A large part of Switzerland’s energy requirements is met by oil, gas and electricity. Electricity meets around a quarter of the country’s overall energy needs and is vitally important to both the population and the economy. In addition to sufficient domestic production, a functioning power grid and electricity imports are also necessary for ensuring supply.
If production, transmission or import capacity is adversely affected and supply is no longer in line with demand for days, weeks or even months, it can lead to an electricity shortage. This can happen, for example, if the water level in rivers or reservoirs is low, thereby reducing domestic production, and the deficit cannot be covered with additional imports.
In Switzerland, the economic sector is generally responsible for supplying electricity. However, if it is not able to overcome a shortage by its own means, the federal authorities can intervene. In the event of an electricity shortage, the National Economic Supply (NES) is responsible for preparing and implementing management measures.
While electricity shortages are usually the result of a chain of events, a power failure – i.e. a regional or European-wide interruption in the power supply – can occur suddenly and last for minutes or even days. Power failures are mostly caused by technical faults, damage to network infrastructure or an overloading of the grid system. It is the responsibility of the electricity industry to resolve a power failure.
How individuals and companies can prepare for an electricity shortage or a power cut
Electricity shortages and power cuts can have a significant impact on our daily lives. Here is what you can do to prepare for such eventualities:
Measures by the National Economic Supply (NES) in the event of an electricity shortage
An electricity shortage means that demand exceeds supply. In the event of a shortage, the Confederation will, as a first step, appeal to the population and the economic sector to reduce electricity consumption voluntarily.
If the appeal does not produce the necessary effect, the NES can apply measures to control electricity supply and demand. The measures can be applied individually or in combination, depending on the situation. Their objective is to maintain social cohesion and peaceful co-existence in Switzerland.
In the event of an electricity shortage, the NES can apply various measures to reduce power consumption:
The measures are prescribed by the Federal Council and have significant consequences for the population and the economy. The Organisation for Power Supply in Extraordinary Situations (OSTRAL) is responsible for putting the measures in place.