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Swiss power firms getting greener

power generation Keystone

Electricity producers and ecology groups are often at loggerheads over environmental issues but in Switzerland they are joining forces to support greener forms of energy.

They are launching a new label called Naturemade to be awarded to electricity companies producing eco-friendly power.

The certificate is the concept of the Association for Environmentally Friendly Electricity, a loose alliance of electricity producers, consumers and environmental campaigners.

It is a response to increased liberalisation in the international and domestic energy markets and fears that it could lead to more relaxed regulation and a heightened threat of pollution and the waste of resources.

But for some, liberalisation brings opportunities as well as dangers:

“People will have more choice than they have now,” said Carol Franklin, the head of the Swiss branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature and co-president of the Association for Envronmentally Friendly Electricity. “The WWF believes that people want better and ecologically sounder electricity,” she continued, “and in the liberalised market we can offer them that.”

Naturemade will come in two categories. Naturemade Basic and Naturemade Star.

Electricity produced from renewable sources such as hydro-power will be marketed as Naturemade Basic. Power derived from solar energy or wind farms will get a Naturemade Star certificate.

A panel including environmentalists and consumer groups as well as industry representatives will decide if a company is fulfilling the necessary criteria to qualify as Naturemade.

“Everybody who wants to sell Naturemade Power will have to sell not only hydro-power but also electricity from new renewable sources such as wind power,” said Conrad Ammann, the head of Zurich’s electricity company. “Customers buying Naturemade will be helping the environment at the same time.”

Swiss electricity production is already regarded as one of the cleanest in the world, bound by tough regulation and legislation.

And Conrad Amman doesn’t shy away from expressing the commercial advantages of the Naturemade label. “We have a large amount of water power in Switzerland,” he said, “And we would like to sell power from clean Swiss water cheaper than other European countries.”

The Association for Environmentally Friendly Electricity expects Naturemade to be an important instrument in safeguarding domestic energy production in the liberalised European market.

In around five years, around 20 per cent of Swiss households will be using energy that’s Naturemade.

By Michael Hollingdale

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR