Electricity consumption up 0.6% in 2012

Bern, 17.04.2013 - In 2012, end electricity consumption in Switzerland rose by 0.6% to 59.0 billion kilowatt hours (kWh); domestic consumption (including losses occurring in transmission and distribution) was 63.4 billion kWh. Production at Switzerland's power plants rose by 8.2% to 68.0 billion kWh, or 65.6 billion kWh after deduction of electricity consumed by storage pumps. Overall this resulted in an electricity export surplus of 2.2 billion kWh compared to an import surplus of 2.6 billion kWh in 2011.

Switzerland's electricity consumption (end consumption = domestic consumption after deduction of 4.4 billion kWh lost in transmission and distribution) rose by 0.6% in 2012 to 59.0 billion kWh (2011: 58.6 billion kWh). The most significant increase occurred in the first quarter of the year with +1.9%; in the other quarters electricity consumption varied less with +0.4% (2nd quarter), -0.6% (3rd quarter) and +0.6% (4th quarter). The strong increase seen in the first quarter is a consequence of the very cold weather experienced in February and of the extra day (leap year). This extra day caused an increase in consumption of approximately 0.3% in 2012.

Electricity consumption is influenced by three main factors:

  • Development of the economy: In the 2012, the gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 1.0% (source: State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO).
  • Development of the population: As yet the Swiss Federal Office for Statistics (BFS) has not published the figures for the development of the population in 2012, however, according to the scenarios drafted by the BFS in 2010, Switzerland's population was expected to grow ("mean" population scenario) by about 0.9% per year from 2010 onward.
  • Weather: In 2012, the number of heating degree days increased over 2011 by 11.7% (see table in appendix) and this led to an increase in electricity consumption because almost 10% of electricity consumed in Switzerland is used for heating (Analysis of Energy Consumption by Specific Use, BFE/Prognos 2010).

Major increase in production of electricity from hydropower

Electricity production (domestic production prior to deduction of 2.4 billion kWh consumed by storage pumps) at Switzerland's power plants rose in 2012 by 8.2% to 68.0 billion kWh (2011: 62.9 billion kWh). After the record in production achieved in 2001, this constitutes the second highest electricity output ever recorded. In each annual quarter domestic production exceeded the corresponding values achieved in the previous year (+6.1%, +14.4%, +8.4% and +3.8%).

Because of the large amounts of precipitation and above average snow fall in the mountains, hydropower plants (fluvial and storage power plants) generated 18.1% more electricity than in 2011 (fluvial power plants +21.0%, storage power plants +15.8%). In summer production at fluvial power plants increased by 20.4% and in both winter quarters by 15.1%.

Electricity production at the five Swiss nuclear power plants fell by 4.8% to 24.3 billion kWh (2011: 25.6 billion kWh), although Mühleberg nuclear power plant established a new production record. The availability of the Swiss nuclear power plants lay at 84.9% (2011: 89.3%).

Hydropower plants contributed 58.7% to Switzerland's overall electricity production, followed by nuclear power plants (35.8%) and conventional thermal and other power plants (5.5%).

Export surplus in 2012

With imports totalling 86.8 billion kWh and exports of 89.0 billion kWh, the balance for 2012 was an export surplus of 2.2 billion kWh (2011: import surplus of 2.6 billion kWh). In the first and fourth quarters, Switzerland imported 3.3 billion kWh net (2011: 4.4 billion kWh) and exported 5.5 billion kWh net (2011: 1.8 billion kWh) in the second and third quarters.

Revenue from electricity exports amounted to 6,028 million francs (6.78 cents/kWh). Imports led to an expenditure of 5,257 million francs (6.06 cents/kWh). Thus, compared to 2011, revenues increased by 6.0% and expenditure by 12.5%. Switzerland's positive foreign trade balance fell by 24.3% to 771 million francs (2011: 1,018 million francs).

Note: As a result of the reorganisation of the electricity industry, for example through merging of trading departments, significant balance group turnovers were no longer available at the end of 2012, particularly with respect to Germany. This means that from January 2013 on, amounts for trade-based imports and exports, which up to now had accrued in total among electricity traders, will now be netted more strictly within the companies. This change will significantly reduce the volume of exports and imports shown in the Swiss electricity balance. Switzerland's balance of foreign trade is also affected to a lesser degree.

Address for enquiries

Marianne Zünd, Head of Communication SFOE, 031 322 56 75 / 079 763 86 11


Swiss Federal Office of Energy

Last modification 05.01.2016

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