Cooled by the unattractive purchase price of solar energy, Swiss owners or municipalities often choose to cover only part of their roof with photovoltaic panels, just enough to meet their needs. Elected officials want rate changes.
Today, there is no benefit to an owner or a municipality that opts for solar energy by covering its entire roof with photovoltaic panels. Because in most cantons, the excess electricity produced cannot be resold at a sufficiently attractive price.
But solar energy is booming right now. The Swiss have never asked for so many federal grants to equip themselves with photovoltaic panels. The number of applications in the first four months of this year stands at 9,500.
At a time when Switzerland faces a potential shortage of electricity, elected officials want tariff increases. The potential is enormous, they say, given the thousands of square meters of roofs that are being lost.
In the commune of Daillens in Vaud, for example, where the authorities have decided to equip all municipal buildings with photovoltaic panels, this paradox is particularly blatant. On the roof of the shooting range in the village, only 30 square meters of roofing will be provided 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 power.
Placing a larger installation would simply not be profitable for the municipality, explained the green syndic Alberto Mocchi in La Matinale. “Currently, Romande Energie buys the power that is re-injected into the network for only 9.5 cents,” he explains. Before adding: “I will intervene at the beginning 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 to increase the price of the repurchase of photovoltaic power .”
This practice is done in other Swiss cantons, as the former president of the Verts vaudois points out. “For example, the Geneva Industrial Services buy the power that is re-injected into the network for 14 cents.” If we want to increase the number of solar panels on the roofs exponentially for him, this power must therefore be purchased at a slightly cheaper price.
>> Consult the interactive map with take-back fees for electricity from solar panels in Switzerland. Clickto see the details by region:
The interactive map with take-back costs for electricity from solar panels in Switzerland. [Association des Producteurs d’Energie Indépendants VESE]
A bottom price?
If the federal energy law currently requires grid operators to pay for the power produced, electricians have some latitude in setting the rates. For example, there is no floor price. Not to mention the fact that a balance has to be struck between the different types of customers, as different network operators believe. Indeed, it would not be fair to hugely increase the price of power recovery by owners who have installed solar panels and then pass this on to tenants, for example.
If elected officials in the canton of Vaud want things to happen, elsewhere in Switzerland there is some form of political consensus on the issue. However, green elected officials but also UDC believe that action should be taken at the federal level, while the federal energy law is being reviewed by the Council of States. One of the options on the table is the introduction of a floor rate to force utility companies to buy back the electricity supplied by solar panel owners at a higher price.
But I’m not sure if we should necessarily wait for a change in the law. Indeed, given the price increases in the electricity market, Romande Energie has already committed to raise its take-back rate for next year. The tariff schedule for all network operators will be announced on 31 August.