Swissolar calls for doubling of PV installation rate, hits 300 MW for 2015

While hardly record-breaking, Switzerland has proven a steady market for PV in recent years, with 2015 installs reaching around 300 MW. This brings the total installed capacity in Switzerland, according to Swissolar figures, to 1.35 GW.

In terms of production, Switzerland’s solar capacity accounted for around 2% of the country’s demand in 2015, making it the second largest renewable energy source behind hydro. Hydropower n is the dominate power source in Switzerland with approximately 60% share of actual electricity production. There are considerable pumped hydro capacity.

Swissolar has called for the country to set more ambitious solar goals, in light of country’s nuclear phase out earmarked to take place over the next 20 years. Nuclear currently supplies around 40% of the country’s electricity, with Switzerland home at least one older reactors dating back to the 1960s.

To replace two-thirds of Switerland’s nuclear capacity with PV would require around 16 GW of PV. This would require an annual installations rate of 800 MW per year, a total that Swissolar says is feasible. Grid integration of high PV penetration rates in Switzerland would be greatly assisted by the country’s huge hydropower resources.

Swiss lawmakers are currently formulating its “Energy Strategy 2050” and Swisssolar says that the discussions should be concluded as soon as possible, so that as of 2018 much-needed funds for solar and other renewables could be made available.

Switzerland has seen FIT reductions in recent years, and a growing market based on the self consumption of PV electricity produced on site is being undermined in some regions by utility fees, says Swissolar.

Thomas Nordmann of TNC Consulting says that half of Switzerland’s nuclear capacity could be replaced by PV as soon as 2025. This would increase solar’s share in the country’s electricity mix to 20%. According to Thomas Nordmann, the 20% target is politically well accepted, but the timing is controversial.

Even if to achieve this more modest goal by 2030, the annual solar installation will have to double.

While it may appear meager, the per capita the solar installation rate of 300 MW per year is higher than that of the U.S. If the U.S. was to achieve the same level on a per-capita basis, America would have to install around 12 GW annually.