The heatwave has had a marked impact on Switzerland’s hydro landscape. However, not all regions have been affected in the same way.
Hydro electric plants in lowland areas have seen production fall as river flows have declined. Guillaume Gros, head of production at Romande Energie, told RTS that some small low-lying turbines were switched off in June because there wasn’t enough water in the rivers.
At the same time dams closer to Alpine snow have had 10% to 15% more water flow in to them than normal as high heat has accelerated the melting of the abundant snow that fell over the winter, according to experts in Geneva.
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Plants with dams or lakes benefiting from high snow melt are only starting to feel the effects of the heatwave, which combined with lower production by low-land turbines has begun to reduce Switzerland’s total hydro electricity output.
The situation is unlikely to cause a power shortage. Switzerland’s power grid is part of a large pool of ebbing and flowing electricity spanning 25 countries, known as the Continental European (EC) power grid. And, during the summer months, Switzerland is a net exporter of electricity.