The feed-in remuneration system
The production of electricity using solar and wind energy, as well as geothermal and biomass energy, has made rapid technological advances. However, as the production costs at present are higher than the price at which this electricity can be marketed, operators of such installations have been able to apply for feed-in remuneration since 2009. This remuneration is financed by the grid surcharge which electricity consumers pay. The Energy Strategy 2050 provides for the current maximum grid surcharge of 1.5 centimes per kilowatt hour to be increased to a maximum of 2.3 centimes per kilowatt hour in order to promote the building of more such installations. In addition, the feed-in remuneration will be brought closer into line with the market situation by virtue of the fact that most of the energy producers will have to sell their electricity directly on the market. In this way they will have an incentive to sell electricity when it is in short supply and thus fetches a higher price. The subsidy system is, moreover, of limited duration: promotional subsidies for new installations will only be granted for up to five years after the new law enters into force.
It is nowadays possible for operators of small photovoltaic installations, with a production capacity of less than 30 kilowatts, to apply for a one-time subsidy towards the investment costs of the installation. This one-off investment grant cover a maximum of 30% of the investment costs of a comparable installation (Reference Installation). The Energy Strategy 2050 makes it possible for larger photovoltaic installations to also benefit from one-off investment grants. In addition, large new hydro-electric power stations with a production capacity of more than 10 megawatts, as well as large-scale renewals or extensions of hydro-electric power stations, are also to receive investment subsidies. The financing will come from the grid surcharge which electricity consumers pay. Investment contributions (including one-off investment grants) will be available until 2030 at the latest.
Support for existing large-scale hydro-electric power plates
At the present time, prices in European electricity trading are exceptionally low. The reasons for this are, on the one hand, overcapacity for the production of electricity, and on the other hand, the diminishing demand of a faltering economy. Prices have collapsed to the extent that they no longer cover the costs of most Swiss hydro-electric power plates. However, as hydro-electric power is a mainstay of Swiss electricity supply, both the National Council and the Council of States have decided not only to support new installations, but also to grant financial support to existing ones. It will be possible to claim a market premium for electricity produced by large-scale Swiss hydro-electric power which has to be sold for less than the cost of production. This premium is capped (1.0 centime/kWh) and the total available financial resources are limited. This measure is valid for a period of five years and is financed by the grid surcharge paid by electricity consumers.
In many cases there is a conflict of interests between the protection of nature and the landscape and their use for the production of renewable energies. If a court of law has to decide between the interests of protection and use, under the new legislation both concerns – protection and use – are granted the status of national interest and must be given equal value when weighed against each other.
Approval procedures for new installations for the production of electricity from renewable energies are to be shorter and simpler. Thus from now, expert assessments from, for example, the Federal Commission for the Protection of Nature and Cultural Heritage must be submitted within a certain time limit.