The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Swiss Adopt Aggressive Feed Law for Renewable Energy

In a surprising move, Switzerland has adopted one of the world's most aggressive systems of Advanced Renewable Tariffs.

The Swiss, famed for conservative traditions, stodgy bankers and trains that run on time, have joined a growing list of countries using feed-in tariffs to promote the rapid development of renewable energy.

Not content to start with a timid program incrementally raising the bar year by year, the Swiss federal government this spring launched a full-system of feed-in tariffs differentiated by technology, size and application. There are tariffs, or payments per kilowatt-hour (kWh), for solar photovoltaics, wind, hydro, geothermal and biomass.

The Swiss system, like those in Germany, France and Spain, pays a renewable energy generator for every kWh of electricity generated. The payments are made for periods of 20 to 25 years, depending upon the technology.

The new Swiss tariffs, among the highest in the world, are the first to include a specific tariff for small wind turbines — those under 10 kW — of 0.20 SWF/kWh (US $0.20/kWh) for 20 years.

The states of Michigan, Illinois, Rhode Island and Minnesota have proposed similar tariffs for small wind turbines, US $0.25/kWh, but none of the proposals have yet become law.

Tariffs for large wind turbines use the German system of tariff differentiation by resource intensity. Because of the rugged Swiss terrain, the program's designers needed to provide tariffs for wind energy that would enable profitable operation in deep valleys as well as on windy mountaintops, while at the same time protecting ratepayers from unnecessary costs.

In the Swiss system, every wind turbine is paid the same price for its electricity during the first five years. After that, production is averaged. The average is then compared with a reference site defined in the law. Depending upon the wind resource, the premium payment of 0.20 SWF/kWh is extended beyond the first five years. After the premium period, the tariff falls to 0.17 SWF/kWh (US $0.17/kWh) for the remainder of the 20-year contract. For the reference site, the premium payment of 0.20 SWF/kWh (US $0.20/kWh) is extended for the full 20-year period.

The wind tariffs are among the highest in the world, but less than those requested by Suisse Eole. The trade association calculated that with Swiss terrain, and the high cost of wind turbines, 0.28 SWF/kWh (US $0.28/kWh) would be necessary for the first five years, and 0.20 SWF/kWh for the post-premium period.

The tariffs for solar PV put Switzerland on a par with Germany and France, though the contract period of 25 years is the longest outside Spain. For rooftop systems of less than 10 kW in size, the tariffs are 0.75 SWF/kWh. For building integrated solar PV, the tariffs rival those in neighboring France. For building-integrated systems of less than 10 kW in size, the tariffs are 0.90 SWF/kWh (US $0.88/kWh).


Tarriffs for solar PV

Currently there are 29 megawatts (MW) of solar PV in the country; 7 MW were installed in 2007.

The Swiss, ever meticulous, avoided disrupting the solar industry while the new law was under lengthy discussions, by grandfathering solar PV installations installed from 2006 through the law's introduction in April 2008.

Geothermal plants of less than 5 MW in size will receive 0.30 SWF/kWh (US $0.30/kWh) for 20 years.

Funds to pay for the tariffs will come from a systems benefits charge of 0.006 SWF/kWh on all electricity consumption, says Reto Rigassi of Suisse Eole, the Swiss wind energy association. This is equivalent to 320 million SWF, or about US $310 million, at current exchange rates.

While there is no MW cap on the program, there is a cap on the portion contributed by each technology to the total program. Hydro generation is capped at 50% of the fund, and wind at 30%. However, the wind association's Rigassi explains that the entire program is capped at 150% of the funds collected.

Most controversial are the limits placed on solar photovoltaics (PV). Solar PV is capped at 5% of the fund. Swissolar, the Swiss solar trade association, has called on the government to lift the cap, arguing that solar PV could ultimately meet one-third of Swiss electricity supply.

There are currently 1,000 people employed in the Swiss solar industry, and Bank Sarasin suggests that the number could increase if Switzerland developed its home market with more aggressive policies.

The program will be reviewed every five years. The first review may be within three years.

As elsewhere, special provisions are made for data collection from the private generators who participate in the program. The law specifically states that generators must provide data on generation upon the government's request.

Swiss parliamentarians have been debating a modern renewable energy policy for several years. The country's renewable energy advocates have watched in frustration as renewable energy boomed in Germany to the north, France to the west, and Italy to the south. Now, with one of the world's most progressive systems of Advanced Renewable Tariffs, the Swiss are in the game.
Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox - FREE!

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World Magazine and our award-winning e-Newsletter to stay up to date on current news and industry trends.

 Subscribe Now


US Senate Democrats Unveil Energy Bill That Restores PTC and Extends ITC

Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg Senate Democrats unveiled a bill that would provide more tax credits for renewable energy while killing some tax ince...

Sage Grouse Removed as Threat to Biggest Wind Farm in U.S.

Christopher Martin, Bloomberg Billionaire Phil Anschutz’s plans to build a $5 billion wind farm in southeast Wyoming will no longer be stymied by t...

CEO Gilles: Challenge in Geothermal is to 'Level Playing Field' with Wind, Solar

Jennifer Delony The current challenge for the geothermal energy industry is what U.S. Geothermal CEO Dennis Gilles calls “leveling th...

NRG Energy to Form Renewable Unit, Sell Wind Assets to Yieldco

Mark Chediak and Matthew Monks, Bloomberg NRG Energy Inc., the worst-performing member of the S&P 500 Utilities Index this year, said it will form a renewa...


Power Engineering and Renewable Energy World Magazines Name Projects of the Year Awards Finalists

Tulsa, Okla. and Nashua, N.H., Oct. 5, 2015 -- The editors of Power Engineering and Ren...

Sun Xtender® Launches New Website at

The newly designed website for Sun Xtender solar batteries is now live on the World Wid...

Canadian Solar Closes Purchase of Ontario Assets from KKR

Canadian Solar Purchased 3 Solar Power Plants Totaling 59.8 MW AC from KKR

Array Technologies Finalizes Shipments to E.ON’s Maricopa West Solar Project

Array Technologies, Inc. (ATI) has completed DuraTrack® HZ shipments to the 20 MW (ac) ...


energy efficiency

Beyond the Trend: Maximizing the Impact of Your Energy Efficiency Solution

A revolution is happening in the energy sector. From the new regulations pushed out earlier this summer by the EPA’s ...

Northeast States Create Cap-and-Trade Program for Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Northeast states have worked together for several decades to address air quality issues and, more recently, climate c...

Why the Solar PV Industry Should Love Geothermal Heat Pumps Pt 2

It’s a marriage made in heaven: Solar PV and Geothermal Heat Pumps Part 2 of a 6-Part Series Prevailing Heati...

The Whirlwind Known As Tradeshow Season 2015

Wow. What a tradeshow season 2015 is turning out to be! Hot on the heels of Intersolar and SPI, next week we’re...


Paul Gipe has written extensively about renewable energy for both the popular and trade press. He has also lectured widely on wind energy and how to minimize its impact on the environment and the communities of which it is a part. For his efforts,...


Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



Successfully Integrating Solar: A Proactive Approach

•      What does the increasing solar penetrati...

Canadian Solar Inverters Webinar

Canadian Solar is proud to be hosting two free webinars in October! The ...

Doing Business in Europe – in partnership with GWEC, the Global Win...

There is now 128.8 GW of installed wind energy capacity in the EU (appro...


The Grab Bag Rides Again

Pregame When I was sports editor for the college newspaper, I wrote a co...

How To Speak, How To Listen

As sales professionals, effective communication is paramount to our succ...

Get In The Habit

We all develop habits throughout our lives. Sometimes they’re bene...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now