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Switzerland sets out power contingency plans for winter

Energy Minister Simonetta Sommaruga presents Switzerland’s winter power reserve plans. ©keystone/peter Schneider

The Swiss government has put forward plans to create reserve power plants aimed at shoring up the country’s energy supplies during the winter.

The proposal to create a network of reserve plants was presented on Wednesday for a period of public consultation that will end on November 23. This follows other measures, such as increasing capacity at hydropower plants, that have already been announced.

+ Switzerland “well prepared” for energy crunch

Like other European countries, Switzerland faces the prospects of power shortages during the winter, primarily due to Russia restricting gas supplies.

To alleviate the threat of blackouts, hydropower capacity will be increased. If this fails to plug any gaps, the Swiss government wants to establish reserve power plants, with up to a 1,000MW capacity, by February 2023.

These plants will be paid a fixed sum for participating in the scheme and compensation if their reserve power is used.

Such plants could run on gas or oil but must offset the CO2 they produce by taking part in emissions trading systems.

Permission has already been granted to build a new power plant in the northern Swiss town of Birr. The government proposes relaxing planning restrictions relating to noise and air pollution to help build up a network of reserve plants quickly.

Werner Luginbühl, President of the Federal Electricity Commission, told a press conference on Wednesday that the situation remains critical and that Switzerland may need good weather conditions to get through the winter with enough power.

Energy Minister Simonetta Sommaruga spoke of enormous time pressure to get reserves up and running.

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