Swiss Electricity Supply and Demand in 2017 and 2050. Is the Swiss 2050 energy plan viable?

38 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2022 Last revised: 6 Jul 2022

See all articles by Euan Mearns

Euan Mearns

Academic Guest at the Department of Management, Technology, and Economics, ETH Zurich

Didier Sornette

Risks-X, Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech); Swiss Finance Institute; ETH Zürich - Department of Management, Technology, and Economics (D-MTEC); Tokyo Institute of Technology

Date Written: June 28, 2022

Abstract

The Swiss energy plan 2050 includes an increase of electricity consumption by 37% from the electrification of transport and heating, together with phasing out 2.9 GWe of nuclear power (about one-third of the nation's gross electricity generation) and substituting this lost power mainly with solar PV. We examine to what extent this energy plan adds up in the spirit of the late David MacKay. We use the realised production of a recent year and develop and validate reconstructions of the Swiss grid in January and July 2017 with one-hour resolution and use these as a platform to simulate the Swiss grid in 2050, incorporating the main elements of the 2050 plan. We confirm that, in July 2050, when solar energy is abundant, Switzerland can be self-sufficient in electricity. Newly expanded pumped hydro storage may shift load from daytime solar peaks to nighttime deficit. Hydro and pumped hydro are displaced from current high value midday production to nighttime production when Swiss solar PV produces zero power. In January 2050, solar PV will produce negligible power leaving Switzerland starved of indigenous supply. There is no electricity surplus to charge storage that may therefore stand idle. We compute an import requirement equivalent to 69% of demand, or approximately 6.0 TWh just for January 2050. We quantify that surplus European wind power may meet this deficit for some of the time but during frequent pan-European lulls in the wind, it is not assured that Europe will have surplus power to export.

Keywords: Switzerland, energy transition, nuclear, solar, storage , viability, costs

JEL Classification: O13, P18, P28, Q4, Q47

Suggested Citation

Mearns, Euan and Sornette, Didier, Swiss Electricity Supply and Demand in 2017 and 2050. Is the Swiss 2050 energy plan viable? (June 28, 2022). Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper No. 22-56, 2022, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4151433 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4151433

Euan Mearns

Academic Guest at the Department of Management, Technology, and Economics, ETH Zurich ( email )

ETH-Zentrum
Zurich, CH-8092
United States

Didier Sornette (Contact Author)

Risks-X, Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) ( email )

1088 Xueyuan Avenue
Shenzhen, Guangdong 518055
China

Swiss Finance Institute ( email )

c/o University of Geneva
40, Bd du Pont-d'Arve
CH-1211 Geneva 4
Switzerland

ETH Zürich - Department of Management, Technology, and Economics (D-MTEC) ( email )

Scheuchzerstrasse 7
Zurich, ZURICH CH-8092
Switzerland
41446328917 (Phone)
41446321914 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.er.ethz.ch/

Tokyo Institute of Technology ( email )

2-12-1 O-okayama, Meguro-ku
Tokyo 152-8550, 52-8552
Japan

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