Goms, Energy Region in the Swiss Alps

Keywords: renewable energy region, 100% renewable energy self sufficiency region, Goms Region, renewable energy in Goms Region.

The Goms Region is located in the high valley and in a sheltered position between the Grimsel, Nufenen and Furka passes, and the stepped valley at Grengiols (Figure 1). This region has area of 650 km2 with inhabitants live inside 5,261 people (according to the census in the year 2000).[1] There are 16 autonomous political municipalities. Three of the municipalities have population less than 100 people. The biggest municipality is Fiesch with inhabitants more than 1000 people. Ratio of increasing population in the Goms Region during the year 1999 and 2000 is around 5.3%.[2]

Figure 1. Goms Region in the Swiss Alps[1][3]

Leading Industry of Tourism
The share capital of Goms tourist region are especially intact natural and cultural landscape and also many valuable work of arts (more than 100 churches and chapels). A third of the surface region includes a nature reserve.[2] In the year 2007/2008, there were 1.1 million overnight stays, half of them are in summer.[1] Today, there are 1.2 million overnight stays registered.[2]

The First Energy Region in the Swiss Alps
Since 2007, Goms hat set an aim to be the first energy region in the Swiss Alps. Goms intends to supply the majority of its energy consumption from biomass, sun, wind, water, and geothermal energy by the year 2030. UnternehmenGOMS has overall responsibility for the project management, with an energy concept and its communications.[4]

This association was established on January 1st, 2007 in Munster. The association goes itself as an organizational unit of the GOMS energy region. The initiator hat set the goal of contributing to sustainable regional development of Goms. The focus is to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.[5]

Aims and Vision
The aim is to cover the required energy with renewable energy. The Goms region should be a model in how to deal with sustainable and environment and can enhance the local economy for other rural, mountainous region at inland and abroad. The vision is for designing and implementing projects in practice.[3]

Energy Consumption
The current amounts of energy consumption in Goms is nearly 152 GWh/year. The consumption of various energy sources can be viewed in Table 1.[3]

Table 1. Total Energy Consumption[3]

  • Heat: heat consumption is 101 GWh, which 85 GWh (16 MWh per capita per year) is consumed for air conditioners and hot water of residential units. Most of heat consumption comes from fossil fuels (46%) and electricity (35%). The rest comes from wood energy of the region. Tourism related objects (hotels, vacation rentals, and apartment) are the majority consumer of heat (Figure 2). Characteristics of the existing homes of vacation guest are 40% of them were built in the year 1970 and have a high number of electric heating.[3]
Figure 2. Heat Consumption per Sector in Goms Region[3]

  • Electricity: electricity in Goms Region is used for light, heat production, as mechanical energy, or for mobility. The electricity consumption in 2008 was around 59 GWh. Two third of electrical consumption is used to heat homes and produce hot water (Figure 3).[3]

Figure 3. Electricity Consumption in Goms Region[3]

  • Mobility: the energy consumption of mobility (public and private transport) is about 30 GWh. The low number of this consumption is due to the principle of territoriality. This principle accounts only trips within Goms, the energy balance in the flight- and transit traffic and the trips outside Goms are not included.[3]

Utilization of Renewable Energy
The exiting renewable energy sources are water, wind, biomass, solar, geothermal, and various type of wastes. Currently, the potential of hydropower is mainly used to produce electricity, while other fuels have been used in modest ground. Goms Region has 13 hydropower plants with annual electricity production are around 520 GWh. The installed capacity of the four largest is about 150 MW. These plants produce electricity together about 500 GWh/year. The utilization of renewable energy at the present time can be viewed in Table 2.[3]

Table 2. Today Utilization in Goms Region[3]

Renewable Energy Development
There are three main programs which are still ongoing, have been completed, and in study progress in the Goms Region. They are energy production, energy efficiency, and awareness raising. Each of those have various sub projects. Energy production consists of Alps sun, wood chips, hot water from the Furka Tunnel, pilot plant of universal turbine, biogas plants, and wood pellets. Energy efficiency is included support programs for efficiency household appliances, building management, and mobility. Awareness raising program contains energy days in the schools, Gletsch water forum, and voluntary work. Status of each project can be viewed in Table 3.[2]

Table 3. Status of the projects[2]

Energy Weeks
During the school year of 2008 and 2009, kinder and teenagers in Fiesch and Münster Schools worked on the projects of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Those projects were presented on May 15th, 2009 and June 25th, 2009 in a public energy festival in front of their parents, local population, and the holiday guest. The occasion was success, 400 people were attended the festival. This energy week also met with interest.[7]

In 2008 a feasibility study for the construction and operation of 16 photovoltaic systems in the largest roof has been compiled. The Mountain Aid has supported the study cost. In 2010 the largest PV plant would have been operated in the Canton Valais in the holiday village of Fiesch and Geschinen. The electricity is sold to the solar power exchange Zurich. It is planned to sell the electricity in Goms in the future.[7]

Wood Storage and Wood Pulp Composite
The common goals is to build a wood-chip interconnection with Gommer forest district. The woodchip network offers the operators a secure and high quality of wood chips from the region. The wood chips are planned to be a central and to cover wood storage stored and dried. The network is also responsible for the delivery of large quantities of wood chips.[7]

Electric Car
In October 30th, 2008 the project of Leisure- and Tourism Mobility in the San Gottardo Region has been launched. The project if funded by three institutions; Regio San Gottardo, Oberhasli Power Plants AG, and energieregionGOMS. In sommer 2010 a rental- and test drive system for tourists, holiday guests, and people interested on E-mobile on the Grimsell Pass will be offered. In the following years an extensive e-net will be built around the Gotthard, where people can explore the unique landscape passed by electric car. In Switzerland, this project had a great interest.[7]

Energy Efficiency Household Appliances
In July 2009, the region has won a "Golden Caesar". With 10,000 SFr the project of Golden Caesar has been started. The aim is to reduce the energy consumption of the households in Goms. Price of some appliances which have the highest energy efficiency are subsidized by15% of the purchase price (maximum price is 250 Francs). The region cooperated together with http://www.topten.ch./ to work on this project.[7]

Building Program
Building program is a focus activity in 2010. In November 21st, 2009 this program has been launched in Goms. There were around 80 people present in Münster. This program has been started by energy consultant which has worked for 12 owners in the building energy in Goms. Each year around 300 million CHF will be invested in building renovation.[7]

Energy Concept
The approach analyzes the current energy situation in Goms, describes ways and means to realize the vision of "energieregionGOMS" and explains with the realization of the vision-related effects. The Regional Energy serves as the central decision-making for the realization of projects in energieregionGOMS. The project was financed by the Office for Spatial Development (ARE), Swiss Federal Office of Energy (BFE) and Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).[7]

Position of the Projects
Six programs of renewable energy projects are defined, whether they are in priority, in the medium term important, long-term focus, or still no activity planned. The programs defined are renewable energy and energy efficiency. Details position of each programs can be viewed in Table 4.[5]

Table 4. Project Development of six programs[5]

UnternehmenGOMS hat invested time and works in the first year to construct a networks. The partners are from inside and outside the region. They are:[5]
  • Federal Government: ARE - Federal Office for Spatial Development,BFE - Federal Office for Energy,BLW - Federal Office for Agriculture,SECO - State Secretariat for Economic Affairs
  • Canton Wallis: Department for Energy and Hydropower, Department for Economic Development
  • Professional and Scientific: SwissEnergy - Media Partner, EnergyBiomass,WSL - Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape, EBP - Ernst Basler + Partner

Information Related

List of References
  1. Media Information 2009. http://www.goms.ch/medien/mediainformation-english.pdf. Accessed April 13, 2010.
  2. EnergieregionGOMS Official Homepage. http://www.unternehmengoms.ch/. Accessed April 13, 2010.
  3. Das Goms: auf dem Weg zur ersten Energieregion der Schweizer Alpen. Integriertes Energiekonzept für die ländliche Regionalentwicklung. http://www.unternehmengoms.ch/PDF_Dossiers/Energiekonzept_GOMS_2009.pdf. Accessed April 13, 2010.
  4. Goms: the First Energy Region in the Swiss Alps. http://www.ebp.ch/en/geschaeftsbereiche/ressourcenklimaschutz/aktuell/goms-first-energy-region-swiss-alps.html. Accessed August 23, 2009.
  5. Infoblatt 1 - vom 3 August 2008. http://www.unternehmengoms.ch/PDF_Dossiers/info_1_08.pdf. Accessed April 13, 2010.
  6. Infoblatt 3 - vom 15. Januar 2010: Jahresrückblick 2009. http://www.unternehmengoms.ch/PDF_Dossiers/info_3_10.pdf. Accessed April 13, 2010.