Switzerland plans large scale solar auctions


From pv magazine Germany.

The Swiss Federal Council has announced it intends to liberalize its electricity market and improve renewable energy incentives.

The federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications will prepare a bill to amend the Energy Act and submit it to the Federal Council before April. As part of the new legislation, the Federal Council stated, the 2035 targets for hydropower and other renewables will become binding.

A tender process for large scale solar projects will be drawn up and the incentives budget for hydro will be doubled with fixed tariffs maintained.

PV industry association Swissolar has warned a reverse auction, race-to-the-bottom tender system will further dent the economic case for large scale solar, for which the association says current incentives are insufficient. “In particular, the return rate for independent producers is likely to decline, which endangers the economic operation of the facilities,” said the association.

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Red tape

Swissolar said the experience of other markets showed tenders lead to the sort of red tape which can only be managed by large energy companies. The organization added, subjecting solar to variable, tender-determined electricity tariffs while maintaining fixed payments for hydro was discriminatory.

The group has suggested introducing tenders only for self-consumption solar projects, with a generation capacity of more than 1 MW. To encourage solar rooftops on infrastructure, agricultural buildings and commercial property, the government should raise the rebate budget for systems with a capacity of 100 kW-1 MW, said Swissolar.

With electricity demand expected to soar by 2050, the solar industry group says PV could generate 67 TWh on rooftops and building facades alone but the nation will need 1.5 GW of new solar per year to keep up with demand – 4-5 times more than the current installation rate.

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