The SFOE promotes application-oriented energy research. It provides Swiss research institutions with access to the research programmes of the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the European Union (framework research programmes, Strategic Energy Technology Plan). Its promotion is based on the federal government's energy research concept, which is updated every four years by the Federal Energy Research Commission (CORE). The concept encompasses scientific research as well as pilot, demonstration and flagship projects.
Pilot, demonstration and flagship projects are defined in the Cleantech 2011 master plan, which forms the basis for the cleantech strategy adopted by the Federal Council. The Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) and the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) are responsible for the implementation of the cleantech strategy. The activities carried out in the period from 2011 to 2014 were analysed in a report issued by the Federal Council in 2015. The cleantech coordination instrument was introduced in 2016 for the purpose of securing suitable framework conditions in the areas of efficient use of resources and the use of renewable energy.