Chilled by the unattractive purchase price of solar power, Swiss owners or municipalities often choose to cover only part of their roof with photovoltaic panels, just enough to cover their needs. Elected officials want tariff changes.
Today, an owner or a municipality that decides to opt for solar energy has no advantage in covering its entire roof with photovoltaic panels. Because in most cantons, the electricity produced in excess cannot be resold at a sufficiently attractive price.
However, solar energy is currently booming. The Swiss have never asked for so many federal subsidies to equip themselves with photovoltaic panels. The number of applications stands at 9,500 for the first four months of this year.
At a time when Switzerland is facing a possible shortage of electricity, elected officials want tariff increases. They believe that the potential is enormous given the thousands of square meters of roofs that are lost.
In the Vaud municipality of Daillens, for example, where the authorities have decided to equip all municipal buildings with photovoltaic panels, this paradox is particularly flagrant. On the roof of the village shooting range, only 30 square meters of roofing will soon be equipped with solar panels, while more than 100 square meters will be available. Enough to power the fridge, the light, the electronic targets and produce a little extra current.
Installing a larger installation would simply not be profitable for the municipality, as explained in La Matinale the green syndic Alberto Mocchi. “Currently, Romande Energie buys the current which is reinjected into the network at only 9.5 cents”, he explains. Before adding: “I will intervene at the start of the school year so that the canton, which is the majority shareholder of Romande Energie with the Vaudois municipalities, challenges the board of directors in order to increase the price of repurchase of photovoltaic current.”
This practice is done in other Swiss cantons, as the former president of the Verts vaudois points out. “The Geneva Industrial Services buy, for example, the current which is reinjected into the network at 14 cents.” For him, if we want to exponentially increase the number of solar panels on the roofs, this current must therefore be purchased at a slightly more advantageous price.
>> Consult the interactive map of take-back fees for electricity from solar panels in Switzerland. To clickto see the details region by region:
The interactive map of take-back fees for electricity from solar panels in Switzerland. [Association des Producteurs d’Energie Indépendants VESE]
A floor price?
Currently, if the federal law on energy obliges the network managers to pay for the current produced, the electricians have a margin of maneuver to fix the tariffs. There is no floor price, for example. Not to mention that there is a balance to be found between the different types of customers, as several network operators believe. It would indeed not be fair to massively increase the price of power recovery provided by owners who have installed solar panels and then pass it on to tenants, for example.
If in the canton of Vaud, elected officials want to make things happen, elsewhere in Switzerland there is a form of political consensus on this subject. Green elected officials but also UDC consider however that it is necessary to intervene at the federal level, whereas precisely the federal law on energy is in revision at the Council of States. One of the options on the table would be the introduction of a floor tariff to force electricity companies to buy back the electricity supplied by the owners of solar panels at a higher price.
But not sure that we necessarily have to wait for a legislative change. Given the surge in prices on the electricity market, Romande Energie has indeed already promised that it will revise upwards its take-back tariff for next year. The tariff schedule for all network operators will be known on August 31.