The Alps, as the smallest energy consumer, might well be able to offer surplus renewable energy for the rest of Switzerland, especially from more efficient solar PV the potential of which has so far been underestimated in Switzerland. Coordinated placement and orientation of installations can make PV into a reliable electricity source even in winter due to a high cloud line. Large shares of unused land as well as the snow cover require potentially mounting PV on existing infrastructures, like dams, and regularly clearing snow off them. The potential of wind power in the Alps is still understood only to a limited extent and could be improved by looking into the implications of complex terrain on wind and on equipment transportation and installation. The Alps also have centralized as well as small hydropower plants nearby. Alpine settlements are mostly characterized by high heating demand in individual and often dispersed houses, requiring individual renewable heating solutions and in some cases island-type systems for both heating and electricity. Woody and non-woody biomass can be available to some extent but can be difficult to access and transport. The alpine settlements have less dense transport infrastructure with higher reliance on individual vehicles.
From the societal perspective, in many of the Alpine regions, conservative values prevail. Regarding openness towards the energy transition, opinions seem to be rather heterogeneous; two mountain cantons were among the few rejecting the Energy Strategy 2050 in the Federal vote in 2017.
Generally, it can be assumed that the potential for the “inner-green” conflict between renewable energy and landscape/nature protection is particularly prevalent in the alpine area. The smaller towns and villages in the Alps ensure strong existing connections in the population, with a positive potential to initiate cooperation for implementing local renewable energy systems.