Based on ambitious targets, the federal government’s Energy Strategy 2050 opens up many opportunities. It encourages us to use energy sparingly, while boosting innovations geared towards sustainability. Switzerland is capable of making this shift: productivity and efficiency are in our country’s DNA. Optimizing our energy management does not lead to constraints, but to greater comfort!
After the Fukushima disaster in 2011, the Federal Council and Parliament decided to withdraw Switzerland from nuclear power. This decision required a transformation of the energy system. This is how the Energy Strategy 2050 came into being in 2017, coupled with the revision of the Energy Act (January 2018). Its aim: to ensure a secure, cheap and environmentally friendly energy supply in the long term. In order to achieve this, the Federal Council is focusing on increasing energy efficiency and expanding renewable energies, particularly in the first phase. In addition, it wants to intensify research in the energy sector. In a second phase, the current incentive system will be replaced by an incentive system. The stick after the carrot!
The Energy Strategy 2050 sets numerical targets, which are themselves monitored systematically. Average per capita final energy consumption per year is to be reduced by 43% by 2035, and by 54% by 2050. Electricity consumption is to be reduced by 13% (2035) and 18% (2050) respectively. On the other hand, the average domestic production of renewable energies, such as solar, wood, biomass, wind and geothermal energy, will have to increase. According to the federal government, the greater the amount of renewable energy available, the less Switzerland will have to depend on imports of fossil fuels. The application of this federal framework is up to the cantons; thus, through its 2020-2030 Energy Master Plan (currently being finalized), Geneva is aiming for even higher thresholds, some of which will be imperative to meet.
In order to achieve the targets set, the Federal Council has developed numerous measures. Some of these are aimed at increasing energy efficiency in the areas of buildings, mobility, appliances and industry. Others are aimed at increasing the share of renewable energies. In Switzerland, buildings are responsible for 50% of energy consumption and almost a third of CO2 emissions. It is therefore planned to extend the building renovation programme, in particular by increasing the financial resources available. Property owners can thus benefit from financial support if they improve the insulation of their property, replace the glazing or their heating system. The programme is partly financed by the revenue from the CO2 tax on fuels. In terms of taxation, investments in energy renovations could already be deducted from income tax. With the implementation of the Energy Strategy, the demolition costs required for new buildings are also deductible. This should lead to an increase in the number of complete renovations, which are more energy-efficient and tax-efficient than partial renovations.
The demands on electrical appliances will continue to grow. Motorised traffic is responsible for 38% of final energy consumption in Switzerland. For this reason, the Energy Strategy requires that motor vehicles registered for the first time have reduced CO2 emission values. Finally, with regard to nuclear power plants, no new licences will be granted; existing plants will be operated as long as their safety is guaranteed.
Parliament had already decided in 2007 that the annual production of electricity from renewable energies should be extended. In 2009, the main instrument was the introduction of the compensatory feed-in remuneration (CRF). The following technologies are supported by the CRF: hydro, photovoltaics, wind, geothermal, biomass and biomass waste. The “CPR fund” is fed by the grid surcharge paid by electricity consumers for each kWh drawn from the grid. The surcharge set out in the Energy Act was 0.45 ct/kWh in 2013 and was increased to 2.3 ct/kWh in 2018 following the adoption of the Energy Strategy 2050. The current revision of the Electricity Supply Act (StromVG), which aims to open up the electricity market completely, also provides for an amendment to the Energy Act. This is to include better incentives to invest in domestic renewable energies as an accompanying measure to market opening. The aim here, too, is to strengthen security of supply.
We have the land to produce much of the energy we need, as long as we avoid unnecessary consumption. The Energy Strategy 2050 marks the end of “every man for himself” and the blossoming of ecosystem design. It requires strong actions and a strengthening of public-private partnerships. In the field of energy management, adjacent buildings will no longer be able to do without pooling their facilities. It will be necessary to mobilize the energy required in a more efficient and responsible manner. The solutions exist, but to move forward, we must perpetuate a virtuous circle and be persistent!
In connection with the Energy Strategy 2050, the new CO2 Act was finalized by the Federal Chambers in September this year, with a planned entry into force in January 2022 (barring a referendum). In line with the Paris Climate Agreement, this Swiss law aims to reduce greenhouse gases by half by 2030, compared to 1990, and to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. The measures envisaged include the introduction of a tax on airline tickets, compensation for CO2 emissions by fuel importers and an increase in the price of petrol. As for the built environment, heating oil will cost more; the CO2 tax, levied since 2008 on fossil fuels such as heating oil and natural gas, will also increase.
The CO2 tax will also be increased.