A solar panel on every roof? Canton Bern mulls over new green plan

A solar panel on every roof? Canton Bern mulls over new green plan

Bern, along with a number of other Swiss cantons, has been debating whether to make the installation of solar panels mandatory for all housing. The Bernese have now submitted a referendum, which would make the installation of solar panels mandatory from 2040.

Solar power integral to achieving Swiss climate goals

Currently, 18 Swiss cantons have laws requiring new buildings to generate their own energy, which is usually done by installing solar panels. The Swiss government hopes that solar panels will provide 34 terawatt-hours of electricity in total by 2050 - 50 percent more than is currently generated by the four nuclear power plants in Switzerland.

Cantonal authorities are now considering an extension to current laws to make green energy generation mandatory for most housing. The “Berner Solar-Initiative” is the first to attempt such a change. Submitted in Canton Bern by a large alliance of political parties, the law mandates that all new and existing buildings instal some form of solar panel. Owners of all types of housing would have to fulfil the mandate by 2040 at the latest, and exceptions would only be made if a rooftop does not receive enough sunlight.

New panels could cost up to 20.000 Swiss francs

According to the organisers, nine terawatt-hours of electricity could be produced in Canton Bern alone, which they say is one of the ways Switzerland could meet its climate goals for green energy. The text of the initiative says the government should issue a “hardship regulation” or grant for those who cannot afford the switch, which costs around 20.000 Swiss francs, according to the Tages-Anzeiger.

Speaking to the Tages-Anzeiger, Markus Meier, Director of the Home Owners Association, firmly rejected the idea, saying that current incentives to modernise utilities are enough. Instead of a mandate, he advocated for more support for those who make the switch to solar, such as a greater remuneration from energy suppliers for power generated and sent back to the grid.

The debate over the solar panels is likely to be heated, with concerns that the additional cost could be transferred to people renting, rather than homeowners. Canton Bern is yet to set a date for the referendum.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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