Cyclical blackouts: Zurich's plan for energy shortages revealed

Cyclical blackouts: Zurich's plan for energy shortages revealed

Energy providers and officials from Canton Zurich have unveiled how they plan to deal with the threat of power shortages this winter. In the most extreme case, cyclical blackouts are planned throughout the canton.

Zurich plans voluntary measures and quotas to ease energy crisis

At a press conference on Tuesday, the head of EKZ - the main energy provider in Zurich - councils (Gemeinde) and other electricity firms announced their plan for how Canton Zurich will cope if the threat of power shortages this winter becomes a reality.

Cantonal Councillor Martin Neukom told 20 minuten that authorities were preparing in a number of ways. He explained that if nuclear power plants in France go back into operation, and Switzerland experiences a mild winter, then only 15 to 20 percent of electricity and gas needs to be saved, which will be achieved mainly through the voluntary measures already announced by the Federal Council. If more savings are needed, then they will be forced to ration energy for large companies, although households would not be affected at that stage.

However, speaking to 20 minuten, EKZ Head of Networks, Daniel Bucher, said that the longer and colder the winter gets, the more difficult the situation will become, noting "reservoirs empty faster, so you would have to import more electricity - it's a vicious circle." “It is important to avoid cyclic shutdowns. If it really comes to that, there won't be much going on in the canton of Zurich,” he noted.

Four-hour rolling blackouts planned in Zurich for worst-case scenario

If the voluntary measures and quotas proposed by the cantonal government fail, Bucher said that "the canton of Zurich will be divided in two, one half of the canton has four hours of electricity, then the other half has four hours," a cycle which would be repeated throughout the day. To make things fair, he said that a plan is already in place where communities will not always lose power at the same time each day and will instead see their “blackout time” move backwards by one hour every day.

Bucher announced that energy companies will begin practising cyclical shutdowns in October. "We already know that there is a shortage, but we are well prepared,” he concluded.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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