Weigt
How the energy system develops depends on more than just what’s technically possible. Social and economic factors are equally important. One example of this is the trend of remote work, which directly influences energy consumption by changing patterns in mobility and infrastructure. On the other hand, rising energy prices can affect our transport behavior and intensify the need for an independent supply of energy.
Interactions between society and the energy system
How social behaviors and the energy system influence each other is the focus of a transdisciplinary research project for which the University of Basel has now received additional funding from the Swiss Federal Office of Energy.
The CoSi (Co-Evolution and Coordinated Simulation of the Swiss Energy System and Swiss Society) consortium has a total budget of CHF 17 million, of which CHF 10 million is provided by SWEET. The 10-year project is led by energy economist Professor Hannes Weigt of the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Basel.
More than a dozen higher education and research institutions are members of the consortium. It brings together researchers in the natural sciences, engineering, business and economics, the social sciences and the humanities with the goal of maintaining active exchange between researchers and stakeholders.
“Based on this transdisciplinary collaboration, CoSi will investigate a variety of energy- and climate-related development paths and use the resulting findings in scenarios and models,” says Weigt.
“Most energy scenarios ask what the energy system might look like in the future. CoSi also wants to find out which of these potential futures we want to move towards and, building on that, how we get there.”
One focus of CoSi is therefore to link research findings from the social sciences and humanities to the world of energy modeling, which has been primarily the domain of the engineering disciplines. Another goal of CoSi will be to coordinate simulations from different SWEET projects to better compare their results and findings.
SWEET funding program
After the nuclear accident at the Fukushima power plant, the federal government decided to fund energy research to support the Energy Strategy 2050. Key hubs were the Swiss Competence Centers for Energy Research (SCCER), which ended in 2020. The funding program SWEET (“Swiss Energy Research for the Energy Transition”), launched in 2021, is intended to continue advancing research into the energy transition in Switzerland.
SWEET focuses on solution-oriented research in relevant areas and on the implementation of results in practice. A central aspect of the program is collaboration between different stakeholders. Accordingly, the consortia working on these research and innovation projects include various higher education institutions as well as partners in industry and the public sector.