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Hydropower

Thanks to its topography and high average levels of annual rainfall, Switzerland has ideal conditions for hydropower utilisation. Hydropower underwent an initial period of expansion towards the end of the nineteenth century, experiencing a boom between 1945 and 1970 when numerous new run-of-river power plants in the lowlands and the largest storage power plants were built.

Based on the estimated mean production level, hydropower still accounted for almost 90% of domestic electricity production at the beginning of the 1970s, but this figure fell to around 60% by 1985 following the entry into operation of Switzerland's nuclear power plants, and now accounts for around 55%. Hydropower remains Switzerland's most important domestic source of renewable energy.

Today there are 579 hydropower plants in Switzerland (power plants with a capacity of at least 300 kilowatts) which produce an average of around 35,913 gigawatt hours (GWh/y) a year. 47.4% of that is produced at run-of-river power plants, 48.2% at storage power plants and approximately 4.4% at pumped storage power plants. Two-thirds of this energy is produced in the mountain cantons of Uri, Graubünden, Ticino and Valais, while Aargau and Bern also generate significant quantities. Around 11% of Switzerland's hydropower generation comes from facilities situated on bodies of water along the country's borders.

The hydropower market is worth around CHF 1.8 billion (basis = delivery from power plant at 5 centimes per kilowatt hour), and is therefore an important segment of Switzerland's energy industry.

In its Energy Strategy 2050 the federal government is seeking to increase average annual electricity production from hydropower to 38,600 gigawatt hours (GWh/y) by 2050 (to 37,400 GWh/y by 2035). In order to exploit the realisable potential, existing power plants are to be retrofitted and expanded, and new hydropower plants built, while taking ecological requirements into account. The federal government wants to promote hydropower utilisation through a variety of measures contained in the first package of measures of the Energy Strategy 2050. The instruments to be used here include cost-covering remuneration for feed-in to the electricity grid for new hydropower plants with an output of up to 10 megawatts (MW), as well as planned investment contributions towards the retrofitting / expansion of hydropower plants with a capacity of up to 10 MW. Various additional measures are planned with the aim of improving the general conditions for hydropower generation (national interest, concept for expanding renewable energies, simplified permit procedures) along with support measures under the SwissEnergy programme.

Related documents

Reports/summaries
Statistics of hydroelectric installations in Switzerland
Forms
Communiqué de presse du 22 juin 2009 - République et Canton du Jura

Further information

Hydropower research programme
Cost-covering remuneration for feed-in to the electricity grid
Media release dated 11 march 2013 – Masterplan zeigt Möglichkeiten zur Geschiebereaktivierung und ökologischen Aufwertung im Hochrhein auf (in German)
Media release dated 21 février 2008 – Bundesrat will für Zeit nach 2012 das CO2-Gesetz revidieren und verabschiedet energiepolitische Aktionspläne (in German)
Energy research database

Links

Schweizerischer Wasserwirtschaftsverband (SWV) / Swiss Water Industry Association Dieses Symbol soll Sie darauf hinweisen, dass der Link auf eine externe Seite geleitet wird und Sie sich somit ausserhalb unseres Dienstes befinden und wir keinerlei Gewährleistung für folgende Inhalte geben können.
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Hydrological Atlas of Switzerland Dieses Symbol soll Sie darauf hinweisen, dass der Link auf eine externe Seite geleitet wird und Sie sich somit ausserhalb unseres Dienstes befinden und wir keinerlei Gewährleistung für folgende Inhalte geben können.
Last update: 16.05.2014


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