HES-SO Valais-Wallis is the first university of applied sciences in Switzerland to coordinate a consortium within the SWEET (SWiss Energy research for the Energy Transition) funding programme of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE). The 8-year SWEET LANTERN project aims to co-design energy solutions to make a carbon-free Switzerland a reality. The project has a budget of CHF 33 million, CHF 10 million of which is funded by SWEET.
In order to achieve the objectives of the Energy Strategy 2050 and reduce our CO2 emissions, we need to consume less and consume better. We know that doing this will affect the daily lives of each and every one of us – but in what way exactly? To encourage as many people as possible to consider making this transition and to take the necessary steps, the LANTERN (Living lAbs iNTerfaces for the Energy tRansitioN) consortium aims to develop concrete solutions designed for citizens and in collaboration with citizens.
The SWEET LANTERN project brings together specialist partners from various scientific disciplines (humanities and social sciences, environmental sciences and engineering) that are active in fields such as energy, transportation, building, leisure and digitalisation. The objective of the project is to co-design energy solutions for a decarbonised Switzerland that is efficient in the management of its resources and that involves citizens with the help of open innovation tools.
A systemic problem
The programme seeks to achieve these objectives through transdisciplinary applied research at the interface between the market, technology, public authorities and civil society. The energy transition is more than just an engineering problem. It is a societal issue that concerns everyone, which is why this project is inclusive and collaborative. According to Joëlle Mastelic, Professor at the School of Management and member of the SWEET LANTERN consortium coordination team, “this programme is a challenge in terms of collaboration between regions, scientific disciplines and different types of stakeholders. It has people and nature at its heart. I am proud to be able to support this initiative and am aware that this public investment of CHF 10 million has to be directed towards making an impact.”
Co-design involving both citizens and experts is key to the “living labs” approach. The Energy Living Lab Association, a spinoff of HES-SO Valais-Wallis, is responsible for liaising with the general public and partners. “Everyone will have to roll up their sleeves to tackle the challenge of the energy transition. The transdisciplinary approach of living labs is not only a scientific challenge, but also a democratic one,” says Tristan Loloum, professor at the School of Social Work and member of the SWEET LANTERN consortium coordination team.
This team is composed of members from HES-SO Valais-Wallis and brings together researchers from four schools: the School of Management, the School of Social Work, the School of Engineering, and the School of Health Sciences. The consortium partners include researchers from universities and federal research institutes in Geneva, Bern, Neuchâtel, Lucerne, Lugano and Winterthur (UNIGE and HEPIA, UNIBE, CSEM, HSLU, SUPSI, ZHAW and EMPA). Living labs offer spaces for urban experimental research in Sion, Geneva, Lucerne, Winterthur and Lugano. This 8-year programme is the first SWEET programme coordinated by a university of applied sciences.