Robert Horbaty, head of the wind energy program at Bundesamt für Energie, the federal energy office, regrets that his optimistic prediction of a year ago came true for only one turbine installation in 1998 (Windpower Monthly, March 1998). A Vestas 660 kW unit was installed in October as the fourth turbine in the Mount Crosin wind station owned by Juvent, a joint venture company in which utility Berne Kraftwerke (BKW) has the majority stake. BKW will not install more turbines in the near future because of the high costs of wind generated power, reports Jakob Vollenweider of the utility.
BKW's concern over costs echoes throughout the country. Generation costs average CHF 0.20-0.25/kWh, yet since 1991 utilities have paid only CHF 0.16/kWh for wind power under a regulation on energy use. The gap has had to be filled by subsidies, or by end customers willing to pay a premium. A new energy ruling from January 1 is now under review, but the old tariffs are still in force.
Horbaty remains optimistic, saying many projects are in the pipeline, although planning will take some time. He dares to make another prediction. "If everything goes well, one new wind farm should be set up this year," he says.
With its snail speed development, wind can make little contribution to the Swiss Energy 2000 program. Inititated in 1990, this aims to have 3% of Swiss heating demands and 0.5% of the total electricity needs covered with renewables by the end of 2000. This aim might be achieved through high energy production from biomass and hydro, says Wilfried Blum of the Swiss utility association.