Wind energy plants utilise the kinetic energy of airflow to rotate turbine blades. The mechanical energy that is produced in this way is then converted by a generator into electricity.
The first wind energy facility in Switzerland was put into operation in 1986 near Soolhof Farm (Langenbruck, canton of Basel-Landschaft) and had an output of 28 kilowatts. In 2012 there were more than 30 wind power plants in operation in our country, which produced a combined total of around 85 gigawatt hours of electricity. The largest wind park is on Mont Crosin in the Bernese Jura near St Imier: this facility comprises 16 wind turbines with a total output of 23.6 megawatts. Other large facilities are in operation in Collonges (canton of Valais), Entlebuch (canton of Lucerne) and on the Gütsch (above Andermatt, canton of Uri).
There is still plenty of potential for wind energy in Switzerland: by 2030 it would be possible for facilities that meet the stringent conceptual specifications to produce around 600 gigawatt hours of electricity a year. Ideal locations for wind parks exist in the Jura range, as well as in the Alps and in the western region of the central plateau.
The Swiss wind energy concept specifies the conditions governing the planning and construction of wind parks and is based on the principle of strictly limiting the installation of wind power plants to the most suitable sites. The criteria for identifying suitable sites include availability of wind, degree of development, distance from residential areas and compatibility with nature and landscape. The concept is intended to provide the cantons and municipalities with a helpful planning framework.