Swiss renewables law changes likely to impede solar expansion

Solar panels installed at a mountain hut in Lenzerheide. Author: SteFou!. License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic

February 16 (Renewables Now) - The expansion of solar power in Switzerland could slow down if planned legislation changes enter into force as this would worsen the framework conditions for the realisation of rooftop photovoltaic projects in the country, shows a recent study by Energie Zukunft Schweiz AG (EZS).

Small photovoltaic systems of up to 100 kWp are at the core of Switzerland's strategy to go green as they are expected to account for about 84% of electricity production from solar that the Alpine country plans to reach by 2050. To speed up the installation of such systems, the Swiss government initiated a revision of the Federal Electricity Supply Act in June 2021 and came up with amendments that are now subject to approval by the parliament.

However, instead of supporting homeowners to switch to solar power, the changes are likely to deter them from installing a photovoltaic system on their roofs as the new rules would sharply reduce the viability of small solar systems, according to the study.

Under the proposed amendments, the feed-in tariff for new rooftop photovoltaic systems will no longer be fixed but will depend on the market price at the time of grid connection. This will deter many retail investors and operators from investing in small solar plants as the volatile market price leads to uncertainty. To ensure a certain extent of security necessary for investors, David Stickelberger, the head of solar energy association Swissolar, suggests the introduction of a minimum amount for the feed-in tariff.

The study shows that projects slightly profitable under the current legislation would have a negative yield if the planned changes are adopted and would not have been realised.

The study was conducted on behalf of solar energy association Swissolar and Swiss energy foundation SES.

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