Wind Energy in Switzerland

switzerland.jpgBy the end of 2016, Switzerland had 37 large wind turbines in operation with a total rated power of 75 MW. These turbines produced 110 GWh of electricity. In 2016, a net new capacity of 15 MW was installed. Since no turbines were built in 2014 and 2015, the 20% capacity increase in 2016 represents a success.

A cost-covering feed-in-tariff (FIT) for renewable energy has been implemented in Switzerland since 2009. This policy promoted wind energy and led to a boost of new wind energy projects. Financing is currently requested for an additional 3.490 TWh under the FIT scheme.

Switzerland has developed an ancillary industry for wind turbine manufacturers and planners, which acts mainly on an international level. A study estimates that the total turnover in 2010 was about 38.9 million EUR (41.0 million USD) and that the wind industry employed about 290 people.

Research activities are internationally cross-linked, mainly in the fields of cold climates, turbulent and remote sites, and social acceptance.

National Objectives

After the 2011 disaster at Fukushima, the Swiss government and parliament decided to decommission existing nuclear power plants at the end of their operational lifespan and not replace them. To ensure the security of electricity supply, the Federal Council is placing emphasis on increased energy savings through energy efficiency as well as and expanding hydropower and new renewable energies as part of its Energy Strategy 2050.

Renewable Energy Targets

Within the new energy strategy, an additional 22.6 TWh/yr is expected to come from renewable energy. Wind energy should contribute 4.3 TWh/yr to this target (with intermediate goals of 0.7 TWh in 2020 and 1.8 TWh in 2035).

Since the introduction of the FIT in 2009, projects with an estimated energy yield of 87 GWh are in operation and being supported under the scheme; additional projects with a potential energy yield of 1,950 GWh have been registered, and 1,525 GWh are on the waiting list.

Policies Supporting Development

The cost-covering FIT for renewable energy is Switzerland’s most significant measure. Renewable resources include hydropower (up to 10 MW), photovoltaics, wind energy, geothermal energy, and biomass. The additional cost of the FIT is financed by a levy on electricity consumption. Following amendments of Swiss energy legislation, the levy was raised from 10.2 EUR/MWh (10.8 USD/MWh) to 12.1 EUR/MWh (12.7 USD/MWh) in the beginning of 2016, and then raised to 14.0 EUR/MWh (15.0 USD/MWh) in the middle of 2016—the maximum accepted under Swiss energy law. This leads to approximately 780 million CHF (727 million EUR; 765 million USD) of available funds each year, after deducting operating costs and funds reserved for annexed programs.

The current FIT for newly installed wind turbines is between 126–186 EUR/MWh (132–196 USD/MWh) [5]. Wind turbines built on locations 1,700 m above sea level or higher receive an altitude bonus of 23 EUR/MWh (24 USD/MWh) in addition to the standard retribution.