To keep the lights on Switzerland imports electricity. In 2020, 24% of the hydro electricity consumed in Switzerland was imported, along with small amounts of wind- and fossil fuel-generated electricity.
In 2020, 50% of the electricity consumed in Switzerland came from Swiss hydro production. This was topped up by imports, which boosted hydro-sourced consumption by 16 percentage points to bring the hydro-generated total to 66% – 16/66 = 24%.
In addition to hydro, 21% of Switzerland’s electricity consumption came from Swiss nuclear power, 8% from Swiss solar and biomass, 1% from imported wind, 2% from fossil fuels (50% imported) and 2% from unidentifiable sources.
Over the 15 years since 2005, the share of electricity consumed in Switzerland coming from renewable energy has risen from 34% to 76%. Some of this is due to improvements in attribution. In 2005, 21% of the electricity consumed in Switzerland was of unknown origin. The same figure in 2020 was 2%.
Two other big drivers of the rise in clean power consumption in Switzerland are a rise in Swiss hydro power, which rose from 32% to 52% of total Swiss consumption and a rise in imports of hydro power, which rose from 2% to 16% of total Swiss consumption. Finally, renewables other than hydro, mainly solar, grew from 0% to 10% of overall Swiss consumption between 2005 and 2020.
The big question for many now is how Switzerland will replace the 21% of power consumed that is currently produced by Swiss nuclear facilities as they are phased out. Swiss voters decided in a vote in 2017 that no new nuclear reactors could be built. Today, four remain in operation. Legally, they can continue to operate as long as they are deemed safe. But once they reach the end of their lives they will not be replaced.