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MET Group becomes an important wind player in Switzerland

November 30, 2023
With its 25 percent stake in SwissWinds, MET Group has become an important player in the Swiss wind power industry. SwissWinds is a wind farm developer based in Valais, with various projects at different stages of development.

There are currently 13 other operating wind farms in Switzerland with a total capacity of around 87 MW. With the projects planned by SwissWinds, the current installed wind capacity in Switzerland can be substantially increased.

“As a large and internationally active Swiss-based energy company, we would like to use our extensive expertise to ensure that the wind potential in Switzerland can be optimally utilised. Especially in winter, when the country faces a risk of gap in its electricity supply, wind farms can become an important pillar of Switzerland’s energy security,” explains Christian Hürlimann, Renewables CEO at MET Group. According to Suisse Eole, the association for the promotion of wind energy in Switzerland, 19 wind farms with a capacity of around 442 MW are currently in the process of being authorised in Switzerland, in addition to the 13 wind farms already operating.

Swiss framework conditions are key

It is difficult to predict the time frame in which the planned wind farms can be realised. In particular, it depends heavily on the political framework conditions. What is important in this respect is the so-called Acceleration Bill, which can shorten the authorisation process for wind power plants by around five years. The Bill is to be discussed by the National Council during the 2023 winter session, then by the Energy Committee of the Council of States (UREK-S) and, finally, by the Council of States by the summer of 2024 at the latest.

MET Group is a big producer of wind power in Bulgaria

MET Group already operates two large wind farms in Bulgaria with a total installed capacity of 102 MW and an annual production of 210 GWh. Accordingly, MET Group produces more wind energy in Bulgaria than is currently produced in Switzerland as a whole.

“With our involvement in SwissWinds, we want to help ensure that wind power can also make an important contribution to the electricity supply in Switzerland,” says Hürlimann. Especially in view of the fact that wind energy production is an ideal complement to solar power - while solar production on the Central Plateau is, as a rule, highest in the second and third quarters of the year, the windy seasons in Switzerland are in the first and fourth quarters, according to MET senior meteorologist Vasilis Pappas. Click here for the technical article by Vasilis Pappas.

By entering the Swiss market, MET Group is also driving forward the geographical and technological diversification of its renewable energy portfolio. “Diversification not only helps to manage regulatory risks, but also to optimise the earnings potential and synergies within the Group,” says the CEO of the Green Assets Division.

Committed to renewable energies

MET Group is setting truly ambitious expansion goals for renewables: the company operates six solar power plants in Hungary, one solar power plant in Spain and two wind farms in Bulgaria while other projects are under development or already being implemented in Italy, Germany, Romania, Poland, and Switzerland.

“For us, it is clear: we want to make a concrete contribution to the energy transition and take advantage of new business opportunities,” says Hürlimann. The company currently operates seven solar power plants in Spain and Hungary and two wind farms in Bulgaria. Other diverse projects are under development or already being implemented in Italy, Germany, Poland, Romania.

In addition to the contribution to the energy transition, the focus on renewables also entails a great benefit from an economic perspective. By virtue of having its own power stations the company can now also conduct “asset-backed trading”, i.e. the marketing of power from internal production

A wealth of experience with wind power

Christian Hürlimann, Renewables CEO at MET Group, has more than 20 years of experience in the energy sector in general, and in renewables in particular. This includes the fields of asset and general management, M&A, investments, project development, finance, operational optimisation and digitalisation and big data management. He holds a Masters of Science from the ETH Zurich, an MBA and a doctorate. Before he joined MET Group in 2021 as Renewables CEO, he spent 10 years as the Managing Director of EKZ Renewables, the renewable energy subsidiary of Elektrizitätswerke des Kantons Zürich (EKZ). In this role he was responsible for the development of a portfolio of wind power plants throughout Europe with an installed capacity of more than 600 MW, as well as being responsible for the company’s solar business.