Jacques Mauron: “Photovoltaics will not be enough to solve the electricity shortage”

In view of the exploding demand, the Federal Council must increase the installation of photovoltaic solar panels in Switzerland. Guest on Thursday at La Matinale, Groupe E CEO Jacques Mauron provides his analysis of the country’s energy strategy and the many challenges that need to be addressed.

Among the motions approved by the National on Thursday are expedited installation of solar panels along national roads and railroads. “Every drop of water is good to bear, but we must be aware that photovoltaics alone will not be enough to solve the electricity shortage,” puts Jacques Mauron, Managing Director of Groupe E, producer and distributor of Swiss electricity, into perspective.

Because if photovoltaics produce three quarters of their energy in summer, their production remains insufficient in winter. “If we had completely implemented the energy transition, we would not be suffering from this dependence on Russia today,” emphasizes the head of Group E. As he explains, the energy transition must also go beyond the energy efficiency of buildings in terms of insulation and through the expansion of others renewable energies.

>> Read also: The Swiss population is ready for concessions for clean and safe electricity

canceled orders

Today, the demand for photovoltaics is increasing very rapidly, especially due to the fear of a blackout and rising electricity prices. But the industry is suffering from a lack of personnel and materials.

In Aigle (VD), the small company Swiss Solar Facility Engineering suffers from a chronic lack of equipment. “Often the model delivered is not the one originally planned. The delivery time is between six and eight months. In the past, there was always stock,” testifies Samuel, who runs the company, over the RTS microphone.

The ongoing Covid crisis in China is also weighing heavily on the entire industry. “Container deliveries can be canceled overnight. We then spend hours on the phone looking for solutions, which leads to work overload,” the engineer continues.

>> Listen to the report of La Matinale à Aigle:

Why is solar panel development so slow? / The morning / 3 min. / Today at 07:24

“There is a real awareness of the need to make this energy transition,” notes Jacques Mauron, “now you have to be able to keep up.” And with good reason: In the first four months of the year, requests from private individuals for federal funds amounted to almost 9,500, which is 40% more than in the previous year.

If the orders are linked, the recruitment of qualified personnel for the specialist companies remains very complicated. There is currently no established career path in the profession. A circumstance that the Federal Council wants to correct by creating an apprenticeship position in the field of photovoltaics. A roadmap in this direction has already been drawn up.

Risks of shortages cannot be ruled out

For its part, the Federal Electricity Commission (ElCom) announced on Thursday that electricity prices will rise sharply for many providers next year. There are still uncertainties about the security of supply in the coming winter and bottlenecks cannot be ruled out.

According to ElCom, for a five-room household with an average annual consumption of 4,500 kilowatt hours, the electricity price would rise from around 21 centimes per kilowatt hour in 2022 to almost 25 centimes in 2023, i.e. an additional financial burden of around 180 francs per year.

>> The explanations of La Matinale:

Electricity costs will increase from 2023: explanations by Valentin Emery / La Matinale / 1 min. / today at 06:27

However, the differences can be larger in some cases. To make the calculation easier, there are simple gestures. “Reducing the heating temperature has an efficiency on the price, we are talking about 6% savings per degree less in these energies”, specifies Jacques Mauron.

Interview by Valerie Hauert

Web text: Hélène Krähenbühl

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