Wind Energy in Switzerland
2021 wind energy numbers
By the end of 2021, Switzerland had 42 large wind turbines in operation with a total rated power of 87 MW. These turbines produced 146 GWh of electricity in 2021.
The construction of a new wind farm with a capacity of 14 MW began in 2021; it will be operational by the end of 2022, increasing the total wind power capacity by 16%. A cost-covering feed-in tariff (FIT) for renewable energy in Switzerland has been in place since 2009. This policy promotes wind energy, and despite the long authorisation process, many projects are still in development. Financing is currently requested for an additional 3.2 TWh under the FIT scheme.
Internationally cross-linked research activities in 2021 focused on cold climates, complex terrain, aviation cohabitation, and social acceptance.
To learn more about wind energy in Switzerland, please review their chapter in the IEA Wind TCP 2021 Annual Report.
The Energy Strategy foresees an additional 22.6 TWh/yr from renewable energy by 2050. Wind energy should contribute 4.3 TWh/yr to this target (with intermediate goals of 0.3 TWh in 2025 and 1.2 TWh in 2035).
Since the introduction of the FIT in 2009, wind projects with an estimated energy yield of 120.8 GWh are in operation and being supported under the scheme in 2021; additional projects with a potential energy yield of 1,737 GWh have been registered, and 1,507 GWh are on the waiting list. This FIT scheme is now over, and a new scheme based on investment subsidies will support wind energy deployment from 2022 (investment subsidies up to 60%). This scheme has the disadvantage of not covering the market price risks on the long terms, and is, therefore, not appropriate for wind energy projects. This scheme could be interesting for community-owned wind turbines, but the authorisation process for such smaller project has to be defined.
The cost of the FIT is financed by a levy on electricity consumption. The maximum levy is of 23 CHF/ MWh (around 21.2 EUR/MWh; 23.8 USD/MWh) and a fund to support renewable energies in Switzerland is financed. The FIT for newly installed wind turbines in 2021 was between 130 CHF/MWh and 230 CHF/MWh. Wind turbines built on locations 1,700 m above sea level or higher receive an altitude bonus of 25 CHF/MWh (23 EUR/MWh; 25.8 USD/MWh) in addition to the standard retribution. The payment period expands over 15 years. This price is a contract for difference, with the market price being at the very high end of 2021, wind turbine operators under this scheme have to give money back to the fund.
Progress & Operational Details
Approximately 59% of Switzerland’s overall electricity production comes from renewable sources, with hydropower by far the biggest contributor (95%). Wind power generation currently provides 0.2% of Swiss electricity consumption. End of 2020, new turbines were installed, but these turbines were not fully commissioned in 2021. Projects that are already in the advanced planning stages represent an additional 360 MW, while early-stage projects represent roughly 600 MW.
National RDD Priorities and Budget
The priorities of the research term 2017 to 2022 remain valid for 2021. These priorities are:
- Performance optimisation per turbine and farm via turbine optimisation, control optimisation, and wind farm design.
- Reduction of turbine downtimes through technical optimisation, icing protection, wind forecasts, and understanding of avifauna behaviour; and
- Acceptance of wind power. This includes accelerating research between wind power and other fields (such as ornithology or noise research) and promoting stronger cooperation between federal offices and institutes.
In 2021, the budget for wind energy-related R&D and demonstration projects from the Swiss Federal Office of Energy was approximately 0.5 million CHF (0.44 million EUR; 0.53 million USD). Within the national Swiss Energy program, approximately 0.4 million CHF (0.37 million EUR; 0.45 million USD) were allocated to the wind energy sector for information activities, quality assurance measures, and the support of regional and communal planning authorities. Budget-wise, the 2022 trend is the same as for 2021.