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Alpiq Green Fund: More habitats to preserve biodiversity

Biodiversity in Switzerland is highly endangered. Accordingly, it is important to establish targeted measures to create, preserve or revitalise essential habitats for animals and plants. Since 2010, the Alpiq Green Fund of the Ruppoldingen hydropower plant has financially supported well over 100 projects for environmental revaluation and improvement – mostly in the catchment area of the Aare power plant between Grenchen and Niedergösgen.

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New wet biotopes or amphibian water habitats, the rehabilitation of ponds, restoration of shallow water zones, revitalisation of streams, new school modules as a contribution to environmental education, enhancement of river courses, maintenance of floodplain forests, mapping of spawning areas, etc.: The list of environmental improvement and revaluation measures that have been realised since 2010 thanks to financial assistance from the Alpiq Green Fund of the Ruppoldingen hydropower plant is as long as it is diversified. It includes well over 100 projects. The projects have one thing in common: they contribute to the preservation of Switzerland’s severely threatened biodiversity. This is because they create and preserve precious habitats for a wide variety of animal and plant species or promote awareness of the importance of biodiversity. 

The Ruppoldingen hydropower plant has been generating environmentally beneficial renewable energy on the Aare since 2000. Since 2010, the plant has been awarded the ‘naturemade star’ quality seal. The label is the top commendation for particularly eco-friendly energy produced from 100% renewable energy sources.  

Power plants awarded the ‘naturemade star’ quality seal maintain a fund for environmental improvement measures. For every kilowatt-hour of electricity sold (guarantee of origin), 0.7 centimes (Rappen) are currently allocated to the fund. The money is earmarked and directly benefits nature and the environment. For example, the Alpiq Green Fund of the Ruppoldingen hydropower plant has been used to support environmental revaluation measures worth almost 7 million Swiss francs since its inception.

Sandmatten, Boningen

At the Sandmatten floodplain forest in Boningen, a tributary of the Aare river was restored with funding from the Alpiq Green Fund. This made the old river tributary inhabitable again for fish, especially young fish. This environmental revaluation also benefitted the kingfisher (hunting ground) and created important refuges for water birds.

Costs
Total: CHF 44,000
Alpiq Green Fund contribution: CHF 44,000 

Project completion: 2021

Nesting boxes for alpine swifts, Olten

Alpine swifts have been nesting in Olten on the Aare river at the Alpiq tower since 2014. They stay in the breeding area from April to September and live behind the logo on the wall and in the roller shutter boxes of the office building. In order to provide the Alpine swifts with better nesting sites, the Olten Ornithological Society joined forces with Alpiq and installed nine solid wood nesting boxes on the soffit of the tower building. A total of around 23 pairs of Alpine swifts can breed in the new boxes.

Costs
Total: CHF 4,450 
Alpiq Green Fund contribution: CHF 2,450 

Project completion: 2020

Floodplain region Reussegg, Sins

The floodplain in Reussegg covers an area of about 20 hectares and will be environmentally revaluated in several phases. The first phase was completed in 2020. The measures included creation of an estuary area of three river tributaries as well as open meadows with removed topsoil and a mixed flora. In addition, standing water bodies were created that are fed by groundwater. Among other things, the excavated material from the tributaries was used to fill a dry habitat and thus create perfect conditions for the moor grass meadow.

Costs
Total: CHF 3 million (first phase) 
Alpiq Green Fund contribution: CHF 180,000 

Project completion: 2020

Fluebergweiher pond, Melchnau

Between Melchnau and Grossdietwil, a 1.2 hectare wetland was created by 2019. It is a habitat with different types of water bodies as well as wet and dry habitats. Thanks to its diverse design and location, the area has become an important stepping stone in the habitat network for many animal and plant species, including kingfisher, little ringed plovers, Eurasian teals, great egrets and beavers. Rarities such as the brown galingale or low bulrush also spread quickly.

Costs
Total: CHF 880,000  
Alpiq Green Fund contribution: CHF 520,000 

Project completion: 2019

Quarry pond, Lommiswil

The Lommiswil quarry has provided beneficial terrestrial habitats for amphibians and reptiles for many years. For a long time, however, there was no suitable spawning water that had water all year round. This shortcoming was remedied with the construction of two new ponds. They are sealed with a rubber sheet and therefore do not dry out in summer. Thanks to this environmental revaluation measure, the endangered common midwife toad and other amphibians now find the best conditions all around in the ‘Stone Pit’ quarry.

Costs
Total: CHF 60,000  
Alpiq Green Fund contribution: CHF 40,200 

Project completion: 2019

Alpiq Green Fund FAQ

Which projects are supported by the fund?

The Alpiq Green Fund of the Ruppoldingen hydropower plant supports projects aimed at environmental revaluation and improvement measures. The main focus is on water-related projects. The fund primarily finances project ideas that cannot find financing elsewhere. In the meantime, the perimeter has been expanded to the whole of Switzerland, but regional projects still take priority.

Alpiq Green Fund regulation for the Ruppoldingen power station

How can I apply for money from the fund for a project?

It is mandatory to fill out the application form. The easiest and best way to do this is online.

All additional information will help in the decision-making process (upload in the online form):

  • Technical report

  • Overview/project plans

  • Cost estimate/breakdown

  • Amount requested from the fund

  • Sponsors/partners: Who is financing the project and with what amounts?

  • Why is there a funding gap?

  • Ownership structure

Submission deadlines: The steering committee normally meets in mid-May and mid-November. Applications should be submitted no later than by mid-April (for the May meeting) or mid-October (for the November meeting).

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What criteria influence whether a project is supported?

Projects and measures supported with funds from the Alpiq Green Fund must lead to environmental revaluation. They should based on the latest cutting-edge environmental technology and have an optimised cost-benefit ratio.  

The financing of the measures must be secured in advance. Where possible, co-financing by third parties is desired. Project development is only financed in special cases.

Who decides whether a project is supported?

An independent steering committee supervises how the money in the fund is earmarked and allocated. The committee decides which projects the Alpiq Green Fund will support.  

The steering committee currently consists of five representatives of cantonal agencies and environmental organisations, one environmental expert and two representatives of Alpiq Hydro Aare AG.

What does ‘naturemade star’ mean?

The ‘naturemade’ quality seal of the VUE Association for Environmentally Sound Energy certifies the quality of energy production plants. It also guarantees that the electricity customers ordered is 100% renewable – or, in the case of ‘naturemade star’, 100% eco-friendly. The criteria according to which the quality seals are awarded have been elaborated in close collaboration with energy associations as well as environmental organisations and producers.

My project – application for financial assistance

Do you have a project idea for environmental improvement measures that meets the criteria for Green Fund support? Write to us by filling out the contact form as completely as possible!

Demande de financement auprès du fonds écologique Alpiq

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Contact

Reto Fedeli

Responsible Alpiq Green Fund

KW Ruppoldingen
Aarburgerstrasse 264
4618 Boningen
Switzerland
T: +41 62 787 69 66

reto.fedelimail@alpiqweb.com
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Prime example hydropower plant in Ruppoldingen

Alpiq designed and built the Ruppoldingen run-of-river power plant to be as harmonious as possible with nature and aligned with the latest criteria for eco-friendly energy production. The company invested more than 20 million Swiss francs to protect the environment, but also to restore valuable nature and landscape features along the Aare river and create new ones. Shallow water zones, islands and a floodplain forest were created over a stretch of 8.4 km. In place of the old canal, a 1,200 m long fast-flowing stream was built to support aquatic life that strives in currents.

With a capacity of 23 MW and an average annual electricity production of 115 million kWh, the plant is a prime example of environmentally sound use of hydropower. The recurring performance reviews make it clear that the environment has benefited in all aspects from the construction of the new power plant. The numerous replacement and compensation measures have significantly enhanced the landscape. The various waterways provide habitats for a diverse fish and bird fauna, and the riverbanks and floodplain areas offer perfect conditions for rich flora and vegetation.

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