Where does Switzerland get its energy from?

Where does Switzerland get its energy from?

Despite being known for having massive hydroelectric dams across a number of lakes and rivers, a new report by Watson has revealed that Switzerland continues to rely heavily on importing energy. Fossil fuels still make up a significant part of the Swiss energy grid, with the vast majority having to be shipped in from overseas.

Oil still the dominant energy source in Switzerland

According to data from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), reported in Watson, despite consumption falling in 2021 36,6 percent of Switzerland’s energy consumption was sourced from oil. Nuclear power (20,2 percent), hydroelectric (14,1 percent), gas (12,9 percent) and biomass (6 percent) rounded out the top five, while other renewables only made up 5 percent of the total.

Currently, Switzerland has to import three-quarters of the energy it consumes, with all oil and gas in the country coming from abroad - making up nearly 80 percent of total energy imports. The majority of the country’s oil comes from Nigeria (39 percent), the United States of America (32 percent) and Libya (25 percent). There is only one oil refinery in Switzerland, meaning 75 percent of the finished product has to be bought and shipped in from Germany.

Reliance on energy imports leaves Switzerland vulnerable

Watson noted that this reliance on oil - brought about by a transition from coal to oil power between the 1960s and today - is especially problematic as, not only do fossil fuels contribute significantly to the climate crisis, but imports make Switzerland vulnerable to global markets and shocks, which in part led to the significant price rises seen last year.

In terms of local energy supplies, the famous concrete monoliths of the mountains and waterways are the biggest producers, with 61,5 percent of domestic power being produced by hydroelectric plants. Nuclear power (28,9 percent), other renewable sources (6 percent) and geothermal power (3,6 percent) were the other main producers.

When it comes to which parts of the economy consume the most energy, the FSO found that transportation uses the most at 31,8 percent. Households and utilities were close behind with 30,3 percent, followed by industry (19,3) and general services (17,3).

Switzerland long way off weaning off fossil fuels

In all, the newspaper concluded that Switzerland still has a long way to go to achieve the goals set out in the now-approved Climate and Innovation Act - which seeks to replace the majority of imported fuels with domestically produced renewable energy by 2050. They added that while oil and gas consumption is starting to fall, much still needs to be done to achieve carbon neutrality.

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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