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Wind energy in Switzerland

Le Peuchapatte wind farm 

Clean energy: Le Peuchapatte wind farm

According to the statistics on renewable energies in Switzerland, 37 wind energy systems with a total output of 60 MW generated approximately 90 GWh of electricity in 2013. With an average consumption of 4500 kWh, this equates to roughly 20,000 households or around 0.15 percent of the overall electricity consumption in Switzerland. The Gösgen nuclear power station generates the same amount of electricity in approximately 5 days.

In its 2050 Energy Strategy, the Federal Council foresees a potential for wind energy in Switzerland of approximately 4000 GWh. This represents a forty-fold increase compared to the status quo. The Energy Strategy implies so-called optimised conditions, meaning significantly less stringent protective regulations and more streamlined licensing procedures. Ultimately the extent to which the calculated potential can be realised will be decided in cantonal and communal referendums and licensing procedures at the prospective sites. On 18 May 2014 for example, the voters of Neuchatel decided in favour of the global licensing for the construction of 59 wind power stations in the Jura Mountains.


The largest wind farm in Switzerland is located on Mont Crosin in the Bernese Jura Mountains. It is comprised of 16 wind turbines with an annual output of approximately 40 GWh (2013) and is being continually updated. The very latest turbines have an output of 2 MW and are 140 metres high. The diameter of their rotors is 90 metres.


Alpiq wind farm in Switzerland

Alpiq operates the second largest wind power station in Switzerland. It is located near Le Peuchapatte in the Franches Montagnes in the canton of Jura. It consists of 3 turbines that generate 13.5 GWh of electricity per year. Alpiq ensures that the operation of the wind farm is as environmentally friendly and as low in pollution as possible, while maintaining a reasonable distance to inhabited areas. However, Alpiq generates the majority of its wind-generated electricity abroad, where the wind conditions are even better and the framework conditions are more favourable.


Wind conditions in Switzerland

The climatic conditions for wind power vary from region to region. Overall, these conditions do not predestine Switzerland as a land of wind energy.

The best locations with good wind conditions can predominantly be found in the Jura Mountains and in the Alpine foothills. There is also some potential in the Alps, which however is limited by the difficult accessibility to many of the locations. Here it is primarily the Alpine passes that come into consideration as possible sites. However, many of the projects are met with opposition. The fear of noise emissions and the protection of the landscape and bird life are the most frequent reasons for objections against wind farm projects.

Because wind levels are not constant, the availability of wind energy is distributed unevenly across time. Hence it can only be utilised in conjunction with other energy sources, for example in combination with hydroelectric power stations − reservoirs and pumped storage power stations. These are available at all times and can step into the breach and generate electricity when the wind slackens.