Swiss gov't proposes making new renewable energy targets binding

A wind turbine is pictured near Martigny, Switzerland, February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/Files

ZURICH, June 18 (Reuters) - The Swiss government on Friday proposed binding rules to boost energy production from hydropower and other renewable sources and limit energy consumption through 2035 and 2050.

It wants to add 2 terawatts of climate neutral electricity production by 2040, to be financed by a winter surcharge.

Under the government's "Energy Strategy 2050," it plans to increase production of energy from renewables and hydro generation as it phases out nuclear energy.

On Friday it said it would now seek to make targets binding in order to foster a secure environment for investments into renewables.

The proposals come after Swiss voters on Sunday rejected a new law containing measures to help the country reach its goal of cutting carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement on climate change. read more

Energy Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said renewable energy production needed to be boosted because the decarbonisation of the economy was continuing and the age of fossil fuels was nearing its end.

The collapse of talks with the European Union over a new treaty, which would have regulated ties between Switzerland and its biggest trading partner, also made it more important that Switzerland quickly pass the new energy rules. read more

Failure to clinch the treaty blocks Switzerland from any new access to the single market, such as an energy union, and left Switzerland with a potential energy shortfall, Sommaruga said on Friday.

"It is important for our country that we drive forward the expansion of home-produced clean energy," Sommaruga told reporters. "We have no time to lose. With more clean energy, we strengthen the security of our supply and the position of our country."

Under the proposed law, which must still be adopted by parliament, the government wants to limit annual per capita energy consumption by 43% through 2035 compared to the year 2000 and by 53% through 2050.

Electricity consumption, meanwhile, is to be reduced by 13% through 2035 and by 5% through 2050.

To ensure the country is also able to provide enough renewable energy in winter months, the government wants to finance large storage power plants with a 'winter surcharge' of no more than 0.2 Swiss cents per kilowatt-hour on electricity consumption.

Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and John Revill; Editing by Michael Shields

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