Switzerland and its 2050 energy strategy: a realistic bet ?
Today, the energy consumed in Switzerland, which is often produced from non- renewable sources, comes mainly from imports. Therefore, the country has expressed the need to reduce its general energy consumption by adopting a more sustainable approach to the issue. This decision requires a complete transformation of the actual Swiss energy system in order to match the current new expectations.
The principal sources of energy used by the country are oil, electricity generated by nuclear and hydroelectric power plants and natural gas. About 80% of Switzerland’s global consumption is covered by energy imports from neighboring countries non- renewable sources. In order to free itself from its fossil fuel dependence, which must also be imported, and to become a more sustainable nation Switzerland has decided to make an energy transition.
On 30 September 2016, the Swiss parliament approved the new amendment regarding the Energy Act corresponding to the first package of measures planned by the Energy Strategy 2050. The act was approved by a landslide victory, with 35 votes “for” to 6 votes “against” in the Council of States and 120 votes to 72 in the National Council.
This new strategy is developed on four different pillars:
- Energy efficiency.
- The development of renewable energies.
- The replacement of current infrastructures and the construction of largepower plants (including nuclear power plants).
- The foreign energy policy.
The Energy Strategy 2050 pursues the priorities established in the 2007 Energy Strategy and updates them with new realistic objectives to be achieved by 2050.
1- Energy efficiency
The strategy described in the Energy Act promotes rational use of energy for economical purposes and less “import-dependent” national consumption based on specific measures to reduce the global energy consumption in buildings, transport and electrical appliances.
2- Renewable energies
The strategy directly promotes indigenous renewable energies. The greater the amount of renewable energy is available; the less Switzerland is dependent on imported fossil fuels. This philosophy can be applied to hydropower as well as new renewable energies such as solar, wood, biomass, wind or geothermal energy. The Federal Council’s main interest is to increase Swiss electricity production from renewable energies, to integrate it effectively into the electricity market and to strengthen the supply security in Switzerland.
3- Phasing out nuclear power
The strategy foresees the definitive exit from nuclear power. This decision was taken following the nuclear disaster in Fukushima in 2011. The five existing Swiss nuclear power plants will have to be decommissioned by the end of their operating life and will not be replaced by any nuclear power plants or other nuclear devices. The construction of new power plants is by now prohibited, which will require the country to eventually go completely out of nuclear power.
4- The development of national electricity
The strategy promotes the development and renovation of power line networks in order to adapt them to new needs.
Switzerland has nowadays a secured and cost-effective energy supply. Economic and technological developments as well as political decisions within the country and abroad are leading to fundamental changes in the global energy market.
This should enable Switzerland to take advantage of the new requirements due to the situation and maintain its high level of supply by crafting a strategy that will help to reduce the environmental burden of energy consumption.
The Energy Strategy 2050 therefore gives a strong signal for the further development of renewable energies in Switzerland. It offers the opportunity to conserve resources and the environment in the long term and to gain independence from so-called exhaustible and limited energy sources from foreign countries or within.
Renewable energy sources belong to a balanced energy mix over the long term, which will benefit future generations. The next few years will take us witness whether Switzerland will have achieved these new goals or not and its impact over the environment.
- The energy strategy 2050 after elimination of the discrepancies, publication of the Federal Office of Energy, 19/09/2016
- Energy Strategy 2050, on the website of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy