Switzerland is primarily a residential rooftop solar market, but conditions for industrial and small utility-scale PV plants have improved through the country’s new Energy Strategy 2050. (Photo Credit: Swissolar)
- Switzerland may have added 250 to 270 MW of new PV capacity in 2017, according to the Swiss Solar Association Swissolar
- Based on these provisional statistics, solar power should now be the second most important source of renewable energy in the country after hydropower
- The share of solar power in Switzerland’s electricity consumption is likely to have increased by half a percent to around 3%
- In 2018, Swissolar expects the market to grow to more than 300 MW of new PV capacity
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Switzerland is likely to have installed 250 to 270 MW of new PV capacity in 2017. If this estimate by solar energy association Swissolar is correct, then the share of solar power in the country’s electricity consumption increased by half a percentage point to around 3% and is now the second most important source of renewable energy after hydropower.
These are provisional numbers shared by the association for last year. The country’s Federal Office for Energy will be publishing official figures in June 2018.
For 2018, Swissolar expects the market to grow to over 300 MW. It attributes the reason to the laws and regulations within the framework of the Energy Strategy 2050 that has been in effect since Jan. 1, 2018. In reaction to the nuclear disaster in Japan’s Fukushima in March 2011, the Swiss public accepted the Energy Strategy 2050 in May 2017. Under this energy policy, there will be no renewal of nuclear energy production units once they end their technical production cycle.
The policy aims to reduce energy consumption, increase energy efficiency and exploit the potential of new renewable energies including solar. The Swiss solar association sees this as giving new “impetus” for PV in the country.
Under the law, it is mandatory to feed some part of the solar power generated into the grid. The feed-in remuneration level will depend on the cost of purchasing power from third parties and the production costs of its own production facilities. Swissolar expects new tariffs to be in the range of 0.07 to 0.08 CHF per kWh. The government has also increased the cap for subsidies from 30 kW to up to 50 MW, covering up to about 30% of the investment costs.
The policy covers all projects registered before mid-2012, all eligible for cost-covering feed-in tariffs (KEV). KEV is a federal instrument to promote the production of energy from renewable sources, which ensures that renewable energy generators are based on production costs. For solar, it starts from PV capacities above 100 kW for 15 years.
The association believes that the conditions are good for larger solar systems, but only if the majority of generated power is consumed directly on site. The one-off payment also takes a long time to come through.