Planning for winter

Winter challenge

Electricity is always available in Switzerland. Around the clock, 365 days a year. But we must not take that for granted. Particularly in the winter months, energy producers are confronted with special challenges. The demand for energy increases considerably during periods of snow, ice and low temperatures. The problem here is that domestic electricity generation cannot cover this increased demand, which means that Switzerland relies on imports during the winter months.

Energy supply and consumption in Switzerland

1   Electricity generation in Switzerland: energy from nuclear, run-of-river and storage power plants
2 Import
3 Export
4 Net imports

But why is it that some places in Switzerland do not generate enough electricity during winter? The answer is that electricity generation is heavily dependent on the weather. For example, if water levels in rivers are low due to long dry spells, run-of-river power stations produce less electricity. The same applies to storage power plants: a dry summer or autumn means that the water levels in dams are low and water reserves are limited.

The potentially challenging energy and grid situation in the winter can only be overcome by working together.

The particular challenge is that Switzerland cannot simply import an unlimited amount of electricity. In the winter months, around 80 percent of electricity is imported at the highest voltage level (380 kV). To supply Switzerland with the energy it requires, this imported electricity must first be transformed to a lower voltage level (≤ 220 kV). However, the capacity for transforming electricity is limited. A greater number of high-capacity transformers is required.

1/2: Imports / Exports
Transformation
2/2: Transformation

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