Landscape and energy plants must fit together


Birmensdorf ZH – The Swiss population’s acceptance of renewable energy plants depends heavily on the landscape. A survey repeated after 2018 shows that areas already developed for tourism are now more likely to be considered. But untouched mountain regions are still taboo.

In the past four years, the Swiss population’s approval of photovoltaic and wind plants in mountain regions that already have tourist infrastructure has increased massively. Interventions in the landscape of the pristine Alps and Pre-Alps, on the other hand, continue to be rejected. This is shown by the repetition of a survey that the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research(WSL) had already conducted in 2018.

“Alpine landscapes characterized by tourism are now – and this is the biggest change compared to 2018 – equally clearly preferred by the population for the development of energy infrastructures as landscapes in the settlement areas of the Central Plateau,” Boris Salak of WSL is quoted as saying in a media release on the survey. For projects in unspoiled mountain areas, on the other hand, “resistance is to be expected not only from nature and landscape conservationists, but also from large sections of the population,” says project manager Marcel Hunziker. This does not change even if the respondents are basically in favor of the expansion of renewables.

In order to realize more solar parks, the democratic participation possibilities should be significantly improved, says Hunziker. “The point here is to increasingly convince the population with positive interpretations and thus win them over for the energy transition to net zero. That would be more socially sustainable and ultimately more efficient because it would be supported by the population.” mm