The Green Light or The Green Line? Challenges Facing the Energy Choices for Switzerland.
Cahier de recherche du Creg, n° 2019.03, Octobre 2019
36 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2021
Date Written: September 01, 2019
For most of its history, even though Switzerland has relied on imported fossil fuels to meet its energy needs, low-carbon energy sources such as hydropower and nuclear power have been at the forefront of the electricity generation sector for the last 50 years. However, after the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, Switzerland decided to phase out nuclear energy by 2034 through the “Energy Strategy 2050”, a national plan adopted in 2017 that represents a structural break in its energy pattern. Compared to Germany, Switzerland has chosen a less environmentally harmful but more risky strategy, which consists of limiting the substitution of nuclear energy with fossil fuel energy sources, while filling the gap created by the progressive nuclear phase-out through the massive development of alternative and renewable energy sources in the long term. Facing this “green challenge”, Switzerland would need to import electricity from European foreign suppliers. However, one missing element of this global reform appears in the transport sector, which still produces significant CO2 emissions. Such historical constraint would undoubtedly affect Switzerland’s energy security and independence patterns. However, the real challenge created by this nuclear phase-out may not be about becoming energy-independent, because such a deep transition necessitates important electricity imports, but rather about answering the growing electricity demand in the future and securing its energy supply, with the share of renewable energy sources becoming increasingly important. Indeed, Switzerland will have to deal with the trilemma of energy security, independence and sovereignty.
Keywords: Switzerland; ecology; sovereignty
JEL Classification: Q 32; Q 42; Q 43.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation