Switzerland plans radical solar subsidy cuts

The Swiss government has plans to revise the Energy Regulation in the country. Among these revisions is also the threat to massively reduce FITs for renewable energy installations. The planned changes are "catastrophic" according to Swissolar.

The plan is to reduce the FITs for photovoltaic systems by 35 to 40% and lower the remuneration period to 15 years. For all other renewable technologies, the compensation rates are to be reviewed and increased in view of the reduced payment period, added Swissolar. The solar association believes that with its first estimate it would take 22 years thus for photovoltaic systems to be profitable with such proposed tariffs.

Moreover the government is also planning to completely axe the category "integrated systems," thereby reducing the tariffs for integrated photovoltaic systems by up to 50%. The so-called "cost covering feed-in tariff" for solar power, or KEV as known in Switzerland, is 19.9 to 39.4 Swiss Rappen per kWh (16.1 to 31.9 Euro cents per kWh).

Still Swissolar sees positive aspects as well in the government proposal. This way project progress reports will account for PV as well. And there will also be no more annual subsidy cut. A transition period is also expected.

Old rates will apply for all PV systems that are operational before the implementation of the new FITs. Also PV systems that are connected later, but already have assurance for FITs, will receive the higher subsidies.

The adoption of the solar subsidies is planned for January 1, 2014. The new energy bill will only apply from May 1 when there will be referendum. Currently the consultation process is ongoing and will carry on until mid-September.

The solar association added, "Swissolar will make use of this period to make it clear to the authorities that excessive tariff reductions in the solar sector will inflict massive damage."

Translated by Shamsiah Ali-Oettinger