Switzerland slowly awakes

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Switzerland has a lot in common with its neighbour, Austria, including mountains, similar wind speeds, high priority for tourism and agriculture, and generous regulated payments for wind power. The price paid is about EUR 0.10/kWh. Yet Swiss wind development lags well behind that of Austria, with installations stuck at just 5.3 MW since 2002. This year, however, things could change.

According to Bernard Gutknecht of wind energy association Suisse Eole, the country could see its market grow by 83%. Two 1.75 MW turbines are to be added to the existing Mont-Crosin station, owned by utility BKW, and a permit has been granted for a 0.9 MW turbine at Entlebuch-Feldmoos, the first project in Switzerland to be initiated by a farmer.

A seven turbine project, possibly using 1.75 MW turbines, planned by Eole-RES, Swiss subsidiary of England's Renewable Energy Systems, could proceed if the first-instance administrative court in Neuenburg rules in its favour. The Neuenburg canton supports the project, rejecting objections by several individuals and the regional parliament. But the parliament took the case to court. A court ruling is expected before the summer.

Wind development may speed up once the National Konzept Windenergie takes effect mid-year. The regulation lays down guidelines for the cantons on the permitting of wind plant, says Gutknecht. He is pinning his hopes for wind development on the document, not least because the cross-section of government, environment and landscape protection organisations involved in it aim to reach a compromise on the issues.

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