Concerns raised over looming energy shortage

Streetlights in Zurich © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Leading voices from business and politics have called on the Swiss government – and in particular economy minister Guy Parmelin – to do more about possible energy and gas shortages over the winter.

This content was published on August 21, 2022 minutes

The energy shortage is “imminent”, Roger Nordmann from the left-wing Social Democratic party told the SonntagsBlickExternal link. “The war in Ukraine is causing acute gas shortages. Half of the nuclear power plants in France are at a standstill. And the drought is putting a strain on hydropower. This combination of drastic factors means that Switzerland could be short of around 15% gas and up to 10% electricity in the coming winter,” he said.

The government must do more in terms of planning and organisation – and as economics minister, this is Parmelin’s task, Nordmann said.

For its part, the Swiss Business Federation economiesuisse, as well Bastien Girod from the left-wing Green Party, called for the government to impose energy saving measures as soon as possible.

Economiesuisse is worried about he effects of an energy shortage on the economy. “The production sector cannot cope with power outages,” economiesuisse president Christoph Mäder told the SonntagsZeitungExternal link.

Without electricity, it would not be possible to guarantee supply chains and implement controls of many facilities and processes. “Savings measures in the private sector must be made before the economy is strangled,” he added.


Measures put forward by economiesuisse and Giroud include switching off streetlights late at night. Economiesuisse also wants households to look save on their heating.

These latest calls come after the Swiss Association for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises –SMEs form the backbone of the Swiss economy – criticised the government for its apparent lack of planning last week. The association has sent a letter to Parmelin calling for the association to be integrated into high-level energy discussions.

Last Sunday, Swiss Energy Minister Simonetta Sommaruga defended Switzerland’s energy strategy, saying a range of options were being explored to prevent power outages this winter. A plan should be presented in the coming weeks, she said.

Energy savings: poll

The Swiss are prepared to save energy, according to a non-representative survey highlighted by the Le Matin Dimanche. The majority of the 4,000 respondents were in favour of banning billboards at night (96%) and reducing heating by one degree Celsius (92%).  Switching off stand-by mode and giving up baths were also considered feasible measures. But people were against giving up household appliances like dishwashers and freezers, with more than 75% saying no to this. Also not popular among 52% of respondents: stopping ski lifts.

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