Renewable energy sources and the Alpine region

Renewable energy sources and the Alpine region

The federal government's Energy Strategy 2050 combines the medium-term phase-out of nuclear energy with an expansion of electricity generation from renewable energy sources and an improvement in energy efficiency. Against the backdrop of the current distortions in the energy markets, triggered by the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, the supply situation in Switzerland is unusually tense. Increased electricity production in the Alps, for example from wind energy or large photovoltaic plants, could make a contribution to Switzerland's energy supply, especially in the critical winter half-year.

At the same time, the Alpine region is particularly worthy of protection, as it is not only important as a place of recreation for humans, but also as a habitat for rare animal and plant species. The increasing use interests are therefore in tension with a multitude of conflicting protection interests.

Resolving such conflicts of interest is traditionally the task of the law. In the area of electricity generation in the Alps, a multitude of applicable legal provisions come into conflict, for example from spatial planning law, nature and heritage protection law, constitutional law and energy law. The federal legislator is currently shortening the legal protection options in the corresponding planning and authorisation procedures in order to facilitate the construction of new large-scale Alpine plants (such as the solar projects in Gondo and Grengiols). This gives rise to a multitude of new questions that also affect the fundamental relationship between legislators, authorities, project promoters and nature conservation associations. In his research on energy law, Dr. Markus Schreiber constantly deals with the legal questions that arise from this area of tension.