Grid

The development of the Swiss energy supply since 1800 – Part 4

Where things stand 200 years later

Author: Giulia Ferraro


Possible power shortages, power system failures, blackouts – these were topics of much discussion last year. Why is the electricity grid reaching its limits and what is Swissgrid doing to counteract this?

Adapting the past

The Swiss electricity grid is around 214,000 km long. This could go around the earth more than five times. It is one of the largest critical infrastructures in the country. 6,700 km of this form the transmission system, for which Swissgrid is responsible. The grid was created over a period of 200 years. It was originally built around the large power plants. Since electricity was initially produced and distributed locally, power plants were built where electricity consumption occurred. That is why, since the nationwide interconnection of the grids, there are areas where the grid cannot keep up with electricity production. However, the approval of such infrastructure projects takes time. Objections drag out the approval process. It takes about 15 years from the initial project to the finish line. In view of the rapid changes in the electricity system, this is too long.

Energy of the future

Another challenge is the promotion of new renewable energies. Energy Strategy 2050 defines a net zero target. This means that, in future, electricity is to come entirely from renewable sources. The expansion of these energy sources means a change for the electricity system. Instead of a few large power plants with a constant output, electricity is produced from smaller, decentralised sources. New renewables lead to changing production patterns and more volatile electricity flows. This increases the challenges for the stable operation of the transmission system.

Strategic grid

Swissgrid published the long-term development plan «Strategic Grid 2025» shortly after taking over the transmission system. The projects are all at various stages of implementation. Swissgrid is currently developing its «Strategic Grid 2040», which is based on scenarios by the federal government.

Approval procedures and deadlines for grid projects must be improved and accelerated as soon as possible in order to be able to connect newly built plants (generation, consumption, storage) to the grid in a timely manner. This is the only way to ensure that the transmission system can continue to serve as the backbone for a secure supply of electricity in the future and contribute to the success of the energy transition.

Approval procedures and deadlines for grid projects must be improved and accelerated as soon as possible in order to be able to connect newly built plants (generation, consumption, storage) to the grid in a timely manner.



Author

Giulia Ferraro

Working student


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