G-Solar representatives visited recently Switzerland. In May 2015 Switzerland’s largest solar experimental plant became operational. It covers the roofs of 25 buildings and has a surface area of 15.500 m2. It will generate 2.2 million kWh of electricity per year, which is equivalent to the annual consumption of 610 households. The project is a result of partnership between Romande Energie and EPFL – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. 15% of the mutual investment is devoted to several EPFL research teams. The solar park will also serve as a major research and teaching lab with the aim of developing innovative solar energy production technologies. Additionally, “Romande Energie Solar Lab” allows researchers to test solar panel prototypes from their labs in the real-world environment.
Historically, Switzerland had been a pioneer in Photovoltaics in the 1980s and early 1990s but it was surpassed by quick development of Italy and Germany. However, the capped capacities that were put into place to avoid unregulated growth were raised in recent years by introduction of feed-in tariffs. In 2014 Switzerland entered the group of countries with a solar gigawatt market generating around 2% of the domestic electricity demand. The feed-in remuneration at cost is the primary instrument for promoting the deployment of power system using renewable energy sources. This stimulating measure covers the difference between the production and the market price, and guarantees producers of electricity from renewable sources a price that corresponds to their production costs. This remuneration system encompasses production from plants generated by hydro power (up to 10MW), solar power, wind power, geothermal energy, biomass and biogas. The remuneration is financed by collecting a surcharge on the consumed kilowatt-hour of electricity. The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (BFE) announced that the FITs for residential small size PV installations will be further reduced in two phases, in April and October 2016, on 7% and 13% lower than the current tariffs. The new FITs will remain in force until April 1, 2017. The 15% bonus on the FIT for BIPV systems will remain in place. The BFE also revealed that 2.541 PV project proposals with a combined capacity of 100 MW were admitted to the FIT program.