Turbulences over wind power in Switzerland    

How many wind turbines can Switzerland handle? (Image: App. Kalash. / unsplash)

A study has analyzed the potential for wind energy in Switzerland. But opponents are upset and picking apart the analysis.

The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) has presented the far-reaching potential for wind energy in Switzerland. The agency says that 29.5 terawatt hours of electricity could be produced from wind energy in Switzerland each year and that thousands of new wind turbines (WTs) could be installed.

The SFOE refers to a study that had already been prepared for publication a good week ago.

Central Plateau in its sights

“A total of 4,439 WTs are placed for this wind potential, of which 1,287 are in the Alps, 1,173 in the Jura and Alpine valleys, and 1,979 on the Central Plateau,” the report said verbatim.

But landscape conservationists and opponents of the energy strategy immediately put up barricades. Anyone who reads the few pages from the HQ of the wind lobby Suisse-Eole quickly realizes how embarrassing the method used is.

They criticized, for example, the association Freie Landschaft Schweiz, which has set itself the goal of fighting for protection against the industrialization of Swiss landscapes through wind turbines.

Rabid methods

The study’s analysts simply took the entire area of Switzerland, subtracted residential areas and some exclusion areas, and then littered forests and meadows with 4,439 wind turbines, it continued.

With few exceptions, wind turbines were to be installed on all conceivable, accessible and still undeveloped areas in Switzerland in the future.

Even hunting reserves, protection forests, wildlife corridors of supra-regional importance, Unesco biosphere reserves or crop rotation areas would no longer be spared the proliferation due to the national interest in wind turbines.

Barely minimal distances

In addition, the experts only used a buffer of 200 meters around the Swiss sites worthy of protection (ISOS objects) of national importance, instead of an exclusion area of one kilometer.

In addition, the experts only excluded slopes of 20 percent or more, even though it would hardly be technically possible to erect a turbine in a terrain with a slope of 19 percent. 

From an economic point of view there is too little wind in Switzerland anyway to operate such wind turbines, according to the association, with the exception of the Rhoneknie.

Shrinking values

The maximum potential for Switzerland is still seen at around 500 large wind turbines, of which only 33 have been realized anyway.

Opponents even go so far as to call the study ‘a farce’. This is because the SFOE has entrusted the Bern-based Meteotest office with the task of recalculating Switzerland’s potential for wind energy.

This institution is in fact one of the “largest recipients of subsidies from the Environment, Transport and Energy Department and a member of the wind lobby,” the critics warned.


Turbulences over wind power in Switzerland    

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