Energy saving on track but things could deteriorate, says expert

Nearly 80% of Switzerland's energy has to be imported from abroad in one form or another. Keystone / Stefan Sauer

Gas consumption in Switzerland has fallen by 20% in the past two months, but winter could be tough, says Bastian Schwark, who heads the energy division at the Federal Office for National Economic SupplyExternal link (FONES).

This content was published on September 21, 2022 minutes

Companies have reacted to the gas price increase, he told the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper in an interview published on Wednesday.

“Switzerland is currently on track, but the alert cannot yet be lifted for the winter,” Schwark said. He added that gas reserves in Germany were almost 90% full, which was good because Switzerland buys some 70% of its gas from Germany.

However, he said Germany would not be able to get through the winter with its stocks alone, and a constant flow of gas was needed to cover higher consumption during the cold season.

Efforts made by European countries to develop alternative sources would only compensate for some of the gas coming in through the Nord Stream I pipeline. “If the winter is cold, things could get tight,” Schwark told the NZZ. According to him, a shortage situation is more likely with gas than with electricity.

Communication problems

Meanwhile crisis management expert Denis Froidevaux, who heads the civil and military security service in the western canton of Vaud, has criticised the Swiss authorities’ handling of the current crisis so far. He told the Le TempsExternal link newspaper in an interview published on Wednesday that communication was crucial, and that the government was “repeating the mistakes made at the beginning of the Covid crisis when people were addressed like children and no longer understood anything”. He said communication needed to be “transparent and honest” if the authorities were to keep the public’s support during this energy crisis.

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