Swiss capacity almost doubled -- On the rise despite environmentalist setback

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Switzerland's wind capacity reached 4.51 MW last year, compared with 2.8 MW in 2000. The increase came from two Vestas 850 kW turbines added to the four Vestas 660 kW units already at the Mont-Crosin wind plant, Switzerland's largest, in the Jura Alps. Operator Juvent, a subsidiary of utility BKW Energie, extended the plant "to meet the growing demand for wind generated electricity." It is now measuring wind speeds in the Arc Jurassien region with the aim of expanding its wind capacity further. A second project -- the installation of an ABB/Lagerwey 850 kW turbine at Gütsch op Andermann -- was scheduled for October last year, but had to be postponed due to bad weather and delivery problems. It should now go on-line in the spring. "The delay was especially disappointing as, together with the two new Mont-Crosin turbines, it would have doubled the amount of wind generated electricity in Switzerland compared with 2000," says Robert Horbaty, director of the Swiss wind association, Suisse Èole.

Wind power in Switzerland suffered a further blow after a long standing row between the wind power sector and environmental groups came to a head with an influential countryside protection group, Stiftung Landesschutz, objecting to turbines over 60 metres high. "This rigid limit ignores both specific locations and social and economic aspects of sustainable development," says Horbaty.

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