The aim of the SFOE's "Pilot, demonstration and flagship projects" programme is to promote the market-oriented development of innovative "cleantech" technologies and solutions. The programme enables the testing and demonstration of new technologies and solutions so that an assessment can be made of their technical feasibility and functionality, as well as their practical applicability and economic viability. In this way it facilitates the market transfer of the findings obtained from Swiss energy research and thus forms an essential link between research and market introduction. A distinction is made between pilot and demonstration projects depending on the status of development of the technology concerned. Demonstration projects also have the potential to become flagship projects:
The purpose of pilot projects is to carry out practical system tests at a scale that permits the calculation of scientific, technical, economic or social data that cannot be obtained through laboratory tests.
The purpose of demonstration projects is to carry out market tests at a scale of 1:1 and thus permit a comprehensive technical, economic and social assessment from the point of view of effective introduction on the market. In particular they provide answers to questions regarding the performance and economic viability of the system in question. They also draw the attention of potential users to the new technology, new product, new organisational structure or new instrument.
Flagship projects are exemplary demonstration projects of national importance. In order for flagship projects to qualify for financial support by the SFOE, they have to involve a public entity as a project partner. SFOE flagship projects render Switzerland's future energy supply in line with Energy Strategy 2050 visible to energy specialists as well as the general population.