The Trift Oberhasli (BE) power plant project, which involves building a dam and power plant on the Triftsee River, has been postponed for at least two years. Environmentalists from Aqua Viva and Société du Grimsel are lobbying against this delay. The environmental organizations argue that the construction of the power plant will damage the environment and upset the balance of the ecosystem. They also fear that the construction of the power plant will raise the water level of the lake and flood nearby areas.
Les Forces Motrices announced the postponement of the project after the two organizations challenged the granting of the concession. It will now be up to the Administrative Court to decide.
Aqua Viva has a right of appeal, allowing it to challenge the concession all the way to the Federal Court of Justice if it so wishes. If the case goes that far, project proponents fear at best a delay of three to four years.
As part of its 2050 energy strategy, KWO (Kraftwerke Oberhasli) plans to build a new power plant on glacial Lake Thrift that will generate 145 gigawatt hours of renewable electricity per year.
The grand council has given the go-ahead. Several major environmental organizations such as Pro Natura, WWF and the Swiss Foundation for Landscape Protection and Development were consulted, but Aqua Viva and the Grimsel Society declined to participate in the development of the project.
Today, water from the lake is already collected at the upper station of the cable car and transported either to the Hopflauenen power plant or to power plants in the Aare Valley. In the future, the water will be collected and turbinated in a new power plant at the upper station of the cable car. An additional 400 meters of altitude difference will generate additional electricity.
Postponing the construction of the power plant can have both positive and negative consequences. On the one hand, it will give time for a more thorough environmental impact assessment. On the other hand, it could delay the achievement of the goals of Switzerland's energy strategy.