In order to meet the climate goals, Switzerland will have to expand significantly in solar and wind energy. But investments often do not pay off.
Pascal Michel / CH Media
Solar and wind energy are the answer to the energy transition: at least that’s what the Swiss Energy Foundation sees. However, Switzerland is not on the right track when it comes to expanding energy exporters, a new short study by the foundation shows. She’s been doing this research for ten years. In previous years, Switzerland has already occupied places at the bottom of the ranking.
When it comes to solar energy, Switzerland is not making any real progress.Photo: cornerstone
It will be no different in 2021: in terms of per capita electricity production from solar and wind energy, Switzerland ranks only 23 out of 28 in Europe – ahead of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia and Latvia.
The Netherlands is the new leader
Compared to the nine neighboring countries, Switzerland ranks second after the last. “Only 5.6 percent of electricity consumption in this country is generated using two new renewable technologies. In Denmark this is about 53 percent,” emphasized the study authors.
Solar production in Switzerland has been steadily increasing since 2010, the Energy Foundation also notes. In 2021, a total of 484 GWh or 43 kWh per capita grew compared to 2020. However, by comparison, Switzerland is still in the middle of the European range. The leader in solar energy was the Netherlands, which recently replaced Germany at the top. “So both countries produce more than one and a half times as much electricity from solar energy per capita as Switzerland, which is in the south, where there are very high insolation conditions, especially in the alpine regions.”
The Netherlands is currently the leading producer of solar energy.Photo: cornerstone
Solar power from the Alps
According to the foundation, Switzerland’s poor performance stands in contrast to the great potential that can exist in the country. Estimates from the Federal Energy Office came to the conclusion that the exploitable potential of solar energy in buildings and in buildings in Switzerland is about 67 TWh per year. This exceeds even the current final electricity consumption of 55 to 60 TWh per year.”
In addition, there will be more photovoltaic potential on infrastructure such as dam walls, reservoirs, noise protection walls or on car park roofs. Wind power can also be expanded. “It provides important energy in the winter, when solar and hydropower can produce less electricity.”
The necessary expansion, if one day renewable energy in Switzerland replaces nuclear power plants that are no longer available, is significant: by 2035, electricity from the sun and wind will have to be produced twelve times more than it is today. Problem: The prices that solar system owners earn are steadily declining. So investing in solar energy can be risky.
Here the energy establishment is putting pressure on the “investment risks” of new solar systems to be mitigated. The responsible committee in the State Assembly is currently discussing a review of the energy law. “In order to solve the backlog of investment in the expansion of renewable energies, protection against fluctuations and low electricity prices is needed,” says Felix Nipkow, co-chair of the Climate and Renewable Energies Division at the Energy Corporation. In other words: Without subsidies, the industry is clearly not moving forward. Concretely, the energy corporation is calling for so-called “sliding market premiums” for large solar systems, which promise investors profits while at the same time protecting them from losses, and a cost-effective rate of return for smaller systems. (aargauerzeitung.ch)
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