Anyone who enters the energy policy turmoil with the best intentions in the world sooner or later inevitably feels a little lost and tries very hard to bring some order to the flow of information. It often happens that a proposal is very popular, without having to be justified. There are currently many optimistic, sometimes even naive ideas circulating about how to remedy a soon-to-be acute winter electricity shortage. This goes so far as to offer radical proposals for quotas and decoupling as a solution.
Economic circles have two objectives when it comes to electricity supply: security of supply and decarbonisation, with net zero emissions by 2050. The security of the Swiss electricity supply is seriously threatened. According to the electricity market monitor Elcom, there are already a threat of power shortages in 2025. Leaving aside the humanitarian disaster it caused, the war in Ukraine has exposed the fragility of energy supplies and demonstrated that “probably won’t dry up, but we could very concretely run out of gas.” In this area, we must again show more pragmatism and realism. Decarbonising the energy system is a huge challenge: total energy consumption must decrease by about 40% over the next 30 years. This represents about 6 to 7 times the annual consumption of the canton of Zurich. More than half of the power-generating plants for 2050 have not yet been built today, while we will probably need almost 40% more electricity. It’s not nothing. Guaranteeing the electricity supply is essential: shortages also indirectly cast doubt on the realization of our climate objectives. Companies (especially industry, but also the construction sector, for example) are already investing a lot and are the only ones that have not only met, but also exceeded the 2020 climate targets. In view of this, electricity is produced in a climate-neutral way is one of the most important resources. Without it, our energy policy will wither and the achievement of our climate targets will be delayed.
We must therefore look for a realistic and feasible way to reach the “energy turning point”, a way where the lights do not go out in winter, where energy poverty and recession do not rage through an explosion of prices. This path must also have a broad and solid foundation, both in terms of the technologies used and the measures taken. In addition to renewable energy, nuclear energy also plays a role. It provides us with a secure supply, especially in winter, and is our insurance in case the development of renewable energy sources continues to stagnate. It would therefore be remiss not to include it in the reflections on security of supply and to close doors hastily. Every climate-neutral power source counts, especially in winter. If new subsidies are essential to guarantee security of supply, all technologies that contribute to winter supply should be able to benefit from them. We want to prevent a shortage and must respond on all fronts. This can only be achieved with a broadly substantiated total concept, as we recently explained with our “five pillars”, and concrete proposals for a safe, sustainable and economical electricity supply. This concept encompasses almost all aspects of the debate, from promoting the development of renewable energy sources to price trends, including import capacity. So it is an ideal way to ensure a diversified energy supply and against a policy that puts everything on the same horse.