Energy - Take action to save energy, your questions (FAQ)

Type de publication
Date de publication
19 octobre 2022
To address the risk of a shortage, Geneva is committing to a short and medium-term saving plan. 


Does Switzerland have enough electricity for this winter of 2022-2023?

Switzerland imports electricity in winter, especially if the winter is cold. This import varies from 2 to 10TWh depending on the needs and the winter temperatures, for a total consumption of 62TWh. The quantities vary according to the temperatures. Electricity is imported mainly from Germany and France, which are experiencing production difficulties. French nuclear power plants have maintenance problems and the summer drought makes it more difficult to cool some plants. Germany, which has given up nuclear power, is somewhat limited with its electricity production, 15% of which comes from Russian gas. In Switzerland, the summer heat wave and drought have reduced hydroelectric power generation capacity: run-of-river power plants are less productive and the reservoirs less full. Between 2 and 10 TWh could be missing this winter.

What is the situation in Geneva in terms of electricity supply?

Geneva produces 40% of the electricity for customers with regulated tariffs (households, craftsmen, small businesses). SIG has long-term contracts guaranteeing a certain stability in prices, but not necessarily in the quantities delivered. The balance of electricity consumption must be purchased on highly volatile international markets. Currently, prices on the markets are exorbitant and the availability of electricity is not guaranteed; the question of shortage arises throughout Europe.

How likely is it that Switzerland will run out of electricity?

No answer can be given because it depends on unknown factors such as the weather (temperatures, rain), geopolitical issues or the availability of French nuclear power plants. In the event of a shortage in Switzerland, it will be a matter of applying the principle of solidarity and ensuring the supply of electricity for our needs and infrastructures that are essential to the functioning of the country (transport, hospitals, food, etc.). The decision is up to the authorities, who will have to define restrictions on the use of certain types of equipment, quotas or load shedding. In order to minimise the probability of restrictions, we can all take action and save energy now.

Yet Switzerland has many dams, isn't that enough?

The reservoirs are filled, but not yet sufficiently. The run-of-river power plants did not produce enough electricity because of the summer drought and the low water flow. In 2021, Switzerland produced 39,500 GWh from hydroelectric power plants, while total consumption in the same year was 61,916 GWh (data from the Federal Statistical Office).
The production of Swiss nuclear power plants represented 18,530 GWh in 2021. The facilities in Geneva cover 1/3 of the canton's electricity consumption.



Is the gas supply in Switzerland at risk?

Currently, gas supplies are secure. However, the winter of 2022/23 could be difficult and gas could run out. This is why the Confederation, together with the stakeholders concerned, is preparing the measures to be implemented in the event of a gas shortage this winter (switching to oil for dual-fuel installations, call for energy savings, obligation to reduce consumption, etc.).

How dependent are we on foreign countries?

100% for gas, 10% for electricity - up to 16% if the winter is severe.
In Geneva, our reservoirs produce 1/3 of the electricity consumed. If it rains a lot this fall, the turbine capacity of the power stations will improve because they produced less electricity this summer due to the drought. Geneva depends on other cantons and then on foreign countries for the balance of electricity consumed. As for gas, Geneva is 100% dependent on foreign countries.

It is recommended to heat with heat pumps instead of gas or oil, but heat pumps consume electricity. How will we heat without gas and electricity?

The purpose is to avoid a power or gas cut by reducing consumption, regardless of the type of boiler. Lowering the temperature in your home by one degree corresponds to a reduction of 6 to 10% in consumption. Many simple actions can be taken to reduce energy consumption. The Swiss Confederation has identified these measures and launched a nationwide communication campaign.

In any case, you should not buy an electric space heater that consumes a lot of electricity.

Why doesn't Switzerland have a gas reserve?

It is a political choice that was made by the Confederation.
In many countries, underground storage facilities are used to "store" large quantities of natural gas. The gas is injected under pressure and then withdrawn as needed. Switzerland does not have such a site but is considering it. Interests in gas storage in France have been taken. An agreement has been reached between Switzerland and France in which both countries undertake to treat Swiss and French end customers in a non-discriminatory manner in the event of network congestion. It also guarantees natural gas reserves in France's underground storage facilities. See the website of the Swiss Gas Industry Association - Natural gas storage (

How likely is it that Switzerland will run out of gas?

No answer can be given at this stage because it depends on elements that we do not control such as the weather (temperatures, rain), geopolitical issues or the functioning of French nuclear power plants.

With the shortage of gas for heating, the demand for electricity could increase (supplementary heating, heat pumps), is there enough electricity to get through the winter with less gas?

It is possible that there will not be enough electricity this winter, which is why the OSTRAL plan has been developed by the Confederation, a plan which, like gas, provides for a series of gradual measures to make up for the electricity shortage (call for energy savings, quotas, load shedding (general electricity cuts in a region/neighbourhood for a few hours) etc.).

If oil is used as a substitute for gas, is there enough oil in stock?

At the Swiss level, the question of the stock of fuel oil for heating or mobility is managed by the Confederation. Petroleum products, natural gas and electricity are in the front line when it comes to securing our energy supply. Stocks of petrol, diesel and heating oil cover the average Swiss requirement for 4.5 months, and those of kerosene for 3 months. Natural gas importers have small reserves to cover short-term supply-demand shortfalls. Mandatory reserves for energy (

Do the authorities or the network operators have any plan B for dealing with the gas and electricity shortage?

According to federal regulations, the Confederation will implement the OSTRAL plan in the event of an electricity shortage organised in 4 stages (saving, restrictions / bans, quotas and load shedding) and a gas plan in the event of a gas shortage organised in 4 stages (saving, dual fuel, fuel oil reserve, interruption of “non-essentials”)



Will the state support businesses that are in difficulty because of rising energy prices?

This question must be decided at federal level and in consultation with the cantons.

Are companies required to meet an energy reduction target?

The measures are currently voluntary. No targets have been set.  However, the Confederation considers that businesses can reduce their energy costs by around 10 to 15% by optimising their operations.


Efficiency and compulsory nature of the measures

How can you prove whether these measures are really effective?

The measures taken in Geneva will be monitored and analysed by the University of Geneva. The impact of the measures and the savings made will thus be known.

Will I be sanctioned if I do not follow the recommendations?

At this stage, there are no sanctions as we are in the incentive phase. However, we are counting on everyone to apply the measures without obligation in order to avoid compulsory measures.

Which measures are compulsory?

None, except for the one relating to the lighting of signs and shop windows.

If the Industrial Services do not have enough gas to supply all the buildings, how will the selection of the buildings to be supplied be made, based on what criteria?

This should not happen, since in the plans of the Confederation, housing has priority in the supply of gas. So-called dual-fuel customers (who use gas and fuel oil, of which they have reserves) will have switched to fuel oil, saving 1/3 of the gas. Installations considered non-essential (heated swimming pools) will already have been switched off. Thus there should be enough gas for dwellings which are therefore protected.


Quotas and load shedding

What are the possible durations of electricity interruption during load shedding?

Rotating load shedding would be 33% or 50% of the load. That is, about 33% or 50% of the power grid, for maximum durations of 4 consecutive hours.

The cycles are currently planned as follows:
33% = alternating 8 hours of power - 4 hours off,
50% = alternating 4 hours of power - 4 hours off

This would continue indefinitely, until the amount of energy available increases.

This process would be carried out from the medium-voltage network lines that supply the district substations. As the Geneva urban network is very closely interlinked, there would be a mixture of powered and unpowered areas.  A bit like a dish of spaghetti representing the medium-voltage lines, with one spaghetti in three (-33%) or one in two (-50%) of a different colour to represent the lines that are not supplied.

Therefore, there is no strictly defined sector, zone or commune in this case.

What will happen to TPG and CFF in the event of load shedding?

The CFF has a “separate” electricity network that will not be subject to load shedding. TPG will have to use diesel buses on certain sections that would no longer be supplied with power.

In the event of load shedding, will water be supplied to homes?

Yes, water will still be supplied to homes. The flow may be a little lower than usual.

In the event of load shedding, what will happen to emergency calls and telecommunication antennas?

There could be slowness on the telephone network due to the overload of calls on the non-shedded antennas.

Who will never be left without power in the event of load shedding?

So-called sensitive consumers, with an exemption, in particular consumers in the sectors of public safety, energy, information and communication service providers, drinking water, health and food.

Who decides which area, which neighbourhood, which street will be cut off in case of load shedding? Who decides that gas/electricity will be cut off and when?

It is the federal authorities (the Federal Council) that decide to activate the load shedding measures, according to the plans defined in stages by ordinances. The implementation of these measures is the responsibility of each canton (the State Council), in collaboration with the energy network distributors (for Geneva: SIG).


For further information

Type de publication
Date de publication
19 octobre 2022