The Council of States approves a massive solar offensive

Solar energy must be developed quickly. Faced with the specter of an electricity shortage this winter, the Council of States adopted a transitional solution Thursday without opposition in the framework of its debates on the counter-project to the glaciers initiative.

“Our country faces an obvious vulnerability,” Elisabeth Baume-Schneider (PS/JU) reminded the commission. And to list the absence of a framework agreement on electricity with the European Union, the low deliveries of Russian gas due to the war in Ukraine, the French nuclear fleet operating idle or even the difficult climate prospects.

“It is urgent to plan an offensive in the field of photovoltaic energy to avoid facing an energy problem next winter,” continued Jurassienne. “We must recover the 2 TWh grilled by the electric heaters”, quantified Lisa Mazzone (Vert es/GE). And to advocate a paradigm shift. “Solar energy must become the norm.”

A must for new builds

The offensive is divided into several measures. The most controversial, adopted by only 25 votes against 19, is the obligation for all new buildings to be equipped with solar installation, either on the roofs or on the facades. Exceptions will be made, in particular if there are technical obstacles or if the costs are too high.

The opposition came from the bourgeois camp. That’s a lot of intervention in federalism and individual property. “Such binding measures have led to the failure of the CO2 law,” noted Hannes Germann (UDC/SH). Unsuccessfully. The Confederation will also have to lead by example, making the best use of solar energy in its infrastructures.

As of April 2022: Obstacles abound in the solar race

Great facilities made easy

Large facilities producing at least 10 GWh, of which 45% during the winter semester, can be built more easily. They may also receive a one-time payment of 50% to 60% of investment costs.

These solar fields cannot be installed in swamps and marshy places. Heidi Z’Graggen (C/UR) would also like to banish them in landscapes, sites and natural monuments of national importance, or “the jewels in our crown”. Her proposal was

was rejected by 24 votes to 17.

The measures will be limited until December 31, 2025. Initially planned as part of the counter-project to the glaciers initiative, senators finally unanimously decided to extract them and grant them urgent law status.

As of September 2022: French-speaking cantons are organizing to avoid a power shortage

200 million for heating, against 100 according to the commission

Another contested point of the counter-project: the program to help replace heating systems. By 23 votes to 21, the senators finally decided to follow the National, which wants to donate 200 million francs, and not their commission, which wanted to lower the bar to 100 million.

“Replacing a heater is a colossal investment for retirees and small homeowners,” noted Adèle Thorens (Vert-es/VD). The Federal Secretariat for the Environment estimates that 30,000 installations must be replaced per year. “We must put in the means necessary to achieve this goal.” The measure would also create jobs.

“It is necessary to replace as many heaters as quickly as possible,” admitted Damian Müller (PLR/LU). “However, the market faces difficulties: high demand, lack of qualified personnel and delivery problems. In any case, it will not be possible to use the 200 million francs offered. And plead in vain to grant only 100 million.

Emphasizing that the glaciers initiative makes no such request, Jakob Stark (UDC/TG) called for the support program to simply be abolished. He didn’t win either. In addition to this program, the project also provides for the encouragement of innovative technologies and processes, to which part of the bourgeois camp was opposed. The SVP and some PLRs again challenged provisions aimed at making financial flows compatible with climate objectives.

Intermediate goals

The counter-proposal to the glacier initiative proposes enshrining in law the net zero emissions target, as well as intermediate targets and indicative values ​​for the various sectors.

By 2050, the construction and transport sectors must no longer emit CO2, and the industrial sector must reduce its emissions by 90%. The remaining emissions will have to be offset. An intermediate target was also set: Switzerland will have to reduce its emissions by 75% compared to 1990 by 2040.

Objectives that are not to the taste of the UDC. In your opinion, it would be better to speak of indicative values. Economic development and population growth must also be properly considered.

“Such tight agreements for such a long period are not viable. Nobody knows what the situation will be in 2025. There needs to be some room for maneuver”, argued Hansjörg Knecht (UDC/AG). However, the group failed to convince beyond its ranks. In the general vote, the text was approved by 39 votes against 4. It returns to the Popular Chamber.

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