Swiss solar association demands more PV energy

A debate on the future structure of energy policy has also ensued in Switzerland following the nuclear disaster at the Japanese nuclear power plant Fukushima.

Swissolar, Switzerland’s solar association, thinks it is possible for photovoltaics to contribute a share of 20 percent by the year 2025. However, the proper framework conditions have to be created insisted Swissolar representatives at a conference in Fribourg. A ceiling on the cost-covering feed-in tariff (KEV) currently obstructs any faster development of photovoltaics. This "brake on solar electricity" must be removed immediately, argues Swissolar.

All of 30 megawatts (MW) of new photovoltaic output were installed in Switzerland in 2010. Thus the overall capacity of all photovoltaic power plants rose to 100 MW. This corresponds to a 0.1 percent share of gross power consumption in Switzerland.

According to data provided by the network operator Swissgrid, photovoltaic power plants with an output of 290 MW are currently on the KEV waiting list. This represents more than 8,600 solar electricity plants and an unemployed investment volume of more than €1 billion.

In light of the recent disaster, the association upwardly adjusted its own target of achieving a ten percent share of photovoltaic energy by the year 2025. To meet the target of 20 percent, approximately 12,000 MW of photovoltaic energy would have to be installed in Switzerland in 2025.

In a kind of roadmap, the Swiss solar association specified targets for additional installations for the respective years. It provides for a gradual increase in the rates for newly installed photovoltaic output of up to 1,200 MW as of the year 2020.

If this scenario were to be realized, then Switzerland could achieve a solar electricity share of six percent in the year 2016. According to Swissolar, this corresponds to the share that solar electricity production was able to contribute in Bavaria already last year.

With its ambitious development targets Swissolar cites Germany. There, the huge growth in photovoltaic technology is a "result of willingness in terms of energy policy." The big difference when it comes to Switzerland is that there is no ceiling on solar subsidies. Nevertheless, with the legally prescribed gradual decrease in the feed-in tariff in Germany, the technological developments of photovoltaic energy are taken into consideration.

A feed-in priority for solar electricity, as is the case for all renewable energies in Germany, must be established in Switzerland as well.

To this end, Swissolar requests that the Swiss federal council and parliament finally remove the ceiling on feed-in tariffs. Then a similarly dynamic photovoltaic market as in Germany could develop, contend association representatives.

In addition, a new program for market-based research and development is also necessary. Given these prerequisites, a share of photovoltaic energy of 20 percent could be realized in Switzerland by 2025 – this corresponds to the annual production of four nuclear power plants.

On a long-term basis the share of solar electricity in overall energy production could then even increase to 40 percent in view of the huge potential of photovoltaic energy in Switzerland.