On 27 October 2021, the Swiss government adopted a report setting out how Swiss motorways and railway lines could be used to generate more than 100 GWh of electricity a year.
Calculations in the report show that solar panels placed on noise reduction barriers running along the edges of motorways and railway lines in Switzerland as well as on motorway and rail buildings and platforms could generate 101 GWh of electricity a year.
101 GWh of electricity would be enough to power 22,000 households in Switzerland, according to the report. 101 GWh is around 0.2% of Switzerland’s current 55,700 GWh annual electricity consumption. 22,000 is around 0.6% of the nation’s households.
In September 2021, president Guy Parmelin warned of looming electricity shortages in Switzerland so the government is under pressure to find ways to increase electricity production.
The report, commissioned by the Federal Department of Roads (FEDRO), calculated that Swiss motorways could produce 55 GWh and its railway network 46 GWh a year. The generation potential of all sites is 438 GWh, however, installing solar panels on many sound barriers is not economically viable once factors such as sun exposure, proximity to consumers and transmission are considered.
However, the report’s authors point out that the technology continues to improve in terms of cost and performance and sites that are currently unviable may not remain so.