Global Legal Insight: Energy - 4th Edition, 2015

Author:Ms Phyllis Scholl and Kirsten Johanna Schmidt
Profession:Bär & Karrer

Overview of the current energy mix, and the place in the market of different energy sources

The Swiss energy mix (consumption) is a stable mix dominated by fuel products (52%). The share of electricity is 24%, gas contributes 14%, and 10% are other energy sources such as wood, district heating, waste, etc.

In general it should be noted that Swiss energy policy focuses on electricity, rather than fuel products and gas. This may be explained by the fact that fuel products and gas are only imported (no production in Switzerland); in contrast, electricity is produced and also exported.

Almost 58% of the electricity consumed in Switzerland comes from hydropower plants; nuclear power accounts for 37%. The share of new renewable energies is 2%, and other sources of electricity, e.g. fossil fuel power plants, make up 3%. In 2014, Switzerland consumed almost 62,000 GWh of electricity and produced a net total of 67,300 GWh. However, as electricity production is below demand during the winter period, this surplus is not distributed evenly over the course of the year. The resulting supply shortfall is covered by imports from abroad. In 2014, 37,400 GWh were imported, and 42,900 GWh were exported. Switzerland is a transit country for electricity.

Switzerland has the long-term goal of increasing its renewable energy sources. The chosen main instrument to promote electricity production from renewable energy sources is a feed-in tariff (cf. also below in section, "Changes in the energy situation during the last 12 months which are likely to have an impact on future direction or policyˮ). A feed-in tariff is available for hydropower with an output up to 10 MW, photovoltaics, wind energy, geothermal energy, biomass and biological waste. The tariffs have been specified on the basis of reference power plants for each technology and output category. Remuneration is applicable for 20 to 25 years, depending on the technology, and is only available for new production facilities that are put into operation and are registered with the national transmission system operator, i.e. Swissgrid AG. Presently, there is a waiting list for the registration of new production facilities. In addition, the remuneration rates are subject to a gradual downward curve in view of the anticipated technological progress and the increasing degree of market maturity of new technologies.

Since 1 July 2014, photovoltaic systems with an output up to 10 kW have received a one-off grant rather than a feed-in remuneration. Operators of photovoltaic systems with an output of between 10 kW and 30 kW can choose between feed-in remuneration and the one-off grant...

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