You are here

Switzerland (2013)

Extent of network: 

In Switzerland, electricity is delivered via the medium of the national transmission grid at the high and extra-high voltage level (220/380 kV). This grid is, in turn, interconnected with the international grid of the UCTE (Union for the Coordination of Transmission of Electricity), which guarantees secure grid operation for 450 million people in 24 countries across Europe. Switzerland plays a pivotal role as a European electricity hub from which the entire national economy benefits.

Energy framework: 

Swiss Energy PolicySince 2007, the Swiss energy policy is based on the four pillars energy efficiency, renewable energies, the replacement and new construction of large-scale power plants, as well as foreign energy policy. This policy is operationalized by action plans that foresee to decrease the consumption of fossil fuels by 20% and to increase the portion of renewable energies of the total energy consumed by 50% until 2020 (from 16.2% to around 24%). The action plans envisage limiting the increase in energy consumption between 2010 and 2020 to 5%, with a stabilisation of energy consumption thereafter. They consist of a set of comprehensive incentive measures, direct subsidies, and regulations and minimal standards, which fall into the responsibility of either the Swiss Federation, or the Parliament, or the cantons. In the latter case, the Federation assists in harmonizing the independent cantons’ efforts.Energy Strategy 2050After the incident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in spring 2011, the Swiss government and parliament decided to completely phase out nuclear power, possibly until 2034. As a direct consequence of this decision, the “Energy Strategy 2050” was adopted, laying out a roadmap towards a significant reduction in final energy use and a stabilization of electricity use. The medium-term policy measures will focus on improving energy efficiency, increasing renewable energy generation – especially hydro power but also other renewable sources –, and natural gas. The corresponding legislative proposals are due for public and parliamentary consultation in fall 2012 and spring 2013, respectively. The new legislation should then enter into force in the beginning of 2015.Kyoto ProtocolAs a signatory state to the Kyoto Protocol, Switzerland committed to reduce its GHG emissions by 8% below the 1990 level between 2008 and 2012. This overall target was split up into sectoral targets. With fossil fuels used in the heating and transport sectors contributing a major part to Swiss national GHG emissions, policies in general focus on the building sector (including refurbishment of the building shell and installation of renewable energy) and on transport. Hence, in its national CO2 law of the year 2000, Switzerland adopted a joint CO2 emission reduction target for heating and process fuels and transport fuels of 10% below 1990 levels in the period 2008-2012. This target was further split up into a reduction target of 15% for heating and process fuels, and 8% for transport fuels.Swiss Energy ProgrammeThe SwissEnergy [EnergieSchweiz] programme is the central platform for connecting, coordinating, and information and know-how exchange between the several actors in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable energies in Switzerland. It supports both mandatory regulations and voluntary initiatives in households, municipalities, and business & industry.  Additionally, further policies have been established at Cantonal and Communal levels. Further to these legal bases, several energy programs and strategies have been developed at the Federal, Cantonal and Communal levels.On the feed-in tariff, please see the section below on regulatory framework.

Renewable energy potential: 

SolarThe field of photovoltaics is in its prime; the first solar modules were used more than fifty years ago to supply power on mini-satellites. Today, the largest solar power installation in Switzerland, on the roof of the Stade de Suisse, generates 1.3 MW of electricity per year. Even in the Swiss "Mittelland", the lowlands, the average level of the sun’s radiation is sufficient to allow efficient solar power production.Wind EnergyWith the introduction of the FIT, one of the goals of Switzerland's energy policy is to increase the proportion of electricity produced by “new” renew¬able energy (without large-scale hydro) by 5,400 GWh, or 10% of the country's present-day electricity consumption, by 2030. Wind energy should contribute 600 to 1,200 GWh to these targets. The Swiss wind energy concept (plan) also identifies the calculated wind energy potential for Switzerland, based on the real existing wind conditions on the sites and on the possible num¬ber of plants to be installed. The poten¬tial is outlined by time horizons: Time horizon 2020: 600 GWh; Time horizon 2030: 1,500 GWh; Time horizon 2050: 4,000 GWh.BiomassRelative contribution of biomass to Swiss energy production in 2004: wood 2.5%, biogas from wastewater treatment 0.18%; other biomass (biogas from agriculture, etc.) 0.056%.Targets / measures: SwissEnergy and the Coop Naturaplan standard together aim at fostering biogas from biodynamic agriculture from to date one up to a minimum of 50 plants by 2010.Associations (selection): Biomass Energy Switzerland with the aim to convey energy from different sources of biomass (e.g: compost, dung, sludge); Wood Energy Switzerland; Biogas Switzerland.HydroThe major renewable energy source in Switzerland is hydro. In 2011 approximately 54% of total electrical energy was produced by hydro plants, which include run of the river, storage and pumping plants. Today there are 556 hydropower plants in Switzerland that each have a capacity of at least 300 kilowatts, and these produce an average of around 35,830 GigaWatt hours (GWh) per annum, 47% of which is produced in run-of-river power plants, 49% in storage power plants and approximately 4% in pumped storage power plants. Today 8500GWh of storage capacity in form of storage lakes filled with precipitations and melting water as well as pumped storage plants are exploited (which is tremendous potential compared to for instance German installed storage capacity of 60GWh – which considers pumped storage, compressed air, storage lakes etc.).