Tough struggle for Swiss green electricity
Environmentalists win partial victory
The Council of States wants to massively expand renewable energies by 2050 in order to secure the power supply. A majority wants to achieve this without clear cuts in environmental law.
Renewable energies – including hydropower – are to be massively expanded.
On Thursday, the Council of States set the course for the energy transition. The goal: Hydropower, wind and solar energy should be promoted more and faster. There are to be new binding expansion targets for the years 2035 to 2050.
The Council of States goes well beyond the Federal Council’s proposals: the target values for hydropower are 37.9 terawatt hours by 2035 and 39.2 terawatt hours by 2050. The other renewables are to deliver 35 terawatt hours by 2035 and 45 terawatt hours by 2050.
Not only the expansion of production should ensure a secure power supply, but also a reduction in individual energy consumption. On average, this per capita is expected to fall by 43 percent by 2035, and by a little more than half by 2050. When it comes to electricity consumption, the targets are a little less ambitious: compared to the year 2000, it should be 13 percent less by 2035 and 5 percent less by 2050 per person.
The question of how much the environment has to cut back in favor of the expansion targets was a tough argument. “Environmental law will be blown up,” warned SP Councilor Roberto Zanetti (67, SO) about the proposals of the responsible commission, which wanted to subordinate certain environmental regulations to the expansion target. Middle Councilor Beat Rieder (59, VS), on the other hand, spoke of a “reasonable compromise”. A majority rejected the clear cut. The statutory residual water quantities also continue to apply when the water law concession is renewed.
Nevertheless, the conservationists have to make certain compromises. The protection of biotopes and water and migratory bird reserves of national importance is thus weakened. In the future, new plants for the use of renewable energies will no longer be completely ruled out.
In the case of important storage hydroelectric power plants, photovoltaic systems or wind power plants, national interests should take precedence over cantonal or regional interests.
The Council of States will discuss the bill next week.