Renewables may play a large part of the government’s nuclear-free energy plans, but the construction of wind power plants is regularly being blocked. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)
Wind plants are one way Switzerland plans to reduce its dependency on nuclear energy. In 2011 the Swiss government decided to withdraw from the use of nuclear energy by gradually decommissioning the current nuclear power plants. A long-term energy strategy was drawn up that relies heavily on increased renewable energy, with wind energy playing an important role.
The first wind energy plant came in operation in Switzerland in 1986. Currently the largest wind park, located on Mont Crosin in the Bernese Jura, comprises 16 wind turbines. Other large facilities are in operation in Collonges (canton Valais), Entlebuch (canton Lucerne) and on the Gütsch (canton Uri).The plants provided 88 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity in 2012, the equivalent of the annual consumption of almost 25,000 households. According to the government’s energy strategy, by 2050 the production of electricity by wind power should reach 4,300 GWh.
The plans set out in the Strategy are meeting stumbling blocks, with many of the construction projects involving wind plants blocked by complaints. Opponents express concern over noise emissions and the protection of the landscape and bird life.