Solar enticement

Promoting the cause of solar power against conventional power is the latest Swiss initiative

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- HERE is an offer that makes you stop and think. Zurich's local electricity office, Elektrizitatswerk der Stadt Zurich (Fwz), recently sent around a circular offering 3,500 of its customers the opportunity to buy power at us $1.30 per kilowatt-hour instead of the normal us $0.13. Why would anyone want to pay 10 times the normal price for electricity? Ewz hopes many people will, in the interest of advancing the use of solar power and arresting the growth of conventional power generation capacity.

At this first stage, the Swiss company is only trying to get a feel for how many people would be willing to participate. The circular comes with a questionnaire enabling the customer to indicate how much of his electricity consumption he is willing to pay for at the higher rate. If the response is encouraging, EWZ will invite all its customers to make firm commitments. Then it can go to potential solar power suppliers with the promise of a stable price for their output. Those suppliers would then be able to raise funds for installing what would otherwise be uneconomic capacity.

The new scheme is all part of the Swiss government's initiative called 'Energie 2000' aimed at stabilising the country@s consumption of conventionally produced energy. At present, solar cells are used mainly in mountain huts and other remote installations,. The surface area of solar cells per capita in SwitzoWand is only 12 cm by 5 cut and the goal is to raise it to 25 con by 25 cm.

Christian Gull, the Lwz official responsible for the solar initiative, says even if the target is reached, solar power would only account for about one per cent of the total consumption. The response to his circular has been positive, claims Gull. More than 300 questionnaires have been returned and two-thirds of the respondents have voiced their approval for the new scheme.

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