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Expansion of renewables – Council of States decides on binding energy targets – News


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How can Switzerland expand its renewable energies more quickly? The Council of States is discussing this all day long. The aim of the debate: set the course for a rapid expansion of domestic energy sources.

The Council of States is currently discussing various possible adjustments to the Electricity Supply and Energy Act in what is known as an Energy Mantle Decree. The Council of States already decided on this in the afternoon:

  • Expansion goals: The Energy Act contains new binding target values ​​and no longer just guideline values ​​for the years 2035 and 2050.
  • Weighing of interests: Environmental regulations will remain in force when building or converting renewable energy plants.
  • Consumption targets: The average energy consumption per person and year is to be reduced by 43 percent by 2035 and by 53 percent by 2050 compared to 2000.

In addition, he should import of electricity do not exceed the guide value of five terawatt hours net in the winter half-year, although this value is not binding. Furthermore, the protection of biotopes and waterbird and migratory bird sanctuaries of national importance. A third of the protected species live there. Previously, new electricity production plants were banned there.

Finally, certain power generation plants are of national interest if they make a key contribution to achieving the expansion targets. New is included national interest across cantonal, regional and local.

For example, the Council of States discussed the decree

With the energy mantle decree, projects for renewable energies should be promoted and implemented more quickly – without delays due to complex processes and objections. The preliminary advisory commission wanted to go further than the Federal Council on various points.

For example, she anticipates additional electricity needs. Keywords here are digitization and decarbonization. The Commission therefore raised the targets for renewable electricity in Germany significantly higher.

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Keystone/Gaetan Bally

What does the Federal Council’s revision proposal include? If the Federal Council has its way, there should be more money for large hydropower plants in the future. In addition, large photovoltaic systems should be easier to install in Switzerland. The goal is for the renewable energy sources wind and sun to supply 17 terawatt hours of electricity annually by 2035. In addition, large storage power plants should also get us safely through the winter.

What is the position of the competent committee of the Council of States on the Federal Council’s proposal? The competent commission of the Council of States thinks everything is still too small. She wants to go further with the revision of the energy and electricity supply law. And it demands a faster pace at the production target. By 2035, 35 terawatt hours per year should be produced with wind and sun, which would be more than double the Federal Council’s proposal. The Commission argues that Switzerland needs more electricity than previously calculated for future developments, for example for electromobility.

What should be discussed about the revised bill from the Commission? The revised bill by the Council of States Commission has its price: the more ambitious goals result in cutbacks in environmental protection. In the future, hydroelectric power plants will be allowed to continue producing electricity, even when water levels are low. And even in remote valleys, in biotopes of national importance, the ban on building electricity plants is to be lifted.

A majority of the environmental and energy politicians in the Council of States were willing to overturn the requirements for environmental and landscape protection. Even if legal questions arise here, as the Lucerne FDP member of the Council of States Damian Müller said in the morning: “We are already being accused of violating the constitution. As far as I’m concerned, I can say: The signal with this draft is clear.” We want to move forward – but also make concessions.

An irreconcilable contradiction?

But the contradiction went as far as the political centre: concessions yes, but don’t throw everything overboard. Green Councilor Lisa Mazzone asked why. Such interventions – especially in the case of hydropower – are disproportionate in comparison to the potential of the additional electricity produced.

Uri’s Councilor Heidi Z’graggen spoke of a Herculean task and added: “The solution requires determination – and in this determination the right measure. And Hercules needs the warning calls of Cassandra.”

Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommaruga was also clear on this point. “There is a lack of balance politically and in terms of content. In terms of content, individual proposals by the majority of the Commission weaken nature conservation too much.” The discussion in the Council of States will continue until the evening.

More votes from the Council of States

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