How is small hydropower supported today?
In order to sustain the development of renewable electricity production (hydropower, solar, wind, biomass and geothermal), the confederation introduced the feed-in tariff at cost (KEV) in 2008. Each kilowatt-hour produced by a small-scale hydropower plant is renumerated with an average of 16 cents, what is way above the current market price of 3 cents. Without this program, several small hydropower plants could not have been realized. Whether for private people, communities or companies, the profitability of a plant remains a necessary condition and the KEV permits a return on investments within a reasonable time.
Currently in Switzerland, 534 small hydropower plants benefit from this support, producing combined more than 1’300 GWh. Additionally, 277 small-scale hydropower plants already received a positive answer and will, once built, produce 1’000 GWh. More than 500 projects are on the waiting list, showing a potential beyond 2’000 GWh. Nevertheless, these last numbers should be considered with caution since all these projects are not a priori feasible due to the limitations related to environmental impacts and licensing procedures.
Since 1 January 2017, the KEV for small-scale hydropower is downgraded (see Newsletter number 30 of EnergieSchweiz, Programm Kleinwasserkraftwerke). Will this change slow down the small-scale hydropower development?