Swiss Cantons leading Energy Policy Efforts
 Swiss Cantons leading Energy Policy Efforts

Swiss Cantons leading Energy Policy Efforts

Switzerland is finally taking on a broader approach to climate protection. The majority of the 26 cantons have adopted a regulation placing the maximum share of non-renewable energies in new heating systems at 80 %. This decision can be traced back to an initiative of the Conference of Cantonal Energy Directors some years ago.

Last October, the cantons’ energy directors then agreed to adjust the reference value (100 %) for a new building massively downwards. It is now at the limit where the requirements for new Minergie buildings (low energy buildings) have been. The new draft law that should facilitate implementation for the cantons responsible for the building law is attached
There are two cantons which implemented an extra regulation for solar water heaters. The first one was Vaud. The canton in the southwest of Switzerland already set the share for producing hot water in newly constructed buildings through renewable energies to 30 % in autumn of 2006. (see capture II Article 27 in the attached document) Solar water heaters, biomass and geothermal systems are options according to article 27, heat pumps are not.

The second canton was the neighbouring canton of Neuchatel, which also approved a separate solar building code for domestic hot water at the end of March 2009. All new buildings should now be equipped with a solar thermal system covering more than half of the annual hot water demand of the system (minimum 51 %). Neuchatel’s law has already been published and could come into effect as soon as the 1st July.

There is, however, the possibility of a referendum. It would require an initiative until the 14th May, with 5 signatures announcing it. If the initiative succeeds in gathering 4,500 signatures within 90 days, meaning until the 23rd July, there has to be a referendum within the following 6 months. “After the conservatives won the election in Neuchatel, a referendum is a strong possibility,“ David Stickelberger, managing director of Switzerland’s professonial organisation for solar energy, Swissolar, suspects. “Meaning, the law will likely not take effect on the 1st July.”

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Baerbel Epp

Bärbel Epp is Founder and Director of the German communication and market research agency solrico and editor-in-chief of