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It had become apparent by the end of 2008 that the statutory total amount of compensatory feed-in remuneration was about to run out due to the flood of registrations (see SFOE press report of 28 November 2008). The 2008 annual add-on quota for new photovoltaic plants had already been filled by the first day of registration. The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) therefore declared a moratorium on photovoltaic power, which meant that the national grid company swissgrid ag, which carries out the registration and decision process on behalf of the SFOE, from that point on had to put over 3,000 registered photovoltaic plants on a waiting list.
The SFOE's 2009 annual add-on quota of 5 megawatts (MW) for photovoltaic plants has also already been filled. The first seven plants on the waiting list with a capacity of 1000 kW to 500 kW have already been able to take advantage of this quota. The waiting list is ordered in accordance with the eligibility requirements of the Energy Ordinance, i.e. firstly by the date of the postmark and then in descending order of the capacity of the plant.
As an immediate measure, in November 2008 the SFOE introduced the possibility of overbooking the partial cap for technology (over-commitment). This is designed to prevent the funds of the scheme from being tied up by "placeholder projects", such as multiple applications for the same plants or applications for large-scale facilities (e.g. wind parks), which for environmental or planning reasons cannot be realised in the prescribed timescale. Overbooking for wind power was defined at +45%, for biomass energy +12% and for hydro power +7%. This measure allowed around 20% more registrations to be considered.
Despite this measure, the high number of registrations has meant that the full cap for all technologies laid down by Parliament in the Energy Act has since been reached. The SFOE is therefore declaring a moratorium from 1 February 2009 for all technologies. In practical terms, this means that swissgrid ag will put all new applications from any type of plant on a waiting list if they are postmarked 1 February 2009 or later.
Faced with the growing possibility of the system grinding to a halt, in November 2008 Federal Councillor Moritz Leuenberger charged the SFOE with devising concrete suggestions by mid 2009 to solve the problem. Further expansion of green electricity production in Switzerland on the basis of the current KEV incentive system is no longer possible. Only by amending the legislative framework can the economic potential of renewable power continue to be exploited. The main focus must be on either raising the KEV cost limits (full cap) or abolishing them completely. A further possibility would be to speed up the introduction of obligatory production quotas from renewable energies for the individual energy supply companies.