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Energy Change Impact

The WSL Research Program “Energy Change Impact” supports decision-making related to the implementation of the Swiss Energy Strategy 2050 with research-based information and scenarios. The Program collaborates with partners from environmental and energy research, and is in regular contact with policy-makers.

Gletschervorfeld Riedbach, Wallis

The energy transition (Energy Change) decided on by the Swiss government requires a profound restructuring of today’s energy system including energy production, distribution and consumption. This restructuring entails both risks and opportunities for the environment and society. As a consequence, decision-makers need to have access to sound information about the anticipated impacts of the energy transition on particular ecosystem services.


WSL will collaborate with partners from research and practice to capitalize on its interdisciplinary expertise and to develop methods and tools to:

  • identify suitable sites and quantify the natural resources available for renewable energy production, such as wind turbines, photo-voltaic systems or wood biomass, and assess their potential;
  • model the future availability of natural resources, e.g. changes in run-off regimes that could impact hydropower production;
  • improve and optimize the processes responsible for the provision of natural resources, e.g. to ensure biodiversity conservation despite intensified timber production.

The energy transition entails risks and potential conflicts to do with nature and landscape conservation, and climate and water protection. Here WSL research can assist in:

  • identifying the environmental risks and conflicts that could be triggered by changing resource use, and possible ways to address them;
  • detecting the landscape risks related to energy production and transport, while minimizing any resulting conflicts;
  • developing a suitable socio-economic and legal framework to support the intensified use of renewable energy sources.

Added Value

When planning the energy transition, sound information about the environmental and landscape risks entailed and the societal acceptance of new energy systems is needed to identify potential areas of conflicts. These can then be addressed or even prevented, which will normally shorten the implementation time required and the total cost of the new energy system.

Working Groups

For thematic development and enhanced coordination, the Research Program ‚Energy Change Impact’ launched working groups in the field of „Knowledge and Technology Transfer in Large Energy Research Programmes“, „oikose“, „Social Acceptance of Energy Infrastructure“ and „Energy Research in the Alps“. More


The Research Program "Energy Change Impact" fosters knowledge exchange between various players in the field of energy research and organizes inter- and transdisciplinary workshops. More

Publications 2016

Björnsen Gurung A, Borsdorf A, Füreder L, Kienast F, Matt P, Scheidegger C, Schmocker L, Zappa M, Volkart K (2016). Rethinking Pumped Storage Hydropower in the European Alps. Mountain Research and Development 36(2):222-232. Link

Björnsen Gurung A, Borsdorf A, Füreder L, Kienast F, Matt P, Scheidegger C, Schmocker L, Zappa M, Volkart K (2016). Alpine Pumpspeicherung – Quo vadis? Wasser Energie Luft 108:195-201. PDF

Egli T, Bolliger J, Kienast F (2017). Evaluating ecosystem service trade-offs with wind electricity production in Switzerland. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 67:863-875. PDF

Eidg. Forschungsanstalt WSL (2016). WSL-Magazin Diagonal ‘Strom ohne Atom: Wie kriegen wir die Kurve?’ 2/2016. 36 S. PDF

Eidg. Forschungsanstalt WSL (2016). Energieholz und Waldbiodiversität: Synergien suchen und Konflikte meiden. WSL Bericht 41. 52 S. PDF

Kienast F, Huber N, Hergert N, Bolliger J, Segura Moran L, Hersperger AM (2016). Conflicts between decentralized renewable electricity production and landscape services. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 67:397-407. Link

Müller G, Holderegger R, Bürgi M (2016). Energie aus Landschaftspflegegrün. WSL Bericht 38. 56 S. PDF