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Large-scale hydropower

Hydropower plays a major role in Switzerland's energy production, with a share of around 56%. In addition, storage plants are an important factor for power production at short notice and for the changeover of production from summer to winter. Thanks to its storage capabilities, Switzerland plays a central role as an electricity supplier in the European networks. Hydropower is our most important, CO2-free energy source.

Hydropower also creates jobs and provides significant funding, most notably to mountain cantons and communes, through various charges and taxes.

In a European comparison, Switzerland is no. 4 in terms of contribution of hydropower towards electricity production, behind Norway, Austria and Iceland.

There are currently (1.1.2017) 643 hydropower power plants in Switzerland that have a capacity of at least 300 kilowatts (generator). They generate a maximum output of 14,750 MW (generator) and an annual production potential of 36,264 gigawatt hours. The main water sources (feeding 564 power plants) are the Rhine (into which the Aara, Reuss and Limmat flow) and the Rhone.

The two mountain cantons, Valais and Graubünden, are the biggest producers: with a combined output of 17.6 TWh, they supply almost half of Switzerland's hydropower.

In Switzerland's hydropower plant statistics, a distinction is made between four types of plants: run-of-river (4,004 MW, 17,489 GWh/y), storage (8,156 MW, 17,230 GWh/y), pumped storage (2,062 MW, 1,545 GWh/y) and basic water flow plants (527 MW).

Large-scale hydropower plants (capacity greater than 10 MW generator) account for around 90% of Switzerland's total hydropower production.

Related documents

Studies and reports

Further information

Hydropower research programme


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Last update: 08.05.2017

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