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Covid-19 sent Swiss Energy Consumption Plummeting in 2020

The Swiss consumed almost 11% less energy last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and warmer weather, according to the Federal Office of Energy.

Electricity pylons near Schaenis in canton St Gallen. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

In total, Swiss residents used up 747,400 terajoules (TJ) of energy in 2020 – a fall of 10.6% compared to 2019 – the office said in a statementExternal link on Monday.

The two Covid-related lockdowns in spring and autumn, as well as warm weather, caused the sharp decrease in energy consumption, it said.

Various indicators point to the large decrease. Estimations of distances covered by passenger vehicles and vehicle movements fell steeply. Air traffic was down by 64%, for example. Industrial production also decreased by 3.5% and gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 2.9% compared to 2019, the energy office reported.

Warmer weather in 2020 also meant less energy was needed to heat apartments and buildings, it added.

Together this caused a -23% decrease in fuel consumption compared to 2019. Petrol and diesel consumption fell by 8.1% overall (petrol -11.4%, diesel -5.2%). Sales of jet fuel fell by 62.2%. Fossil fuels still account for roughly one-third of all energy consumed in Switzerland.

The impact of the pandemic on renewable energy sources varied last year. The consumption of wood and waste for energy purposes fell, as did biogas, but the use of solar energy and ambient heat via heat pumps increased.

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