Switzerland did not save any energy in September, despite austerity campaign

Switzerland did not save any energy in September, despite austerity campaign

One month after the Swiss government announced its energy-saving campaign, designed to help avoid blackouts this winter, new data from the Association of European Transmission System Operators (Entso-E) and Swiss energy providers has shown that the alpine nation hasn't saved any power. Politicians in Bern are now considering whether some of the voluntary measures announced in the campaign should become mandatory, or whether quotas and bans should be introduced.

Energy consumption in Switzerland remained largely the same in September

According to the Tages-Anzeiger, while the government cannot accurately say how much energy is being used, data from Entso-E shows that in the month of September, energy consumption was largely the same as it was a year ago, and actually increased as the month went on. This is in spite of the voluntary energy saving measures announced by the government in late August, which are designed to make sure Switzerland “does not have a [energy] shortage in the first place.”

This is backed up by Swiss energy providers, with EWZ in Zurich and EWB in Bern noting that Switzerland has shaved, at most, 2 percent off its energy consumption over the last month - although this value is well within the expected error. EWB spokesperson Sabine Krähenbühl told the Tages-Anzeiger that consumption is based on weather, economic development and prices, which is “why we can't make any interpretation of the savings activities of households and companies in our supply area."

Unclear whether Swiss voluntary measures are enough to stop blackouts

René Baggenstos, Managing Director of energy trust firm Enerprice, noted that experts can only speculate whether the government’s voluntary campaign will have an effect in time. He explained that the rise in energy consumption in September could be blamed on a number of factors, like international companies using energy now "for fear that the electricity could soon be subject to quotas and will be less available in winter."

For Green Party National Councillor Kurt Egger, it isn’t a surprise that consumption hasn't fallen. He called on the government to impose mandatory and binding measures on individuals, companies, cities and cantons, like switching off street and shop window lights after 11pm, not illuminating Swiss historical sites and ordering businesses to reduce consumption by 5 percent.

His thoughts were echoed by National Councillor Michael Töngi, who told 20 minuten that even if the voluntary campaign has an effect in future, "It's obviously not enough to simply hang up a few posters and print advertisements.” He concluded that people across the country should follow the example of Lucerne, which announced recently that it would not instal any special lights on their buildings during the Christmas holidays.

50 percent of residents want mandatory energy-saving measures

According to a poll by 20 minuten and Tamedia, around half the Swiss population already want energy-saving measures to be mandatory. Out of the 16.000 people surveyed, 63 percent said they could do without a tumble dryer and 56 percent said they would stop heating their homes above 19 degrees Celsius - although only 18 percent said they would give up listening to music and watching television to save power.

Others are more hesitant to impose more restrictions, with FDP National Councillor Ruedi Noser telling 20 minuten that "savings don't happen overnight." He said that making measures compulsory would not be advisable, asking “who's going to control it? Having police inspect apartments does not work.”

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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