Solar obligation in Switzerland: A comprehensive guide for builders, property owners and interested parties

February 22, 2024

Switzerland is setting a strong example for climate protection and a sustainable energy supply: With the introduction of a solar obligation for new buildings and public buildings, the country is taking an important step towards a more environmentally friendly future. In this blog post, we take a closer look at the solar obligation and provide you with a comprehensive guide to help you understand and implement the new regulations.

What is the solar obligation?

The solar obligation is a legal requirement that obliges builders and owners of new buildings and public buildings to install photovoltaic systems or solar thermal systems on roofs and facades. The aim of this measure is to promote the use of renewable energies and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Which buildings are affected?

In Switzerland, the solar obligation currently applies to new buildings with an effective area of over 300 square meters. This corresponds to the floor plan of the building. Smaller or existing buildings are exempt from this regulation, unless the federal government classifies them as a "suitable infrastructure surface". In this case, these areas must also be equipped with solar solutions by 2030.

However, the individual cantons have the power to approve exceptions to the solar obligation or even enforce stricter regulations. For example, the canton of Zurich could soon introduce an obligation for certain existing buildings to install solar systems on roofs or facades.

What are the advantages of the solar obligation?

The advantages of the solar obligation are manifold:

1. increased use of renewable energies: The mandatory installation of solar systems will significantly increase the proportion of renewable energies in the overall energy mix.

2. reduction of CO2 emissions: Solar installations produce clean electricity without harmful emissions, improving Switzerland's CO2 balance.

3. securing the energy supply: Especially during the winter months, the production of solar energy can help stabilize the energy supply and reduce dependence on energy imports.

4. economic incentives: To make the installation of solar systems more attractive, there is a standardized feed-in tariff system that applies nationwide and promotes investment in solar energy.

How does the feed-in tariff work?

The feed-in tariff is a financial incentive for solar system owners to feed the solar power they generate into the public grid. In Switzerland, a price corridor is currently being discussed that sets a lower limit based on the average amortization rate of a system and an upper limit that is twice as high. The Swiss Solar Association Swissolar is calling for long-term remuneration of between ten and 20 centimes per kilowatt hour.

What needs to be considered when installing solar systems?

There are a few important aspects to consider when installing solar systems:

1. site selection: The location of the solar system should be optimally aligned with the sun to ensure maximum energy yield.

2. technical requirements: Solar systems must meet technical standards and be installed by qualified specialist companies.

3. economic efficiency: The costs of purchasing and installing a solar system should be in relation to the expected savings and yields.

4. approval procedure: Depending on the canton, different approval procedures may be required for the installation of solar systems.

How can you benefit from the solar obligation?

To benefit from the solar obligation, you should consider the following steps:

1. find out about the local regulations and requirements in your canton.

2. obtain quotes from various solar providers and compare them in terms of performance, costs and service.

3. check the availability of subsidies and grants that can help you finance your solar installation.

4. plan your solar system carefully, taking into account all technical and economic aspects.

5. work with an experienced and certified solar company to ensure a professional installation.