Lidl Switzerland supports Empa research

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By the end of 2022 it should be possible to fill up a truck at Empa with locally

By the end of 2022 it should be possible to fill up a truck at Empa with locally produced synthetic gas. Photo: Lidl Schweiz

Lidl Switzerland intends to serve its branches without the use of fossil fuels, relying among other things on renewable synthetic gas as an energy carrier. In addition to biogas, which is produced from organic waste, this is currently a hot topic in energy research. That’s why Lidl Switzerland is supporting the latest project in move, Empa’s mobility demonstrator - a production facility for synthetic methane based on hydrogen and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

By 2030, Lidl Switzerland wants to deliver its goods to all its stores without the use of fossil fuels. To achieve this goal, technological progress and cooperation between research, industry and the public authorities are essential. As part of the "Goodbye Diesel" project, Lidl Switzerland has already invested in an infrastructure for the application of liquefied natural gas (LNG). This infrastructure is to be operated with renewable gas in the future. This means that fossil diesel can be replaced in a sustainable manner in cargo transport.

Therefore, Lidl Switzerland is entering into a partnership with Empa and is supporting the development of a new type of power-to-gas plant as part of the "move" mobility demonstrator in Dübendorf. At move, Empa, together with partners from research, industry and the public sector, has for some years been investigating and demonstrating several mobility paths, which should make it possible to do without fossil fuels in the future. In addition to electro mobility, Empa researchers have concentrated on hydrogen mobility and have built Switzerland’s first hydrogen fueling station. The next step is the so-called methanization process, in which hydrogen (H2) produced with renewable electricity is converted into synthetic methane (CH4) together with carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

Brigitte Buchmann, Member of Empa’s Board of Directors and Head of the "Mobility, Energy and Environment" department, is delighted with the new partnership: "The CO2 emissions of long-distance and cargo traffic are very relevant. We are delighted to have found in Lidl Switzerland another partner on the road to fossil-free cargo transports," she says. Ueli Rüger, Head of Logistics at Lidl Switzerland, is looking forward to the first experiences: "By the end of 2022, we will be able to fill up a Lidl truck with 100% fossil-free, local fuel at the plant. This will allow us to gain initial experience with this technology and pave the way for sustainable logistics".

Renewable energy from the sun or from hydro and wind power is very volatile and occurs not necessarily when there is a demand in the electricity market. To make use of temporarily surplus energy, it must thus be converted to be able to store it. Conversion into synthetic gas makes it possible to store this energy in the gas grid and use it when the need arises. The energy potential for this so-called Power-to-gas technology is huge - both in Switzerland and in the world’s sun belt or in offshore wind farms. Renewable synthetic gas can be transported cost-effectively thanks to existing infrastructure, trading mechanisms, standards and expertise. Liquefied, the sustainable gas has no disadvantages in logistics compared to diesel and allows the same payloads and ranges as vehicles with diesel engines.