The purpose of electricity labelling is to provide end users with information about the composition and origin of the electricity they consume. At least once a year, electricity supply companies are required to indicate – either on, or together with an electricity bill – the source from which their electricity has been produced, and whether it was produced in Switzerland or abroad.
It is not possible for consumers to directly identify the source of the electricity they consume. For this reason, an accounting system was introduced: a certificate of origin is created during the production stage, and this is validated when the electricity is consumed. With this method, the production details can be allocated to the end consumption stage independently of the physical and commercial electricity flow. In this way it is possible to ensure that a specific grade of electricity (e.g. 100 kWh solar power from Switzerland) can only be sold as such once.
The Swiss Federal Energy Act dated 26 June 1998 (SR 730.0) and the Swiss Federal Energy Ordinance dated 7 December 1998 (SR 730.01) form the basis for electricity declaration. Article 5b of the Energy Act and Articles 1a to 1e of the Energy Ordinance contain the guidelines, while Appendix 4 of the Energy Ordinance contains important additional enforcement provisions governing electricity declaration.
The size of the declaration table is clearly stipulated: it has to be at least 7 centimetres high and 10 centimetres wide. The designations of the various energy sources are also stipulated. However, no requirements apply with respect to size and style of font and other design elements.
The SFOE recommends rounding percentages up or down to the nearest decimal place. More detailed figures may be indicated in the case of very small percentages. Standard commercial practice should be observed here.
The SFOE accepts certificates of origin that meet the requirements cited in the DETEC Ordinance dated 24 November 2006 on the Certification of the Method of Production and Source of Electricity (SR 730.010.1). Other acceptable forms of certification are listed on page 15 of the SFOE guidelines on electricity certification dated 1 August 2005, which may be downloaded from the Internet (www.stromkennzeichnung.ch).
Yes. The minimum requirement is a table that is at least 7 centimetres high and 10 centimetres wide. Diagrams, pie charts, etc., are permitted as long as they do not interfere with the clarity of the declaration.
Suppliers are required to provide end users with an electricity disclosure at least once per calendar year. Declarations must refer to the data for the previous calendar year as of 1 July at the latest. In practice, most suppliers provide their end users with a declaration for the past year in the course of the following year.
In principle, yes. Electricity suppliers are at liberty to decide which mix to deliver to their customers. Delivery of a mix with close to 100 percent non-verifiable energy sources is also possible. However, a high percentage of non-verifiable energy sources is not desirable, since this means that end users only have a limited degree of transparency.
Yes, a declaration must be sent to end users at least once per calendar year, either as part of or together with an electricity bill. No stipulations apply with respect to the form and scope of the enclosure that contains the electricity declaration, as long as the minimum requirements are met.
All end users have to receive an electricity declaration once a year. In theory, this also applies to customers with temporary connections, but in practice there are cases in which this is not possible.
If end users are to be informed about the origin of their specific electricity, the supplier has to opt for the product mix. With the product mix, each group of customers receives a declaration specific to their order. With the supply mix, on the other hand, all customers receive the same declaration. For further information, please refer to the "Leitfaden Stromkennzeichnung".
Yes. Electricity declarations must be sent to end users as part of or together with an electricity bill. Other information may be included in the same mailing as the electricity declaration, e.g. an offer for a hydropower product or a newsletter.
No. The Energy Ordinance merely stipulates that electricity accounting must be carried out. This may be in electronic form or on paper. What is important here is that the accounts are clearly structured and complete, and that, if they are subjected to an audit, they are found to contain plausible data. However, the method used by the SFOE has proved to be a good basis for many electricity companies.
Yes, electricity accounting is required by law. The Energy Ordinance dated 10 November 2004 states that companies subject to a declaration and information obligation are also obliged to carry out suitable accounting. Companies that are subject to both of the above obligations can fulfil them with a single bookkeeping system. Accounts may be kept in any suitable form. The SFOE has posted examples on its electricity declaration home page (www.bfe.admin.ch/stromkennzeichnung).
If a supplier delivers electricity from non-verifiable energy sources, these do not have to be reported in the electricity accounting. The quantity shown in the accounts is calculated as the difference between the electricity supplied to own end users and the available certificates.
End users are clients who buy electricity for their own consumption. Exceptions: purchase of electricity by power plants for their own requirements, and by pump storage power plants for the operation of their own pumps.
Yes. Any form is acceptable, as long as the accounts are clearly structured and correct. The SFOE has posted sample accounting methods as Excel files for downloading (www.bfe.admin.ch/stromkennzeichnung).
Electricity declaration is based on figures for each calendar year. If no precise data are available for individual suppliers or clients, estimates have to be made, which then form an integral part of the electricity accounting and must be presented when an audit is carried out.
Transmission losses must be reflected in the accounts.
Example Sale of 100 percent energy with certified quality, purchase of 103 percent energy with certified quality, 3 percent transmission losses in own network. Upon purchase, the 3 percent was booked in the accounts. This results in a surplus of 3 percent, which may be used at the company’s own discretion.
As pump energy is a form of storage and not production, no guarantees of origin (GOs) are issued for pump energy (for further details, see "Leitfaden zum Einsatz von Pumpen"). It is therefore not possible to convert GOs of electricity from other sources (such as coal or wind) into hydropower GOs through pump storage. If the electricity for pumping is to come from renewable sources, there need to be corresponding GOs in the portfolio. The GOs for energy that is lost during the pump storage process have to be cancelled.
Here, free market forces come into play. Certificates, which are often not tied to physical deliveries, can be bought and sold at any time as long as the regulations are duly observed. In Switzerland, certificates are offered or purchased by numerous major producers, traders, distributors and organisations.
If players on the solar power exchange pass on the ecological added value of the produced electricity to their supply company, the certificates are transferred to the latter. They are booked in the accounts under certificate of origin. For the declaration of the supply mix, the allocation of certificates from the solar power exchange is made proportionally to all end users. If the client group with a (partial) solar energy product is to be provided with a specific declaration (your electricity mix: XX percent solar energy), the electricity supplier has to opt for the declaration of the product mix.
Certificates are generated for all forms of electricity production, including from block heat and power plants. The decisive factor here is that the produced energy fed is certified by means of a meter. In the case of oil-fired block and heat power plants, certificates are generated in the "oil" category, and with gas-fired plants they are allocated to the "gas" category.
In accordance with the Swiss Code of Obligations, accounts, vouchers and business correspondence must be archived for a period of ten years. In the case of ISO-certified companies, this period may be longer.
Yes, sale to third parties is possible. The network operator then only receives the physical delivery of energy, without a quality certificate. In practical terms, this means that the producer provides the network operator with information about the produced quantity of electricity from "non-verifiable energy sources".
These transactions are normally carried out without certificates. In other words, they concern electricity without certified quality. In view of this, they have to be booked in the accounts under "non-verifiable energy sources".
In electricity accounting, own consumption (i.e. electricity consumed by the supply company itself) may be deducted from the total electricity sales to end users. If 100 percent hydropower is used for own consumption, the corresponding quantity has to be booked as own consumption. If own consumption is met using the same electricity mix as supplied to end users, it is booked as part of the total electricity sales to end users.
Since 1 January 2009, a surcharge is collected on the transmission costs of the high-voltage network to finance the promotion of renewable energy (feed-in remuneration at cost). This surcharge may be passed on to lower network levels and ultimately to end customers. End customers who pay the associated fee are also entitled to receive the corresponding electricity category. Each year the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) publishes the fixed percentage of subsidised electricity that has to be declared (www.bfe.admin.ch/stromkennzeichnung > Tools for electricity supply companies).
The supplier mix indicates the composition of the overall supply to all an electricity supplier's end customers. Thus all customers receive the same uniform electricity mix, regardless of the product they have purchased. By contrast, the term "product mix" refers to the specific electricity mix that is allocated to the individual customer groups.
In terms of processing, the product mix is simpler, but does not permit any differentiation by customer group. Depicting the individual product mix is more complex because the corresponding accounting system has to be prepared. On the other hand, with a product mix it is possible to inform each customer about their individual electricity composition.
An electricity supplier has to decide whether it declares the supplier mix to all its end customers or the product mix to all its end customers. A free combination of product and supplier mix is not possible. If a supplier has decided in favour of the product mix, it may also inform its end customers about the supplier mix. Suppliers are required to publish their supplier mix on the electricity labelling website (www.stromkennzeichnung.ch), regardless of the option they have chosen.
If both methods were to be combined, this would result in duplicate marketing of certain electricity categories. This can be illustrated using the following simplified example: Customer A purchases solar electricity only, and customer B purchases nuclear electricity only. Customer A receives information about the product mix, and customer B receives information about the supplier mix. In this case, customer A only "sees" his solar electricity, while customer B "sees" an electricity mix in which customer A’s solar mix is included. In this example, the solar electricity is declared twice (and a portion of the nuclear electricity is not declared to anyone).
One solution is to differentiate between customers who buy a special product and the remaining customers. Customers who choose to buy a specific product receive a corresponding declaration, while the other customers receive a declaration concerning the remaining mix from the other electricity sources. The supplier mix then comprises this remaining mix as well as the electricity explicitly sold as products.
Another option is to offer products, but declare the supplier mix to the customers. Purchased products may not be explicitly declared in the electricity labelling table, but the purchased product may be indicated in the form of text or a graph with wording such as: "With your purchase of product XY you are supporting the development of renewable energy" or "By choosing product XY you are helping ensure that the corresponding quantity of (e.g.) solar electricity has been produced and fed into the grid".
The legal basis for electricity labelling is Article 5a of the Federal Energy Act (SR 730.0). The legal provisions governing the product and supplier mix are Article 1a, paragraph 2 of the Federal Energy Ordinance (SR 730.01) and Figures 1 and 2 in Appendix 4 of the Federal Energy Ordinance.
The SFOE’s guide to electricity labelling (www.bfe.admin.ch/stromkennzeichnung > Tools for electricity supply companies > "Leitfaden Stromkennzeichnung") contains detailed information about electricity disclosure in Switzerland.
The explanatory report dated 10 February 2011 (not available in English) on the revision of the Federal Energy Ordinance that entered into force on 1 October 2011 contains background information regarding the introduction of the product mix.
On the www.stromkennzeichnung.ch website (not available in English) you will find a summary of all supplier mixes in Switzerland, as well as background information on electricity labelling, certificates of origin and the various energy sources.