Network Industries Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 1 – Governing Energy Transitions: strategic challenges of local utility companies in the Swiss energy transition
Many countries are currently firmly committing to a transition towards a more sustainable energy system, each facing their own unique challenges. The Swiss energy transition is particularly challenging due to a combination of commitments: (1) a gradual phase-out of nuclear energy, currently about a third of the country’s electricity production, is expected by 2034, (2) construction of new renewable energy sources such as solar PV, wind and micro-hydro, (3) electrification of heating and transportation, (4) energy saving, and (5) stringent CO2 emission targets.
Utility companies play an important role in the realization of the Swiss energy transition but are also facing numerous strategic challenges as a consequence of a rapidly changing playing field. The commitments necessary to transition towards a more sustainable energy system are not necessarily aligned with the current operations of local utility companies. For example, the lack of incentives for energy efficiency programs, market opening, smart grids and renewable energy has utilities looking for new business models.
This issue of Network Industries Quarterly (NIQ) is linked to the Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Governing Energy Transitions, a continuing education program organized by the Chair Management of Network Industries at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). The program has a strong practical component, embedded in an academic framework of multi-level governance. Participants of the program were invited to contribute to this issue, sharing their insights on the strategic challenges of local utility companies in the Swiss energy transition.
The following are the themes included in this issue of NIQ:
• An overview of strategic responses of urban utility companies to the energy transition: comparing Swiss and German utilities.
• Implementation of a local demand-side management program in Switzerland.
• An international perspective on demand-side management programs, and policy recommendations for a Swiss governance model.
• A broader identification of new business opportunities for utility companies, arising from the ongoing energy transition.
Guest editor: Reinier Verhoog
The guest editor of this special issue is Dr Reinier Verhoog (BSc and MSc, Delft University of Technology; PhD, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne). Reinier Verhoog is currently a postdoc and the program manager of the CAS in Governing Energy Transitions at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). He is also an advisory editor for the Competition and Regulation in Network Industries Journal. His most recent published work appears in Environmental Modelling and Software and International Journal of Complexity in Applied Science and Technology.