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Electricity watchdog sounds warning on Swiss energy security

The Federal Electricity Commission (ElCom) has again voiced concern about Switzerland’s ability to secure sufficient power supplies in the coming years.

The majority of Switzerland’s electricity is produced by hydropower. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

While there is no immediate danger of shortfalls in the Alpine state, the electricity watchdog said on Thursday that more should be done to ensure domestic energy security in the mid to long term.

Switzerland is committed to phasing out energy from nuclear power plants by 2050. To compensate in part, the government is aiming to expand hydropower storage capacity by two terawatt hours (TWh).

In its annual report, ElCom welcomed this stated ambition but urged the government to take further measures to ensure that Switzerland’s imported energy needs do not exceed 10 TWh. Without further action, this threshold will probably be exceeded after all nuclear plants have shut down, read the report.

There are fears that relying too heavily on imported electricity could threaten Swiss energy security. For one thing, some neighbouring countries are in the process of scaling down reliance on coal produced power. Such countries might have less energy to export in future.

Switzerland’s rocky relationship with the European Union is another concern on the energy front, particularly after framework agreement talks were broken off last week.

This brings the risk of Switzerland being blocked from new access to the single market, such as an electricity union.

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