Swiss hydropower takes centre stage at the energy arena 2016

At the end of June, Alpiq’s Ruppoldingen run-of-river power station near Olten was the impressive venue for the energy arena 2016, an event organised by the Association for Environmentally Compatible Energy (VUE). During the afternoon, VUE, Alpiq, the Swiss Association for Water Management (SWV), the Association of Swiss Electricity Companies (VSE), energie schweiz and approximately 150 guests discussed the potential of Swiss hydropower.

“Hydropower and Switzerland: what a great love story.” These extraordinary words were spoken by Walter Straumann, Alpiq Hydro Aare AG’s Chairman of the Board, during his opening address. With these words, he illustrated the significance of Swiss hydropower as a component of the national self-perception and its role as a strong economic factor within the international environment.

The presentations and debates focused on the current development of the electricity markets, the challenging cost situation and the possible negative effects of the energy revolution on Swiss hydropower. During their deliberations, some of the high-calibre speakers, including Michael Frank, the Director of the Association of Swiss Electricity Companies (VSE), found unequivocal words. The summary conclusion of Michael Frank is that Switzerland without hydropower is unthinkable. The experts agreed that the challenges faced by Swiss hydropower cannot be solved over the short term, and in particular, only in a joint effort within a national and international environment.

The panel debate, which was charmingly and expertly moderated by Sonja Hasler from Swiss Radio and Television, was at times very heated – and this was due not only to the 32 degrees centigrade outdoor temperature. During his deliberations, Christian Plüss, Head of Alpiq Hydro Power Generation, highlighted the distorted competitive conditions in Switzerland between energy suppliers with end customers and those without bound end customers, such as Alpiq. The debate between Alpiq’s expert Christian Plüss and the CEO of WWF Switzerland, Thomas Vellacott, became more intense when they broached the issue of jointly putting projects into practice while ensuring that balanced consideration is given both to economic and ecological sustainability.

During a two-hour excursion, the guests were able to experience Alpiq’s exemplary water protection measures first-hand. Managing Director of Alpiq Hydro Aare Thomas Fürst, his team and experts from the Steering Committee of the green power fund had organised suitable guided tours around the power station. The environmental upgrade measures along the River Aare are a textbook example for ecological design and are optimally integrated both into the operations of the power plant and the landscape. At the beginning of 2016, the run-of-river power station Ruppoldingen was awarded the VUE “naturemade star” seal of quality, the highest distinction for ecological power generation, for the second time in succession.

Further information and presentations VUE energy arena, 23 June 2016: www.naturemade.ch