How will Switzerland's energy transition cope without Europe?

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Relations between Switzerland and the EU have become uncertain following the country's recent immigration referendum. The New Federalist website reports on how this is affecting talks regarding an energy agreement that could, if it goes ahead, enable Switzerland to join the internal energy market.
Following the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011, Switzerland decided to move away from nuclear energy production and transition towards a national energy strategy. It boosted the development of its renewable energy strategies and began considering how it could radically disrupt its energy system, starting with decommissioning nuclear energy plants over a number of years.
The overarching plan for the country's future energy supply will be formed around the Federal Council's long-term energy policy, Energy Strategy 2050. This strategy focuses on consistently exploiting existing energy-efficiency opportunities, and embracing the potential of hydropower and new renewable energy sources.
These actions are restricted, however - the compensatory feed-in remuneration (KEF) was capped and constrained for a period of six years, making an extensive development of renewables difficult to put in place.
The Energy Strategy 2050 is mostly aimed at the electricity sector, with little or no mention of issues such as heating or transport – even though these sectors still play an important role in the reduction of CO2. This will not be enough to achieve the two-degree target set out by the United Nations during the Paris talks – an agreement that Switzerland signed and committed to.
Switzerland appears to be falling behind when it comes to redesigning its energy market, and further improvements to its energy policy will have to be made in order to see results.
In June 2015, plans began to link Switzerland to the European energy markets through Market Coupling and making it a member of the wider internal energy market. But negotiations about an institutional framework agreement between Switzerland and the EU have become stilited and blocked, partly because of the Swiss vote for the immigration referendum.
Reaching an energy agreement would not only benefit Switzerland's energy costs and grid stability, it would benefit Europe's internal market, too; firstly because of Switzerland's geographical position as a transit state, and secondly, because of the giant pumped storage plants located there, which could be used to store volatile electricity. With energy storage being one of the main concerning factors for the move to renewable energy, this is a valuable asset.
The Energy Strategy 2050 is far from ideal, the article notes, and the attempts to reorganise the energy system aren't bold enough, showing too much consideration for traditional market players. There is also a lack of real commitment to renewable energy sources and an overlooking of the heating and transport sectors – which will all limit the success of an energy transition.
Energy efficiency Switzerland



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