Renewable Energy

In Switzerland, the main focus in the renewable energy sector is on conversion into electricity and district heating. Hydroelectric power has been Switzerland's greatest source of renewable energy for decades, used above all to produce electricity. 'New' sources of renewable energy such as ambient heating, biomass, wind and especially solar energy have seen a significant boom in recent years thanks to scaled-up measures to promote their use.

 Roof of the Riverside industrial park with solar panels covering an area of five football pitches.
The use of photovoltaic plants to produce electricity is on the rise. Large solar power plants installed on the roof of industrial buildings or in elevated Alpine areas are particularly effective. © Megasol Energie AG

The Energy Strategy 2050 provides strong support for renewable energies to propel them to a position of prominence. The share of renewable energy in total energy consumption is currently over 25%. It will be boosted significantly in the future. Communication campaigns, financial incentives, and support for innovation-spurring research will drive forward the energy transition.

The share of renewable energy in total energy consumption has increased by over 10% since 1990. While this share remained stable until 2006, it has increased rapidly since then. In 2020, with this figure at around 27%, Switzerland was above the EU average (just under 19%), but well below the front-runners Sweden (60%) and Finland (around 44%).

In Switzerland, the main focus in the renewable energy sector is on converting carriers or sources of primary energy such as water, wood, sunlight and ambient heat into electricity and district heating. The most-used renewable sources of Swiss-produced energy are hydroelectric power (about 60%), followed by wood (just under 20%) and, in decreasing order, waste, ambient heat, sunlight, biofuels, biogases and wind. The latter, 'new' renewable energy sources are being used more and more to provide electricity, heat and fuel. In Switzerland, renewable energy is predominantly used to produce electricity (80%).

While the share of solar power in Switzerland's total production mix is still low, it has increased in absolute terms more than any of the other 'new' renewables. This trend is continuing as regards both private consumer and industrial use. The potential here is far from exhausted. Solar farms in elevated Alpine areas will play a particularly key role in the future, as their power output remains high even in winter when power produced by plants on the plains wanes. Biomass too will be deployed more and more, but at levels set to remain low. It can be used in many ways, e.g. as fuel or to provide heat or electricity, but cannot be produced in great quantities in Switzerland as only organic waste such as household compost, farmyard manure and wood no longer used are processed.

The share of renewable energies used for heating and to provide hot water in residential and other buildings is currently still below 50%. With the use of heat pumps in three quarters of new buildings over the last decade, this share is likely to increase, as is the share of district heating, wood energy and solar thermal energy.