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Heading for the sun

The potential to harness the solar energy is vast. Alpiq intends to make greater use of this energy source – for example with PV systems on the rooftops of large industrial companies or farming properties. We visited Henri Julmy in Ponthaux in the canton of Fribourg. Since the end of June, he has been generating solar electricity on his farm.

The farm of Henri Julmy and his brother Antoine is perched on a rise outside the municipality of Ponthaux between the city of Fribourg and the small town of Payerne. The overcast sky breaks open and the sun blazes through the grey clouds, illuminating the landscape’s vivid colours. The roof of the cowshed shimmers with a bluish hue, and the ringing of the cowbells intensifies as we approach the farm. Henri Julmy has been drawing electricity from the photovoltaic system on his roofs since mid-2022. “When the sun is shining, the 3000 square metre system has an output of 511 kW. That’s quite a lot and more than my farm consumes,” the 44-year-old agriculturist says. “I have leased my roofs to Alpiq, and they installed a PV system on them. In addition to receiving rent, I purchase the solar electricity at attractive, fixed long-term conditions,” Henri Julmy explains. For him, the partnership with Alpiq is a win-win situation, which is why he has already recommended the model to fellow farmers. For Frédéric Maeder, Technical Manager at Alpiq, the collaboration during the installation of the system was straightforward: “Henri Julmy was always on hand when we needed him and he played an active role in the project. An exemplary and very enjoyable working relationship.”

“When the sun is shining, the 3000 square metre system has an output of 511 kW. That’s more than my farm consumes.”

Henri Julmy

A more sustainable supply of electricity at a guaranteed price

Alpiq commissioned Soleol, a solar energy company specialist from western Switzerland, with the installation of the system on a total of four buildings and barns. And what happens to the generated electricity? Bastien Planson, Project Manager at Alpiq explains how the marketing works: “A part of the electricity is purchased by Henri Julmy at a fixed price and without incurring any charges or grid usage fees; the rest is fed into the local electricity grid. Alpiq sells this electricity on various markets, but as a general rule, Alpiq markets it directly.”

Alpiq markets this “surplus supply” using a variety of short-term or long-term models. An increasing number of companies are looking to purchase electricity directly from photovoltaic systems. This model is known as a power purchase agreement (PPA). In this way, companies are seeking to ensure a more sustainable supply of electricity at a guaranteed price over the entire contract period.

In Ponthaux, in addition to the rent and the supply of electricity, Henri Julmy derives another benefit from the partnership. Since Alpiq financed the system, he can invest his own resources in the further development of his farm. “It is quite possible that I will build additional buildings in the future. And naturally, these will also have roofs,” Henri Julmy says. So the win-win partnership can continue to develop. “The fact that I can generate a part of the electricity I consume myself is the most important factor for me,” he says.

We currently operate four PV systems in Switzerland

  • 1. Kestenholz, two factory buildings, 1196 kW output, since 2015, average annual production: 1.13 GWh
  • 2. Ponthaux, Henri and Antoine Julmy’s farm, 511 kW output, since mid-2022, average annual production: approx. 0.5 GWh
  • 3. La Chaux, Chanson farm and butchery, 564 kW output, since September 2022, average annual production: 0.6 GWh
  • 4. Ruppoldingen, roof of the machine hall, 111 kW output, since 2012, average annual production: 0.1 GWh

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