Switzerland - Photo Credit - Rivella & Free Images - Pixabay
Welcome to the thirty-seventh edition of my weekly blog where I take a closer look at the policies adopted by individual countries in their efforts to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. Particular attention is paid to the role that Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) research and technologies are playing in the drive to meet these requirements.
Switzerland ranks sixteenth in Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI), the country has never ranked outside the top 20 in this biennial index since its inception in January 2006. In fact, Switzerland has twice been the highest ranked country. Its fall in the latest ranking is more a reflection of the overall improvement of other nations as opposed to any decline in standards by the Swiss. Similarly to Croatia last week, Switzerland’s biggest improvement in the index score came in the area of ‘air quality’ and air pollution in excess of fine particle matter (PM) 2.5.
Paris Agreement Targets
In 2015, Switzerland provided details its intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) to UN climate change targets, committing to a GhG emissions reduction of 50% of 1990 levels by 2030. Switzerland also plans to reduce its emissions by 35% of 1990 levels by 2025.
Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) statistics for 2016 show that petroleum products (50%) were the largest source of final energy consumption with electricity and gas the next highest at 25% and 14% respectively. Petroleum product consumption was 68/32 between motor fuels and fuel oils or 34% and 16% of overall energy consumption.
When we look at electricity production, we find that almost 60% of overall production was generated at hydroelectric plants and 33% at nuclear power plants.
You may recall we featured a Swiss company call Aljadix in our week 17 blog about algae cultivation. Aljadix has developed a 200m long, 100m wide and 0.5m deep sea platform that uses co2 from heavy industry such as fossil fuel power plants and cement plants to help accelerate the production of microalgae. The microalgae are then converted into biofuel, making this a carbon negative process as the sea platform is effectively a large solar surface area.
To give this achievement some context the dimensions of Barcelona's pitch at Camp Nou are 68m x 105m. So, the sea-surface platform is 20,000 m2 or almost 3 times the area of the Camp Nou pitch. Aljadix ‘s unique selling point is that they are a carbon negative biofuel producer. From 1 km2 of microalgae production, they claim they can generate 10 million litres of biodiesel per year and 1,000 tonnes of inert carbon hydrochar. So, one sea-surface platform can produce up to 200,000 litres of readily usable diesel per year. Assuming the average car uses 2,000 litres of fuel per year. The sea-surface platform could power 100 cars annually. A smaller sea-surface platform the size of the Camp Nou pitch could power 36 cars per annum, just enough to cover a car for each first team squad member and the first team coaching staff.
Petroleum products represent 50% of Swiss energy consumption. A third of the energy consumed is used to power petroleum engine automobiles. Electricity generation at hydroelectric and nuclear power plants consumes a further 25% of energy produced.
One way of reducing the reliance on petroleum products is by substituting them with biofuel sourced from microalgae cultivation. However, there are over 4.5m passenger vehicles in Switzerland so this alone will not be enough. Other measures will need to be looked at such as switching to electric vehicles.
Next week’s blog will take a look at how companies are capturing CO2 and using desalination technology.
If you liked this article you might enjoy reading some recent articles in the series:
Week 36 Croatia: using enhanced oil recovery to move towards a cleaner economy
Week 35 Urea: using carbon to boost crop yield
Week 34 Singapore: sticking with Paris and switching to natural gas.