Will Disneyland still exist in 2050?
Solar energy is considered to be the Energy of the future - also in Switzerland. Above all, the use of the house roofs is considered. But there are also options in the transport sector, for example on noise barriers or in parking lots, as Axpo is already successfully implementing in France. There are also research and pilot projects in the area of roads and highways. Innovations with potential?
According to the Federal Council, no more greenhouse gases should be emitted in Switzerland by 2050. On the way to “net zero”, the expansion of renewable energies, especially solar energy, is of great importance. Specifically, in its Energy Perspectives 2050+ (ZERO Basis scenario), the Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) expects an installed capacity of 37.5 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaics in 2050, which corresponds to an increase by a factor of 13 compared to today. Solar power plants would then deliver around 34 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity annually, around 40 percent of Switzerland's total consumption.
According to this scenario, Switzerland should also install solar power plants with an output of more than 1000 MW per year from 2025. In order to achieve this goal, large PV systems are required in addition to the expansion of roof areas. For their construction, however, there is an urgent need to create incentives with new funding instruments for solar systems without own consumption, otherwise the ambitious goal cannot be achieved.
Solar roofs have potential
There are around 9.6 million buildings in Switzerland. According to a new study by the ETH Lausanne, more than half of their roofs are suitable for solar systems. This could produce around 24 terawatt hours (TWh) of solar power, ten times more than today.
The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) has also estimated the solar potential on Swiss roofs and on Swiss house facades in two studies. The results were significantly higher. Overall, the SFOE puts the solar potential of house roofs at 50 TWh, that of facades at an additional 17 TWh.
Possibilities in the transport sector
There are also opportunities to expand solar energy on traffic areas. The renowned Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems estimates the technical potential of PV in combination with road traffic areas (roads and noise barriers) in Germany at 58 GW. The road network in Germany is currently around 830,000 kilometers - in comparison, that in Switzerland is 83,724 kilometers, i.e. 10 times less. Accordingly, the solar potential on traffic areas in this country is reduced.
Urbasolar covered parking spaces
The construction of solar systems over parking lots is already quite common in traffic areas. The Axpo subsidiary Urbasolar is active in this area. In France, it covers parking spaces in front of shopping centers, hospitals, industrial buildings or sports facilities with solar systems and thus produces electricity. For example for the French retailer Carrefour or for Disneyland in Paris.
There are also PV systems in the area of noise barriers, but they are not yet used on a large scale in Switzerland. Road areas could one day also be used as smart solar power plants. For some years now, research and pilot projects have been carried out in the USA, China, France, the Netherlands and Germany (see also box below).
And in Austria the “Austrian Institute of Technology” is working on a motorway covered with solar panels. The project supported by Germany, Austria and Switzerland (Federal Roads Office) costs 2.4 million euros. The primary aim is to subject the integration of solar systems in the street to a practical test.
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