Star of Laufenburg

In 1958, the electricity grids of Germany, France and Switzerland are connected together at 220-kilovolt level in the Frick Valley in the Swiss canton of Aargau. This brings the nations of Central Europe closer together. With the commissioning of the switching substation known as the «Star of Laufenburg», the European electricity grid is born.

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When the lines are built, history is also written, line by line.

The backbone of European electricity supply

The expansion of the switching substation in Laufenburg at that time is seen as a milestone in the history of electricity. The «Star of Laufenburg» provides an unprecedented level of grid stability and security of supply for Switzerland and the whole of Central Europe. The cross-border electricity market is created at a stroke.

This creates the basis for international interconnected grid operations. The coordination of electricity flows in Europe becomes necessary after the Second World War. There is an explosive growth in electricity consumption, and the energy has to be transported securely and safely over shorter distances to the consumer.

60 years «Star of Laufenburg»

Today, the European interconnected grid guarantees a secure supply of electricity for over 30 countries and over 530 million consumers. The exchange of electricity enables power shortages in individual countries to be overcome and overloading to be avoided. Thanks to this international cooperation, it is also possible to compensate for power plant failures or overproduction. This benefits grid security and, ultimately, every single consumer.

The interconnected grid is geared to the topography and the energy availability in the individual regions. This includes, for example, wind energy from the North Sea, Spain and Portugal, as well as solar energy from Southern Europe and North Africa. The Swiss electricity grid, a key element of the European interconnected grid, links the north of Europe with the south across the Alps. At the same time, the Alps act as an important energy storage facility for the whole of Europe, with large quantities of energy being stored in Switzerland’s reservoirs and drawn upon when needed.

Secure supply of electricity in Europe thanks to Swissgrid

Switzerland is closely networked with its neighbouring countries via 40 lines. As an electricity hub, it makes an important contribution to the security of the European electricity supply. On behalf of ENTSO-E, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, Swissgrid assumes a key role as the coordination centre for Southern Europe, in order to keep the European grid in balance. Available transport capacities are assigned to the partner grid operators and impending overloads are avoided. The main aim at all times is to ensure security of supply – and not only for Switzerland.

Close collaboration with Europe is important to ensure that this task is performed seamlessly in future, in spite of the lack of electricity agreements. For that reason, Swissgrid is actively involved in national and international bodies, to represent Swiss interests and to ensure smooth cooperation with Europe.

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