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Don’t Count Out Hydropower

As the search of renewable energy solutions continues and governments weigh production costs versus the environmental impacts, it is evident that hydropower plays a key role.

As noted by Swiss energy company ALPIQ, “More than half of Switzerland’s electricity production comes from hydroelectric power generation [and] in order to facilitate the planned phase-out of nuclear power, the Federal Council wants to expand hydropower within the context of its Energy Strategy 2050.”

The key to effective use of hydropower may well be integrating it with the overall power grid, instead of looking for one dominant solution.

Switzerland’s largest photovoltaic (PV) solar park is located in Payerne, a small region in the western section of the country. This 38,000 square meter solar power plant will help provide power for half of the town’s 9,800 residents, but the park developers also see promise in hydropower. With a target completion date of 2020, SolarPayerne’s developers and town leaders have partnered to expand local solar power generation capacity combined with pumped storage and hydro power generation to meet all Payerne’s electricity needs.

Pumped hydro storage paired with hydroelectric power generation provide an excellent complement to solar energy, noted Cedric Moullet, a major supporter of the project from its inception. He pointed out that it can make up for shortfalls in PV output during daylight hours and meet the town’s electricity demand long after the sun sets.

Switzerland is among the pioneers when it comes to developing the innovative solutions needed to balance our energy and environmental needs.

This post was written by Daniel Bangser, Director of U.S. Investment Promotion for Switzerland Global Enterprise, and is generously supported by Switzerland Global.

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