1

What exactly is the "as" attribute in <container> for in a layout xml?
When do I need to reference this one contrary to "name"?

<container name="sidebar.additional" as="sidebar_additional" label="Sidebar Additional"/>
0

The name attribute is unique and will serve to merge layouts together.

The as is a short way for the same block, has to be unique in context, and can serve to get the block.

For exemple (in \Magento\Framework\View\Element\AbstractBlock::getChildBlock) :

$this->getChildBlock('search_result_list');

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