Last week, the parliament of the cantonal government of Basel-City voted in favour of banning the use of heating oil and making roof solar panels compulsory by 2035.
The legal details have not yet been worked out, so it remains unclear what the new rules will look like at this stage. Currently, new buildings in the canton must include solar panels, but not existing ones.
The move, the first of its kind in Switzerland, is aimed at cutting the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to Jürg Stöcklin from the Green Party, solar potential in Switzerland, particularly in Basel, is huge and remains totally under utilised.
The urban canton currently generates 25 GWh of solar electricity a year. According to a federal study, the city could produce as much as 656 GWh annually, equivalent to half of the city’s electricity consumption.
However, not everyone is pleased with the government’s move. The local property owners association is unhappy with the short timeframe, which it says is too short to allow owners to install panels. Someone who has recently completed renovations cannot be expected to redo them in 15 years, according to Patricia von Falkenstein, the president of the association.
The Swiss Heritage Society, an organisation focused on protecting Swiss architecture, is also unhappy about the requirement to put solar panels on the roofs of unlisted historical buildings. Listed buildings will be exempted, but unlisted ones are not. If panels are put on all of the roofs the image of the city will be destroyed, said Andreas Häner, the director of the society in Basel.
The Basel government now has to work out the legal details. A referendum could be called against the plan, although those opposed to it currently seem to be focused on obtaining as many legal exceptions as possible.