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Switzerland Risks Power Shortages Next Winter

Switzerland’s power supply remains uncertain for next winter and troubles with enough electricity capacity cannot be ruled out, the Swiss Federal Electricity Commission, Elcom, said in its annual news conference this week.

Swiss nuclear power generation could be lower in the winter, but more importantly, some of Switzerland’s neighboring countries, mostly France, could export less electricity.  

Due to the expected lower availability of French nuclear power generation and of France’s power exports to Switzerland, the Swiss imports of power generated in France is likely to be much lower this winter compared to previous winter seasons, Elcom said.

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Therefore, Switzerland may need to cover its electricity import needs of around 4 gigawatt hours (GWh) from imports from its other neighbors Germany, Austria, and Italy. Yet, the power export availability of those countries would heavily depend on the available fossil fuels, mostly natural gas, according to Elcom.

Various uncertainties remain about the security of power supply in Switzerland next winter, the Federal Electricity Commission noted.

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According to a poll Elcom carried out among 613 Swiss electricity providers, most operators expect electricity tariffs to jump by around 47 percent, which means that household electricity prices would rise by around 20 percent.

The higher power prices have been driven by the surge in natural gas, coal, and carbon prices in recent months, Elcom said, adding that the lower nuclear power generation in France in recent months has also played a part in the price hikes.  

Switzerland, as well as the rest of Europe, is bracing for a surge in power prices in the winter, as the EU—of which Switzerland is not a member—looks to cut its dependence on Russian natural gas. Russia, for its part, has already cut off gas supply to Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, the Netherlands, and customers in Denmark and Germany that have refused to pay in rubles for gas.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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