After the Swiss public voted in favour of a new energy strategy on 21 May 2017, the government has been busy fine tuning its plans.
Switzerland has only constructed 34 wind turbines over the last 20 years, which produce around 0.15% of the nation’s electricity, according to three experts at EPFL and UNIL, two universities in Lausanne. These experts say around 100 high-potential locations could accommodate 700 turbines. Together they could generate 7 percent of Switzerland’s electricity.
On 28 June 2017, the Federal Council, Switzerland’s executive branch of government, announced its decision to follow a document that sets out the process for deciding where to put wind turbines. The document, which applies only to turbines 30 metres or higher, shows high potential zones and areas that would be protected.
Cantons with the most wind-power potential are Vaud, Bern, Neuchâtel, Jura, Fribourg and St. Gallen. The document includes three maps: one showing wind speed, one showing high potential zones, and another showing restricted zones. Looking at these three maps together it is clear that Vaud, Bern, Fribourg and St. Gallen are likely to become home to most of the country’s wind turbines.
Regions particularly well suited to wind power include les crêtes du Jura, le Gros-de-Vaud, Vaud and Fribourg préalpes regions, Bern’s Seeland region, the region around Lake Constance, and the Rhine valley in Graubunden.
In addition, the document specifies turbines should not be built within at least 300m of homes. This is to limit noise nuisance. Those living close to airports are likely to be spared further noise as there are restrictions near airports.
The government says it would prefer to create fewer densely packed turbine parks than to erect small numbers of turbines across a large area.