Switzerland sets 15 percent saving target for natural gas this winter
Despite the fact that energy shortages failed to materialise last year, the Swiss government has now announced that the country will have to voluntarily tighten its belt when it comes to energy this winter. Here’s why:
15 percent gas saving target set for winter 2023
In a statement issued on September 22, the Federal Council said that it wants Switzerland to reduce its natural gas consumption by 15 percent between October 2023 and March 2024. This would be in line with targets set by the wider European Union.
In fact, the council said that the measure was taken in “solidarity” with the EU. “When it comes to gas, Switzerland is completely dependent on imports and would be directly affected by a gas shortage in Europe. She therefore has a great interest in supporting the EU's gas savings goal in solidarity. Switzerland already did that last winter”, the council wrote.
Switzerland heavily reliant on energy imports
The announcement comes months after the end of what was seen as a high-risk winter in 2022 / 23. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions on energy, many officials were concerned that Europe could face significant energy shortages during the winter months. In addition, Switzerland is one of the most energy-dependent nations on earth, meaning if Europe suffers, so too will the alpine nation.
In Switzerland, this resulted in the implementation of a voluntary energy-saving campaign, the stockpiling of energy resources and the drafting of a number of emergency energy-saving plans. These ranged from restrictions on the use of certain goods to full-on rolling blackouts - Energy Minister Simonnetta Sommaruga once suggested that people in Switzerland should shower together to save energy.
Despite the fact that the energy shortage failed to materialise last year, concerns remain about what will happen in Europe this year when consumption rises as temperatures drop.
Federal Council will be on the watch for energy shortages
Unlike last year, the Federal Council said it hoped to achieve the energy-saving goal without a mass campaign. The target will instead be “achieved through voluntary gas-saving measures in households, industry, services and administration.” Around three-quarters of Switzerland's gas imports are used to heat housing and businesses, so federal authorities have encouraged residents to use heating more sparingly when temperatures drop.
Officials said that they are “constantly monitoring the development of the situation and gas consumption.” Emergency or voluntary campaigns “will be launched if there are signs of a deterioration in the supply situation.” For more information, check out the official press release.