Swiss hydroelectricity

Although the power output from the Swiss hydroelectric power stations has not changed much over the past half a century, the percentage of overall national power generation has fallen from 80% to the current level of 56%, due to increase in demand.

Of the 556 hydroelectric power plants in Switzerland with capacities over 300 kW, these are the largest:

  1. Grimsel 1 Hydroelectric Power Station 1.45GW
  2. Bieudron Hydroelectric Power Station 1.27GW
  3. Nant de Drance 900MW
  4. Linth–Limmern Power Stations 479 MW
  5. Nendaz Power Station 390MW
  6. Mauvoisin Dam Power Stations 363 MW
  7. Grimsel 2 Hydroelectric Power Station (pumped-storage) 350MW
  8. Fionnay Power Station 290 MW
  9. La Bâtiaz Power Station (Emosson Dam) 162MW
  10. Etzelwerk Power Station 140 MW
  11. Chandoline Power Station 120 MW
  12. Verzasca Hydroelectric Power Station 105MW
Switzerland has conventional hydroelectric plants, employing a dam, but also run-of-the-river hydroelectricity from the powerful rivers draining the Alps. Pumped-storage hydroelectricity (PHS) is also used, and offers an interesting option for load-balancing on a European wide network, especially in the light of large proportions of electricity in the future being intermittent from solar and wind.

The Swiss KEV (Kostendeckende Einspeisevergütung – feed-in remuneration at cost, to support the development of renewable energy) applies to small-scale hydro power plants with nameplate capacities up to 10 megawatts. The KEV covers the difference between production costs and market price for renewable energy, and covers distributed small hydro (with capacities up to 10 MW), solar photovoltaics, wind power, geothermal energy, biomass and biogas (from agriculture, waste and water treatment). the KEV is funded by a surcharge on the consumers kWh price. In 2014 the surcharge stood at 1.5 Swiss cents per kWh, and large consumers are exempt.