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Why Switzerland could soon be facing an electricity shortage

Why Switzerland could soon be facing an electricity shortage

As Europe struggles through a winter of high gas prices and unreliable green energy solutions, analysts in Switzerland have begun to look inwards at the country’s own energy issues. Many experts are concerned that without intervention, Switzerland could struggle to meet electricity demand in coming years - here’s why.

Switch to green energy could make electricity more scarce in Switzerland

More and more governments are committing to becoming carbon neutral or net-zero economies in the next 50 years, for example by implementing policies to encourage the use of electric cars. While these decisions help to reduce carbon emissions, the demand for electricity will surge, putting countries like Switzerland, that are moving away from nuclear power, at greater risk of electricity shortages. 

With no plans to build new nuclear reactors, experts in Switzerland are now trying to understand where the country will get the extra electricity needed to power the country and prevent skyrocketing utility bills for residents in Switzerland. Even if the Swiss government were to suddenly u-turn on its decision not to construct new nuclear plants or futuristic small modular reactors, it would take years before they could be built and put into operation. 

Especially during the winter months, when the weather in Switzerland is typically cold, the consequences of a shortage of electricity to power heat pumps could be devastating. 

Switzerland’s relationship with the EU adds to concerns about electricity

Historically, Switzerland has relied heavily on energy imports from neighbouring countries such as Germany and Italy, however following a stall in its relations with the EU, future negotiations on energy imports hang by a thread. Previous energy agreements with EU nations have been invalidated thanks to the failure of the institutional framework agreement last year, and there is no longer a guarantee that neighbouring countries would assist Switzerland in an energy crisis.

It seems that even if electricity could be reliably imported across the border, there is only so much that Switzerland can hold in reserve on the national power grid. The power network itself also needs maintenance to transport a constant, dependable flow of electricity as demand increases. 

There has been some increased interest in solar power across the country in recent years, and while the sun is not strong nor frequent enough to power the country in winter, it could provide a viable alternative to fossil fuels during the summer months. 

Regardless of what the solutions to the issue may be, it is an issue that is seemingly not going to disappear from Switzerland any time soon. Experts hope that by raising the alarm now, a catastrophe could be avoided in the future. 

Emily Proctor

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Emily Proctor

Emily studied International Relations and Chinese, and is now undertaking Master's degree in International Security. She enjoys writing, cooking, and playing piano.

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