Interim report on the future of Swiss hydropower

The picture shows the Mühleberg hydropower plant.

An interim report summarises the results available so far from the NRP 70 joint project "The future of Swiss hydropower".

​With the referendum on the Energy Strategy 2050 and the associated discussion about water fees and subsidies, Swiss hydropower has once again come to the public’s attention. In addition to the currently low market prices, which are causing problems for several energy providers, the medium and long-term development prospects in particular are also uncertain.

The NRP 70 joint project "The future of Swiss hydropower" deals with these challenges and aims to analyse the existing uncertainties and to come up with possible solutions. A short interim report with the title “The Future of Swiss Hydropower: Is there money left somewhere?” summarises the available results.

Overall there continues to be a challenging situation for Swiss hydropower. The high flexibility of hydropower plants is currently still leading to little added value on the market: possibilities of revenue in the balancing energy markets are limited, new storage technologies are becoming increasingly competitive, and the prospects for market revenue are generally not sufficient to justify huge investments.

However, several opportunities and possibilities are also becoming apparent for dealing with these challenges: investments have to be adapted to the uncertain market conditions and made more flexible. In addition, in dialogue with the various stakeholders, the added values of hydropower beyond the energy markets also have to be taken into consideration. The biggest driver of changes, however, will be the already discussed revision of the water fee system.