Renewable energy sources

Supporting the energy transition with renewable sources

Why is this important?

By harnessing renewable energy sources such as hydropower, solar and wind, Alpiq, as a natural and environmentally friendly energy producer, can conserve non-renewable resources and reduce the need for constant extraction and exploitation of natural resources.

Transitioning to these renewable energy sources is crucial in addressing climate change, improving air and water quality, conserving natural resources, protecting biodiversity, strengthening the security of supply, and promoting sustainable development.

What are we doing?

To support the energy transition goals, Alpiq intends to continue developing its diverse national and international portfolio of facilities for power production from renewable resources throughout Europe and to optimize the use of the facilities while keeping the impact on nature and the environment as low as possible.

Alpiq’s services in many European countries support large and industrial customers in marketing electricity from renewable energy or in their efforts to sustainably reduce the environmental footprint of their own business activities.

We have launched several associated initiatives in the past few years and we continued this in 2022 with a number of new initiatives and projects. A selection of these is presented in the following pages.

How do we track the effectiveness of our approach?

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) standards help ensure the quality, reproducibility and sustainability of processes related to the activities of any company. Alpiq Suisse SA of the Alpiq Group was the first European electricity company to be certified to ISO 55001 in 2015, for the excellence of its industrial asset management. ISO 9001 certification, specific to the quality management system followed in 2017. The business unit has adapted its management system in line with the framework defined by these standards.

The process optimisation and certification were completed in 2022 by ISO 14001 certification, specific for the environmental management system. This latest certification underlines the business unit’s commitment to the production of clean, sustainable and environmentally friendly energy.

The ISO 14001 standard provides a framework for managing and monitoring environmental regulations as well as the base for proactive communication of the company’s own sustainability policies, actions and achievements. It also provides Alpiq employees with the confidence that they are working for a responsible organisation that is active in protecting the environment and provides external stakeholders with quality assurance in this area, generating trust and transparency in Alpiq’s performance.

As part of a continuous improvement process, the business unit systematically identifies the environmental impacts of its asset management activities and then sets objectives and concrete actions to control and reduce them. Medium-term environmental objectives for the business unit include achieving all the measures for the remediation and renaturation of waterways within the legal deadlines, minimising the risks of environmental incidents, improving the quality of environmental management of construction projects and their subcontractors, minimising the carbon impact of asset management activities as well as the energy consumption over the entire life cycle and strengthening internal environmental management skills.

Alpiq has been taking measures to step up its production of energy from sources such as solar and wind. However, the energy we produced from our portfolio of renewable energy assets in the reporting year came largely from hydropower, the leading source of renewable energy. We are in the process of establishing metrics to track the effectiveness of our sustainability approach for our other renewable energy assets, the outcome of which will be reflected in next year’s sustainability report.

Milestones in 2022

- Inauguration of Nant de Drance pumped storage power plant

- Presentation of plans to build Switzerland’s then largest PV installation ‘Gondosolar’

- Signing of letter of intent to construct major solar power project in Prafleuri


- 5,380 – volume of hydropower produced in 2022 (GWh) 

- 104 – Capex and maintenance costs spent for hydro assets in Switzerland (CHF million) 

- 20 – storage capacity of Vieux Emosson upper reservoir (kWh million) 

- 15 – projects to offset environmental impact of Nant de Drance 

- 5,200 – households whose average annual demand will be covered by Gondosolar 

- 516 – volume of power produced by small-scale hydropower, wind, photovoltaics (GWh) 

- 400,000 – electric car batteries equivalent to Nant de Drance storage capacity

“Climate change will impact us much more than we can possibly affect it. To face its effects, our energy generation must become more efficient, and we have to continue to further develop our activities.”

Xavière Schröder, Environmental Officer, Alpiq Lausanne


- Paris Climate Agreement 

- ISO14001 

- Environmental Management System (EMAS)


- GRI 3-3: Management of material topics

Sustainable Development Goals

- SDG 7

- SDG 9 

- SDG 13 

- SDG 15

Nant de Drance: pumped storage power plant goes into operation

The production of renewable energy from wind and photovoltaic is intermittent, depending on weather conditions. The growth in these renewable sources means that greater flexibility is required to compensate for the fluctuations on the electric grid and maintain continual equilibrium between production and electricity consumption. The 2022 opening of Nant de Drance was a crucial milestone in this respect: this hydropower complex works like a giant battery which allows excess electricity to be stored or produced when demand exceeds supply.

After 14 years of work and intensive testing, the Nant de Drance pumped storage power plant went into operation in July 2022. Located 600 metres below ground in a cavern between the Emosson and Vieux Emosson reservoirs in Valais, the Nant de Drance power plant features six pump turbines with a capacity of 150 MW each. These highly flexible machines make it possible to switch from pumping at full power to turbining at full power in less than ten minutes, i.e. from -900 MW to +900 MW.

State-of-the-art technology

The volume of water passing through the Nant de Drance turbines, 360 m3 a second, corresponds to the flow of the Rhône at Geneva in summer. The upper reservoir of Vieux Emosson holds 25 million m3 of water, which represents a storage capacity of 20 million kWh.

The plant’s six pump turbines are at the cutting edge of hydroelectric technology. The speed of the machines can vary in both pump and turbine mode, thus allowing the power plant to operate to its optimum efficiency by adapting to the slightest fluctuations in the electricity market.

Balanced impact on the environment

Nant de Drance worked closely with environmental organisations from the earliest stages of the project. Fifteen projects, at a total cost of CHF 22 million, were completed to offset the environmental impact of the construction of the plant and the very high-voltage line connecting it to the power grid. Most of the measures aim to recreate specific biotopes locally, especially wetlands, to encourage recolonisation of the area by certain rare or endangered animal and plant species in Switzerland.

Inauguration dedicated to future generations

Alpiq and its fellow stakeholders in Nant de Drance SA, SBB CFF FFS, IWB and FMV (Alpiq share: 39%) held celebrations in September 2022 to inaugurate the plant’s opening. The festivities were dedicated to today’s youth, future generations, and the future of energy, with students from the Trient Valley will have the opportunity to discover this hydropower complex, which is set to contribute to the future of the energy system.

Gondosolar and Prafleuri: ideal locations to soak up the winter rays

Alpiq made encouraging progress in its efforts to achieve secure, low-carbon supplies of electricity for Switzerland and Europe in 2022 by pressing ahead with plans for two renewable energy projects from photovoltaic in Switzerland. These projects will contribute to the expansion targets for power production from solar energy and have the potential to become showcase projects for the energy transition.

In early 2022, Alpiq shareholding Energie Electrique du Simplon and the municipality of Gondo-Zwischenbergen and landowner Renato Jordan presented plans to build ‘Gondosolar’, a large photovoltaic installation above the Valais village of Gondo. Alpiq is the main shareholder in EES and is managing the project in collaboration with several industry and academic partners, in particular the Zurich University of Applied Sciences.

Thanks to its ideal location at over 2,000 metres above sea level, Gondosolar will have the potential to produce around 23 GWh of electricity per year, covering the average annual demand of at least 5,200 households. More than half of this energy will be produced in the winter months.

Another exciting development in the push to harness solar power was taken later in the year with the signing of a letter of intent by Grande Dixence SA and the municipality of Hérémence to construct a major solar power project in the Combe valley of Prafleuri. The aim is for a large part of the installation to come into operation by late 2025.

Alpiq will be contributing its expertise and experience to the Prafleuri construction, situated at an altitude of 2,800 metres above sea level and south of the Pointe d’Allèves in Hérens valley. The system has the potential to produce 40–50 GWh of electricity a year, equivalent to the average yearly electricity consumption of more than 11,000 households.

Doubling down on the high sunshine potential

Both Gondosolar and Prafleuri installations will be equipped with bifacial solar panels. These panels are active on both sides and are particularly efficient in high alpine environments, where solar radiation is significantly stronger than on the Swiss Plateau and cloud cover is relatively thin. The reflection of sunlight by the snow increases production and the low temperatures make operating conditions advantageous.

These factors ensure that the total production from high-alpine solar facilities is almost twice as high as production from photovoltaic installations on the Swiss plateau. The amount of the total annual electricity produced in winter is also significantly higher. This is particularly important bearing in mind that supply is critical in the winter months.

Minimal environmental impact

The Gondosolar installation does not affect protected areas and is not considered critical by experts in terms of natural hazards. A comprehensive feasibility study ultimately concluded that the project is both environmentally and technically feasible.

The impact on the environment, biodiversity and landscape is relatively low and the planned ground-mounted photovoltaic installation will not be visible from populated areas. The electricity will be transported away via an underground cable and via the nearby medium-voltage grid to the existing Gabi substation. There will be no need for the construction of new power cables or roads.

An environmental impact assessment will be conducted on the Prafleuri site in the summer of 2023. At this stage, it appears that the project would have only a limited impact on the environment and the landscape. The project’s initiators will strive to minimize this impact and integrate the project into the area as far as possible.

The existing infrastructure at the site is one of key advantages of the project. The ancient moraine was used as a quarry to provide materials required for the construction of the Grande Dixence dam between 1951 and 1961. A relatively flat area spanning some 350,000 m² has thus already been reshaped significantly by human activity. Access roads are already in place, while a medium-voltage electricity line providing power to a pumping station is connected to the area around the dam.

Supporting our customers in the use of renewable energies

The energy turnaround will depend on widespread investment in new renewable energies. This calls for a collaborative approach. By supporting our customers to make the transition, Alpiq is not only building strong relationships, increasing its competitive positioning and long-term viability, but fulfilling its responsibility as a good corporate citizen by contributing to reducing emissions and mitigating environmental impact.

Alpiq manages wind power and biogas facilities as well as photovoltaic plants for its customers and partners across Europe, with over 3,000 MW total power in Germany alone. In this way, electricity from renewable sources is marketed efficiently, and Alpiq directly contributes to the efficiency of facilities and thus to further expansion as well as to improved grid stability through high forecast quality.

Furthermore, Alpiq collaborates with various partners and companies to support the procurement of renewable energy as an important part of a sustainability strategy and towards emission-free energy provision. Among other things, Alpiq also provides its customers with Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) in various forms and financing of new construction projects or secures the continued operation of old wind and photovoltaic plants by purchasing production volumes from renewable sources at fixed prices.

Green deals with companies across Europe

Alpiq took numerous steps forward in the expansion of its European energy trading activities in 2022 by signing agreements to supply and purchase power produced from renewable sources with partners in countries across Europe.

In February for example, Alpiq signed a 10-year power supply agreement for renewable wind power with Finland-based sustainable stainless-steel producer Outokumpu. The deal will see Alpiq provide over 60% of Outokumpu’s electricity consumption at its production sites in Germany, with deliveries starting in January 2023.

Only days later, we signed a long-term power purchase agreement in Finland with Merkkikallio Wind Oy, a wind power production company owned by Renewable Power Capital (RPC). This agreement is a further step in the expansion of Alpiq’s European energy trading activities in the Nordics and strengthens the company’s market position.

Other notable green deals concluded during the course of the year included an agreement with Italian retail giant Esselunga in August. As part of its sustainability strategy, Esselunga has chosen to purchase green energy from renewable sources from the Alpiq Group for 94 of its shops. This collaboration represents a further contribution to the development of the green economy in the energy sector in the Italian market.

Henri Julmy’s farm: Heading for the sun

Alpiq intends to make even greater use of the potential to harness solar energy – for example with photovoltaic systems on the rooftops of large industrial companies or farming properties.

Agriculturalist Henri Julmy has been generating electricity from the photovoltaic system on the roofs of his farm since June 2022. When the sun shines, the 3,000 square metre system has an output of 511 kW. That’s more than Julmy’s farm consumes and so he has leased his roofs to Alpiq, which has installed a PV system on them. As well as receiving rent, Julmy gets to purchase the solar electricity at attractive, fixed long-term conditions.

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.

“It is ultimately real actions in the market that will pave the way for sustainable society, and we will help customers and partners to make it happen.”

Matti Athosalo, Head North West Europe, Alpiq Finland Oy