The Federal Council bases its decision on the Cleantech Masterplan (CMP) presented by the Federal Department of Economic Affairs (FDEA) and the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communisations (DETEC).
The Cleantech Masterplan serves as a situation analysis and should lead to greater coordination in terms of resource efficiency and renewable energies. By combining the forces of the federal government, the cantons, the private sector and academic actors, Switzerland should become a leading business location for resource efficient products, services and renewable energies by 2020.
Few other sectors of the economy are predicted to have the growth potential of cleantech. This field includes technologies, manufacturing processes and services that help to preserve our natural resources and the environment.
The Cleantech Masterplan was submitted to interested business, political and scientific parties for consultation at the end of 2010. The large number of responses shows that the invitation for dialogue has been keenly accepted and that resource efficiency, renewable energies and the need to combine forces meet with broad approval. Critical views have also been expressed.
Encouraging Swiss innovation
Cleantech provides a huge opportunity for innovation and manufacturing in Switzerland, a means of creating jobs and maintaining living standards. At the same time, efficient and clean technologies play an important role in meeting global challenges such as climate change, depletion of natural resources or increasing environmental pollution. For this reason, the Federal Department of Economic Affairs (FDEA) and the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) worked together to draft the Cleantech Masterplan (CMP). With this plan, the federal government seeks to increase make Swiss cleantech companies more innovative by encouraging close cooperation between scientific, business, government and political stakeholders.
Room for improvement
As a follow-up to the CMP, the ‘Education - Research - Innovation – Market’ value-added chain was analysed. The results clearly show that there is room for improvement:
- The cleantech sector in Switzerland is essentially well-positioned.
- There is a broad knowledge base and also considerable specialisation. While the number of Swiss cleantech patent applications is increasing, Switzerland's share of cleantech-related patents worldwide has fallen slightly.
- Switzerland enjoys a strong position as far as foreign trade in cleantech products is concerned. Swiss exports of cleantech products and services are growing, albeit at a slower pace than Swiss exports in general. Furthermore, Switzerland's share of the world cleantech market is diminishing.
- Switzerland has lost some of its lead in the cleantech sector to international competition and has even fallen behind in some cleantech sub-sectors. These developments clearly run counter to the dynamic growth witnessed in the cleantech sector outside of Switzerland.
Federal government strategy for resource efficiency and renewable energies
Based on the findings from the consultation, two chapters have been added to the Cleantech Masterplan, which describe the consultation’s findings in report form, and draw together and set out in detail the federal government’s measures.
The prioritisation and adoption of the federal government’s measures will enable the formulation of the ‘Federal government strategy for resource efficiency and renewable energies’. Emphasis will consequently be placed on strategic considerations and cleantech will be a byword across all sectors for ‘resource efficiency and renewable energies’.
Influence of Switzerland’s new energy policy
Following the earthquake and subsequent nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011, the federal government carried out a new political assessment of its cleantech strategy. The Federal Council’s decisions on the Energy Strategy 2050 and the results of parliamentary debates on nuclear energy and renewables have had the effect of focussing the concept to date.
A large catalogue of federal measures organised into five strategic areas of activity and twenty recommendations to the cantons, business and science partners aims to encourage greater dynamism in a wide range of areas.
It provides an overview of existing activities and services in the cleantech sector and analyses Swiss strengths and weaknesses in the fields of science, education and employment. These can be found on this Web site under the following menu items, arranged according to stages in the value-added chain: Education, Research and Innovation, Markets.
And in a final step, the SCMP defines areas of focus where improvements can be made. For each area of focus, specific policy recommendations are made to the federal government, cantons and companies.