U.S. Mission Solar Energy Project Showcases Renewable Energy Technologies, Swiss-American Partnership

The U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva


August 31, 2005

The largest solar energy project ever installed at a U.S. government building overseas was inaugurated at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva on August 31, 2005.

The ribbon-cutting event was hosted by Ambassador Kevin E. Moley, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva; Ambassador Pamela Pitzer Willeford, U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland; and General Charles E. Williams, Director and Chief Operating Officer of the State Department’s Overseas Buildings Operations

The project is the result of a unique Swiss-American public-private sector partnership. “This solar energy project is a great example of cooperation between the United States and Switzerland, and it highlights our mutual commitment to energy conservation through the promotion of alternative and renewable energy sources,” said Ambassador Willeford.

“We see this as the flagship project for the State Department’s efforts to make United States embassies worldwide ‘greener’ and more self-sufficient,” General Williams said. “There is no better place to showcase U.S. technologies and to demonstrate international cooperation on green energy than in Geneva, a highly visible diplomatic center and the site of hundreds of international meetings each year.”

The progressive energy policies of Geneva’s Service Cantonale de L’Energie (ScanE), and the local power utility Services Industriels de Geneve ( SIG) are central to the project. The U.S. Mission will send the electricity produced directly into Geneva’s electricity grid (i nstead of storing it in batteries for use on-site), and SIG will buy it at a preferential rate established to encourage renewable energy production.

Thanks to the partnership with SIG and the Canton of Geneva, reduced energy costs, and savings in air-conditioning costs that will result from the shading effect of some of the solar panels, this $1.6 million project is expected to pay for itself in less than 10 years.