Switzerland's electricity consumption (end consumption = domestic consumption after deduction of quantities lost in transmission and distribution) rose by 2.3% in 2008 to 58.7 billion kWh (2007: 57.4 billion kWh). In the first half of the year consumption increased by 4.1%. In the second quarter in particular consumption rose by 5.1% and was clearly higher than in 2007. In the second half of the year the consumption increase was 0.4%, only minimally higher than in 2007. The noticeable increase in Switzerland's electricity consumption meant that more electricity had to be imported from abroad in both winter quarters (1st and 4th quarters) than in the corresponding winter quarters in 2007. In both summer quarters (2nd and 3rd quarters) less electricity was exported than in 2007.
The increase in gross domestic production GDP (+1.6%) and cold weather (heating degree days [HDD] +7.9%) contributed to the increase in electricity consumption. Both factors developed parallel to the demand for electricity in 2008: In the first half of the year the GDP rose by 2.9% (source: State Secretariat for Economic Affairs [SECO]) compared to 2007 and the number of heating degree days also increased (+18.5%). In the second half of the year the GDP only increased by 0.4% and the number of heating degree days fell in comparison to 2007 by 3.1%. In the 4th quarter of 2008 demand for electricity lay 0.7% below the value for that of 2007. In the same time period the GDP sank by 0.6%, the number of heating degree days by 6.3%.
Another factor which contributed to the increase in electricity consumption was a 1.2% (+91,800 residents) increase in the average number of residents living in Switzerland in 2008 (source: Swiss Federal Office for Statistics [BFS]). 2008 was also a leap year. One extra day caused electricity consumption to increase by 0.3%.
Overall electricity production (domestic production prior to deduction of electricity consumed by storage pumps) at Switzerland's power plants rose in 2008 by 1.6% to 67 billion kWh (2007: 65.9 billion kWh). This constitutes the second highest quantity generated the record having been reached in 2001. In all quarters of 2008 domestic production was higher than in the corresponding periods in 2007, with increases varying between 0.1% and 3.8% depending on the quarter.
Over average production conditions led to hydropower plants generating 3.3% more electricity than in 2007. Production by fluvial power plants increased by 0.8% and that of storage power plants by 5.3%. Increases in production at hydropower plants varied between 0.1% and 5.5% depending on the quarter. In both winter quarters (1st and 4th quarters) electricity production at fluvial power plants increased only minimally (+0.2%) compared to production in both summer quarters (2nd and 3rd quarter, 5.3%).
Electricity production from Swiss nuclear power plants fell by 0.8% to 26.1 billion kWh (2007: 26.3 billion kWh), the third highest production figure ever recorded. Mühleberg nuclear power plant established a new production record. The availability of the five Swiss nuclear power plants was 92.7% in 2008 (2007: 93.7%).
Hydropower plants contributed 56.1% to overall electricity production, followed by nuclear power plants (39.0%) and conventional thermal and other power plants (4.9%).
In 2008, domestic production exceeded domestic demand (national consumption) during five months of the year. With imports totalling 50.3 billion kWh and exports of 51.4 billion kWh, the balance for the full year was an export surplus of 1.1 billion kWh (2007: 2.1 billion kWh). In the 1st and 4th quarters the balance of imports was 4.5 billion kWh (2007: 4.0 billion kWh). while an export surplus of 5.6 billion kWh was recorded in the 2nd and 3rd quarters (2007: 6.1 billion kWh).