Switzerland to introduce PV self-consumption ruling

Swiss homeowners who install residential PV systems will be able to consume the solar power they generate for the first time ever from April 1, 2014, when the country’s energy law is amended.

Currently, all PV systems installed in the country must plow 100% of the power generated into the Swiss electricity grid. Although homeowners are eligible to receive a feed-in tariff (FIT), self-consumption is off limits.

But the new rule revision, approved this week by the Swiss Federal Council, will state that parties interested in installing small-scale PV systems will be able to consume the electricity it produces. Any surplus power will be shared among others living in the same local community, said the authorities.

The Swiss government also intends to make it easier for homeowners to install solar PV systems by offering a choice between a 30% rebate on the cost of installation, or eligibility to the FIT scheme.

Switzerland’s leading solar association, Swissolar, has welcomed the reforms, stating that they will help ease the bottleneck for PV projects that are currently waiting FIT acceptance.

Last summer, Swissolar was critical of the Swiss government’s decision to reduce the country’s FIT rate by between 35-40%, fearing that excessive tariff reductions would inflict "massive damage" on Switzerland’s solar sector.