Market Switzerland

Record hydro production

With 747 GWh of power from 17 hydro plants in Graubünden, Repower's record in Switzerland in 2014 was impressive. But the picture is much less rosy when you consider the low energy prices that have undermined the profitability of hydropower.


Repower operates an extensive power grid in Canton Graubünden, with voltages of between 0.4 and 150 kilovolts. To assure security of supply at all times, the company invests in its grid assets on an ongoing basis. Some of this work is done by Repower itself, and some is outsourced. Total investment in grid assets came to around CHF 16 million in the year under review. Almost one third of this, CHF 6 million, fell to grid level 7, the local distribution grid. This means that together with expenditure on generation assets (see above), in 2014 Repower invested around CHF 22 million in its infrastructure, distributed over the Valposchiavo, Surselva, Prättigau and Engadine regions.

Added to this investment in expanding and refurbishing the grid is the ongoing maintenance and operation of the grid, which also involves tasks such as rectifying grid disruptions. Repower spends around CHF 7 million a year on this work. The grid continued to operate very reliably, with any disruptions remedied promptly thanks to the company's regional grid support hubs and on-call service.

Last year there was also new work from various outside customers for grid services, including a contract from Engadiner Kraftwerke (EKW), which gave Repower charge of maintaining its distribution grid between Bever and Martina in the Engadine. The EKW staff who have hitherto been responsible for maintaining this grid now also work for Repower.

In 2014 Repower also optimised its grid load management by modernising its ripple control system and making it more robust. This enhancement is designed to allow manageable load to be distributed more flexibly in the future as a way of minimising the growing costs of grid expansion (see also the New Tech section). Another initiative in this area is the creation of the Netzverbund Nord grid association, for which the relevant technical, operational and contractual groundwork was done last year. The association will help create synergy in grid planning and grid expansion by bringing together the level-3 grids operated by Axpo, Elektrizitätswerk der Stadt Zürich (ewz) and Repower in northern Graubünden. This is one more example of a move designed to reduce future grid-related costs to the benefit of customers; in particular it should be seen against the backdrop of the massive efforts required to expand and remodel Swiss distribution grids as part of the federal government's energy strategy.

A project to build a merchant line between Castasegna in Val Bregaglia (Bergell) and Mese in the Valchiavenna is well on course: in 2014 Repower submitted applications for approval of the cross-border 220-kV line – which is being planned in close collaboration with ewz – to the authorities in Switzerland and Italy.

Repower's Grid team is working with Sales on a number of innovative offerings. They include an extended version of the Privapower own-use tariff that Repower brought to market at the beginning of 2014. So far Privapower has been geared to owners of photovoltaic installations who want to use the electricity they generate themselves, in most cases at the same location. Now the idea is to make the smart grid tariff available to all customers, and not just those generating their own electricity. The tariff creates incentives for conscious, efficient energy use, and includes technical aids to help consumers manage and visualise their consumption of electricity. The first installations at select test customers are scheduled for 2015.