Swiss hydro dams and wind farms to be fast-tracked under new proposals
The lack of an agreement with the European Union over electricity has sparked concerns in recent months that Switzerland may suffer energy shortages in the future. The Federal Council has revealed that wind and hydropower will be of utmost importance for energy in Switzerland in the future, as the country become more self-sufficient.
New hydro dams can take up to 20 years to be approved
In a press conference on Thursday, Federal Councillor and Head of the Department for Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (UVEK), Simonetta Sommaruga, said that wind and hydro plants should be approved more quickly in future. She hoped that amendments to current laws would allow the construction of large facilities in record time.
UVEK says that the current process takes too long to approve the construction of new facilities and the renovation of old ones. In the case of a large hydro plant, it can take up to 20 years to get from project planning to construction.
The new proposals will make the process faster, without compromising on environmental protection. Instead of approving plants on the federal level, the responsibility will be given to Swiss cantons, in order to streamline the process.
More power plants needed to combat energy shortages
The idea comes as a lack of an agreement with the EU is causing concerns that Switzerland may face power shortages in the near future, with the price of utilities rising because of the breakdown in negotiations. Currently, around 25 percent of Switzerland’s electricity comes from hydropower, which is used to power homes and businesses.
In addition to streamlining large projects, the Federal Council also hopes to provide new financial incentives for homeowners by making the cost of solar panels deductible annual tax returns. Many cantons are considering placing solar panels on all available rooftops. The government is expected to make a final decision on the measures in May.