By Tsvetana Paraskova
Switzerland could limit the use of electric vehicles (EVs) in cases of electricity supply shortages this winter under a new four-step plan to prevent power cuts and blackouts.
To ensure energy security this winter, Switzerland could become the first country to limit the driving and use of EVs, German daily Der Spiegel reports, citing multiple media reports on the Swiss four-stage action plan to avoid blackouts.
Driving EVs could be banned in Switzerland unless in cases of “absolutely necessary journeys” in stage three of the power conservation plans. The country also plans a stricter speed limit on highways in the recently proposed action plan, which has yet to be adopted.
Switzerland typically imports electricity from France and Germany to meet all its power demand, but this year supply from its neighbors is constrained.
In France, the nuclear fleet availability is much lower than usual, which has led to the country becoming a net importer of electricity after decades of being a net exporter. The French electricity grid is at higher risk of strained power supplies in January 2023 than previously estimated due to lower nuclear power generation. The country could face the risk of power cuts this winter when electricity supply may not be enough to meet demand, Xavier Piechaczyk, the head of grid operator RTE, said earlier this week.
In Germany, the situation is similar, as utilities are having to make do with no Russian pipeline gas supply.
Switzerland’s power supply remains uncertain for the winter and troubles with enough electricity capacity cannot be ruled out, the Swiss Federal Electricity Commission, Elcom, said as early as in June. Due to the expected lower availability of French nuclear power generation and of France’s power exports to Switzerland, the Swiss imports of power generated in France is likely to be much lower this winter compared to previous winter seasons, Elcom said.
Therefore, Switzerland may need to cover its electricity import needs of around 4 gigawatt hours (GWh) from imports from its other neighbors Germany, Austria, and Italy. However, the power export availability of those countries would heavily depend on the available fossil fuels, mostly natural gas, according to Elcom.