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Prospects for renewable energy in Switzerland

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10 January 2012
By 2034, the year the last nuclear power plant is due to close, the Swiss government will have to find other ways to make up the electricity now supplied by its five nuclear plants. This will be a considerable challenge, given that about 40 per cent of the electricity produced in Switzerland is nuclear-generated, equivalent to 25 terawatt hours (TWh) a year.

“We found the political courage to get out of nuclear power. Now we need the courage to impose the use of renewable energies,” said Isabelle Chevalley, who represents the Liberal Green party in the federal parliament.

"Solar energy will be able to cover 20% of our energy needs," said Roger Nordmann, Social Democratic parliamentarian and president of Swissolar, the national association of solar energy producers.

As part of its new energy strategy for 2050, the government intends to focus on energy efficiency and on making the most of renewable energies (see sidebar).

The main potential for saving electricity is to be found in public buildings (7 TWh by 2035) and industry (13 TWh). The federal administration, the Institutes of Technology and semi-state companies will all have to do their part, slashing energy consumption by 25 per cent by the year 2020.

“Switzerland has already adopted the European directives on saving energy with domestic appliances,” noted Chevalley, who nonetheless expects more radical initiatives to be taken. “Even someone who has electric heating is going to need to adapt his own system to new requirements.”

According to the government, production of electricity from renewable sources will have to increase by 13 TWh by the year 2035. This is an objective which can be reached by using hydro power and a greater diversification of the energy mix.

“Solar energy will be able to supply 20 per cent of the need,” stated Roger Nordmann. Citizens should be able to install solar panels without needing an official authorisation, suggests Chevallay.

"20% потребности в электроэнергии может быть обеспечено за счет энергии солнца", заявил Роджер Нордман. Граждане должны иметь возможность установить солнечные панели без необходимости официального разрешения, развивает его мысль г-жа Шевалле.

A detailed plan for the national energy strategy will be published by the energy ministry half-way through 2012.


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