Updated 25. June 2022, 09:28
43 percent of Swiss gas imports come from Russia. Will the population soon have to take cold showers because Putin turns off Europe’s taps? The most important questions and answers.
Gas supplies in Switzerland are under the microscope. There may be a shortage of gas, especially in winter.
20 minutes / Michael Scherrer
The main reason is that Russian President Vladimir Putin has severely restricted gas supplies to Europe.
Switzerland receives most of its gas from Germany, France, the Netherlands and Italy.
Marc Dahinden / Tamedia AG
Germany sounds the alarm: Moscow has cut gas supplies to Europe by 60 percent – now the harsh winter is approaching. This also applies to Switzerland, which imports gas from Europe. What can he do if the gas supply collapses? 20 minutes to answer the most important questions.
The German federal government announced an alert level in its “Gas Emergency Plan”, set storage levels and asked the public to save gas. In an emergency, it wants to provide financial support to energy suppliers. Parliament is considering returning to coal and nuclear power plants.
In 2021, Switzerland imported about 43 percent. its gas indirectly from Russia. It bought gas from Italy, Germany, France and the Netherlands. If there is too little gas in these countries, it can lead to bottlenecks in Switzerland, as requested by the Swiss Gas Industry Association.
Currently yes, according to the association. It cannot be ruled out, however, that Russia will further limit supplies to Europe. However, Switzerland needs less than one percent of all gas in Europe. According to the DPA agency, the Minister of Economy Habeck ruled out that Germany would no longer supply gas to Switzerland.
“Germany decided to phase out its coal and nuclear power, making it even more dependent on gas supplies,” says the association Swissmechanic, which represents the mechanical, electrical and metal industries. Switzerland, on the other hand, has alternative options (see box).
Dependency is great. According to the Swissmem association, which represents the machinery, electrical and metal industries, all Swiss industry, including trade, needed around 10,500 gigawatt hours of gas in 2020. This is about seven times more than what the city of Bern needed in 2020.
Not much, but Swissmem director Stefan Brupbacher warns: It is not known whether the gas industry will be able to buy enough gas quickly. In an emergency, large industrial customers may switch to systems using heating oil instead of gas. But this is not possible everywhere. There is therefore a risk of production interruptions: “This would significantly damage Switzerland’s reputation as a production site,” says Brupbacher.
“Winter is sure to be tight,” says Habeck in “Spiegel”. The Swiss Gas Industry Association also believes that Europe will not be able to fill its winter storage facilities as planned.
He obliged gas network operators to store 15 percent. annual consumption in neighboring countries. These stores must be available by November 1st at the latest. Another 20 percent of winter consumption must be available in emergencies in France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
Because they don’t have their own gas storage facilities. According to the Association of the Swiss Gas Industry, gas storage in Switzerland is technically demanding and very expensive due to the topography. Even if Switzerland were to produce its own gas (see box), it would not be able to store gas in the country.
Maybe. The energy supplier Gaznat, based in Lausanne, wants to build a gas storage facility in the mountain massif near Oberwald in the Canton of Wallis. According to NZZ, this would cost around 400 million francs and could supply approximately 430,000 Swiss households with electricity for a year.