Some 19,000 photovoltaic panels should soon be installed next to the Cressier refinery in Neuchâtel. Covering an area of 45,000 square meters – the equivalent of five football pitches – it would be the most powerful solar installation on the ground in Switzerland, as related by the RTS. This collaboration between Varo Energy Group and the Friborg electricity supplier Groupe E is expected to cost 6.5 million francs, and production should start in November 2022. The companies say the project will protect biodiversity and contribute to the energy transition.
Why is it curious. If this solar complex would have the capacity to provide 8.4 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity per year to decarbonize the annual consumption of 2000 to 2500 households, it will be reserved for a completely different use. The vast majority of the energy produced will be directly consumed by the Cressier refinery — covering at full power up to 60% of its energy needs — for the production of gasoline, diesel, kerosene and fuel oil.
Supplied with crude oil from Marseille via an underground pipeline, the Varo factory manufactures 25% of the petroleum products sold in Switzerland. The largest solar park in Switzerland will thus be intended for the exploitation of fossil fuels, even though the Confederation undertook to put an end to its dependence on fossil fuels last November, during the last climate conference in Glasgow (COP26).