First issued in 2011, the annual Consumer Barometer of Renewable Energy is one of the most comprehensive reviews of the Swiss population’s preferences on energy topics. The Good Energies Chair for Management of Renewable Energies at the University of St.Gallen has the scientific lead in conducting the study. Raiffeisen Switzerland provides the financial funding for data collection and support the development of the survey. On the one hand, this year’s issue picks up important topics from previous years, such as community financing of renewable energies, energy efficiency in buildings and the population’s general perception of renewables and their development in Switzerland. On the other hand, it strengthens the focus on novel themes in the energy sector, such as electric mobility and digitization. The study is based on a sample of 1’021 Swiss respondents residing in the German- and French-speaking parts of Switzerland. The data was collected in January and February 2017. The sample is representative in terms of age, gender, education, region and political preferences.
Support for Swiss climate mitigation goals
The UN Climate Agreement adopted in Paris in December 2016 is widely supported by the Swiss population. 81% of the respondents support the Federal Council’s decision to reduce Switzerland’s CO2 emissions by half by 2030. 41% of the respondents regard climate protection as a market opportunity for the Swiss economy, by developing and exporting climate-friendly technologies. 10% consider the Paris agreement to be a matter of scaremongering and doubt the scientific consensus about human influence on climate change.
Many actors can shape the future of energy
Should Switzerland import electricity in the future or rely on domestic power generation? If consumers had their say, the electricity mix of 2030 would be 81% “made in Switzerland” and consist of 87% renewables. The respondents envisage a variety of opportunities for shaping their energy future. 69% of tenants would prefer living in a building with a solar system on the roof if they were able to choose between two otherwise identical flats. 72% of the respondents would welcome it if their banks were to install solar panels on their own roofs. And 61% of the respondents could imagine participating in funding a community solar project.
Electric mobility highly popular among young consumers
The current upheaval in the automotive industry is reflected in the stated preferences concerning electric mobility. 44% of the respondents can imagine their next car to be electric. This proportion is slightly higher among men (47%) than women (41%), and it is markedly higher among the under-30-year-olds (55%) than among the over-60-year-olds (31%). Besides environmental aspects, electric mobility appeals to consumers for reasons of convenience and costs: the three strongest drivers are climate protection, convenient recharging at home and low maintenance costs. The greatest bottleneck in consumers’ perception is still the low number of public charging stations.
Knowledge gaps about key energy issues
Consumers’ knowledge of energy issues is patchy. 52% of the respondents are not aware of the fact that the CO2 levy is reimbursed to the population through their health insurance bills. One in three of the respondents is able to correctly name the two most important sources of Swiss power generation, hydroelectric and nuclear energy. The greatest gap in people’s knowledge concerns dependency on energy imports: only 4% of the respondents know that 75% of Swiss energy demand (heating, electricity, fuels) is covered by imports today, the remaining 96% underestimate the country’s dependence on foreign suppliers.
Contact for content-related questions:
Prof. Dr. Rolf Wüstenhagen, Chair for Management of Renewable Energies, Institute for Economy and the Environment (IWOe-HSG), University of St.Gallen, Tigerbergstrasse 2, CH-9000 St.Gallen
Mobile: +41 76 306 43 13