Switzerland and the shortage of energy resources | Gulf newspaper


It seems that the threat of a shortage of energy resources does not exclude even one of the richest countries in the world. Switzerland, which is highly dependent on the foreign market, seeks to secure its electricity needs.

The local production of electricity covers only regarding 25% of the need, and the remaining 75% is imported in the form of crude oil and products that are petroleum, gas and coal derivatives. Compared to other European countries, Switzerland is among the least energy self-sufficient countries.

The country’s 682 hydropower plants provide more than half of the electricity consumed in Switzerland (61% in 2021), the rest comes from four nuclear power plants (29%), from conventional thermal plants (3.6%) and from renewable sources such as the sun and wind (6%).

During the summer months, Switzerland produces more than it consumes, while in the winter, when hydroelectric production is less, it imports electricity from neighboring countries, led by France and Germany.

Switzerland does not have gas fields that can be exploited and therefore depends entirely on imports, with gas representing regarding 15% of the energy consumed nationally (22% in the European Union), regarding half of which comes from Russia.

Switzerland uses methane mainly to produce thermal energy, and in winter it covers regarding one in five homes.

On electricity, the possibility of winter shortages is not new, however, since Switzerland is not part of the European Union, and following the failure of the framework agreement with Brussels, there are fears that the European Union will cut off electricity supplies if they start to run out.

This year, the fear of power shortages is growing, due to generally high energy prices, the forced shutdown of regarding half of France’s nuclear reactors, which supply Switzerland with electricity during the winter, and the prolonged drought, as well as the lack of water reserves in many of the country’s basins. Hydroelectric power as a result of the low water level in the rivers, the absence of snow in the mountains, and the lack of rain.

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Also, the decline in Russian gas supplies to Europe may have indirect repercussions on electric power in Switzerland, as countries such as Germany can limit electricity exports produced by gas-fired power plants.

The Swiss federal government launched a program to store gas in neighboring countries and set a voluntary goal to save 15% for the winter, similar to the European Union, and called on companies and families, in particular, to reduce the temperature in buildings, considering that reducing one Celsius temperature allows saving a ratio between 5 to 6% of gas, and the voluntary use of diesel instead of methane in dual-fuel heat plants would allow for even more savings.

With regard to electricity, the government intends to provide a reserve of hydroelectric power to overcome the difficulties that may be encountered at the end of the winter season, without excluding the possibility of using oil-fired power stations.

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