Renewable energy sources such as hydro power currently provide 56 percent of the electricity generated in Switzerland. Given the need for climate protection, and high public acceptance of renewable energy, Atel is reinforcing its commitment to economically viable utilisation of renewable energy. At the same time, Atel plans substantial investments that will secure building and operational know-how, plus access to new technologies.
Switzerland: 50 million Swiss francs earmarked for investments in renewable energy Atel has earmarked 50 million francs for development of small hydro power stations in Switzerland. It also established Atel EcoPower AG; this new company has already taken a stake in Entegra AG, which in late October 2006 put into operation a new 140 kW small hydro power station in Eastern Switzerland. Further projects are being studied. Wherever possible, Atel selects cooperation partners with local roots. In the canton of Ticino, Atel owns a stake in Senco Holding SA via its Sopracenerina SA subsidiary. Senco has built three plants in Ticino to date, with a combined capacity of 3.6 MW. Six more 1 MW plants are planned for valleys in Ticino.
More electricity from run-of-river power stations Given Switzerland’s very modest potential for constructing large-scale hydro power stations, the focus at Atel is on raising the capacity of existing plants. Having built and refurbished run-of-river power stations at Ruppoldingen and Gösgen in the period 1996-2000, Atel is now investing around 30 million francs in higher capacity at Flumenthal power station, near Solothurn. Replacement turbines will generate around 6 percent more power than their predecessors, providing electricity for a further 1750 households.
Electricity shortfalls in Switzerland necessitate new large-scale power stations The sources of renewable energy being tapped still cannot bridge electricity shortfalls in Switzerland and Europe, explains Atel CEO Giovanni Leonardi. Wind, photovoltaic, biomass and geothermal power do not present enough potential to keep pace with economic growth and rising energy consumption. Says Giovanni Leonardi: “Atel takes the view that there is no avoiding the construction of new, large thermal power stations, to ensure that Switzerland’s electricity generation is independent from abroad. As an expandable, sustainable and CO2-free energy source, nuclear stands to the fore.”
Italy: small hydro power station in Piedmont Atel will acquire an 85 percent stake in two small hydro power stations in Piedmont by the end of 2006. One of them uses water from the river Sesia, south of Monte Rosa, and has a capacity of 4.0 MW. There are plans to expand the plant, which was built in 2001. A second, 4.6 MW power station to be built nearby is expected to start operating in 2008. Atel intends to further develop the facility in cooperation with the owners to date. The partners have set up a separate company for the purpose of building and acquiring further power stations in Italy.
101 MW from wind energy on Sicily In August 2006, Atel took a 49 percent stake in the construction and operation of two wind farms on Sicily. 74 turbines with a total capacity of 101 MW will begin generating around 222 GWh of electricity from wind energy, starting in 2008. The project involves two wind farms in the Ramacca (Catania) and Marineo (Palermo) regions. Construction of 47 wind turbines began at Ramacca this September. Each one is 80 metres tall and generates 1.67 MW. The second farm with 26 turbines is taking shape close to Marineo. These will be somewhat smaller, with a height of 58 metres and output of 0.85 MW each. Both wind farms are expected to start operating between November 2007 and February 2008. Atel’s partner in the construction and subsequent operation of the wind farms is Veronagest. The company holds a 51 percent stake and is contributing wind energy expertise as well as taking operational responsibility.
Ecologically and economically expedient investments With its acquisition of stakes in wind farms and small hydro power stations in Italy, Atel is contributing to climate protection and achievement of goals established by the Kyoto Protocol. The investment makes economic sense as well, because Atel will be obtaining a sizeable portion of the statutorily required quotient of electricity from renewable sources (Certificati Verdi). Moreover, Atel is thus acquiring technical and operational know-how in the relevant technologies. Italy, already Atel’s most important market, will achieve yet greater significance. Atel entered the Italian market in 1999; total investments there by the end of 2006 will exceed one billion Swiss francs.
Aare-Tessin Ltd. for Electricity Corporate Communications