solar panels

Solar and hydropower are the Swiss “backbone” of electricity production

Solar and hydropower if successfully combined in Switzerland, the country will have the “dream team” of producing energy. It is the opinion of Swiss Energy Minister Simonetta Sommaruga.

Switzerland’s emphasis is on solar, but mostly on hydropower. Energy Minister Simonetta Sommaruga defines hydropower as the “backbone” of Switzerland’s electricity generation. More or less, it helped shield the country from soaring oil and gas prices. But, it is far from immune to fuel shortage.

Switzerland avoided most of the fuel-driven inflationary surge that has afflicted its neighbors. Now, the country is moving ahead with plans to strengthen its energy security. It will also lock in low power prices.

Sommaruga believes that the European power crisis since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine awakened the Swiss. The power crisis, as well as the risk of energy rationing in a worst-case scenario this winter, have urged the Swiss to think about the need to be as less as possible dependent on fossil fuels.

Energy security through solar and hydropower plants

Sommaruga wishes to improve the country’s energy security by utilizing the Alpine confederation’s unique geography. Minister Sommaruga intends to build solar power plants and increase hydropower capacity. She tries to assuage locals’ fears about potential damage to the landscape and the overall ecological impact.

But, the transition is difficult to implement because Switzerland’s direct democracy system allows blocking projects at the cantonal level. Every major decision is subject to a referendum.

The government expects the transition to a clean, independent energy supply to finish as the plan provides. That will solidify Switzerland’s position as one of the major economies at the heart of Europe with a relatively secure currency.

Not even Switzerland is perfect

The government’s “Energy Strategy 2050” outlines the plan for the energy transition towards clean sources.
One step towards this was last week’s Parliament decision to pass legislation mandating the installation of solar panels on new buildings.

The new law is not perfect and provides a lot of exemptions. Thus, Energy Minister Sommaruga expects probably 70% of new buildings to be exemptions.